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Treat IBS Naturally with TCM




Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic disorder that affects the stomach and intestines in the gastrointestinal tract (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2022). It is estimated that up to 15% of adults in the United States have IBS, and it is more common in women than men. 

What are the symptoms of IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (Ibs)? 

The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, and changes in stool appearance. These symptoms can vary from person to person and can be mild or severe. IBS is a chronic condition, meaning that it is long-lasting and requires ongoing management.

       Here are some of the most common symptoms of IBS:

  • Abdominal pain: this pain is often described as cramping or achy and can be felt in the upper or lower abdomen. It can be worse after eating or during bowel movements.

  • Changes in bowel movements: People with IBS may experience diarrhea, constipation, or both. They may also have a change in the frequency of their bowel movements.

  • Changes in stool appearance: People with IBS may have loose, watery stools or hard, dry stools. They may also see mucus or blood in their stool.


The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including:

  • Issues with the nervous system: The nerves in the gut may be more sensitive in people with IBS, causing them to feel pain and discomfort even when there is no physical problem.

  • Severe infections: Some people with IBS may have developed the condition after a severe bout of diarrhea caused by a virus or bacteria.

  • Muscle contractions in the intestines: The muscles in the intestines may contract more forcefully or irregularly in people with IBS, causing pain and diarrhea.

  • Changes in gut microbes: The balance of bacteria in the gut may be different in people with IBS, which can lead to inflammation and other problems.

  • Early life stress: People who experienced stressful events in childhood may be more likely to develop IBS.

       Some triggers of IBS also include:

  • Food: Certain foods, such as dairy products, gluten, and fatty foods, can trigger IBS symptoms in some people.

  • Stress: Increased stress can also trigger IBS symptoms.

What are the causes of IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS) in Oriental Medicine?

    In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is classified as abdominal pain. The causes of IBS in TCM are thought to be abnormal emotions, diet, and external pathogens. Additionally, Liver stagnation and Spleen deficiency, cold and heat, and Spleen and Kidney Yang deficiency are key factors of IBS (Aria Integrative Medicine, 2022).

       Here is a more detailed explanation of the TCM causes of IBS:

  • Liver stagnation: The Liver is responsible for the free flow of Qi, or energy, throughout the body. When the Liver is stagnant, Qi does not flow freely and can cause pain and discomfort in the abdomen.

  • Spleen deficiency: The Spleen is responsible for digesting food and absorbing nutrients. When the Spleen is weak, it cannot do its job properly, leading to digestive problems, such as diarrhea and constipation.

  • Cold and heat: In TCM, cold and heat are two opposing forces that can disrupt the balance of the body. When there is too much cold or heat in the body, it can cause problems, such as IBS.

  • Spleen and Kidney Yang deficiency: Yang is the warm, active energy of the body. When the Spleen and Kidney Yang are deficient, it can lead to coldness and weakness in the body, which can contribute to IBS.

What can Oriental medicine do to treat IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (ibs)? 

          Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can offer various treatment modalities for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

          Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. Acupuncture has been shown to be effective in relieving IBS symptoms such as abdominal pain and distension, reducing tension and stress in the digestive organs, and regulating bowel movement (Ryu, 2022). Acupuncture can also help stimulate the nervous system, releasing hormones and chemicals that ease stress and pain (Premier Spine and Sports Medicine, 2022). 

          Acupressure is a similar technique to acupuncture, but it uses finger pressure instead of needles. Acupressure aids in reducing IBS symptoms by using the same collection of points along the meridians to help eliminate blockages and encourage Qi and blood to move freely through the body (Tan, 2021). Ear acupuncture/acupressure also helps ease IBS symptoms, such as bloating, abdominal pain, and the sensation of incomplete bowel movements (Rowden, 2022). 

          Traditional Chinese herbal medicine is a system of medicine that uses plants and other natural substances to treat a variety of health conditions. Traditional Chinese herbs have been shown to treat IBS to decrease abdominal pain, improve stool quality and emotional health in patients, and regulate digestive system functions (Ryu, 2022). In addition, traditional Chinese herbs are also responsible for helping IBS symptoms by reducing intestinal inflammation, restoring intestinal flora, and modulating the smooth muscle of the gastrointestinal tract (Rice, 2018). 

          Moxibustion helps patients with IBS as it is a modality of traditional Chinese medicine that uses heat from burning dried mugwort over specific points on the body. It helps regulate Qi and resolve stagnation while dispelling coldness and warming the body (GinSen Clinic, 2022). Moxibustion also helps those with IBS by having anti-inflammatory effects and protecting the Liver function (Davis, 2022). It also plays a role in pain management and preventing and treating other diseases. 

          Cupping is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves placing cups on the skin and creating suction. Cupping helps to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which increases blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract. It also aids in peristalsis, which helps clear colon blockages, encourages blood and body fluid to move through organs, and relieves indigestion (Resolution Health, 2019). Abdominal cupping therapy can also help lessen digestion attacks and clear constipation (The Center for Holistic Healing, n.d.). 


          In addition to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatments, lifestyle recommendations can help improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These recommendations include:

  • Getting enough sleep: When you are sleep-deprived, your body is more likely to experience stress and inflammation, which can worsen IBS symptoms. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

  • Getting regular exercise: Exercise helps to improve circulation and reduce stress, both of which can help to relieve IBS symptoms. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week (Acupuncture & Massage College, 2010). 

  • Keeping your feet warm: The feet are considered to be an important part of the body's energy system in TCM. Keeping your feet covered and warm is important to maintain body balance and support proper Qi flow through the meridians (Barrett, 2020). Wear warm socks and shoes, especially in cold weather.

  • Managing stress: Stress can trigger IBS symptoms. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature.

  • Eating a healthy diet: A healthy diet can help to reduce inflammation and improve digestion. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and caffeine, which can worsen IBS symptoms. Instead, focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

          Rapha Acupuncture in Newport Beach is a TCM/OM clinic specializing in men's and women's health. We can help you design the best treatment plan for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) using acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbs customized to your symptoms. Our natural and holistic approach can help you find relief from IBS and improve your overall health.

Here are some of the benefits of TCM/OM treatment for IBS:

  • Natural and holistic: TCM/OM treatments are natural and do not have the side effects of medications.

  • Customized to your symptoms: Your treatment plan will be customized to your individual symptoms and needs.

  • Effective: TCM/OM has been shown to be effective in relieving IBS symptoms in many people.

  • Holistic: TCM/OM takes a holistic approach to your health, considering your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

If you are looking for a natural and holistic way to treat IBS, Rapha Acupuncture can help. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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Acupuncture and Massage College. (2010, January 6). Traditional Chinese medicine and lifestyle recommendations. 

Aria Integrative Medicine. (2022, May 10). IBS and traditional Chinese medicine. 

Barrett, L. (2020, January 9). Top 10 traditional Chinese medicine health tips: The flow by Pique. Pique Blog. 

Davis, K. (2022, February 22). What to know about moxibustion. Medical News Today. 

GinSen Clinic. (2022, December 13). Traditional Chinese medicine for irritable bowel syndrome. 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, November 2). Irritable bowel syndrome. Mayo Clinic. 


Premier Spine and Sports Medicine. (2022, December 5). Acupuncture for IBS: What you need to know. 

Resolution Health. (2019, April 24). 7 surprising benefits of cupping massage. 

Rice, R. (2018, April 8). Traditional Chinese medicine and IBS. The Stram Center Integrative Medicine, Functional Medicine, Albany NY. 

Rowden, A. (2022, January 28). Acupuncture for IBS: Efficacy and alternative treatment options. Medical News Today. 

Ryu, J. (2022, December 22). Using Traditional Chinese medicine for irritable bowel syndrome.

Tan, Q., & Cai, X. (2021, September 3). How to manage IBS diet with acupuncture and TCM. Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). 

The Center for Holistic Healing. (n.d.). Therapeutic cupping.


Yao, C. J., Li, Y. L., Pu, M. J., Luo, L. H., & Feng, P. M. (2020). Traditional Chinese medicine for irritable bowel syndrome: A protocol for meta-analysis. Medicine, 99(48), e23394.

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