According to the British Acupuncture Council, research has shown that acupuncture & tuina-massage may benefit IBS symptoms by i) providing pain relief, ii) regulating the motility of the digestive tract, iii) raising the sensory threshold of the gut, iv) increasing parasympathetic (rest & digest) tone, and v) reducing stress caused by IBS symptoms.
“Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) describes a collection of symptoms, commonly including chronic abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence and altered bowel habits. It is a functional disorder of the intestines, occurring in the absence of visible structural abnormality.”
– British Acupuncture Council
The following description is illustrative of some common ways that I approach this work. I will always adapt my treatment plan in accord with my findings and always with your consent.
I will start with an assessment to determine the cause of you issues according to Chinese Medicine theory. In the case of IBS, I am likely to start with acupuncture and then follow this with some acupressure massage around your abdomen. If needed, I may also apply moxa to certain points indicated for their influence over the gut.
When helping with IBS, I will stimulate points around the abdomen as well as points further away on the arms and legs that have been identified as having a therapeutic effect. These needles may be retained for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. I will then follow this with some needles that are quickly removed as soon as their effect has been felt.
When applying tuina-massage I will commonly start by working on the channels that run down the back of your body, and particularly where they cross over the lower back. This will have a influence over the movement of blood and qi in the abdomen. Then, I will work on the channels in the legs that pass through the abdomen, and finally will come to concentrate on the abdomen itself. In the case of constipation I work to support the natural direction of peristalsis in the gut, and for diarrhoea I work in a counter motion. If needed, I can also use more directed techniques to help address accumulations and knotting in the abdomen.
There are a number of instance where warming and tonifying the abdomen can help with IBS symptoms, and if this is the case I will apply moxa to the indicated points. This moxa may be placed on slices of ginger or a bed of salt to add even more nourishment to the area.
Tai Chi and Qigong provide a gentle physical exercise which medical studies have shown to be beneficial for the health of the heart, bones, nerves, muscles, and immune system. They are a great way to support your acupuncture and tuina-massage treatments.