If you have ever experienced alternating diarrhea and constipation, abdominal bloating, excessive gas and pain that accompanies other symptoms like heartburn, fatigue, headache, faintness, back pain, palpitations and general weakness, you may possibly have irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. This could be as a result of stress, and food choices.
IBS is a functional illness of the small and large intestines. This disorder doesn’t usually lead to serious complications and it’s manageable if we can put the stress under control and adjust the diet. It’s important to keep the balanced distribution of fluids and energy in the body and here is where acupuncture can play a big role that can make a difference.
Excessive stress, anxiety and hormonal imbalance can result in IBS. Too much worry, obsessive-compulsive behavior, the death of a loved one and intense, prolonged grieving are contributing circumstances. IBS is a disease that mostly occurs in women. Men can suffer from it too, and the average age of onset is 20-40. In my practice I’ve been getting more and more IBS clients and I always find that there is something bothering them and making that area of the body (intestines) too stressed. The first question I ask is: “What is the stagnant emotion that you cannot express or digest?” Usually the answer for this question is the main reason for these symptoms.
I have successfully treated IBS in my practice. I use acupuncture, dietary recommendations, some life style changes, and stress relief tips. If the client follows the guidelines and makes the changes that we talk about, they can see real improvement that can last within three to six months. After that, each client comes back every few weeks for more treatment.
General eating habits and IBS
– Avoid food combinations, as in eating too many food types at one time. Stick to one type of starch per meal, and eat steamed veggies rather than raw ones.
– All foods must be eaten slowly, chewed well, and eaten in a calm atmosphere. Avoid reading or watching TV while eating.
– Cooked or steamed veggies, potato broth, figs, flaxseed, tea, steamed zucchini, squash, apple sauce, and bananas.
– Miso soup, foods high in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, vegetable and nut oils, cold water fish, flaxseed oil, and primrose oil.
– Foods that are high in fiber: Fiber can help with IBS symptoms. Examples: psyllium seed, barley, and brown rice. Vegetables are a fiber source too, and they are less likely to provoke reactions in sensitive people.
Foods to avoid
– Wheat, corn, dairy, peanuts, meat, sugar, sweet food, refined processed food, most legumes, coffee, caffeine, oranges, alcohol, hot sauces, spicy, fried, fatty rich foods, and salty foods.
In general, along with acupuncture treatments, following these diet recommendations and adding some relaxation tips and techniques to your life, such as Tai Chi, Feldenkrais, Yoga, walking, and enjoying nature can promote the healthy functioning of your digestive tract. Without a healthy digestive system your energy can be too low and you won’t be able to enjoy your life as much. In Chinese medicine the stomach is called the “sea of grain and water.” The digestive network is the main source of our life-sustaining energy after we are born.