Herbal Medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

traditional-chinese-medicine-herbsBetween 25 and 45 million people in the United States suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Between 10 to 15 percent of people worldwide are affected by the disorder. Traditional Chinese medicine herbs may improve symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating and distension caused by IBS, according to a Cochrane Library systematic review. Learn more about the disorder and how traditional Chinese medicine can help.

What is IBS?

A common and chronic health condition, irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine, or the colon, and can cause the following symptoms:

  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can be managed through a variety of natural methods, including diet modification, stress reduction and lifestyle changes, and traditional Chinese medicine herbs.

Research on herbal medicine

Authors of the Cochrane review searched for studies that evaluated the effectiveness of herbal medicine for IBS — including Chinese, Tibetan and Indian herbal medicines — and found 75 different trials. The trials, most of which were conducted in China, investigated a wide range of different preparations.

“Some of the medicines did improve the global symptoms of IBS,” says lead author Jianping Liu, a professor from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. Medicines that showed promise included Chinese herbal formulations and individualized herbal formulations, as well as the Tibetan herbal formula Padma Lax.

The Chinese herbal medicine Tongxie Yaofang showed a significant effect on global symptoms, as did an Indian Ayurvedic formula of two herbs. Several trials reported that combining conventional and herbal medicines produced greater benefit than using conventional therapies alone.

The benefits of natural treatment

Using traditional Chinese medicine herbs for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders offers many benefits, including:

  • Management of symptoms when conventional therapies prove ineffective
  • A lack of adverse side effects
  • A strengthening boost for the immune system
  • Aid in general health maintenance

Herbal medicines have been used for thousands of years and can serve a valuable role in the management of IBS, as well as other gastrointestinal disorders.

The community clinic at the Acupuncture and Massage College in Miamai offers acupuncture, massage therapy and herbal medicine for the treatment of a wide range of health conditions, as well as for overall wellness. To schedule an appointment call (305) 595-9500. For information about the college's programs in Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy ask for Joe Calareso, Admissions Director.
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