In over 30 years of years of practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) one of the many categories of illness that I’ve found responds very well to TCM is the range of digestive problems called “inflammatory bowel disorders.” The range of diagnoses that are treated range from colitis, IBD (irritable bowel disorder,) Crohn’s disease, indigestion, gas, bloating, inflammation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and fatigue.
I have lectured extensively to support groups and what I always emphasize is the effectiveness of this type of treatment. I have had patients who were previously unable to leave their home for longer than a few hours at a time, but after receiving acupuncture treatments had absolutely zero limitations on their travel. I have had many patients state that their lives have been totally transformed with this treatment.
Most of these patients had been living with these problems for many years and had not realized there were safe, drug-free methods for treating their problems. Although many patients respond to traditional Western treatment, some fail to respond to even the strongest prescription drugs.
And patients who use drug therapy risk side effects, while naturopathic methods, such as acupuncture, nutrition and herbs rarely have any side effects.
In the treatment of ulcerative colitis and IBS there are also causal connections between smoking, nicotine, and steroidal drugs. Diet has also been shown to play a large role in the causation of IBS. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are distinct methods for determining which dietary factors are involved in exacerbating IBS.
In TCM, a medical exam includes inspection of the tongue and reading the pulse. By utilizing these methods, it can be determined what kind of diet is most appropriate for each person.
Foods commonly found to irritate IBS and affiliated diseases include ice cream, iced drinks, raw foods, fruits, and other foods that are considered yin, or damp, in Chinese medicine.
Correcting nutritional deficiencies or excesses is a major portion of the treatment goal as well. By analyzing blood and/or hair analysis studies, we can see where the precipitating factors arise in treating IBS, Crohn’s disease and colitis. Nutritional deficiencies can be corrected with the intake of vitamins such as A, C, and E, as well as beta-carotene, DHEA, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and the essential fatty acids, including omega-3, 6 and 9.
Probiotics, such as lactobacillus* bifidobacteria*, are very helpful and tend to be deficient in people who suffer from IBS problems. Also the use of glutamine*, phosphatidylcholine* and anti-inflammatory supplements such as quercetin* and rutin* are found to be beneficial.
Employing an integrated medical treatment plan that utilizes both Western and naturopathic methods of treating IBS can be quite effective. Some people may respond better to one method than another, but everyone will do well with some combination of natural methods.