It’s not fun, seems to have no solution to it and interrupts life daily.
So it’s over to TCM Dr. Peter Haxell to explain the ins and outs of IBS.
IBS is an internal disorder that is characterized by symptoms that can include abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation, wind, and mucous in stools, nausea, and a sensation of not emptying after a bowel motion. Some may be more prone to constipation, to diarrhoea, or alternating between both.
Inconsistent bowel pattern: IBS in Chinese medicine is seen as a pattern of disharmony between the Liver and the Spleen/Stomach, in the Five Element theory it is Wood invading Earth. Essentially the Liver is affected by stress, poor lifestyle, emotional issues and begins to interrupt the smooth function of the digestive system. The Liver interrupts with the digestive process and the descent of food through the intestines, whilst the digestive system is weakened and unable to transform food into nutrients and waste correctly. As a result, bowel frequency is slowed down by the Liver causing constipation, and the digestive system is unable to form stool correctly leading to loose and frequent bowel movements, and mucous in stools.
IBS can be caused by infection, general poor diet, food intolerances, and even some medication or supplements. However in some cases, the only cause or link is emotional stress or anxiety, and very often this is seen in cases with a family history. The genetic predisposition to IBS is often triggered by certain emotions.
This pattern is related to the nervous system’s tendency to shift from “rest and digest” to “fight or flight” once exposed to acute stress. Over a sustained period, this can be severely damaging to the health of the body, the digestive system in particular. When affected by chronic stress or anxiety this can affect the nerves in the digestive tract, causing abnormal bowel contractions and interrupting formation and transit of stool.
Image by Maddison Paul, Pinterest