Shiatsu for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Your digestive tract is a formidable system, when it goes wrong it's miserable and effects your overall health and your energy and emotions.
IBS symptoms include abdominal pain and cramps, alternating diarrhoea and constipation, discomfort from gas and bloating, knock-on effects to your sleep and lower back pain. It’s also very frustrating that you may not know a cause, and are told to cut out various food groups, which is a slow (but necessary process) too.
Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome caused by the Large Intestine or the Small Intestine? Where do you feel the pain and bloat, where is it sensitive to touch? What time of day does it affect you the most? Then we can talk about the quality of your stools – all this information will build a picture of what is going on in the very long system in your body. And, have you ever thought about how your IBS may be affecting the way you think, feel and sleep? If not then let me set the scene.
Have you heard of the Brain-Gut connection? If not, this is me putting it simply from the information I’ve gathered on it over the years as this:
You have nearly as many neurotransmitters in your gut as your brain. We all that ‘gut’ instinct feeling, and we know the caveman ‘fight or flight’; this adrenalin release and hundreds if not thousands of other functions within your body come from your gut, which is your digestive tract that runs from your throat, through your stomach, small intestine, large intestine and out at the bottom (being polite J ). In between other organs play vital roles such as your spleen, pancreas, gallbladder and liver. So if your digestive tract is unwell at any point there can be any number of impaired organ functions that have a knock-on effect into every aspect of your health.
The part of your gut that has all these neurotransmitters also houses the microbiome, this is a universe of bacteria living and working inside your tubes, along which all the food and drink you have passed.
Everything you eat and drink, and all the emotions that you feel affect these neurotransmitters and can either increase healthy bacteria or kill them off, and infest your gut with very unhealthy bacteria and allow infections to take hold, Candida is a classic and it just loves the sugar and yeast you put in.
To eat a calorie is not to eat healthily. A calorie of a burger is not the same as a calorie from a carrot stick. The latter has nutrients in, so does the former however you can’t live on one or the other, you’d become ill very quickly on a 100% diet of both.
How does shiatsu help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
So how exactly does Shiatsu help IBS, especially after I’ve just gone some way to explaining that food and drink is a major part of IBS? (See my Top Tip below for how you can start lessening your symptoms today!).
Shiatsu is the physical therapy part, it’s how we press the acu-points, very gently; whereas in Acupuncture they would use the needles. The powerful part of my therapy is the Chinese Medicine and the understanding of your body and health patterns, alongside the physiology of your body and understanding how the Microbiome works and the gut-brain link too. Combining all of this information I’m able to use the Shiatsu to start rebalancing all the vital organs that I mentioned above which are in a state of crisis if your IBS is bad. If you’re suffering and food testing hasn’t resolved your symptoms then my understanding of how your body works and the patterns created in the theory of Chinese Medicine may really help you to start making some improvements.
This is the shortest, simplest and most effective advice I give out to every single person that I come across that tells me I have IBS, it's this:
Eat and drink everything from now on at room temperature and warmer...
and stop eating ice cream*!
In my experience people with IBS also love ice cream and cold things. As with a lot of the goings on in your body, there can be heat conditions underlying why you want something cold to eat and drink. And a lot of heat conditions are ironically due to your body being too cold in important areas. Even if you think you're too warm, I always say, put your hand on the small of your back, does it feel warm, if the answer is 'no' then you need to eat and drink food that is at room temperature or warmer.
All foods and drinks also have an energetic temperature, for example:
Peppermint tea - this is cooling, as are some herbs, don't drink too much if you have IBS
Ginger tea - this is warming, as are spices. It's nice to have that warmth from the tea being made with hot water and with the medicinal qualities of Ginger (which is very heating so again, in moderation). Maybe think about Chai tea, which will have a warming blend of spices rather than really heating like Ginger.
I also recommend a book by Daverick Leggatt 'Recipes for Self Healing' (available on Amazon). It explains what food does and gives you the codes against all the recipes so that you know whether you're cooking something to warm or cool you. You'll want warming.