IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome


To quote: 'The patient complains of disordered bowel function with abdominal pain, but no organic disease can be found.' (Bailliere's Nurses' Dictionary.) This is what used to be called 'Spastic colon' or 'Mucous Colitis'.

Its origin is often emotional crisis, or a shock, or an extended period of stress, worry or tension.

Occasionally it seems to be triggered, or at least first noticed, after a period of digestive or alcoholic indiscretion - otherwise known as having a good time, when stressed!

Unfortunately, after a while, it may be impossible to remember the events that it started with, and stress may or may not play a part in the frequency of symptoms.

Dieticians and allergy specialists often attribute IBS to food or substance sensitivity, infection or a build-up of toxins. They may suggest you follow the FODMAP diet. This may reduce your symptoms but doesn't necessarily deal with the underlying tendency.

Candida albicans is also often suspected, but this depends on the therapist's background.

Candida is implicated in many diseases but it is not often the original cause.

Various therapies make a difference to irritable bowel syndrome, and some stand out - see below.

You'll need to change your diet for a while, if foods trigger your IBS.

But when you get better, they cease to be triggers.

Symptoms of IBS

  • Intermittent abdominal discomfort or pain
  • with difficulty but urging to defecate.
  • Stools may be constipated, loose or runny, sometimes with mucus.
  • It may be possible to feel (and in thin people to see) tense or knotty places in the bowel through the wall of the abdomen.
  • These bits of tension often move around, producing wind or small bits of stool.
  • Can be accompanied by:
  • headache (usually at the temples or forehead), 
  • irritability
  • unsociability
  • anxiety over eating and food
  • general tension. 
  • Symptoms are often, but by no means always aggravated by stress and deadlines, eating certain foods, or illness. 
  • The patient often feels better if she can take regular exercise.

In our experience, food sensitivity plays a part, also toxic overload and candida.

In Chinese Medicine there a number of possible syndromes that IBS can be diagnosed as having, including

(The Spleen when working properly, transforms food into Blood and Qi, and transports it round the body. Liver Qi when stagnating prevents this, leading to little pools of stagnant energy, like little knots under the abdominal skin that move around under pressure or massage).

Acupuncture to release Qi stagnation usually works quickly and smoothly.

Other therapies for Irritable Bowel

But any other therapy that loosens Liver Qi stagnation also works, including

  • You my need advice on diet and lifestyle.

As regards diet, often the culprit is either dairy food, and/or too much carbohydrate in general, and some kinds of wheat in particular.

A long history of this can lead to accumulation of old faeces and re-absorption of toxins through the wall of the bowel (a condition not unlike a Chinese medicine syndrome called 'Food Retention'. Cleansing this may take persistence.

Following this, a diet should be followed that contains

  • plenty of fish (oily fish like mackerel are best, but take occasional white fish: avoid shell-fish) and
  • vegetables, grown if possible without chemicals, with
  • non-gluten forming grains. (Rice, millet, corn, quinoa are non-gluten forming.) Avoid, wheat and dairy products as much as possible, and
  • take no coffee or caffeine-type stimulants or drinks, and not too much spicy food.
  • Avoid greasy, fatty, deep-fried or battered food. These foods are too heating.

Vigorous exercise is often of huge benefit to IBS sufferers.

If Candida is suspected, you may need to be treated separately for this. However, if the Chinese medical syndromes are successfully treated as above, your body behaves as if Candida has no place because it is in harmony with itself, so Candida is pushed out.

Qi Stagnation is such a big subject, or at least the conditions which it covers are so many, that I wrote a book about it.

Qi Stagnation happens to everyone from time to time. It's part of life, and does little harm, especially if you know how to deal with it - which is what the book below is about: I'm told it's easy to read.

If Qi Stagnation goes on for too long, then you may have a problem. The book describes how it could make you ill.

But all is not lost! For nearly everyone, there are ways forward.

Even when you have to put up with Qi stagnation in one part of your life, learning how to take the 'sting' out of it can lead you down new pathways and keep you enjoyably sane!

Knowing that, you'll often find that the stagnating Qi - which is, after all, your own trapped energy - becomes a huge resource that you can use to move on creatively.

Why Does My Stomach Hurt?

If your pain is in your upper abdomen, above your belly button and under your ribs, then click on Why Does My Stomach Hurt?

You may like to know more about how your Stomach works in Chinese medicine:

Here are various Stomach syndromes (which can also combine with other syndromes):


Booking Consultations with Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott

Click here to see when Jonathan is available, or to BOOK your appointment online. 

Alternatively, ring him on 07950 012501 or freephone (only free to telephone within the UK) 0800 298 7015.

Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott Books

Please note! The Kindle editions are less easy to read! Although the paper editions cost more, they are much easier to read and to refer back and forth to the contents and index. 

Here are some of the books Jonathan has written:

Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress

Yin Deficiency - Burnout and Exhaustion

Yang Deficiency - Get Your Fire Burning Again!

Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine

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