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Toilet Trouble

Flushing out irritable bowel syndrome

Female seated at a toilet with her pants downIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that mainly exhibits itself as intestinal dysfunction and hypersensitivity.

Its main symptom is a change in bowel habits. It may be predominantly diarrhoea or constipation, or may alternate between both. Mucus can often be found in stools. Other symptoms include abdominal pain mainly in the left lower belly, along with bloating, belching, hiccupping, heart palpitations, insomnia and anxiety.

As the pace of life accelerates, coupled with mental stress as well as unhealthy lifestyle and dietary habits, an increasing number of people are afflicted with this condition. Relevant data indicates that due to the recurring and incurable nature of IBS, some patients also develop anxiety and depression.

What is IBS?

IBS should not be confused with gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis is an acute illness that results from bacterial or viral infection, and bacteria or viruses can be found in the stool culture. IBS is a chronic illness that results from a functional disorder of the intestines. Colonoscopy and stool culture results mostly return normal. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) classifies IBS under diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal bloatedness or abdominal pain, according to the symptoms exhibited.

This condition is closely related to the liver and spleen. The liver maintains the smooth flow of qi or internal energy, while the spleen governs digestion. Excessive emotional activity or anxiety can damage the liver and spleen. Having negative emotions causes stagnation of liver qi which affects the stomach, resulting in abdominal pain. Weak spleen qi causes diarrhoea, while liver and spleen disharmony may lead to diarrhoea coupled with intense abdominal pain.

Stagnation of liver qi affects the smooth flow of qi in the intestines, while prolonged weakness of the spleen affects intestinal motility. Both factors may lead to constipation. Over time, phlegm and blood stasis may occur, affecting other organs and causing further complications, making the condition more difficult to treat.

What can I do to prevent IBS?bathroom series - toilet paper holder

Here are some tips to address and prevent the symptoms mentioned above:

  1. Be positive and avoid being anxious, angry or upset.
  2. Avoid cold, uncooked, spicy and fried food, as well as limit your intake of food that causes bloatedness, like beans and potatoes.
  3. Control your diet; eat regularly and in fixed quantities.
  4. Exercise frequently and ensure you get enough sleep.

For everyday care, ‘Four Miracle Soup’ (Si Shen Tang, which consists of the herbs Semen Nelumbins, Poria, Rhizoma Dioscorea and Semen Euryales) can be used to prevent and treat diarrhoea due to spleen deficiency. For constipation due to dryness, drink honey vinegar or eat more vegetables and fruits for smooth bowel movements.

To sum things up, this condition results from spleen qi deficiency and is induced by stagnation of liver qi due to negative emotions. Unhealthy dietary habits may also lead to the onset of IBS. Using TCM methods of differential diagnosis and treatment, including prescribed herbal medication, acupuncture and food therapy, has proven to be effective for clinical treatment of IBS.

Physician Chin Chew Seng is based at the Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinics at Bedok and Toa Payoh.
Posted by ezyhealth on Apr 1 2015. Filed under Alternative Medicine. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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