Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not actually a disease but a classification of symptoms grouped together so that it could be called something by the medical profession. When patients present to the doctor with alternating diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain, abdominal discomfort and bloating and there is no diagnosis or cause, it is usually then called irritable bowel syndrome. Chinese herbs have been treating the symptoms of IBS for thousands of years and modern research confirms their success.
Dr Alan Bensoussan of the University of Western Sydney did land mark research in the 1990’s and demonstrated that Chinese herbs are effective and useful in addressing symptoms associated with IBS.
Since doing that research other researchers have also confirmed that Chinese herbs can help IBS. In fact the University of Maryland, School of Medicine showed that Chinese herbs reduce the inflammation of the intestines in IBS patients.
This is great news as there is still no effective treatment with western medicine for IBS. After 30 years of research, and millions of dollars of funding, there is no pharmaceutical drug that is of any benefit.
The research done by Dr Bensoussan was interesting because it confirmed that individually designed Chinese herb formulations had the best results.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, patients are diagnosed individually according to their presenting signs and symptoms and then a tailor made formulation is uniquely designed for them. Then as treatment progresses, the herbs are changed and altered in dose as the symptom picture changes. Heiko Lade of The Acupuncture Clinic – Hastings has also done research on IBS as part of his master’s degree from the University of Technology, Sydney in the 1990’s and a paper outlining an example of treatment for IBS can be accessed from the journal section of this site.
There are a number of causes of the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome and the most common one is the liver in traditional Chinese medicine. In Chinese diagnostic terms, the liver is the main organ associated with emotional stresses of modern day life such as anger, irritability, impatience and disappointment. Depression can be also associated with the liver.
In addition, the liver is subject to problems due to lack of sleep, over eating greasy oily foods and dealing with environmental toxins. This then has an impact on the spleen and which then leads to the bloating and abdominal discomfort experienced by IBS patients.
Acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome is also effective and many patients choose to have a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs for irritable bowel syndrome.