Using acupuncture to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

This all-too-common disease is characterized by chronic stomach pain, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, excess gas, and irregular bowel movements.

While there’s no known cure for IBS, however, acupuncture may offer relief.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that affects the gastrointestinal system.


According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), an estimated 25-45 million people in the United States have IBS (source).




TCM Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine where the energy flow of the body (referred to as Qi) is restored to it’s original state.

This is said to improve the functionality of organs and get rid of ailments.

In traditional Chinese perspectives, the disease is thought to be a result of imbalanced energy flow within the body.

To rectify this, acupuncture practitioners work with patients to amend the energy flow and return it to its natural state.

The short answer is yes, acupuncture can help relieve the symptoms of IBS effectively.
Acupuncture is known to relieve many of the most common IBS symptoms including abdominal pain, cramping, constipation, and diarrhoea
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Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of IBS may include

  • Cramping pain in your lower abdomen

  • Bloating and gas

  • Diarrhea or constipation, or bouts of both

  • Immediate need to move your bowels when you wake up, or during or after meals

  • Relief of pain after bowel movements

  • Feeling of incomplete emptying after bowel movements

  • Mucus in your stool

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Nutrition and Supplements


Some doctors believe food allergies trigger IBS, at least for some people.

The most common food allergens are dairy products, wheat, corn, peanuts, citrus, soy, eggs, fish, and tomatoes.

Healthcare Your provider may recommend an elimination diet, where foods that are suspected of causing an allergic reaction are eliminated from your diet, then gradually added back to see which foods trigger symptoms.

Eating a healthy diet that includes mainly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help.

If gas is a problem, you may want to avoid beans, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, apple juice, grape juice, bananas, nuts, and raisins.


These tips may also help:

  • Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugar.

  • Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats, cold-water fish, tofu (soy, if no allergy), or beans for protein.

  • Use healthy cooking oils, such as olive oil or vegetable oil.

  • Reduce or eliminate trans-fatty acids, found in commercially baked goods, such as cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine

  • Take fiber supplements to help reduce pain, cramping, and gas.

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, and tobacco.

  • Stay away from sugar substitutes (such as sorbitol and mannitol), which can trigger symptoms in some people.

  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of filtered water daily.

  • Exercise 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week.

  • Engage in regular, stress-relieving activities, such as meditation and yoga.

Acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal condition characterized by altered bowel habits and abdominal pain and discomfort.


It is a common, costly, and difficult to treat disorder that also impairs health-related quality of life and work productivity.


Some pharmacological (i.e. drug) therapies for treating IBS have modest benefits and a risk for side effects, and therefore, it is important to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of non-drug therapies, including acupuncture. One problem with trials in IBS is that placebo effects are often seen in IBS treatment. Placebo effects are improvements in symptoms that are due to patient beliefs in a particular treatment rather than the specific biological effects of the treatment.


Acupuncturists treat people with IBS based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of qi located in various meridians.


In the case of IBS, an acupuncturist usually detects a qi deficiency in the spleen and lung meridians.


Acupuncturists frequently use moxibustion (a technique in which the herb mugwort is burned over specific acupuncture points) for treatment of IBS because they believe its effects reach deeper into the body.


Because acupuncture is considered safe, and IBS is not easily treated by available conventional methods, people with IBS may wish to try acupuncture therapy to improve symptoms.

Acupuncture for Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

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