The Truth About Irritable Bowel Disease

Chinese Medicine for Irritable Bowels

A diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, means that your doctor hasn’t a clue about what is causing your problems. 

“IBS”, "IBD" and similar abbreviations are catch-all diagnosis for intestinal complaints that are not otherwise understood by your doctor. A diagnosis of IBS usually means that tests such as colonoscopies, X-Rays, etc. have revealed little or nothing.



IBS symptoms are well documented in Chinese medical texts, but IBS must first be diagnosed according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine in order to insure successful treatment with herbs or acupuncture,

In order to choose the best TCM treatment strategy, the diagnosis of 'Irritable bowel' is useless to practitioners of TCM. Patterns of Spleen Qi Deficiency, Damp Heat in the Large Intestine, Liver Qi Stagnation, and Liver Invades Spleen can all present with similar signs, and are thus lumped together as IBS by Western doctors. 

When the right TCM diagnosis is made, many of these issues can be helped with both herbs and acupuncture.  In my 35 years of using both acupuncture and herbs for these conditions, I've found that acupuncture has been most useful for unblocking stagnations and relieving pain, and herbs are essential to restore digestive balance and regularity.


Acupuncture and IBS:

A study presented to the American college of Gastroenterology investigated the use of acupuncture versus relaxation therapy in IBS patients. The study found that patients' quality-of-life and gastrointestinal symptom scores were equally improved in both groups, with a statistically significant reduction in abdominal pain. However, when the patients were followed for a 4-week period post-trial period, pain reduction persisted only in the acupuncture group.

Furthermore, a significant reduction in stress perception was also observed in the acupuncture group, but not in the relaxation group. The conclusion drawn was that acupuncture is an effective form of treatment for IBS, particularly the pain and stress symptoms, and that its benefits exceed those of standard relaxation treatment.

(Lu B, Hu Y, Tenner S. A randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome. Program and abstracts of the 65th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology; October 16-18, 2000, New York, NY.)

Shen Clinic TCM Advice

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your own physician or another medical professional. We make no claim as to efficacy or safety of herbs or herbal medicine appearing on this site. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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