April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month (IBS Month), which was created to support IBS research and treatment in the United States. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a motility disorder of the small and large intestines and affects approximately 9–23% of the general population with three times as many women as men. IBS is the most common disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists and one of the most common disorders seen by primary care physicians.
The 3,000-year-old practice of acupuncture can help patients with IBS deal with and overcome their health issues by rebalancing the body’s digestive system. From Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view, digestive disorders can be due to dysfunctions of stomach, spleen, and Liver. Treatment via acupuncture and herbal medicine, and diet and lifestyle changes, patients are able to reduce stomach pain, digest better and be able to have normal elimination of the bowels.
A study published in the 2004 issue of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine has found that an herbal decoction can relieve or reduce most of the symptoms of IBS, in many instances for up to six months or longer. In the study, 60 people (31 men, 29 women) with irritable bowel syndrome were treated with an herbal formula consisting of codonopsis, atractylodes rhizome, poria, psoralea fruit, evodia, siler root, tangerine peel, ash bark, and cardamom. The formula was given twice daily as a decoction, and modified to include other ingredients, depending on the patients’ accompanying symptoms, such as constipation and abdominal pain.
The formula was found to be “markedly effective” in 43 patients, meaning that the clinical signs of irritable bowel syndrome disappeared completely, and the subjects had normal bowel movements daily, with normal results in fecal tests for at least half a year after taking the decoction. Improvement in symptoms and bowel movement was seen in another 11 patients. Altogether, the herbal formula had an effectiveness rate of 90 percent.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is also known as spastic colon or mucus colitis. It is labeled a syndrome because is involves a group of symptoms that varies for each individual who is affected. It is a motility disorder (involving abnormal movement) of the small and large intestines. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal cramping and pain, and constipation and/or diarrhea (often in alternating episodes). IBS may also be accompanied by other gastrointestinal problems, such as flatulence, bloating, and nausea. Symptoms are almost always aggravated by stress. Episodes may also be aggravated by eating certain foods and are frequently relieved after a bowel movement.
For more information on how to treat IBS with acupuncture and herbal medicine, please contact American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine at (415) 355-1601 x12.
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About American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) has provided affordable, quality health care to the public and trained professionals in acupuncture, massage and Chinese medicine since 1980. In addition to its graduate curriculum, ACTCM offers continuing education, public education, community outreach and clinical services in acupuncture and herbal medicine. ACTCM has been the recipient of many awards for its curriculum, faculty and clinic, and has been voted “Best of the Bay” by both the San Francisco Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. ACTCM is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.