5 Important Acupuncture Points to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS affects many people and is the most common functional digestive disorder. Women have a greater chance of developing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and have a tendency to suffer more symptoms during their periods. The condition starts in early adolescence or early adulthood. Some of the causes are low-fiber diet, use of laxatives, emotional stress, or a bout of infectious diarrhea. It is typically a chronic, recurrent disorder and may cause an impact on substantial health, social and economic costs. IBS can lead you to make frequent doctor visits, hospitalizations, force you to skip work and also cause depression.

Acupuncture to treat irritable bowel syndrome

What Causes IBS?

It is still not clear why people suffer from IBS, what causes IBS, but it appears that there are hypersensitive sensory nerves in the bowel in people with IBS,which may overreact, especially when the bowel wall stretches. Intestinal muscles can be two types either hypo- or hyperactive, leading to pain, flatulence, cramping, sudden bouts of diarrhea, and/or constipation. The symptoms are set off either by stress or eating. Conventional medications can provide little to no relief.

Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or “spastic colon?” This is a condition which has symptoms such as abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits. However, it shares its symptoms with other health conditions too. So, it is important to diagnose IBS correctly to treat it right.  IBS is fairly common and more and more people pay a visit to the gastroenterologists to treat the same.

Acupuncture to the Rescue of People Suffering from IBS

How does Acupuncture help with irritable bowel disease treatment?

  • Providing pain relief
  • Helping with the digestive tract
  • Helping maintain the sensory threshold of the gut

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system and can stimulate the colon spasms, which can result in abdominal discomfort. In people suffering from IBS, the colon reacts to the smallest amount of conflict or stress. Acupuncture can affect the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which leads to either relaxation or the ‘rest and digest’ response.

IBS symptoms can cause a vicious cycle of anxiety-pain-anxiety and hence leads to depression. Acupuncture has a great influence on the mood chemistry of the body, increasing levels of serotonin and endorphins, combating the effects of IBS and providing irritable bowel syndrome relief.

There has been increasing evidence that a course of acupuncture brings about drastic changes in irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and general wellbeing. 

Acupuncture can be safely integrated with Western biomedicine, and other treatments such as relaxation exercises, herbal medicine, and psychotherapy. Besides offering acupuncture and related therapies, acupuncturists also offer dietary and other lifestyle changes that can help alleviate IBS symptoms better. 

Acupuncture uses thin needles that you can insert into the skin at strategic points on the body. It is an all-important part of traditional Chinese medicine and is used to combat pain. Many patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) seek a holistic approach like acupuncture to treat the symptoms. Traditional Chinese medicine recommends acupuncture as a tool to regulate energy flow or life force, known as qi or chi (pronounced “chee”). In Chinese medicine, this life force energy flows across various meridians or pathways. When you use these specific points on these meridians, acupuncture can re-balance the body’s natural energy flow and provide relief from some of the symptoms.

IBS is challenging to treat as different patients have different symptoms or triggers, and the medications available may not cater to your individualistic needs. Acupuncture is an IBS alternative treatment and offers great benefits minus the side effects that are an integral part of pharmacological treatments. What it offers is treatment protocols that can treat abdominal pain and intestinal motility.

Acupuncture Points for Treating IBS

Take a look at some of the acupuncture points that provides irritable bowel disease treatment.

Some experts believe that the gut flora is often affected in people with an IBS condition. The symptoms of IBS as we have mentioned are bloating and gas, along with cramping and pain in the abdomen. The Chinese use specific acupuncture points to treat IBS. Find some of the points are on the midline of the body.

1. CV 12 (Conception Vessel 12)

CV 12 Acupuncture Points

You can find the point on the bottom of your breastbone and towards your belly button. The CV 12 point is located midway between the two points. This point is particularly effective in treating indigestion and digestive upsets that are a result of emotional stress, gas and bloating.

2. CV 6 (Conception Vessel 6)

Conception Vessel 6 - CV6

This is an excellent acupuncture point for treating IBS and helps reduce most of the effects of irritable bowel syndrome. It’s another great point to treat health conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and infertility. CV 6 is located right on the midline of the body, two finger widths right below the belly button. Hold this point for up to five minutes.

There are two stomach meridian points, ST 25 and ST 36 that have immense benefits for the irritable bowel syndrome condition.

3. ST 25 (Stomach 25)

stomach meridian points ST 25

This point is an effective point for constipation and diarrhea. To locate it, you can find your belly button and then locate the point by going two thumb widths to the right and two thumb widths to the left. The ST 25 acupuncture point on the right and another point ST 25 on the left. Hold the point for at least five minutes.

4. ST 36 (Stomach 36, called the Three Mile Point)

Stomach 36 Point - Three Mile Point

To find this point, go to the bottom of your kneecap and use it as a marker. Place your hand underneath your knees with your fingers pointing horizontally, and then count four fingers down. The point is located in a depression on the fibula.

This is also a good acupressure point for arthritis. Hold this point for up to five minutes.

5. Spleen 9 (SP 9)

Spleen 9 Point

This is a powerful acupuncture point. Its main function in Chinese medicine is to treat “dampness”.  Now, what is dampness? Dampness is a term used by practitioners of Chinese medicine. When the Spleen and the Stomach work together in conjunction, digestion runs smoothly, water and nutrients also are well absorbed, and the body is also able to metabolize food intake well.

The problem arises when these two organs are not working in tandem, and there is a resulting phenomenon called “dampness.” Excess water within the system may not move well and the patient experience more symptoms such as bloating, edema, swelling, gas, difficulty while urinating, diarrhea or constipation, brain fog, sluggishness and aching in the limbs.

Locate the Spleen 9 under the medial condyle of the tibia, in the indentation of the posterior and inferior to the medial border of the tibia.

Besides activating the acupuncture points, there are other ways you can keep the IBS symptoms under control such as, excluding the foods which are triggering off the symptoms such as, lactose, wheat-based bread, certain fruits, legumes, high-fructose corn syrup, sweeteners, cereals, cashews and pistachios, pasta, certain vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, onions and so on. Gradually eliminate these foods and find out which foods are playing havoc on your digestive system. When you find out, you can finally add the other foods back to your diet. It is important that you drink enough water, exercise regularly and reduce your caffeine intake to take care of your symptoms. Take care.


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