Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Abdominal pain, altered bowel habits, bloating, food sensitivities, and yet your doctor can’t seem to find anything wrong? If this sounds like something you are battling with, it may be due to something called Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS) is identified as a, “gastrointestinal disorder characterized by chronic abdominal pain and altered bowel habits in the absence of an identified cause.” IBS is not fully understood by Western medicine, although theories such as bowel hypersensitivity, altered bacteria in the gut, post-infectious reactions, and various psychosocial models have been proposed. Unfortunately there is no magic pill or series of injections that can “cure” this syndrome, but there are alternative treatments that may alleviate the deleterious symptoms that IBS presents with. Here at AmitaUsa, we offer holistic, more natural treatments including acupuncture, bio-energy and herbal remedies. We like to boost the body’s natural immune system and healing mechanisms, including restoring the bowel’s healthy functions.
IBS is a common diagnosis. As high as 20% of the general population may be suffering from IBS. The reason there is no specific cure is because there is no specific structural or defined microscopic feature that can be pinpointed to the exact cause of dysfunction. There are currently three different types of IBS: Diarrhea-predominant IBS, Constipation-predominant IBS and Alternating constipation and diarrhea IBS. In diarrhea-predominant IBS, a person may experience frequent, loose stools usually occurring during the day time. Diarrhea is often preceded by extreme urgency, followed by a feeling of incomplete evacuation. In constipation-predominant IBS, the constipation can be intermittent and last for days. Stools are small, hard and difficult to pass and again a feeling of incomplete evacuation may persist even when the rectum is empty. This false sensation may lead to straining which leads to other problems including hemorrhoids, intussusception, pelvic floor muscles weakening or spasms and prolapse. Alternating IBS is a mix of diarrhea and constipation predominant IBS. In any of the three types of IBS, the following symptoms may be included: gas, pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting and mucus in the stool.
Following the traditional series of CT scans, MRI images, colonoscopy, endoscopy, etc. you may still find that all these tests show you are completely normal. This is because there is no structural problem to be found. Doctors may suggest you have abnormal abdominal contractions, to start keeping a food diary to monitor for connections between various foods and when the pain sets in, to take anti-inflammatory medication, etc. Some of these methods may alleviate the pain and discomfort periodically, but for how long? And what can you do to really put an end to this suffering?
For certain ailments such as IBS, it is imperative to take the whole body approach rather than the more modern method. IBS is not a syndrome where you can pinpoint what the problem is and cure it. You must look at it from a holistic point of view and start to unravel its intricacies step by step. That is exactly what we do here at Amitausa. Dr. Tatyana Yakovleva, a licensed acupuncturist and doctor, along with her associates, understand the multiple components that constitute such syndromes as IBS.
One important thing to understand is that a bowel has its own nervous system. In other words, the brain and your gut are very closely tied together. Those who suffer from IBS start to anticipate the worst on a daily basis, and so your gut responds to these messages, continuously creating bowel symptoms such as gas and spasms. The goal here is to stop the vicious cycle and to restore balance within the body.
Acupuncture is a great alternative method to treating specific symptoms of IBS including abdominal distention, altered bowel habits, and inflammation. The National Institute of Health and World health Organization identified abdominal pain, muscle cramping, constipation, diarrhea, stress and anxiety as conditions that can directly benefit from acupuncture. Acupuncture, based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, uses fine needles to remove energy blockades within the body that have been known to cause gastrointestinal symptoms. The practitioner is able to select certain meridians within the body that are related to the stomach and large intestines. These points are usually along the lateral side of the arms and legs. Just as IBS is a whole-body syndrome, acupuncture offers a whole body treatment. It restores the imbalances that the gut has bestowed upon the body, allowing energy to again freely flow within the body. This ancient philosophy follows holistic practices as it aims to remediate not only the physical gut problem, but the emotional ties and frustrations the patient feels, along with rejuvenating the mental and spiritual state.
As the needles are strategically placed, you may feel tingling, aching, warmth or nothing at all. The side effects include irritation at the injection site, slight bleeding, or in the extremely rare cases transmission of a blood-borne pathogen such as Hepatitis B. The benefits of acupuncture can be seen in as few as 6 sessions. The practitioner will be able to guide you in determining whether the treatment is working or not and provide you with additional information as the treatments continue. Once IBS symptoms begin to get better over time, treatment sessions can be decreased over time.
Along with the benefits of acupuncture, this Chinese Medicine often incorporates herbal remedies rather than the traditional prescription drugs that may lead to addiction, be causing more harm than good, or may not be beneficial at all. Prescription drugs are often by trial and error alone, while herbal remedies have been around for centuries and usually pose less of a risk than prescription drugs. Some supplements that have been offered for IBS include: Magnesium, peppermint oil, ginger, calcium carbonate, and potassium. Each supplement is tailored for your specific needs and type of IBS you present with.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disorder of the gut with a multitude of symptoms that negatively affect your quality of life. Here at AmitaUSA we offer holistic options to end your suffering. Acupuncture is a whole-body approach that may help reduce abdominal symptoms and calm your body and mind in the process.