Irritable Bowel

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) involves cramping, bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort often exacerbated by stress or specific foods. Symptoms often include alternating between constipation and diarrhea. From a Western Medical standpoint, the exact cause of IBS is unknown, but from a Chinese medicine standpoint, the liver and pancreas/intestines are generally imbalanced. Acupuncture soothes the liver meridian, while herbal therapy (if indicated) can promote smooth muscle relaxation and improve digestion.

To try at home……According to the University of Maryland Medical Center try:


  • Enteric-coated peppermint oil: one to two capsules (0.2 ml peppermint oil per capsule) three times a day after meals
  • Drinking a tea of fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) or ginger root (Zingiber officinale) after meals promotes good digestion
  • A tincture of equal parts of the following before meals (30 drops three times per day): valerian (Valeriana officinalis), passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), anise seed (Pimpinella anisum) extract, meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), and milk thistle (Silybum marianum)

[1] Li Y, Tougas G, Chiverton SG, Hunt RH. The effect of acpuncture on gastrointestinal function and disorders. Am J Gastroenterol. 1992;87:1372-1381.

[2] Liu JH, Chen GH, Yeh HZ, Huang CK, Poon SK. Enteric-coated peppermint-oil capsules in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective, randomized trial. J Gastroenterol. 1997;32:765-768.