Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional bowel disorder that affects up to 15% of adults (during their lifetimes) in developed countries. As a functional disorder, IBS is not caused by any organic or structural problems in gastrointestinal tract such as an obstruction or a tumor, and IBS is very different from Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis, which are inflammatory disease of the intestine.

IBS is characterized by chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and changes in bowel habits. Other minor symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, depression and anxiety. These symptoms, on the one hand, can be relieved by bowel movements or defecation, and on the other hand can be triggered by stress, diet changes, menstrual periods and emotional factors typically anxiety or depression.

The diagnosis of IBS mainly depends on the symptoms because there is no specific laboratory or imaging test that can be performed to diagnose it [5].

Why Acupuncture is superior than typical way for treatment of IBS?

In western countries, the treatments of IBS mainly include three aspects. First of all, change the diet by removing foods that make IBS symptoms worse. Irritable bowel syndrome is often made worse by large meals, high-fat meals, alcohol, chocolate and caffeinated drinks. Secondly, reduce the stress, exercise regularly and avoid anxiety and depression. If the two methods are not enough, then taking some medicines to relieve the symptoms is necessary. Medications used to treat IBS symptoms include fiber supplements, antispasmodic medicines, antidiarrheal medications, or laxatives for constipation.

However, no the above treatments is reliably effective for the disease of IBS. It is because these means just help IBS patients to prevent or relieve the symptoms rather than solve it at its most fundamental.

To date, however, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) have been used for centuries in the treatment of functional bowel disorders and are routinely used for this purpose in China. And the effectiveness has been proved through countless clinical practice.

Unlike Western medicine, acupuncture and CHM take our body as a holistic healthcare system, in which all the organs and meridian systems are balanced and working together. According to Chinese medicine theories, the bowel disorders closely relate to the function of Spleen. The Spleen is in charge of digestion and assimilation of foods and liquids to generate Qi (a kind of energy that provides power and promotes blood circulation) and produce Blood which nourish the whole body. Besides, transporting Water is another physiological function of the Spleen.

However, the Spleen is easily affected or weakened by poor eating habits or diet, improper medications and excessive anxiety. Once the Spleen is weak or disturbed by pathogenic factors, the physiological functions will fail. When the Spleen Qi fails to process Water well or cannot promote the movement of intestinal contents effectively, Dampness and intestinal contents assemble in the body, leading to all kinds of related gastrointestinal syndromes like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation.

What to expect in treatment?

In view of the etiology and pathogenesis, your acupuncturist will take some acupoints to insert in or give a prescription of Chinese herbal medicine, using to invigorate the Spleen, replenish Qi, dissipate Dampness and regain the balance of the body. So, they can solve IBS fundamentally. In addition, acupuncture and CHM treatments are now enjoying great popularity by its characteristics of safe, cheep, simple and natural.

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