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How Acupuncture Works as a Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

How Acupuncture Works as a Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’re seeking relief from its troublesome and embarrassing symptoms. You may experience diarrhea and/or constipation, painful abdominal cramps, gas, and bloating that make your stomach feel uncomfortable most of the time. You may suddenly need to run to find a bathroom when you’re out with friends. 

Not knowing when an IBS attack may hit can leave you feeling depressed and anxious. If medication hasn’t controlled your symptoms, or if you can’t tolerate drugs or don’t like taking them for your condition, you may find relief with acupuncture treatment. You may also find that acupuncture is the extra help you need alongside traditional medication.

Dr. Donghwan Lee with DH Acupuncture in New York City, New York, is a highly qualified, licensed acupuncturist with over a decade of experience in treating patients with IBS in both China and the US. He studied in China under one of the top-rated Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) specialists recognized by the Chinese government. Dr. Lee uses acupuncture treatment for IBS alongside other treatments such as herbal medicine. He may also recommend dietary changes, probiotics, stress reduction, and other modalities to help you feel better. 

How did I get IBS? 

Researchers haven’t completely solved the mystery of IBS. They still don’t have complete answers as to why it occurs. It may be dysfunction in the way your gastrointestinal muscles work as food moves through your intestinal system. Your GI nerves could be extra sensitive. Researchers also theorize your body has scrambled communication between your gut and the nerves in your brain. 

If you have a close family member with IBS, you have two to three times the risk of those that don’t have relatives with IBS, so there’s a genetic factor at play. Digestive infections and food intolerances may also contribute to the condition. 

How acupuncture works as a treatment for IBS 

Dr. Lee is trained in using acupuncture for IBS. He knows the specific pressure points that are going to help relieve your symptoms. He places small, thin needles at certain points on your body. The goal is to correct the energy flow in your body so that your gastrointestinal system works normally. 

Dr. Lee addresses imbalances in your spleen, your liver, and your gallbladder. These three systems play key roles in your gastrointestinal health. Stress affects the spleen and the liver and can lead to blocked energy flow in the liver, according to TCM. Acupuncture releases and rebalances the chi, or energy flow, in these organs. 

Dr. Lee uses acupuncture points that address metabolism, gastrointestinal muscle contraction, gastric acid production, stomach acidity, and intestinal function, all of which are important for healthy digestive function. 

Western researchers believe that acupuncture triggers your nervous system to produce hormones and chemicals that relieve your pain and help correct imbalances in your gastrointestinal processes. They think that the treatment may produce electromagnetic messages that stop pain signals or activate your body’s self-healing capacity. 

Western research on effectiveness of acupuncture for IBS 

Western research reviews on acupuncture for IBS are somewhat mixed, but experts with the American College of Gastroenterology say that of all of the alternative treatments, IBS may help some, but not all, patients. Many patients report symptom relief from acupuncture. 

2014 study of controlled trials found that acupuncture helped relieve pain, bloating, and abnormal bowel movement sensations. A 2020 study concludes that acupuncture works better than a traditional Western IBS medication, pinaverium bromide. 

Call DH Acupuncture or book an appointment online today for expert acupuncture treatment for IBS. 

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