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  • Writer's pictureMin Jeon

IBS Gut You Feeling Pooped? It's Time to Regulate and Gut Things Moving with Ease!

Updated: Apr 12




Welcome. If you're reading this, chances are you or someone you know is all too familiar with the challenges that come with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – the abdominal pain, the bloating, the unpredictable bowel habits and the ups and downs of IBS. Those days when a trip to the bathroom feels like a race against time, and you wonder if you'll ever regain a sense of normalcy. Hang in there – you're not alone.



While IBS may feel like an insurmountable obstacle at times, it's important to remember that you're not alone in this struggle. In fact, there's an entire community of individuals who are navigating similar experiences and searching for answers alongside you.



Amidst the frustration and discomfort, there is hope. In recent years, acupuncture has gained popularity as a treatment that has helped provide relief from IBS. Taking a comprehensive approach, acupuncture aims to address the physical and emotional dimensions of IBS, potentially providing significant relief for countless individuals.



In this blog, we will delve into the world of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), exploring its potential causes and symptoms, and examining how acupuncture and lifestyle changes may provide relief from this condition. So, whether you're seeking relief or simply want to learn more about IBS, you're in the right place. Let's embark on this journey together.





Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It's a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon) and can cause a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition, meaning it typically lasts for a prolonged period, but isn’t known to cause permanent damage to the colon or increase the risk of more serious conditions like colon cancer. The exact cause of IBS is not fully understood, but factors such as abnormal muscle contractions in the intestine, inflammation, changes in gut bacteria, and sensitivity to certain foods or stress may play a role. Treatment of IBS often involves dietary changes, stress management techniques, and lifestyle modifications to help alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.




IBS is one of the most prevalent gastrointestinal disorders worldwide. It affects around 10-15% of the global population, making it quite common. It affects millions of people worldwide of different backgrounds, ages and genders. Though anyone can experience IBS, it is more frequently diagnosed in women than in men, and it often occurs in younger individuals, with symptoms typically appearing before the age of 50. 





Potential Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complex condition with various potential causes, some of which are not fully understood. Here some potential causes that have been associated with IBS:


Abnormal Gut Motility: 

Dysfunctional movement of the intestines may lead to symptoms of IBS.


Gastrointestinal Infection: 

Previous bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections of the digestive tract can trigger IBS symptoms in some individuals.

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Dietary Factors: 

Certain foods and beverages, such as dairy products, fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, can exacerbate IBS symptoms.


Food Intolerances: 

Intolerance to specific foods, such as lactose or gluten, can contribute to IBS symptoms in some individuals.


Stress: 

Psychological stress, including anxiety and depression, can exacerbate IBS symptoms or trigger flare-ups.


Hormonal Changes: 

Fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly in women during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can influence IBS symptoms.


Genetics: 

There may be a genetic predisposition to developing IBS, as it tends to run in families.


Abnormalities in the Gut Microbiota: 

Imbalances in the composition of gut bacteria (dysbiosis) have been implicated in IBS development.


Central Nervous System Dysfunction: 

Altered communication between the brain and the gut may play a role in IBS.


Visceral Hypersensitivity: 

Increased sensitivity of the nerves in the gut can lead to heightened perception of pain and discomfort.


Low-grade Inflammation: 

Some individuals with IBS exhibit mild inflammation in the intestines, although it's unclear if this is a cause or a consequence of the condition.


Immune System Dysfunction: 

Abnormalities in the immune system may contribute to the development of IBS symptoms.


Alterations in Serotonin Levels: 

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter primarily found in the gut, is involved in regulating bowel function. Changes in serotonin levels may contribute to IBS symptoms.


Psychological Factors: 

Psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, or a history of traumatic events may increase the risk of developing IBS.


Medication Use: 

Certain medications, including antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and some antidepressants, can worsen or trigger IBS symptoms.


Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO): 

An overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine may lead to symptoms similar to those of IBS.


Intestinal Permeability (Leaky Gut): 

Increased permeability of the intestinal lining may allow harmful substances to leak into the bloodstream, potentially triggering immune responses and inflammation associated with IBS.


Sleep Disturbances: 

Poor sleep quality or insufficient sleep may exacerbate IBS symptoms.


Physical Trauma to the Abdomen: 

Injuries or surgeries involving the abdomen may increase the risk of developing IBS symptoms.


Environmental Factors: 

Exposure to environmental pollutants or toxins may play a role in the development or exacerbation of IBS symptoms in susceptible individuals.



It's important to note that IBS is a multifactorial condition, and different individuals may experience symptoms for different reasons. Additionally, the exact cause of IBS can be challenging to pinpoint in many cases.






Potential Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but here are some common symptoms associated with IBS:


Abdominal Pain or Cramping:

Abdominal pain or cramping is one of the hallmark symptoms of IBS. The pain can vary from person to person, ranging from mild discomfort to severe cramping. It typically occurs in the lower abdomen but can also be felt in other areas of the abdomen. The pain may come and go or be constant and can be triggered by certain foods, stress, or hormonal changes.


Bloating:

Bloating is a sensation of fullness or tightness in the abdomen, often accompanied by visible swelling. It can make the abdomen feel distended and uncomfortable. Bloating is a common symptom of IBS and can occur due to gas buildup in the intestines, impaired digestion, or sensitivity to certain foods.


Gas:

Excessive gas, or flatulence, is another common symptom of IBS. It can lead to feelings of bloating and discomfort. Gas can be caused by swallowed air, the breakdown of undigested food by bacteria in the colon, or fermentation of certain foods in the intestines. People with IBS may experience increased gas production due to changes in gut motility or sensitivity.


Diarrhea:

Loose or watery stools that may occur frequently or unpredictably. Diarrhea is a common symptom of IBS, particularly the diarrhea-predominant subtype (IBS-D). It can be triggered by certain foods, stress, or other factors, and can lead to urgency and frequent trips to the bathroom, disrupting daily activities.


Constipation:

Difficulty passing stools, infrequent bowel movements, or stools that are hard and lumpy. Constipation is a common symptom of IBS, particularly the constipation-predominant subtype (IBS-C). It can cause discomfort, bloating, and a feeling of incomplete evacuation, and may be accompanied by straining during bowel movements.


Alternating Diarrhea and Constipation:

Some individuals with IBS may experience episodes of diarrhea followed by periods of constipation, or vice versa. This pattern is characteristic of the mixed subtype of IBS (IBS-M). It can make symptoms unpredictable and challenging to manage.


Changes in Stool Consistency:

Stools in IBS can vary in consistency from loose to hard, or may appear as pellets. Changes in stool consistency are a common feature of IBS and can occur within the same individual over time or even within the same day. Stool consistency may be influenced by factors such as diet, hydration, and gut motility.


Urgency:

Feeling a sudden and compelling need to have a bowel movement. Urgency can be accompanied by a fear of not making it to the bathroom in time. It is a distressing symptom of IBS, particularly when combined with diarrhea, as it can lead to accidents or embarrassment.


Incomplete Evacuation:

Some individuals with IBS may experience a sensation of not fully emptying the bowels after a bowel movement. This feeling of incomplete evacuation can lead to discomfort or a persistent urge to have another bowel movement. It may contribute to the cycle of constipation and diarrhea seen in IBS.


Mucus in the Stool:

Passage of mucus along with stool is another common symptom of IBS. The mucus may appear clear or whitish and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, or changes in bowel habits. Mucus production in the intestines is a normal physiological process, but increased mucus production in IBS may be related to inflammation or irritation of the intestinal lining.


Abdominal Discomfort Relieved by Bowel Movements:

Many people with IBS find that their symptoms improve after a bowel movement. This relief of abdominal discomfort or pain following a bowel movement is a characteristic feature of IBS. However, the relief may only be temporary, and symptoms may recur after eating or other triggers.


Feeling of Fullness or Discomfort After Eating:

Some individuals may experience symptoms of IBS after meals, particularly if the meal is large or contains trigger foods. This can manifest as a feeling of fullness, discomfort, bloating, or abdominal pain. Symptoms may be worsened by certain types of foods, such as those high in fat, fiber, or fermentable carbohydrates.


Fatigue:

Feeling tired or lacking in energy, which may be associated with disrupted sleep patterns due to IBS symptoms, increased stress or anxiety, or alterations in gut microbiota. Fatigue can make it difficult to engage in daily activities and may worsen other symptoms of IBS.


Nausea:

Feeling of queasiness or discomfort in the stomach, which may or may not be accompanied by vomiting. Nausea may be triggered by various factors, including stress, certain foods, hormonal changes, or medications.


Anxiety or Depression:

IBS can have a significant impact on mental health, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression, or stress. The chronic nature of IBS symptoms, as well as the unpredictable nature of symptom flares, can contribute to emotional distress. Conversely, anxiety and depression can also exacerbate IBS symptoms, creating a vicious cycle.


Backache:

Some individuals with IBS may experience lower back pain, which can be related to abdominal discomfort or muscle tension. Backache is a less common but possible symptom of IBS and may be aggravated by stress or poor posture.


Headaches:

Recurrent headaches or migraines may occur in some people with IBS, possibly due to stress or other factors. The exact relationship between IBS and headaches is not fully understood, but both conditions may share common triggers or pathways in the brain.


Joint Pain:

Some individuals with IBS may experience joint pain or stiffness, although the exact cause is not well understood. Joint pain in IBS may be related to inflammation, immune system dysregulation, or alterations in gut microbiota. It can contribute to overall discomfort and reduced quality of life.


Difficulty Swallowing:

In some cases, individuals with IBS may experience discomfort or difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia. Dysphagia may be related to alterations in esophageal motility or sensitivity. It can be triggered by stress or anxiety and may worsen symptoms of IBS.


Heartburn or Acid Reflux:

Symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) such as heartburn or regurgitation may occur alongside IBS in some individuals. GERD symptoms can be triggered by certain foods, stress, or changes in body position. They may exacerbate symptoms of IBS or vice versa, creating a complex interplay between the two conditions.



It's important to note that not everyone with IBS will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity and frequency of symptoms can vary widely between individuals. Additionally, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis.






Potential Benefits of Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


Acupuncture is often used as a comprehensive treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and while individual experiences may vary, research and evidence suggest several potential benefits. Here are some potential benefits of acupuncture for IBS:


Reduced Abdominal Pain:

Acupuncture may potentially help alleviate the abdominal pain and discomfort associated with IBS by triggering the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. By reducing pain perception, acupuncture may potentially alleviate the severity of abdominal pain in individuals with IBS.


Regulation of Bowel Movements:

IBS commonly presents with irregular bowel movements, alternating between constipation and diarrhea. Acupuncture may potentially regulate gut motility by stimulating points that influence the digestive system. By balancing the function of the intestines, acupuncture may potentially promote regular bowel movements, easing both constipation and diarrhea symptoms.


Stress Reduction:

Stress is a significant trigger for IBS symptoms. Acupuncture may potentially induce relaxation by calming the nervous system and reducing stress hormones such as cortisol. By promoting a state of relaxation, acupuncture may potentially help manage stress levels, thus alleviating IBS symptoms triggered by psychological stressors.


Improved Digestion:

Digestive disturbances are common in individuals with IBS. Acupuncture may potentially enhance digestive function by stimulating blood flow to the digestive organs and potentially regulating gastrointestinal motility. Improved digestion may lead to better nutrient absorption and reduced gastrointestinal discomfort associated with IBS.


Balancing Gut Microbiota:

Imbalances in the gut microbiota have been implicated in the pathogenesis of IBS. Acupuncture may potentially modulate the gut microbiota composition by regulating the gut-brain axis and immune function. By promoting a balanced microbial ecosystem in the gut, acupuncture may potentially mitigate inflammation and improve gastrointestinal health in individuals with IBS.


Enhanced Serotonin Levels:

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in regulating bowel movements and mood. Low serotonin levels are associated with IBS symptoms. Acupuncture may stimulate the release of serotonin, potentially promoting its synthesis and enhancing its activity in the gut. By modulating serotonin levels, acupuncture may potentially help normalize bowel function and mood in individuals with IBS.


Pain Relief:

Acupuncture has been shown to have analgesic properties, potentially providing relief from abdominal pain and discomfort associated with IBS. Acupuncture may stimulate the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. By blocking pain signals and inducing relaxation, acupuncture may potentially alleviate the severity of IBS-related pain, potentially improving overall comfort and well-being.


Normalization of Motility:

Dysregulated gut motility contributes to the symptoms of IBS. Acupuncture may potentially help normalize gut motility by modulating the enteric nervous system and smooth muscle function. By regulating peristalsis and reducing gastrointestinal spasms, acupuncture may potentially improve bowel function and alleviate symptoms of IBS.


Improved Immune Function:

Immune dysregulation and low-grade inflammation have been implicated in the pathophysiology of IBS. Acupuncture may potentially enhance immune function by regulating inflammatory mediators and cytokines. By modulating the immune response, acupuncture may potentially mitigate inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and improve symptoms in individuals with IBS.


Enhanced Blood Circulation:

Adequate blood circulation is essential for maintaining the health of the digestive organs and facilitating tissue repair. Acupuncture may potentially improve blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract by dilating blood vessels and enhancing microcirculation. By increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery to the digestive tissues, acupuncture may potentially promote healing and reduce inflammation in individuals with IBS.


Better Sleep:

Sleep disturbances are common in individuals with IBS. Acupuncture may potentially promote relaxation and regulate the sleep-wake cycle by stimulating the release of endorphins and melatonin. By improving sleep quality and duration, acupuncture may potentially help manage IBS symptoms.



It's important to note that while acupuncture can offer benefits for many individuals with IBS, results can vary. It's always advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment regimen for IBS.






Additional Strategies to Potentially Help Reduce Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


In addition to acupuncture, lifestyle changes and other natural approaches can often help relieve symptoms. Here are some strategies to potentially help alleviate symptoms of IBS:


Dietary Modifications:


  • Fiber-Rich Foods:  Incorporating soluble fiber from sources like chia seeds, flaxseeds, oats, and fruits may help regulate bowel movements.

  • Probiotic Foods:  Introducing probiotic-rich foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi may help balance gut bacteria.

  • Hydration:  Drinking plenty of water can prevent dehydration and aid digestion.

  • Mindful Eating:  Practicing mindfulness while eating, such as chewing food thoroughly and eating slowly, may reduce symptoms of IBS.



Regular Exercise: 

Engaging in regular physical activity may improve digestion and relieve stress, which are both linked to IBS symptoms.



Stress Management:


  • Deep Breathing and Meditation:  Incorporating deep breathing exercises or meditation may help relax the body and reduce stress levels.

  • Yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong:  These practices combine movement and mindfulness, which may help alleviate IBS symptoms.



Herbal Supplements: 

Certain herbs such as peppermint oil, chamomile, and ginger may help alleviate symptoms like abdominal pain and bloating. Be sure to consult a proper healthcare professional before beginning any new herbal supplements.


Avoiding Trigger Foods: 

Identifying and avoiding foods that trigger symptoms may help manage IBS. Common triggers include spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and high-fat foods.


Regular Meal Times: 

Eating meals at regular intervals may help regulate bowel movements and prevent symptoms of IBS.


Adequate Sleep: 

Prioritizing good sleep hygiene and ensuring adequate rest may help manage stress levels and improve overall health.


Hygiene Habits: 

Practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly, may prevent infections and reduce the risk of triggering IBS symptoms.


Limiting NSAIDs: 

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can exacerbate IBS symptoms, so it's advisable to limit their use.


Journaling: 

Keeping a food and symptom diary may help identify patterns and triggers, potentially making it easier to manage IBS effectively.


Avoiding Smoking: 

Smoking can worsen IBS symptoms, so quitting smoking or avoiding exposure to smoke is beneficial.


Warm Baths: 

Soaking in a warm bath or using warming pads on the abdomen may provide relief from abdominal pain and discomfort. Exercise caution when using heat to ensure the temperature is safe and won't cause burns or discomfort.


Limiting Alcohol: 

Alcohol can irritate the digestive system, so limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption may help alleviate symptoms.


Regular Bathroom Visits:

Establishing a regular bowel routine, such as visiting the restroom at the same time each day, can help regulate bowel movements.



It's important for individuals with IBS to consult with healthcare professionals before making significant lifestyle changes or starting new treatments to ensure they're appropriate for their specific condition and medical history.






Through this blog, we've delved into the complexities of IBS, exploring its potential causes, symptoms, and the myriad of factors that may contribute to its development. From abnormal gut motility to stress, dietary factors to immune system dysfunction, IBS is indeed a multifaceted condition.



Among the various treatments available, acupuncture has emerged as a promising option for many individuals seeking relief from IBS symptoms. By addressing both the physical and emotional dimensions of the condition, acupuncture aims to provide comprehensive support, potentially alleviating abdominal pain, regulating bowel movements, reducing stress, and improving overall well-being.



In addition to acupuncture, there are some lifestyle modifications and natural strategies that, alongside acupuncture, may potentially help reduce symptoms of IBS. From dietary modifications to stress management techniques, exercise routines to herbal supplements, there are various strategies to explore for potential relief. Be sure to consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your healthcare regime.



So, to everyone grappling with the ups and downs of IBS, know that you are resilient, and relief is out there. It’s time to take that next step towards regulating your digestive system and experiencing relief.





If you're seeking relief from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) through acupuncture, we warmly welcome you to connect with us at Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic. Our high skilled practitioner, Dr. Min K. Jeon, has demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture in alleviating IBS symptoms for numerous individuals. Dr. Min brings extensive experience in the field, using not only acupuncture but also complementary therapies to potentially help enhance results.



If you're interested in scheduling a free consultation to meet with Dr. Min, please contact us at Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic. During this consultation, Dr. Min will take the time to discuss your concerns, answer questions, evaluate you, and create a potential treatment plan customized to your specific needs.



Take that next step towards potential relief! Contact us today!



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