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TCM Articles  

Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Date Published: 17 Sep, 2018

At Haynes Acupuncture Gold Coast, we see a lot of patients who are experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  It is a relatively common condition, affecting 10% of the Australian population (1), and is characterised by abdominal pain and altered bowel function, so people may alternate between constipation and diarrhea. There may also be bloating, nausea, indigestion and food intolerances.

It can also make people feel rather miserable as up to 90% of the body’s serotonin (the feel-happy chemical) is produced in the gut.  Therefore, when the gut is dysfunctional, it may cause anxiety, depression, foggy thinking and concentration issues.

In Chinese Medicine, IBS is often seen as a result of stagnant Liver Qi overacting on the Spleen and can be caused by emotional stress, an irregular or poor diet, chronic illness or an external pathogen (bug).  Acupuncture can regulate the digestive system, improve energy and relieve stress and irritability.  There is often a focus to move patients out of the “fight or flight” response (sympathetic nervous system) and into the “rest and digest” response (parasympathetic nervous system).  We can also provide dietary and lifestyle advice to complement your treatments.

There is evidence to show that acupuncture is helpful in the treatment of IBS.  A large trial (2) evaluated the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of IBS when compared to usual care. The trial involved 233 patients; 116 patients had 10 weekly individualised acupuncture treatments plus usual care, while the remaining 117 patients just had usual care from their doctors. Patient outcomes were tested on the ‘IBS Symptom Severity Scale’ system, incorporating pain, distension, bowel dysfunction and quality of life.

Patients that had acupuncture found that their symptoms improved significantly when tested at 3 months, and these effects also continued over the long-term.  The study concluded that acupuncture for IBS provided a statistically significant improvement over usual care alone.

If you would like to make an appointment with one of our practitioners, please don’t hesitate contact us on 07 5531 6461 or book online.

Written by Mark Sargeant


  1. Lyons, A. (2018). Irritable bowel syndrome. Retrieved September 14, 2018, from
  2. MacPherson, H., Tilbrook, H., Bland, J. M., Bloor, K., Brabyn, S., Cox, H., … Whorwell, P. (2012). Acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome: primary care based pragmatic randomised controlled trial. BMC Gastroenterology, 12(1), 150.


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Covid-19 Update

Haynes Acupuncture Gold Coast are still operating standard hours to the general public. With the unfortunate circumstances of Covid-19 Australia-wide, we have put into effect strict hygienic protocols for the safety of our patients and staff. With the fluidity of the current situation, we are regularly keeping up to date with the Australian Government Department of Health recommendations.

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