How Acupuncture Can Relieve IBS

For those who suffer from gastrointestinal issues, by indigestion or abdominal pain, most people assume the only treatment options are either medication or surgery, in extreme cases. Most don’t know, acupuncture can provide a solution for individuals experiencing pain and discomfort in their gut.

Digestive disorders can cause major disruption to life if left unmanaged, which unfortunately happens often. IBS is the most popular gut illness and as a chronic condition, most people struggle with finding relief. Either unaware of their illness or unsure how to begin treatment, a person can have their life taken over by IBS.

Some assume there are no reasonable treatment options for IBS and have a “learn to live with it” attitude, but Dr. Andrew Leitzke of Anodyne Delaware has found a solution to this chronic condition and improved patients’ lives through acupuncture treatment.


What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects gastrointestinal functions. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, approximately 15% of the American population suffers from IBS. Despite the frequent occurrence of an IBS diagnosis, IBS is considered an incurable disorder.

The cause of IBS can vary, but the symptoms can involve constipation, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, and abdominal pain. Some patients experience only one symptom, while others suffer from a mix of IBS symptoms. If left unmanaged, IBS patients can lack nutrition, risk dehydration, or even decrease their immune functionality. Living with IBS is painful and can make normal, daily functions difficult to accomplish. 

Many different treatments and therapies exist for patients, such as altering diet or partaking of medications. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for there to be a trial-and-error approach to treatment as patients must discover what diet or medication works best for their symptoms. 

The goal for IBS treatment is to relieve symptoms and let the patient have comfort for digesting foods and releasing bowel movements. Without managing IBS symptoms, the patient can be in pain and discomfort on a daily basis with disruptions to their lifestyles, like constant restroom breaks.


Natural Solution for IBS

Acupuncture can treat IBS by relieving symptoms and improving digestive functions. With this completely natural approach, the colon can relax and the movement of the digestive tract can become more regulated. Paired with Functional Medicine, acupuncture lets patients lessen their IBS symptom intensity and lower gut oversensitivity. The issues caused by IBS, such as difficulty or fear of eating, can be solved with acupuncture treatments.

Acupuncture for IBS is not a quick fix, but the treatment includes all-natural remedies with no necessary medications. Lasting relief is possible with a health plan that involves acupuncture as the gastrointestinal functions begin to relax and gut stressors are decreased.


How Does It Work

Acupuncture focuses on the body’s natural sources to improve symptoms. The purpose is to prevent aggravation and reduce the amount of stress IBS leaves on the body. Patients can experience an improvement in stool consistency with their bloating, daily abdominal pain, and other IBS symptoms decreasing.

Thin, hair-like needles are placed in the appropriate places throughout the body for the patient to receive symptom relief. The body consists of pressure points that are connected to either physical or mental health, and an acupuncturist will assess which points will be the most beneficial for the patient’s needs. Acupuncture needles activate energy already coursing through the body and localize it at the pressure point, which is why this treatment is completely natural.

The frequency of acupuncture treatments does affect the number of benefits. Studies have shown that patients who do not have consistent acupuncture treatment only have limited symptom relief. This is mainly because IBS is a chronic condition with reoccurring symptoms, so reoccurring treatment best helps the patient find relief long-term.


Lifestyle Changes

Just like most natural treatments, if the patient does not commit to necessary lifestyle changes the symptoms can return or continue to persist. For example, if a person consumes frequent or large amounts of cheeses and milk despite their lactose intolerance diagnosis, their discomfort and pain will continue. Acupuncture helps retrain the body on how to function, but the patient will need to avoid entities that will cause aggravation. 

The most common change for IBS patients is through diet, as certain foods worsen or improve gut function. Every patient responds to treatment differently, but common gas-producing foods are recommended to avoid such as beans, onions, and soda. In general, any foods that irritate the bowel are recommended to be extracted from the patient’s diet.

Physical activity can also help regulate the gut and let bodily functions flow more smoothly. Exercise is a healthy remedy for relieving IBS symptoms and improving gut functions while helping to optimize IBS management when paired with acupuncture. While acupuncture starts the relief process, exercise can assist in retaining the benefits that begin with acupuncture.

Physical exercise is known to reduce stress, which is why exercise is a common lifestyle change for IBS patients. Mental health often affects the physical body and IBS is no different. Stress can induce IBS symptoms and affect colon functionality. Managing stress by participating in physical activity helps the patient lower their IBS pain.


Benefits of Treatment

Patients who receive acupuncture treatment for IBS not only gain assistance for managing their chronic disorder but can also experience life-long benefits. The effects of treatment ultimately come down to how dedicated the patient is to their health, but if all recommendations are followed you can see great improvements.

Although weight loss is not a focus on treatment, some patients can experience reductions in their body weight after managing their IBS. When the gut becomes regulated, food digestion improves. However, this is not the case for every IBS patient. As the symptoms and effects of this disorder vary, so do the benefits. The purpose of IBS treatment is to relieve symptoms and get the body functioning normally.

Acupuncture assists patients in their IBS management, helping to regulate their gut and lower their symptom intensity. The pressure that was built up in the gut from IBS aggravation is released during acupuncture treatments, which in turn relieves the pain and bowel inconsistency the patient may have been experiencing.

Since acupuncture treatments are customized to each patient, the effects are more beneficial for the patient. Acupuncture health plans result in lasting relief due to the customized treatment per patient.

Benefits IBS patients can experience with acupuncture can include:

  •  Pain Relief
  • Regularity of Gut Function
  • Raised Gut Sensitivity
  • Increased Parasympathetic Tone or The ‘Rest and Digest’ Response
  • Reduced Depression and Anxiety


Relief and Regularity

Pain type and intensity vary according to each patient. Some IBS patients experience more than one type of pain, whereas other patients’ IBS focuses on a certain pain. Common IBS pain inducers are diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramping, gas, and bloating.

Acupuncture treatments help to reduce IBS pain levels by relieving tension in the gut and allowing the body to relax. Patients can begin to feel less discomfort in their colon and digestive tract as the body begins to regulate gut functions after receiving treatment. With acupuncture, patients can start to see positive changes in their bowel movements.

IBS symptoms are mainly induced by the functionality of the digestive tract. When food digestion does not work properly, the body reacts negatively with compromised bowel movements. This can result in pain and discomfort for IBS patients as their body experiences stress while trying to perform basic functions.

Acupuncture helps the gut become more regular because movement within the digestive tract improves. Through acupressure points around the abdomen, the body can begin to function normally as food is digested. Patients can experience less pain after food intake once the digestive tract regulates how stool moves through the body.


Sensitivity and Relaxation

A common misconception is that raising the sensory threshold of the gut has a negative impact. However, it is quite the opposite. Although IBS patients have an oversensitive gut, the sensory threshold helps to improve gut functionality. Raising this threshold assists in IBS pain relief.

The sensory threshold of the gut increases with acupuncture treatment. A low threshold results in bowel pain and other IBS symptoms. Patients begin to experience improvement in their IBS when their sensory threshold is raised because body mechanism functionality improves.

The parasympathetic tone is a part of the body’s nervous system. Stress in the body can aggravate the colon, which causes discomfort and increases IBS systems. With acupuncture, the parasympathetic tone is increased. 

Otherwise known as the “rest and digest” response, acupuncture activates this part of the nervous system to relieve stress within the body. Once the body is relaxed, normal functions can ignite and abdominal discomfort is relieved. When the parasympathetic is increased, aggravation within the body is reduced. Without the stressors that can worsen IBS systems, the colon and digestive system can begin to function normally.


Mental Health

IBS symptoms can cause patients to become discouraged and possibly fearful of basic human functions. When pain is left unmanaged, IBS patients are at risk for developing pain anxiety. Essentially, IBS can cause patients’ mental health to suffer due to the amount of pain and discomfort they experience.

Depression and anxiety can develop in patients with chronic pain. One of the reasons for this is the health condition can lead the patient to lose hope for relief. Acupuncture improves the unhealthy mental approach to chronic pain, such as IBS, because the treatment produces positive brain chemicals. After acupuncture treatments, the brain consists of more serotonin and endorphins, which help the patient battle the negative effects of their disorder.



Acupuncture for IBS is beneficial due to the effects of improving functionality and relieving the discomfort from poor gut health. IBS is a common, incurable disorder, but abdominal acupuncture treatment can assist the patient by improving their quality of life. Without consistent pain and the mental implication that comes with it, IBS patients can begin to live more comfortably. 

Acupuncture is a natural solution for IBS pain management that does not include prescription medications. Paired with Chinese herbs and lifestyle changes, acupuncture can be a positive change for those suffering from IBS.