IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a diagnosis based on symptoms, not on anatomical or physiological markers. This is not typical in the canon of western medicine disease conditions.
The hallmark symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain or discomfort and bloating caused by constipation and diarrhea. IBS occurs episodically and can alternate between diarrhea and constipation with one predominating most of the time.
In IBS, the neurotransmitters have gone amiss, affecting the digestive system in three ways:
1. Motility: the signaling is off, resulting in either rapid (diarrhea) or slowed (constipation) transit time in the gut
2. Visceral perception: tests show either high (diarrhea) or low (constipation) sensitivity to pressure in the upper and lower intestines
3. Stress: frequency of life stress and/or poor ability to process stress
Additional, but statistically less significant factors include a reduced ability to absorb certain sugars, malabsorption of bile acids from fatty foods, and food allergies.
Western medicine versus eastern medicine in treating IBS:
Diagnosis is based on experiencing the hallmark symptoms for 12 consecutive weeks within a 12 month period.
Western medicine has conducted research studies that show the benefits of Chinese herbal formulas in the treatment of IBS.
IBS doesn’t have to be forever. We find acupuncture, which is a tremendous stress-buster, dietary counseling, regular exercise, and an assessment of healthy lifestyle habits to help bring about a lasting change.
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