What is IBS, and how can acupuncture help?
I often get calls from potential patients asking if acupuncture can help IBS. IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, can significantly impact people’s lives. Many people struggle with IBS for years and find that Western medicine does not help them get the relief that they need. As a result, many manage IBS with diet, stress management, and making sure they are constantly near a bathroom.
IBS is a disorder that manifests in the Large Intestine. Generally, there are three main types:
- IBS-D: IBS with diarrhea, and may include abdominal pain, gas, and frequent urges to have a bowel movement.
- IBS-C: IBS with constipation, and may include bloating, abdominal pain, gas, fewer bowel movements, and straining with bowel movements.
- IBS-A: IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea. This is also called IBS-M where the “M” stands for mixed.
I have found that acupuncture can help the various types of IBS. For example, In my treatments for IBS, I typically use a combination of acupuncture needles, ear seeds, and a far-infrared TDP lamp. I find that patients love the gentle soothing heat on their abdomen.
Research studies on acupuncture and IBS
There have been a number of research studies showing that acupuncture can help IBS. Here are a few examples from the past few years:
- The Mayo Clinic’s study “Effect of Acupuncture in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial”.
- The World Journal of Gastroenterology’s paper “Effectiveness of acupuncture to treat irritable bowel syndrome: A meta-analysis”.
- HealthCMI’s two studies on acupuncture and IBS: Firstly, “Acupuncture Soothes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)” . Secondly, “Acupuncture Found Effective For IBS-D”.
How ear seeds can support acupuncture to help IBS
Ear seeds are a great addition to an acupuncture treatment. An ear seed is a small sphere. It stimulates an acupuncture point on the surface of the ear. Ear seeds attach to the ear with adhesive tape that looks like a band aid or clear surgical tape. They work by exerting a gentle pressure on the acupuncture point. Patients can wear ear seeds for up to five days. I love to use ear seeds because they are a great way to continue the treatment at home.
Ear seeds have even gotten attention in the Western medical world. An article was published in the Gastroenterology Nursing Journal titled “Effects of Auricular Acupressure on Women With Irritable Bowel Syndrome”. The study found that ear seeds were effective in decreasing loose stools, abdominal pain and discomfort, stress and heart rate variability.
In addition, ear seeds are great as a standalone treatment for people who are afraid of needles or who are not able to see an acupuncturist. You can read more about ear seeds in the All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy blog.
Want to talk about how acupuncture and ear seeds can help your IBS? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960.
About the Author
Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca.
About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC
HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.