IBS due to Qi Deficiency
One of the more frequently encountered causes of what is called IBS can be determined to be nothing more than the obvious, and that is that the digestive system simply isn't working very efficiently.
Oddly enough, this can give rise to either diarrhea or constipation. If you have a little bit of both, then you might actually have something more stress induced. More information would be needed to be honest. But here's what I can offer you for now.
The digestive energy in the body comes from the organ that we call the Spleen. The Spleen according to Western medicine has to do with recycling red blood cells and a few other functions. However, in TCM, the Spleen is the major digestive organ. I think that it would have been prudent to translate the word "Pi" from Chinese to "pancreas" in English, but years ago, in France, they decided to use the word Spleen and it has stuck with us ever since. Fact remains, that whatever word we use to name the organ, its going to be a little bit different than what we usually think of when we use that word in Western medicine. The important thing is that you feel better.
The Qi deficient tongue lacks the ability to maintain its own shape and so it begins to absorb the indentations of the teeth. Qi energy gives muscles strength, even that muscle called the tongue.
If the Qi energy in the Spleen is deficient, you get weak digestion. This gives rise to diarrhea, specifically the kind in which you can see bits of undigested food. It could also give rise to sticky or soft stools too, but I've talked about that on the Dampness page. Spleen Qi deficiency causes dampness. Dampness is what happens when the Spleen Qi is deficient for a long time.
Dampness can collect in the stomach and obstruct the downward motion of the contents of the stomach leading to heartburn.
Spleen Qi is in charge of more than just the digestion, and so if you have a deficiency of Spleen Qi it is quite likely that you suffer from other symptoms associated with the Spleen's functions being compromised.
The Spleen is said to hold the blood in the vessels. When the Spleen Qi is deficient, you have someone who bruises easily. How do you determine if you bruise easily? If you find bruises on you and you don't remember bumping into something, then you are probably bruising easily. Other symptoms of the Spleen Qi not holding the blood within the vessels include hemorrhoids and spotting in between the periods.
This function of the Spleen holding the blood in the vessels is the reason that you're reading this page if you clicked on the symptom of bloody stools and it is a long-term or chronic condition. Deficiencies are commonly long term problems in Chinese medicine. Hemorrhoids or bloody stools for no apparent reason are sometimes found to be due to a deficiency of Spleen Qi. Chronic bloody stools can also be something a little more serious that may require Western medical intervention such as a cancer of the Large Intestine. If you're having chronic bloody stools, you might want to check in with your MD to rule this out as well.
Another function of the Spleen is to hold up organs. If you have a prolapse of any organs then it is likely that you've got a Spleen Qi deficiency in there somewhere. It is possible that a retroflex uterus would fall into this syndrome as well. Any organ that's sinking down is indicative of a deficiency in the Spleen's job of holding things up. This doesn't happen as frequently as the bleeding problem, but it does come up, or down as the case may be.
Part of that holding the organs up thing is due to the Spleen's directionality. It likes to direct its energy upward. If you suffer from dizziness, cloudy or foggy thinking, or any sort of muddiness in the head, then you may have a Spleen Qi deficiency because the Spleen's upward directionality is deficient and the nutrition that it pulls out of your food is not being sent up to nourish the brain well enough.
For the symptoms of Spleen Qi not holding the blood in the vessels as well as Spleen Qi not lifting a commonly used formula is called Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. Its a great formula for all of these things except for the diarrhea.
The symptoms of a Spleen Qi deficiency that are consistent with the digestive functions of the Spleen include bloating, gas, loose stools, fatigue and poor appetite. If the fatigue is especially pronounced that can translate into a constipation situation in that one doesn't have enough energy to adequately push the fecal matter out. This constipation is more frequently seen in the elderly.
There is a wonderful formula sold on practically every street corner drugstore in China. Its called Shen Ling Bai Zhu San. It has the ability to both stop diarrhea regardless of what is causing it, but it also has the ability to strengthen the Spleen Qi which is essential if the problem is ever to be treated at its root.
Sometimes, part of the IBS symptom picture is what we call ribbon stools or pencil stools. This means the flow of fecal matter has an unusually thin shape. This is often due to a Spleen Qi deficiency as well, but I should add that there are other possible causes for this kind of thing including some sort of intestinal obstruction. If there is an obstruction, it could be something that needs to be addressed more quickly with Western medicine. Go to your MD and check this out. If he or she doesn't find anything, then come back and we'll fix you up.
A few more symptoms of Spleen Qi deficiency include the following:
All of the formulas mentioned in this article are widely available at Chinese medicine pharmacies, though the so-called patent medicines that you'll find there aren't always as strong as they could be. These formulas come in a variety of different forms and strengths and your friendly neighborhood herbalist can assist you in obtaining them as is appropriate.
You can purchase any of the formulas mentioned in this article by simply clicking on their names. Another option is to obtain this formula modified for your unique situation from Beyond Well Being.