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Anxiety, fears and irritable bowel syndrome


Hello everyone,

I suffer from the Irritable Bowel Syndrome. For those who don't know what it is, it's a functional disorder: my colon is perfectly healthy and normal (extensive tests have ruled out any disease) but it's very reactive to stimuli such as stress, anxiety, certain foods, nervousness, etc.This manifests itself in bloating, irregular bowel movements, cramps and pain.

The problem with me is that I put myself in a vicious circle: my greatest fear is that Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) will gradually take over my life and that the symptoms will become so bothersome that I can't live a normal life any more. My main fear, is of having an "accident": a bout of diahrea at a place where you can't get to a bathroom.

I know IBS does not cause cancer or damage to the colon, but the symptoms themselves scare me because they're uncomfortable, embarassing and can really affect one's way of life. You can probably guess where I'm getting at: the symptoms scare me and cause anxiety and this anxiety obviously fuel IBS further resulting in a vicious circle.

People tell me "not to think about it" and that "it's in the head dont let it bother you"... but if I ask you now not to think of a polar bear... what's the first thing that goes through your mind?

Yes, exactly.

So this anxiety and fear is stronger than me. It sometimes even makes me panic. When I feel some discomfort in my abdomen, I immediately get scared that I'm gonna have an attack of diahrea and it literally makes me panic.

I've heard that acupuncture can be effective in treating anxiety, fear and even IBS itself. Would you recommend I give it a shot and talk to my doctor about it? Is it really proven to be effective for these kind of things, or is it mainly just a placebo-effect?

Any info would be welcome!



You should receive treatment from a fully licensed acupuncturist, ideally one who also practices Chinese herbal medicine. IBS and all of your related complaints are quite commonly treated. Our IBS treatment page has related TCM diagnoses, research, related herbal formulas, etc. which you might find interesting. This is -not- something, however, that you want to try to treat yourself - take the time and find a good practitioner and they will take care of you.

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