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  • Writer's pictureCat Calhoun

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is an intestinal disorder causing abdominal discomfort or pain, usually in addition to either constipation or diarrhea. An IBS patient might also have abdominal bloating, mucus in the stools, and a sensation that their bowels still have more to go, even after voiding them. In this syndrome, the movement of food and waste through the digestive tract is impaired, even though a battery of western tests will show no problems. These symptoms are thought to be related to abnormal muscular contraction in the intestines themselves.

In the Chinese medical model, this is Wood overacting on Earth. It's often tied to psychological stressors and could even be a fight or flight response. Also, some foods will clearly trigger the problem, so managing stress, incorporating exercise, and changing the diet to eliminate triggering foods are the true fixes for this problem.

Note: Do not confuse this with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's.

Acupuncture Protocol for IBS

This is a modification of Robert Chu's WTH protocol. You don't have to be slavish about the sides below. Switch it up if you need to, but start like this if you can. The Liver points are located on the right because that is more commonly where the energy of the Liver channel expresses.

  • Right Side Huo Ying, Huo Zhu, Lv 6,* Gb 34, Gb 39 *Master Tung's Lv 6 is needled next to the tibia on the Spleen channel rather than on the bone itself. Use your fingernail to palpate and slide the needle right next to the bone.

  • Left Side Chang Men, Gan Men, Xia San Huang, St 36, St 37

You could also use the San Qi points on the Large Intestine meridian like you do in the Inflammatory Bowel Disease protocols.

Herbal Therapy for IBS

This is just a start. Customize for your patients! Either of the combinations below will 1) address the intestinal discomfort and 2) Calm the mind by bringing harmony back to the Wood and Earth elements. Choose from one of the two combinations.

Combination 1 - raw or granule formulas

  • Tong Xie Yao Fang This is a painful diarrhea formula containing bai shao, bai zhu, chen pi and fang feng.

  • For women: Xiao Yao Wan/San For men: Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang

Combination 2 - patent formulas

  • Evergreen’s GI Harmony

  • Evergreen's Calm


Point discussion

  • Xia San Huang is a three point set on the Spleen channel, which helps the Spleen control bleeding. St 36 is the He Sea and Lower He Sea of the channel, so it also help with pain and digestive function. St 37 is the Lower He Sea of the Large Intestine which helps this Fu organ function properly.

  • The Liver points on the right help regulate stress, move blood properly in the intestines, and sedate the Liver so that the element of wood does not overact on the element of earth and the Middle Jiao.

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