Get the good gut feeling - acupuncture and irritable bowel syndrome

Everyday, one in three of us cringe with embarrassment as we secretly cope with regular disturbances and discomfort of the bowels. Statistics estimate that 9 million people in the UK suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and yet many are not aware that acupuncture is a great way to aid relaxation and help relieve stress, one of the key triggers for IBS.

IBS is a disturbance of the bowels with symptoms of abdominal pain or discomfort plus a change in bowel habit with chronic diarrhoea, constipation or alternation between the two. Anxiety and stress is a common cause for the body to become irritated and affects the working of our digestive system.

Regain your inner harmony ...

Discovering ways to ease your stress will help in the relaxation of your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Acupuncture can help reduce stress, and has been used to treat bowel disorders in China for thousands of years. By inserting fine needles into the channels of energy which run underneath our skin, an acupuncturist can stimulate the body's own healing response and help restore its natural balance.
By alleviating energy blockages in the body, acupuncture works to relieve stress, reduce pain and strengthen energy and vitality, allowing the body to become more balanced.

Acupuncture can help by:

  • Offering an effective treatment for stress which can often be a trigger for IBS
  • Stimulate the bowels
  • Ease muscle contractions and pain / enhance colonic motility
  • Aid muscle relaxation
  • Increase energy levels


Research by The Journal of Gastroenterology. Vol. 41(5)(pp 408-417), 2006 states:

The stimulatory effects of acupuncture on GI motility may be beneficial to patients with constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), who show delayed colonic transit. In contrast, the inhibitory effects of acupuncture on GI motility may be beneficial to patients with diarrhoea-predominant IBS, because enhanced colonic motility and accelerated colonic transit are reported in such patients

Angela Hicks, British Acupuncture Council member and Principal of the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine explains: "One of the reasons that acupuncture is so effective in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and other bowel conditions is that treatment deals with the underlying cause of the problem rather than only the symptom. The practitioner will diagnose each patient individually, for example, the cause may be a blockage or inflammation or an underlying area that needs to be strengthened. By treating the person as a whole the symptoms will decrease and the patient will also have, as a bonus, increased well-being and vitality."

To find your nearest qualified British Acupuncture Council practitioner please visit or call 020 8735 0400

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Next review: 31 May 2021