What is (IBS) Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a common, chronic, gastro-intestinal disorder. It is a painful and debilitating illness which can have a negative impact on quality of life and affect the sufferer psychologically. Western medicine does not understand the exact cause of IBS. It is considered to be related to an increased sensitivity of the entire gut. Anxiety and stress may also play a part. Western medicine has no cure for IBS but can alleviate the symptoms. Medication is sometimes prescribed and the symptoms are managed by making changes to diet and lifestyle.

Symptoms of IBS
Symptoms usually appear for the first time when a person is aged between 20 and 30. They come and go in bouts, often during times of stress or after eating certain foods. The most common symptoms are:

• Constipation, diarrhoea or a combination of both
• Abdominal pain or discomfort
• Bloating

Less frequent symptoms include:
• Heartburn, indigestion, nausea
• Headache and backache
• Fatigue and tiredness
• Sleep disturbance
• Loss of appetite
• Depression and anxiety

Traditional Chinese Medicine and IBS
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) almost always considers Irritable Bowel Syndrome to be caused by a lack of harmony between the liver and the spleen. TCM believes the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of substances throughout the body. It views the spleen as being associated with digestion and transforming food into Qi – the life force or energy which flows around the body and regulates your health. Any blockage in the flow of Qi results in illness and disease.

Factors which TCM believes contribute to the development of IBS include:
• Poor eating habits including irregular meals, over eating, over consumption of certain foods including dairy products and deep fried foods
• Long term suppression of emotions such as: anger, frustration and resentment
• Periods of prolonged worry, fatigue and lack of exercise
• Stress and depression

How Traditional Chinese Medicine Treats IBS

IBS responds very well to treatment by Traditional Chinese Medicine, which focuses on restoring harmony to the body. Following diagnosis, your GinSen Practitioner will identify the specific imbalances underlying your symptoms. They will prescribe a customised treatment plan using a combination of Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, diet and lifestyle advice to eliminate the symptoms and heal the body.

Advice on diet and lifestyle will depend on your specific symptoms but is likely to include:

• Avoidance of dairy products, which are considered to weaken the spleen
• Elimination of foods which trigger symptoms – these are likely to include greasy or fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks
• Eating warm, cooked foods as they are easier to digest
• Getting adequate exercise to help relieve stress and regulate the bowels
• Practicing stress relief measures, such as meditation, yoga and breathing exercises
• Getting adequate sleep to help the body heal – lack of sleep aggravates stress.

Most sufferers of IBS experience a complete cure following treatment by Traditional Chinese Medicine. Depending on the severity of the condition, treatment may last from a few weeks to several months. In order to maintain well being and prevent the condition recurring, it is important to maintain the dietary and lifestyle measures that aided your recovery.