Living with IBS often means living with one eye always on the nearest bathroom sign. Aside from the typical abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating, the sudden and urgent changes in your bowel movements leave you feeling anxious and unable to live in the moment.
At Wellnest Denver, we believe you shouldn’t have to live at the mercy of angry bowels.
There may be no biomedical cure for IBS, but it is a common condition with treatable root causes. Through acupuncture and Chinese medicine, we can help you alleviate those irritating IBS symptoms, restore balance to your gut, and manage IBS naturally.
Chinese Medicine and IBS: Your Path to Belly Balance
Western treatments for IBS tend to be based on trial and error. Experimenting with different foods, logging your triggers, testing different anti-inflammatory drug cocktails. While these may help you get some relief, they don’t address the root cause of your IBS.
Chinese medicine, on the other hand, starts with a focused strategy.
Chinese medicine is a holistic medical system that analyzes the big picture of your health. We look at your GI symptoms and other health issues that may seem unrelated to uncover the overarching pattern of imbalance. Your diet, sleeping patterns, stress levels, and general lifestyle also inform our TCM diagnosis.
With a clear idea of the root cause of your IBS, we are better equipped to create a treatment plan that makes steady and lasting progress. This usually involves a whole-body approach to healing that integrates acupuncture, custom herbal formulas, dietary recommendations, and lifestyle recommendations to help you get relief and restore your balance.
How Acupuncture Treats IBS
Acupuncture is a gentle, effective way to treat IBS symptoms and the root cause. Studies even prove that it works better than some current IBS medications, and provides longer-lasting relief. But how does it get such great results?
Acupuncture relieves pain and discomfort.
Abdominal pain and cramping are common symptoms for most people with IBS. Thankfully, pain relief is one of acupuncture’s most immediate effects. In Chinese medicine, all pain is seen as an issue of stagnation. Through acupuncture treatment, we encourage the smooth flow of qi, blood, fluids through the body (and gas, food, and waste through the digestive tract). Improved flow leads to less pain and more comfort.
Acupuncture reduces inflammation.
The “I” in IBS stands for “irritable,” but it might as well stand for “inflammation.” Inflammation in the gut mucosa is a leading cause of the many symptoms of IBS, as well as the adverse alteration of the gut microbiome that perpetuates the syndrome.
Acupuncture helps ease these symptoms by getting to the root of inflammation. Studies show that acupuncture significantly reduces inflammation in the gut and systemically to help manage issues like IBS and inflammatory bowel disease.
Acupuncture eases stress.
Chronic stress is a common culprit for those with IBS. Many people notice that their symptoms get worse when they are feeling particularly overwhelmed or anxious. While stress is unavoidable, we do have control over how we manage our stress. Acupuncture can help.
Acupuncture is well-known for making us feel calm and zen-like after a session. But did you know that acupuncture also has lingering stress-relieving effects that continue to work long after you leave the treatment room? Studies show that regular acupuncture treatments help change the way the brain responds to stress in the long run and help us spend more time in parasympathetic mode (rest-and-digest) instead of sympathetic mode (fight-or-flight).
Wellnest Denver Offers Acupuncture that Targets IBS
Lifestyle Tips to Treat IBS at Home
While acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you make big leaps in your digestive health, what you do day to day matters, too. Here are some of the top lifestyle recommendations we give our patients with IBS at Wellnest Denver Acupuncture:
Try a low-FODMAP diet.
FODMAP stands for “Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols.” These non-digestible, short-chain carbs are difficult for the small intestine to digest, but make a great meal for some gut bacteria.
The problem? When bacteria eat these FODMAPs, they produce gas. Gas builds in your intestinal tract and you’re left feeling bloated and windy. To make matters worse, bacteria thrive on these FODMAPs and your gut soon becomes a bacteria breeding ground. More bacteria means more gas and intestinal upset. Yikes!
The good news: Researchers found that up to 76% of IBS patients experience noticeable improvements in their symptoms when they follow a low-FODMAP diet. Start by cutting out these main culprits:
- Oligosaccharides: wheat, rye, nuts, legumes, artichokes, garlic, onion.
- Disaccharides: milk, yogurt, soft cheese, ice cream, buttermilk, condensed milk, cream.
- Monosaccharides: fruits such as apples, pears, watermelon, and mango and sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup.
- Polyols: mannitol and sorbitol in apples, pears, cauliflower, stone fruits, mushrooms, and snow peas, as well as xylitol and isomalt (found in low-calorie sweetener, sugar-free gum, and mints)
While some bacteria produce gas and inflammation that aggravates the intestinal system, not all bacteria is bad. In fact, good gut bacteria is essential if you want to fight IBS and restore your digestive health.
Probiotics, especially the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, have been shown to ease IBS symptoms like bloating and flatulence. You can get probiotics by eating certain foods. Or, shop around for a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Move your body at least once per day.
Exercise is not an IBS trigger for most people. Instead, physical activity has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of IBS and improve quality of life.
Moving your body regularly helps keep your digestive system running smoothly. Exercise also helps reduce inflammation and improve circulation, which benefits an irritated digestive system. From a TCM point of view, exercise reduces both mental and physical stagnation that can lead to problematic build-up in the digestive tract.
Aim for some activity each day – even if all you can manage is a brisk walk or a morning stretching session. When you have time to get a full workout in, choose exercises that help clear excess gas, move the bowels, and boost your mood. Walking, biking, swimming, and yoga are all good choices.
Create a stress reduction self-care plan.
Stress exacerbates IBS symptoms. The more you can do to reduce your daily stress, the better off your belly will be. Thankfully, a lot of the tips in this blog (like getting acupuncture, taking herbs, and exercising) are powerful ways to keep stress levels down. But, it’s important to also build in stress relief moments into your daily schedule. Take breaks, spend time in nature, decompress before bed, and make time for the things you like to do, not just what you have to do.
Get IBS Relief Naturally at Wellnest Denver Acupuncture
What would life be like if you didn’t have to worry about where the closest bathroom was, or if your belly was going to act up in that important meeting? IBS symptoms steal your confidence and freedom, and we’re dedicated to helping you get them back!
Let’s work together to get to the root of your IBS, and create a path for better balance, ease, and comfort. Schedule a consultation at Wellnest Denver to review your IBS symptoms and find out how acupuncture and a holistic wellness plan can help you get relief.