IBS due to Excess Cold
Excess cold? What's that mean? Well, you know how you can catch a cold? Its like the cold weather gets into your body and causes all of those symptoms that we associate with the common cold. Excess cold is much the same thing, but instead of it ending up in your nose or chest, it ends up in your abdomen and wreaks havoc on your digestive system.
According to Chinese medical theory, the Spleen (the key digestion organ) requires a certain amount of heat to work efficiently. If there is cold stuck in the area surrounding the Spleen and/or Stomach then the movement of Qi energy is hampered as is the ability of the Spleen to digest the food which is what causes the usual IBS symptoms such as diarrhea. But its the cold that gives rise to a very severe pain. One that causes you to double over in pain. That is unique to cold stagnation, that it could cause one to curl up in an instinctive attempt to warm the area that has been invaded by the cold. You may also find that a warm bath will help alleviate the pain.
It is assumed that the cold got there from the outside, but it isn't always easy to track down a time in which you were physically cold to determine the moment in which the cold entered the body. There are many ways in which this can happen and sometimes the cold can get inside of you but remain sort of dormant for a while, perhaps months, until it suddenly becomes an painful issue for you.
The excess cold tongue can look blue, purple or pale. This is an example of a bluish-purple tongue that may belong to someone with internal cold causing problems in the digestion.
The cold does two things to the IBS patient. It causes pain due to the stagnation of Qi in the body. In much the same way that when your hands are cold it is difficult to move the fingers, so it is that cold on the inside of the body will stagnate the flow of Qi energy and this is what causes the severe pain. Because the flow of this all important Qi energy is hampered, the movement of the Stomach or intestinal contents is hampered leading to constipation. The bowels just aren't moving their contents because of the cold.
There is another manifestation that results from cold in the Spleen and that is simply put, really lousy digestion which leads to profuse diarrhea, often times with undigested bits of food found within it, or perhaps mucus in the diarrhea as well. The mucus is the dampness that is created by the Spleen when its functioning becomes inefficient due to the fact that it just isn't warm enough to do its job. Its kind of like an engine that is difficult to start in the coldest part of the winter. The base formula used for this particular issue of cold in the digestive area of the body is called Da Jian Zhong Tang (Major Construct the Middle Decoction). It warms the cold in the digestive organs, alleviates the pain and helps the intestinal Qi move downward better just as nature intended. This is a very strong formula and should it be taken for these symptoms that are not due to excess cold, it can cause problems, so be sure to only take this formula under the supervision of a duly licensed practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, or your great aunt from Taiwan. You really don't want to say "no" to her anyway.
Other formulas that may be appropriate in the wake of excess cold: