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. Having a constitution with sensitive gut, smoking, over consumption of alcohol and caffeine, food intolerance, hormonal factors, psychological factors, etc all play important roles in IBS.
Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's disease
UC only affects the colon (large intestine0, Crohn's can affect any part of the digestive system. Abdominal pain, mucusy bloody diarrhoea, extreme tiredness, joint pain are the commonly seen symptoms. It is thought to be an autoimmune condition, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks health tissue. They are chronic conditions for which most patients take medication or have surgery to mange but the long term outcome is not satisfatory.
The overuse of antibiotis, stress compromise/disrupt the "friendly bacteria" in the gut. In Chinese Medicine, the weakness of Spleen (digestive system) is the key factor for IBS and IBD, as well as the Qi stagnation which is caused by stress, negative emotions. Too much cold and raw food/drink (It fits in with the modern theory of cold-chain hypothesis, the increse in Crphn's might be link to the incresed use of refrigerators after the second world war); rich/greasy(too much dairy) and sugary food weakens Spleen. In my practice I have successfully treated IBS, IBD by regulating immune system, balancing brain chemicals and hormones, using Probiotics, plus life style and diet advice. Some cases have become medication free.
E, 37, female. E was diagnosed UC a year ago after a long period of stress from work, a miscarriage and physical unwellness. She was passing blood 6x/day. Colonoscopy showed: THe rectal mucosa was granular with complete loss of the normal vascular pattern. There was friability and some minial contact bleeding. This is in keeping with moderately active ulcerative colitis.
Seeing her mother in law who has been ill despite on all sorts of medication for her UC and constantly visiting hospital, E decided not to take any steroidor Mezalazine but to take alternative approach, which I thought was really brave. She worked on her diet, she was having acupuncture and took herbs. She medicates. Two months later, her bowels returned to normal, just some muscle fatigue. Her Calprotectin dropped from >600 to now 18! She couldn't believe it and over the moon. She went on 3 months road trip in their campervan to Greece with her husband and daughter. She wrote to me, "I wanted to share some really positive news with you, as I strongly feel you've been a big part of my recovery. I had a colonoscopy yesterday in Athens, the consultabt gave me the all clear! He said tha my gut looks great with no signs of UC!!! Iam officially in remission. He showed me the pictures and I'm amazed how clear everything looked. Thank you so much for you support during this touch time and helped me heal. I learned a lot about my body, different therapies and myself! I couldn't have done it without you. You're amazing!" E is still coming for acupuncture to keep her wellbeing and trying to conceive again.
S, 31, female. 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.
Acid Reflux and IBS
W, male, 72. W had always been a bit anxious. He had been on PPIs for 20-30 years. The last 5 months his Omeprazole had been increased to 80mg with little effect. His entire throat felt burning and painful. Recent endoscopy showed red and raw in the throat but otherwise (-) He had been using steroid spray and decongestant for his nasal congestion many years. W's painful throat very much improved after one month of starting acupuncture, also in combination of reducing his coffee intake and use of steroids. Four months later he came back for his insomnia but his stomach was still good.
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.
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.