CHINESE HERBAL TREATMENT OF IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS)

December 1, 2010 by  
Filed under FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME

Some elements for Médecine chinoise in Xi'an
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There is no disease equivalent to IBS in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Strategies for treating IBS are to be found in the discussions of treatment of three diseases well known in China: diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. The traditional treatment of these diseases allows modern TCM practitioners to discern a number of effective lines of treatment for IBS. TCM doctors will give appropriate dietary advice and, in common with Western doctors, will recommend that eating patterns must be regular. Meals should not be missed or eaten on the run.

Research

There is important research that supports the use of Chinese medicine for IBS. A randomized controlled trial followed 116 patients with the condition. One-third was given capsules of a herbal formulation that was prescribed individually for them, another third were given a standard Chinese herbal mixture, and the final group were given a placebo (inactive substance). Treatment continued for 16 weeks and those who received the Chinese herbal medicines showed significant improvement. The people receiving individualized herbs did not benefit more than those taking the standard Chinese herbal preparations. However, on follow-up 14 weeks after completing treatment, only the group that received individualized treatment had maintained their improvement.

Treatments

Chinese practitioners diagnose and then prescribe herbs for a variety of conditions. The first is liver Qi (energy) stagnation. The most usual cause of this is emotional disturbance. Long-term resentment, anxiety, worry or depression blocks the flow of liver Qi that in turn disrupts the smooth flow of stomach, spleen and large intestine Qi (digestive Qi), causing bloating, pain, flatulence and diarrhea and/or constipation. In women, there may be accompanying PMS marked by mood swings as well as worsening IBS.

A second common pattern of symptoms is that of deficiency of Spleen and Stomach with stagnation of Qi. In this case the patient is tired, especially after eating, and experiences bloating and dull pain after meals. A third pattern is deficiency of spleen with accumulation of “damp”. People with this syndrome have loose stools and are fatigued. A fourth common pattern is “damp heat” in the large intestine. People with this syndrome may have bloating and abdominal pain and may complain of rather explosive, bad-smelling

Bowel movements that may burn on passing. Lastly, if there is Spleen and Stomach Yin deficiency, the patient may complain of feeling hungry but not being able to eat much, abdominal bloating, dry lips, a  dry mouth and irregular bowel movements with difficulty in passing stools.

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