For instance, in TCM one of the common forms of IBS arises from a disharmony between the Liver and the rest of the digestive system. The Liver in TCM is the organ responsible for the smooth flow of Qi [‘Qi is an important concept in TCM, but impossible to translate into English. Click here for an explanation]; when the Liver is functioning well, our Qi flows freely, but the Liver is easily interfered with by emotional excesses, especially those involving anger. Getting angry is perfectly natural and healthy in some situations, but anger is problematic when it becomes a default response, so that we are getting angry at the slightest thing, or if it is repressed and simmers on as underlying resentment. In these circumstances the Liver’s ability to ensure the smooth flow of Qi is compromised.
Something similar happens when, as is almost the norm these days, we push ourselves beyond the limits of our energy, perhaps trying desperately to stay on the treadmill of modern life. This too can start to interfere with the Liver’s function of maintaining the smooth flow of our Qi; perhaps somewhere inside we are angry at being pushed around so much, even though in this case it is really we who are doing the pushing!
Anyhow, if our Qi is no longer flowing smoothly, this can cause us health problems. Often these problems are of a stop-start, come and go variety. Sometimes the symptoms are there, sometimes they are not. Or we wobble from one extreme to another as the Qi flow stops, starts up again, and judders once more to a halt. If the digestive system is affected, this typically manifests as an alternation between diarrhoea and constipation, a problem familiar to some people with a diagnosis of IBS.
If the Qi is not flowing, the natural movement of food through the digestive tract is disrupted and we end up constipated. Eventually the Qi stagnation gives; like a river that has been dammed up and then breaks through the obstruction, there is a sudden release; a sudden bout of diarrhoea.
Acupuncture is a useful treatment in cases like this because of its effectiveness at regulating the Liver and harmonising the flow of the Qi, so that our digestive system starts to function more as nature intended.
Of course this scenario does not fit everyone with a diagnosis of IBS. And, in fact, no two people’s IBS is quite the same, which is why we begin a course of treatment with a detailed consultation, so that we can understand just how your digestive Qi is impaired, and how it can best be restored to its proper function.