Irritable Bowel Syndrome ( IBS ) affects up to 22% of people and is the most common functional digestive disorder seen by GPs.


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Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may benefit IBS symptoms by:

  • Providing pain relief .
  • Regulating the motility of the digestive tract .
  • Raising the sensory threshold of the gut. Various possible mechanisms have been identified, involving spinal nerves and NMDA receptors . A lowered threshold to bowel pain and distention are hallmarks of IBS.
  • Increasing parasympathetic tone . Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can stimulate colon spasms, resulting in abdominal discomfort. In people with IBS, the colon can be oversensitive to the smallest amount of stress. Acupuncture activates the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates a relaxation response.
  • Reducing anxiety and depression. The distress provoked by Irritable Bowel symptoms can lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety-pain-anxiety, while the embarrassing nature of the condition can lead to feelings of depression. Acupuncture can alter the brain’s mood chemistry, increases production of serotonin and endorphins . This helps to combat these negative affective states.

There is consistent evidence that a course of acupuncture improves IBS symptoms and general wellbeing .

Acupuncture works on different pathways

The pathways which acupuncture uses are myriad, and in any 1 person or medical condition the pathways will be different, so we urge people to try treatment at least 6 times for their condition before evaluating.  The outcomes for different conditions and different people makes it impossible to predict how any one person will respond.

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