Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Using Acupuncture and naturopathic medicine to bring relief.

In 2010, I saw many  patients with digestive complaints.  One of the most common digestive conditions I treated last year was irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).   For those unfamiliar with IBS, the common complaints include: abdominal bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea (or combination of both) and excessive gas.

Naturopathic medicine and acupuncture can be very effective in treating IBS.  The goal is to reduce the symptoms, but more importantly, to find the root cause of the condition.

In the case studies below, I'll share with you how I helped these patients recover fully from their IBS.  They both came in with the same diagnosis of IBS, but as you can see, the treatment plan was unique to them.  I carefully listen to each patient's story and customize a treatment plan specifically for them.

Patient 1 was  a 77 year old female.  She had been suffering with IBS for the past 10 years.  She had uncontrollable diarrhea that alternated with constipation.  She began wearing adult diapers a few months before her initial naturopathic visit.   She was too scared to leave her apartment due to the uncontrollable diarrhea and was loosing her social life.   She also reported recent weight loss. 

Treatment Plan:
- Food Allergy Test (We discovered she was very allergic to eggs, dairy and bananas)
- Custom Diet plan (To help her gain weight and nourish her body)
- High-quality probiotics
- Series of 10 acupuncture treatments (to help re-balance her digestive system)

She experienced significant relief after beginning the acupuncture treatments.  Her bowel movements became more regular and her cramping was reduced.  After 6 months of following the diet, all her symptoms of IBS were gone and she felt stronger and more energetic than ever. 

Patient 2 was a 30 year old male. He developed IBS after taking strong medication for a viral infection.  For two years he had sharp pains in his abdomen (which he had an ultrasound to rule out any serious conditions), alternating diarrhea and constipation, and excessive flatulence.  He was taking a variety of medication for IBS with no relief.  His major concern was the urgency of his bowel movements.  He had less than 5 minutes to find a bathroom, once he had the urge to go.  He also had anxiety. 

Treatment Plan:
- Re-established a healthy routine for his body. (sleep routine, no skipping breakfast, regular exercise)
- Custom Diet plan (increased fiber in his diet, added more whole foods and green vegetables)
- Chinese Herbal formula (to heal the digestive system from the damage of anti-virals)
- Acupuncture Treatments ( for the anxiety and digestive system)

He responded in a matter of weeks to the treatment plan.  The urgency and sharp pain almost disappeared after starting the Chinese Herbs.  Although he was free of symptoms, I encouraged him to maintain a healthy routine so he can rebuild his digestive and immune system.  He was also amazed at how calming and relaxing acupuncture was, and has continued with regular acupuncture to help with his anxiety during stressful times.

The above cases are very typical IBS stories.  The naturopathic and traditional Chinese medicine approach is very gentle, yet very effective at correcting and balancing the digestive system. If you would like help with your IBS, please call our clinic in Richmond. 


  1. The irritable bowel syndrome is relatively easy to cure. Herbal supplements and proper diet can go a long way in getting rid of that condition.

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  2. According to a study done by the Journal of the American Medical Association, Chinese herbalism is most effective when each patient is treated as an individual. You will see results when both herbs and acupuncture are customized for each patient.

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  3. Two medications are now approved for specific cases of irritable bowel syndrome, but there are also effective non-drug alternatives to treat its symptoms. An example is the use of acupuncture to help with abdominal pain and other IBS symptoms.


  4. "Chinese herbalism is most effective when each patient is treated as an individual." Hmm. I don't completely understand what you mean by this, exactly. Treating a patient as an individual as opposed to what? Communal treatment?

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