Osteopathy is a very, very gentle treatment and works with the structure of the body to bring it back into balance. In general it works because all the spinal nerve routes supply the gut and organs, so essentially if you have too much tightness in the spine it can affect the gut. Either visceral or cranial osteopathy are two branches in particular that can be helpful. Cranial is my personal favourite and can be helpful if the person with IBS has the problem because of pressure on the vagus nerve which leaves tension in the skull and makes the neck and base of the skull really tense. This is why people say stress can cause IBS – if you compress the vagas nerve it’s the one that will cause digestion to go haywire – it’s the reason you lose appetite or feel sick if you’re stressed. If you hit that nerve you can feel the gut gurgle, so cranial osteopathy is good as it releases that and relaxes you in general.
Acupuncture takes us into the realm of Chinese medicine, where they look at the body very differently to the way we do in the West. Heat, cold, damp and phlegm are the substances they look at. With IBS they think of it as a damp heat accumulation so they look to clear that from the colon and the IBS disappears, it’s amazing! Chinese medicine and acupuncture look at each individual rather than providing a generalised treatment, because for every 10 people who have IBS there could be a different cause in each. We look at the tongue, face, and pulses and all the symptoms that the person’s getting and then target the right meridians for them. It could be that you have one or two treatments and it all clears up, a bit like when there’s a dam in a river, once it’s cleared some people never get the symptoms back. Other people have ongoing causes and may want to have top up treatments. Acupuncture was designed to keep you healthy and the Chinese have it once every time the seasons change. They say that if you get sick you should stop paying your doctor. People often have them in spring or autumn because those massive seasonal changes have a big impact on the body, so IBS can flare in the autumn in particular when the large intestine is one of the dominant organs according to the way the Chinese have mapped it out.
Reflexology is great for getting toxins out of the body. People who are constipated or have sinus problems often find that it clears which is amazing. There are 72,000 nerve endings in the feet and if you look at the point where it goes in, that’s the waist – all the abdominal organs are in the middle and it’s uncanny how you’re massaging the foot and you find the organ that it correlates to. If you stimulate the feet the organs start balancing themselves and people get better.
Shiatsu is particularly good for people who can’t bear acupuncture as it’s basically acupuncture without needles. You lie on the floor and get pressed and stretched about, you can wear your clothes, so for anyone who is a bit more shy about massage it’s good. Massage in general can be good for IBS as it can purely be a stress response and massage really tunes up the whole system.
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