Millions of Americans are affected each year by digestive problems like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). IBS is actually the second most common cause of absences from school or work. Acupuncture and other modalities offered by TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) in Tarzana allow patients with these two conditions to enjoy stress-free and pain-free lives. There are some substantial differences between IBS and IBD, despite them sporting similar monikers.
A disorder solely affecting the function of the gastrointestinal system, IBS, according to Western medicine, has no known infectious, biochemical, or anatomical cause. The classification of syndrome suggests that the diagnosis depends on the manifestation of a set of symptoms that oftentimes develop alongside each other. Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, flatulence, and stomach pain are the main symptoms of IBS. Eating usually triggers the discomfort and eased once the person has passed stool. If you want more information regarding IBS, visit the Internal Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders’ website.
IBD, on the other hand, pertains to chronic inflammatory diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. IBD affects the mucosal wall of the digestive tract. Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is an inflammation solely of the external layer of the colon’s mucous membrane. UC symptoms are oftentimes more than that of Crohn’s Disease and if not addressed, may result in hospitalization. Stomach cramping, constant diarrhea, mucus or blood in the stools, and a strong urge to defecate are the telltale signs of UC. Attention must be paid to the patient due to the involvement of blood loss, to ensure his/her well being. Visual confirmation from an X-ray test or a colonoscopy is how diagnosis of UC is usually done. When it comes to Crohn’s Disease, the entire tissue of the digestive tract can be potentially inflamed and while it usually affects the colon and small intestine’s distal ileum, Crohn’s can develop along any point in the digestive tract. If you want to learn more about Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, visit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America website.
Western modes of therapy for these two GI conditions are varied and can involve lifestyle or dietary modifications and in severe cases, surgery or permanent medication. Stress contributes hugely in the rise of symptoms although at this point both IBD and IBS have no known definite cause. From the perspective of Chinese medicine, IBD and IBS mainly fall under the sphere of a spleen dysfunction. According to Chinese medicine, the spleen is the organ responsible for transporting and transforming the food we consume; in other words, this organ controls the processes of digestion and assimilation of nutrients from food in the body. Gastrointestinal problems such as IBD or IBS arise when the spleen malfunctions in any way. When stress causes the symptoms to become severe, this suggests that the liver’s function is either overwhelming or impairing the spleen’s digestive efforts. It is the liver that helps energy or Qi to move smoothly within the body and when this flow is blocked or becomes erratic, our body systems get affected in a huge way.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are used to strengthen and tonify the spleen. They accomplish these by nourishing the acupuncture points. Chinese herbal remedies help relax the liver by allowing the Qi to flow smoothly throughout the body. The other symptoms can be resolved via a therapy that can help restore regular bowel movements, eliminate bloating and gas, and stop the bleeding in the gut.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide a way to alleviate IBD or IBS symptoms. Still, there are some basic things you can do yourself that can help raise your quality of life and better manage your symptoms. These can include:
1. Talk about your condition: Look for a support group where you can talk about your condition with other people suffering from the same problem you have. It can help you a lot since you can gain a new perspective that will help you understand your condition more clearly. Also, when you join a support group you may know the forms of treatment that work for others and find doctors who are highly experienced in treating your condition. You can also find tips or hints on how to better cope with this condition which you can use to create an environment in which genuine emotional and physical healing can take place. Visit the aforementioned websites to find support groups in or near your area.
2. Use herbal medicines: One of the best herbs for digestive disorders is chamomile. This plant is widely touted as an excellent remedy for stomach cramping and inflammation and is also an amazing nerve relaxant. Turmeric is another powerful herb that is known to lessen the damage caused by inflammation. To help allay stomach discomfort from gas and bloating, a high quality probiotic is recommended.
3. Dietary modifications: Changing one’s diet has a tremendous positive impact on the symptoms of IBD and IBS. The issue, however, is that no one uniform diet can be recommended for all sufferers. Monitor the foods you eat and the symptoms that may come about and log them in a food journal or diary. This way you will eventually be able to form a picture of what foods set off the symptoms. Some of the foods that usually cause inflammation which you need to avoid include alcohol, refined sugars, and difficult to digest foods like seeds or nuts. Foods that are hard to digest can overwork an already malfunctioning digestive system.
4. Lower your stress levels: We now know that stress plays a huge role in the degradation of your gastrointestinal health and so to combat it you can do activities that can help your body and mind to relax. First of all, avoid stressful situations as much as possible. Second, you can lessen the harmful effects of stress by performing meditation or breathing exercises. Some have even suggested mantra and/or hypnosis to help relieve stress related to IBD or IBS.
5. Exercise: Exercise is also one way of lowering the levels of stress in your body. One excellent anti stress exercise is yoga due to its several twisting motions and poses that actually massage the intestines that help boost blood circulation to the gut.
IBD, IBS, and other digestive diseases will affect your physical condition and emotional state in a major way. There are several treatment options you can try in spite of the fact that there is no specific cure for these diseases and that no specific cause for them that has been identified. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are just two of these although their emphasis on whole body balance and natural wellness can definitely help you manage your gastrointestinal condition in a much better way.