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Bowel Syndrome

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In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), irritable bowel syndrome is considered to be primarily a disorder of the Qi pertaining to the Liver and Spleen Zang Organs.
During periods of emotional turmoil or disharmony, the Liver Zang’s Qi, which is responsible for the free flow of Qi in the body, may become stagnant. This stagnation may cause constipation, abdominal pain, and cramping, which is considered to be an intestinal Wind. Factors such as overwork, poor diet, insufficient rest, or excessive worry may cause the Spleen Qi to become weakened, which can lead to diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and distention.
Either of these factors can contribute to the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. When the Liver Zang’s Qi is stagnant or the Spleen Zang is weak, it is commonly said that the Liver Qi will invade and overwhelm the Spleen Qi, leading to a combination of alternating diarrhoea and constipation, accompanied by the other symptoms that characterise irritable bowel syndrome.
Likewise, the Qi Stasis and Qi Deficiency that underlie these symptoms can generate Dampness or Damp-Heat, which can cause mucus in the stools.


In the majority of modern clinical applications for irritable bowel syndrome, Tong Xie Yao Fang, applied as a basic harmonising formula, is often the prescription of choice, to be modified according to the herbalist’s own perception of what works best for this disorder, and also according to what is needed for specific cases. However, some physicians pursue a course of fuller differential diagnosis and use alternative prescriptions for the minority of cases that are not deemed to be due to the liver/spleen disharmony.


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