Two months ago I was diagnosed with IBS. I read that stress can make my IBS worse. Is this true? What can I do to reduce stress?
Angela Johnoson: Yes, it is true. According to a recent article in WebMD, stress is thought to either cause or make symptoms associated with IBS worse. As a matter of fact, stress is thought to make many illnesses worse. So, doing things to reduce the effects of stress in your life might be very helpful. The good news is that there are a variety of things you can do to reduce stress. Some ideas include exercise, eating a healthy diet, and learning / practicing some form of relaxation / meditation. Another idea is to incorporate acupuncture into your care. Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that has been found helpful for many conditions, including stress. From a Western medical perspective, acupuncture helps to reduce stress by releasing endorphins (en-dor-fins) in the brain. Endorphins are chemicals naturally produced in the brain and are known to positively enhance mood. The calming nature of acupuncture also reduces stress by lowering heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and relaxing muscles – all of which are negatively affected by stress. As a practitioner of Chinese medicine, I can tell you that the majority of my patients who come to me for acupuncture to help reduce stress experience very positive results. Many report that they experience a greater state of calmness and relaxation for 2 – 7 days following the treatment. Secondarily, many state that the treatments help calm digestive difficulties, improve their sleep, and overall mood. Remember, find someone who is trained and board certified in Chinese medicine. Go to the website of the National Certification Commission for Acupunture and Oriental Medicine to find a practitioner in your area.