The World Health Organization recommends Acupuncture to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Irritable bowel syndrome (“spastic colitis”) is a chronic, benign, functional disease of the large intestine that negatively impacts the quality of life for many patients. Increased intestinal sensitivity leading to abdominal pain, constipation and/or diarrhea, as well as delayed bowel movement (gastrointestinal dysmotility) and bloating (flatulence) are common among IBS patients. Accompanying symptoms are indigestion, heart pain, anxiety, depression.

Motility disorders of the digestive system, intestinal inflammation and psychological disorders are the reasons for these recurring symptoms in IBS. Certain foods,  situations, stress and anxiety may trigger a flare-up of IBS symptoms.Treating IBS is difficult, as there is no known medication, so treatment is symptomatic, thus antispasmodics drugs and lifestyle changes are recommended. Alterations in diet, increases exercise and stress reduction may alleviate the symptomatology.

A study published in World J Gastroenterol (1) analyzed the results of 6 quality research papers on the effect of Acupuncture on irritable bowel symptoms. Acupuncture was found to be 85% effective in relieving symptoms, while drugs improved IBS  clinically in only 50% of patients. The effect of Acupuncture on the autonomic nervous system and the reduction of stress and anxiety seem to be the mechanisms that explain this positive effect.

Acupuncture therapy

Local acupuncture points stimulate the intestinal nervous system to regulate its motility and secretory capacity. Distant acupuncture points have a strong analgesic and sedative effect, through serotonin in the Central Nervous System which is the most powerful pain reliever among with opiates (endorphins and encephalins). Electroacupuncture may also be performed to strengthen certain points in chronic persistent colitis.

Acupuncture has fast results in the treatment of this condition. The patient will notice an improvement not only in bowel function but will also begin to feel less anxiety, anger and will be more efficient at work and happier in his personal life.