Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a very common condition which has a wide and varying range of symptoms from bloating to severe abdominal pain, alternating constipation and diarrhoea, with flare-ups from time to time. Women are more likely to suffer from IBS. It can have a very negative impact on quality of life. Although it is still considered as a functional disorder, over a long period of time there is increasing evidence that inflammatory bowel disease, serotonin dysregulation will more likely to develop.

Die and lifestyle (smoking, over consumption of alcohol and caffeine), food intolerance, hormonal factors, stress, etc all play important roles in IBS. Antispasmodic medicines like Mebeverine, Laxatives, antimotility medicine like Loperamide sometimes only offer limited benefit.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the weakness of Spleen (digestive system) is the key factor for IBS. Too much cold and raw food/drink, rich/greasy and sugary food worsen the condition. Acupuncture, sometimes combined with Chinese herbs can boost/strengthen Spleen, as well as regulate the other organs function - promote Liver Qi flow(relieve stress) so it doesn’t attack Spleen; warm Spleen and Kidney Yang to stop diarrhoea. With some life style change this condition can be well managed.

Case Histories

Unexplained stomach pain

 E, female, 16, student.

E was suffering from constant stabbing pain on her epigastric area for a few months. All tests came back normal.  My impression ( in Chinese medicine perspective) was that it was her stress- Liver Qi stagnation attacking Stomach. So the treatment principle was to unblock/facilitate Liver Qi stagnation. No blockage no pain. When she returned the following week there was no stabbing pain any more, just some discomfort. I carried on doing acupuncture and prescribing some herbal pills for a few more weeks. She phoned up a year later to tell me that inspired by her positive experience with Chinese medicine she was going to study Chinese medicine. She went to Lincoln university  and finished top of the class with a first.  I’ve been her mentor since. She is currently doing a masters in biomedical science.

Diverticulosis

T, male, 71. T had been previously fit and healthy till six months ago when he had an episode of acute diarrhoea for a few days.  The diarrhoea had stopped but he still suffered from abdominal discomfort, bloating and flatulence.  Colonoscopy showed scatted diverticulla in his transverse and left colon. T is still working full time running a big company and wanted to be well. He saw a dietitian but was still suffering. His daughter recommended me. Not only did his digestion symptoms improved, his long standing lower back ache, chronic cough have also improved. He still comes every couple of months to maintain his health.

S, female, 31, engineer. Ulcerative colitis

S had been diagnosed as UC for two years. Despite she was on immunosuppressant she was still having flare ups. When I saw her she was having another flare up with abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhoea with mucus. She was on prednisolone 35mg and Imnrm 75mg.
My diagnosis on her in Chinese medicine was Spleen and Kidney Yang deficiency. Therefore the treatment principle was to warm the Yang. I did acupuncture & moxibustion and prescribed herbs. I asked her to cut down cold and raw food/drinks. She felt better after the first week.  A month later she came off steroid but her face was covered with acne. I gave her some patent pills for her acne and they did the trick! I had some herbal tablets made for her to take over a long period of time to strengthen her digestive system. She returned to Spain and emailed me saying she was still fine.

 

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