top of page

Irritable bowel syndrome - Prikkelbare darm syndroom

Stomach Ache

Some quick facts:


  • Most common chronic bowel disease.

  • Can affect all age groups.

  • Women are more likely to develop IBS than men.

  • Gets worse with stress, tension or with high pressure.

  • Bad eating habits or certain food will trigger the symptoms.

  • Symptoms can also appear without any known triggers.

What is Irritable bowel syndrome - Prikkelbare Darm Syndroom?


Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a motility disorder of the intestines with variable degrees of abdominal pain, cramps, constipation or diarrhea, gas (burping and flatulence), abdominal distention or bloating. Many secondary symptoms may accompany this disorder such as headache, bloody stools, mucus in stools, tiredness, anxiety, rectal pain, etc.

The symptoms tend to be triggered by stress, strong emotions, inappropriate eating habits, or certain food. The pain may be relieved after a bowel movement. The complaints can be very different from one person to the other, and that is why it is so important to fully understand the different patterns, symptoms and secondary complaints that someone is facing. Adapting the therapy to the person is therefore key.

What is the Chinese medicine vision of IBS?


From the Chinese medicine perspective, Irritable bowel syndrome is classified in the category of “abdominal pain,” “Xiexie” and “Yuzheng”, or in painful diarrhea ''Xie Tong''. It is mostly caused by a combination of Liver depression, Spleen deficiency, and Kidney Yang deficiency. The most common pattern in Chinese medicine is therefore regarded as a Liver-Spleen Disharmony.


The key treatment will consist to Harmonize the relationship between the Liver and the Spleen. That is regarded as the relation between Wood and Earth within the Wu Xing theory (5 elements theory). All secondary complaints will also need to be addressed: alleviate pain if cramps, stop bleeding if bloody stools, calm the mind if emotional imbalance, release stools if constipation, tonify if tiredness, regulate stools if diarrhea, drain parasites if infection, etc.

From my clinical experience, people suffering from IBS always need to be regarded with a Liver and Spleen Disharmony, but will also need the therapy to be adjusted with an individual approach adapted to the reality of the complaints they are facing. As the famous Chinese idiom says ''1 same disease, 10 patients, 10 different therapies'', meaning that each person needs to be regarded as an individual and the therapy adapted to them.

Chinese medicine explanation: Due to emotions, stress or frustration, the Liver can become depressed and the Qi become stagnant. This Qi stagnation will then result in abdominal distention and pain. Because of excessive worry, lack of exercise, over working or over thinking, improper diet, or prolonged use of antibiotics, the Spleen will become vacuous and weak. This Spleen Qi vacuity will then result in fatigue, lack of strength, and diarrhea or constipation. Furthermore, these two mechanisms will mutually engender each other, making the complaints worse with time.

What can you do to help yourself with IBS complaints?


Most importantly, pay extra attention to your eating habits and food consumption: If you have diarrhea or constipation, eat low-fat foods. If you have gas, avoid beans and cabbage. Limit your use of all artificial sweeteners. If you get constipated, eat more fiber. Eat slowly. Smaller meals but more often.


Avoid alcohol as much as possible. Avoid fatty meals, including all fried foods. Also limit the foods that your body can’t easily break down, such as wheat, dairy product (milk or cheese), beans, chocolate, coffee, tea, certain fruits and vegetables. Avoid eating very large meals or eating too quickly. Learn how to regulate your emotions, handle stress or anxiety and to calm your fears.

If you wish to know more about the advises of Chinese Medicine regarding a healthy lifestyle, please read the article about ''The 7 Fundamental Pillars of TCM''

Finally, serious and proper support with acupuncture and Chinese medicine can bring you great relieve and reduce the complaints. All these approaches combined together can help you gain a better lifestyle and a more pleasant journey.

Do you still have questions?


Are you suffering from IBS - PDS and need support? Please feel free to contact us for additional information without any obligation.


We are happy to tell you more about this. You can also immediately make an appointment and start as soon as possible to improve your condition.


Written by Cedric Mallants / Acupunctuur en Traditionele Chinese Geneeskunde therapist





  • WHO International Standard Terminologies on Traditional Medicine in the Western Pacific Region

  • Huang Di Nei Jing (黃帝內經)

  • The Treatment of Modern Western Medical Diseases with Chinese Medicine (Bob Flaws & Philippe Sionneau)

bottom of page