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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center

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Combination of Therapies Offers Help for IBS

Combining conventional and complementary therapies may provide relief for irritable bowel syndrome sufferers.

Stress Reduction continued...

Hand-in-hand with the dietary management is the hypnosis. "Fifty percent of the battle in dealing with IBS is in stress management," says Hamilton, director of the Wellness and Fitness Institute in Tampa, Fla., and author of Mission Possible: A Therapist's Guide to Weight Loss with Hypnosis. "Stress and diet are IBS triggers."

Hamilton, who has been certified in irritable bowel hypnosis by the American Council of Hypnosis Examiners, uses traditional hypnotherapy techniques, which relax both the body and the mind, as well as specific mind-body suggestions that help clients visually see in their mind's eye improvement in their specific situation.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may also be successful in treating IBS, says Noah Rubinstein, a licensed acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist, and faculty member of the New York campus of the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Herbal medicine, acupuncture, diet, exercise, and stress reduction are all part of IBS therapy, says Rubinstein.

Herbal formulas are aimed at fortifying and supporting the digestive system, says Rubinstein, who cautions against self-medicating with Chinese herbs. "Even seemingly inert substances can cause problems," he says. Because herbal formulas are crafted to meet specific patient needs, it's best to consult a TCM practitioner, Rubinstein advises.

Acupuncture can help those with IBS by easing the perception of pain, reducing stress, and improving the function of the liver, which regulates chi or energy, Rubinstein explains (the liver in traditional Chinese medicine does not have the same function as the liver in Western medicine, Rubinstein points out; if an acupuncturist says your liver is blocked or stagnant, that doesn't mean you have a serious illness, but rather, a blockage of energy).

Whether you rely on conventional therapy or complementary therapy or a combination of the two, most health care professionals who treat people with IBS agree with Rubinstein when he says, "IBS is not just about the intestines. You have to take into account the whole person."

Reviewed on April 23, 2007

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