Factsheet: Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

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Background information about acupuncture

Traditional Acupuncture is a safe and effective system of medicine that originated in China thousands of years ago and still forms an important part of mainstream healthcare there today.

In Traditional Acupuncture we view the human body in a holistic way. We focus on the health of the person as a whole and emphasise the connection between physical and emotional health. Every person is unique and one individual may become ill for different reasons to another so in Traditional Acupuncture we design each treatment according to the individual’s needs.

In Traditional Acupuncture, good health involves a smooth flow of energy (Qi) through channels in the body. Illness, injury or emotional stress occur when Qi is out of balance or unable to flow freely. Acupuncture maintains the body’s equilibrium and flow of Qi, by inserting fine needles into specific points on the body. This concept may seem a bit wacky, but Qi can actually just be seen as a metaphor for metabolic functions or chemical changes constantly taking place in the body.  Someone receiving acupuncture will often report an increased sense of well-being as well as improvement in the symptoms which brought them to treatment.

Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with acupuncture
Over 20% of the UK population suffer with ‘unexplained’ discomfort and irregularity in bowel habit. The term Irritable Bowel Syndrome is used to describe symptoms such as abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, swelling, bouts of diarrhoea and/or constipation and feeling sick. It is a chronic, recurring and often debilitating condition which can cause misery for sufferers.

There is no single cause of IBS. Some people can trace their IBS back to a single event such as a bout of food poisoning or infectious illness; however in most cases the cause is unknown. Some people find their IBS is triggered by sensitivity to certain foods, others find it is exacerbated by stress or emotional states. Each person’s experience of IBS is different. This lack of understanding of the cause means that conventional medicine finds IBS very hard to treat, instead focusing on symptom relief with antispasmodic drugs.

This variation in symptoms and triggers isn’t a worry to an acupuncturist as we look at each individual’s symptoms and experience to fully understand what disturbances there are in their system and why. By working out why and how someone’s digestive system isn’t functioning, we can customise treatment, addressing the root cause for each individual to bring about relief.

Alongside acupuncture we may make suggestions for lifestyle changes that may be helpful in combating IBS symptoms. This could be dietary changes, or techniques such as meditation to address more emotional causes.

How can acupuncture help? (The science bit)
Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may benefit IBS symptoms by:

  • Providing pain relief
  • Regulating the motility of the digestive tract
  • Increasing parasympathetic tone. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can stimulate colon spasms, causing pain and discomfort. In people with IBS, the colon can be oversensitive to the smallest amount of conflict or stress. Acupuncture activates the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation or ‘rest and digest’ response.
  • Raising the sensory threshold of the gut. (A lowered threshold to bowel pain and distention are hallmarks of IBS)
  • Reducing anxiety and depression. Distressing IBS symptoms can lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety-pain-anxiety and lead to feelings of depression. Acupuncture can alter the brain’s mood chemistry, increasing production of serotonin and endorphins to combat these negative emotional states.

What to expect in a multibed clinic
We treat several people together in one room. It is possible for us to work in this way because acupuncture needles usually take 20-40 minutes to do their work. We are able to place needles in one patient, leave them to relax into their treatment, and then move on to another patient.

At the People’s Acupuncture Project up to 6 people are treated at the same room bringing a community spirit to the experience. You may feel nervous about coming into this environment but we are a very warm and welcoming clinic. Patients in multibed clinics consistently report that they like the sense of togetherness and humanity they find.  Research shows that patients treated in multibed clinics report many positive experiences and very few negative.

Some people may be concerned about privacy but it isn’t usually necessary to remove clothes as the most-frequently used points are on the arms and legs. Wearing loose clothing means we can get to the points we need. We also have gowns and blankets available if necessary. We will do everything we can to ensure you feel comfortable.

Need more information?
Give us a call or drop us an email for a discussion about how acupuncture can help you, how we work, or other query you might have about treatment.

click here for a printable PDF version of this factsheet

(please contact us if you would like a fully referenced copy of this factsheet)

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Acupuncture treatment for Hayfever

It seems like spring is finally here! But while many people are looking forward to enjoying the summer ahead, for 20% of our population it not such an enjoyable season. For those that suffer with hay fever, or seasonal rhinitis,  it can be a miserable time of year.

But sufferers should know that this need not be the case. Acupuncture can both relieve the symptoms of hayfever and prevent your immune system over reacting to the pollen in the first place. It can be used successfully during the hay fever season but is most effective as a preventative treatment. It is advised to seek treatment before the hay fever season starts, in early spring, to support the immune system for the coming spring and summer.

Aisling (34) describes her experience of acupuncture:
“I’ve suffered from chronic hayfever since I was 11 years old with some years being so bad that I’m pretty much house bound for days at a time. I’ve tried EVERYTHING… from local honey to steroids with varying degrees of success (and side effects!). I tried acupuncture as a last resort two years ago and it’s genuinely the only thing that has worked. I don’t have to remember to take antihistamines every day, there are no side effects and it’s the most effective treatment that I’ve come across yet.”

Acupuncture focuses on treating “the Root and the Branch.” This means that treatment during the hay fever season will address the immediate symptoms, the itchy eyes, the stuffy nose etc, but most importantly preventative treatment will focus on treating the cause of your hay fever. The diagnosis will look at how your body responds to triggers, and why your immune system has such an extreme response to something as seemingly harmless as pollen.

Acupuncture treatment focuses on treating fundamental imbalances within a person, so regulation of the immune system will be a natural part of most treatment. Because of this, people who come for acupuncture for other reasons can often report an improvement in their hay fever symptoms. Tom (34) found that this was the case:

“After 5 summer of suffering from Hay fever quite badly I had been having acupuncture throughout winter and spring for other reasons but got to the time of year it would usually start and no symptoms at all – for the last 4/5yrs now!”

For more information and details of scientific research into the use of acupuncture for hay fever visit the British Acupuncture Council‘s fact sheet

To fund out more about how acupuncture can help you, please get in touch with us for a chat, or if you would like to book in for a first appointment, just click here:

book-now-button-new-2

People’s Acupuncture Project, Exeter

Acupuncture Awareness Week: Acupuncture for Sports Injuries

7-13 March is Acupuncture Awareness Week!

Our focus this year is on how acupuncture can help sports injuries. Acupuncture is a fantastic treatment for muscular-skeletal pain and injuries sustained from sport (or any other reason!). We see all kinds of injuries in clinic, they are some of the most common things we treat, and they respond really successfully to treatment.

Olympian Rebecca Addlington is a great fan of acupuncture and uses it to help with injuries and performance. watch the video above to hear her talk about how acupuncture helps her.

To find out more have a look here at our fact sheet on how acupuncture can help sports injuries:

fact sheet - sports injuries

Or feel free to get in touch to talk about how acupuncture could help your injury

 

People’s Acupuncture Project, Exeter

Welcome Tom!

Tom Hirons

We are very excited that Tom Hirons will be joining us as an acupuncturist from today. Tom will be taking over from Charlotte who has gone on maternity leave.

Tom used to work with us back when we started in 2012, and he went on to set up Source Point Community Acupuncture in Morton Hampstead.

We are very much looking forward to working with Tom over the next few months. Please join us in welcoming him, and you can read more about him here.

 

 

People’s Acupuncture Project, Exeter

Welcome to Pippa, our new acupuncturist!

Pippa
You may have noticed that we have become a little busy recently. It is therefore with great delight that we announce that Pippa Brown is joining us as a new acupuncturist.

Pippa is starting with us tomorrow 10 June. She is fantastically experienced, having working in community multibed clinics in Hove, Lewis, and Morton Hampstead.  She finds it incredibly rewarding to be part of a low-cost community acupuncture team, helping to create a group healing space and making acupuncture affordable and accessible to all.

Pippa studied at the Integrated College of Chinese Medicine in Reading and practices a combination of Five Element acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Her specialist interest is emotional health and she enjoys creating a healing space for patients to connect deeply with their energetic state.

She is a member of The Association of Community and Multibed Acupuncture Clinics (ACMAC) and is a member of the British Acupuncture Council

We are so excited to have Pippa join us, it means we are able to provide affordable acupuncture to even more people in Exeter, and people will no longer need to wait so long for a first appointment. If you have been on the waiting list we should have already been in touch to book you in to see Pippa.

Welcome Pippa! we are super excited about working with you.

The Peoples Acupuncture Project, Exeter

Now is the time to start Hayfever treatment

Spring is here! But while many people are looking forward to enjoying the summer ahead, for 20% of our population it not such an enjoyable season. For those that suffer with hay fever, or seasonal rhinitis,  it can be a miserable time of year.

But sufferers should know that this need not be the case. Acupuncture can both relieve the symptoms of hayfever and prevent your immune system over reacting to the pollen in the first place. It can be used successfully during the hay fever season but is most effective as a preventative treatment. It is advised to seek treatment before the hay fever season starts, in early spring, to support the immune system for the coming spring and summer.

Aisling (34) describes her experience of acupuncture:
“I’ve suffered from chronic hayfever since I was 11 years old with some years being so bad that I’m pretty much house bound for days at a time. I’ve tried EVERYTHING… from local honey to steroids with varying degrees of success (and side effects!). I tried acupuncture as a last resort two years ago and it’s genuinely the only thing that has worked. I don’t have to remember to take antihistamines every day, there are no side effects and it’s the most effective treatment that I’ve come across yet.”

Acupuncture focuses on treating “the Root and the Branch.” This means that treatment during the hay fever season will address the immediate symptoms, the itchy eyes, the stuffy nose etc, but most importantly preventative treatment will focus on treating the cause of your hay fever. The diagnosis will look at how your body responds to triggers, and why your immune system has such an extreme response to something as seemingly harmless as pollen.

Acupuncture treatment focuses on treating fundamental imbalances within a person, so regulation of the immune system will be a natural part of most treatment. Because of this, people who come for acupuncture for other reasons can often report an improvement in their hay fever symptoms. Tom (34) found that this was the case:

“After 5 summer of suffering from Hay fever quite badly I had been having acupuncture throughout winter and spring for other reasons but got to the time of year it would usually start and no symptoms at all – for the last 4/5yrs now!”

For more information and details of scientific research into the use of acupuncture for hay fever visit the British Acupuncture Council‘s fact sheet

To fund out more about how acupuncture can help you, please get in touch with us for a chat

People’s Acupuncture Project, Exeter

Reflections on a trip to Burma

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlthough I have been back from Burma for over a month now, it seemed to take a while to properly land. I am happy to say that I no longer feel suspended somewhere between different time zones, climates and cultures. Now that I am settled once again back home I feel I can begin to process the rich experience of traveling and practising acupuncture in Burma.

So here is a little summary of what I was up to:

I was in a team of 4 western acupuncturists invited to take part in a 3 week acupuncture programme which takes place twice a year at a hospital established by a monastery, near Mandalay. The idea of the programme is to enable local traditional Myanmar medicine practitioners who have studied at Mandalay university to gain experience of practicing acupuncture in a supportive environment and learn from more experienced western acupuncturists. In the west we are fortunate to have a very high standard of acupuncture training whilst our colleagues in Burma learn acupuncture as adjunct to their traditional medicine training which focuses on herbs and massage techniques.
The programme is centred around an acupuncture clinic which opens its doors 6 days a week for the period of our stay. At the end of the programme the clinic operates a reduced service 3 times a week and the local practitioners maintain it by volunteering their time but gain lots of experience, a sense of fulfilment and lots of friendship.

Every morning we would walk over the road to the acupuncture hospital where already there would be a long line of people queuing up for treatment and the local team would have just arrived off the bus from Mandalay, a half hour ride away. We would then get together in small teams, a western practitioner with 2 or 3 local practitioners, and work our way around the room.

There was a real variety of patients and we treated a wide range of conditions. There was always a large number of Buddhist monks and nuns, as the area is a hub for monasteries and temples. In order to treat them we would have to navigate the carefully arranged crimson (the monks) and pink (the nuns) robes.  Many of the patients were farmers and labourers with musculoskeletal conditions such as back  and knee pain. We saw a lot of people who had been in motorbike accidents with terrible scars. We were able to work on these scars with daily treatments and really saw the benefit of such regular treatments as scars became noticeably less raised, less purple and more supple. We also saw some impressive results with a lady who had recently suffered a stroke and was paralysed on one side. After 3 weeks of regular treatment her movement ability had significantly improved and she her whole being was much brighter and more able to engage. It makes you think what could be achieved if acupuncture was more widely accessible and part of the mainstream provision in our country. Some patients had travelled considerable distances for treatment with one lady coming from over 100miles. The state provision for health care is apparently very minimal in Myanmar and the population have few options when face with illness.
On some afternoons, after a good lunch of curries, soup, rice and pickles, we would take a short rest before offering a lesson to the students. We were invited to teach about whatever we were most inspired by. And so we offered lessons on acupuncture in pregnancy, qi gong, reading pulses, dental analgesia and safe practice.
A lovely addition to the experience of being in Myanmar was that we were invited to take part in a daily meditation sitting, at the nearby monastery. So we would start our mornings with an hour of meditation which really helped to ground me before a busy day in clinic. I also very much appreciated the special location we were in and the afternoon hikes into the hills behind the hospital to discover a myriad of little paths each leading to a monastery, temple or stupa. And once arriving at the top of a peak admiring the views of the mighty Irrawaddy in the soft, golden light of the late afternoon.
But I think what I was most inspired by was the warmth and generosity of our hosts, a truly humbling experience.