A few weeks ago, some news caught my eye. The Royal College of Obstetricians had released an opinion paper which supports the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the treatment chronic pelvic pain, so for conditions such as dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis, IBS and pelvic inflammatory disease.
IBS AND CHINESE MEDICINE
Patients regularly come to see me with digestive issues, including IBS. This isn’t surprising as more than 20% of the population suffers from IBS. It is a chronic, recurring condition that can be very debilitating for the sufferer.
Symptoms of IBS include abdominal cramping and pain, and constipation and/or diarrhoea. Symptoms are almost always aggravated by stress but may also be aggravated by eating, and are frequently relieved after a bowel movement.
In Chinese medicine, IBS is seen as an imbalance between the digestive system (what we call the Spleen) and the smooth flow of energy (under the control of the Liver). The digestive system might be imbalanced due to overwork, too much worry, eating foods that are too sweet, too greasy or simply too much food. Energy can become stagnant because of stress, some emotions and lack of exercise.
MY 5 TIPS TO EASE THE DISCOMFORT OF IBS
- Exercise regularly. 30 min of a moderately strenuous exercise will help regulate bowel movements, move the energy in the body and reduce stress.
- Drink peppermint tea, especially if you experience an alternance of constipation and diarrhoea. It helps the energy flow more smoothly, and support the digestive system too.
- Avoid dairy products and wheat and eat your vegetable cooked. Dairy products and wheat are both very hard on the digestive system and can trigger a new episode. Cooking vegetables also makes it easier for the digestive system to process them
- Have some relaxing time during your day. This is time to go back within, time when you spend doing something that you like and be 100% present. It can be doing some gardening, some yoga, some crafts, singing… The list is endless as long as it helps you relax. Of course, you can also do some meditation, some breathing exercise such as abdominal breathing or some TaiChi.
- Adequate rest is essential and especially being careful to have enough sleep and to go to bed before midnight. This will help the body recover from the tiredness of the day
If these tips do not work, I would really recommend going and seeing an acupuncturist. Apart from the very relaxing nature of the treatment and the fact that it does help regulate the digestive system, your acupuncturist will also be able to guide you and advise the best life-style changes for you, based on the Chinese Medicine diagnosis. My experience with my patients tells me that it does work but most importantly that, by making any remaining symptoms manageable, it is giving them their life back.