This month, I’ve had the joy to work with a western medical specialist, who decided to specialize in gastroenterology because of her own lifelong digestive struggles. This is a story of someone who in only one month of acupuncture went from having painful digestive problems her whole life, to being often free from symptoms.

The results of her treatment have contributed to the growing bridge between western and alternative health care providers who are seeing the benefits of working together so their patients have access to the best treatment options available.

Background of IBS

When this doctor was young there was no understanding of IBS, so she just went undiagnosed for much of her young adult life. Some doctors even told her that her symptoms were all in her head, since they couldn’t find anything wrong.

Since she has always self-identified as “high strung” and knows she’s prone to anxiety, she often wondered if she actually was just making the symptoms up. This confusion and the continued pain with no relief, led her to where she is today, working as a doctor with others who suffer from the same problem.

Unfortunately, learning all she could about the best of western medicine has done little to help her symptoms. She’s tried all the medications she gives her patients, and while some brought a little relief, none were worth the trade-off of side effects that caused more problems than they did to alleviate her digestive symptoms.

By the time she made it into my office, she was already disillusioned with her medicine and all she’d been taught in medical school about western medicine being the “one” “right” “gold standard” of medicine. She just sees too many patients who seem to get more relief from alternative medicine than from “real” western medicine. So she decided to try it out herself.

Acupuncture Treatment and IBS

The immediate thing she noticed was different during her first appointment, was that after I listened to all her digestive symptoms, I then spent another 1/2 hour focusing on the rest of her body. I asked about her piercing headaches, her history of irregular and painful periods (she is now through menopause), how her anxiety specifically shows up in her body, her insomnia, her lack of thirst and the fact that she feels freezing cold all the time.

In her world of medicine, all these things were completely irrelevant to dealing with the main complaint of digestive problems.

Results of Acupuncture Treatment

While I knew I would need to get this patient on herbs in order to have lasting results, I also knew that many patients of this “high strung” type tend to respond amazingly well and quickly to acupuncture alone. Sure enough, she followed this pattern.

She had two acupuncture treatments that first week.

She came back the following week and the first thing she said was “will you pinch me?”. She explained that she was nervous to get too hopeful, but that she’d had her first “normal poop” in 30 years after her second treatment. There had been no pain involved, it was quick and uneventful. Her bloating had massively decreased as well. She had no abdominal pain after eating as she always does.

She had also noticed feeling much more calm, and her sleep had improved a little. She hadn’t had a headache either, which she would usually get every Sunday as the stress of the workweek loomed.

Since she was responding so quickly, we went down to once/week appointments.

At the time of writing this post she has come in for only 5 appointments, and her digestive problems that have plagued her her entire life are about 80% improved.

She has only had one headache since we started, and it was less intense and didn’t keep her from falling asleep. Her sleep in general has improved about 50%. She has not had any panic attacks, and when she feels herself getting nervous she’s much more able to use breathing to calm herself down. Her thirst has also normalized, as she now finds herself wanting water after her workouts.

Chinese Medicine Diagnosis

Hers is a classic case of “Liver Qi Stagnation” with “Internal Cold”. To learn about Liver imbalance you can check out my blogs under the “Wood Element” category which relate to the liver.

Liver/Wood types tend towards stress and anxiety, which causes their whole body to tense up, including their organs and connective tissues. This causes related symptoms throughout the entire body that can show up as her exact symptoms and more: headaches, period pain, digestive issues, anxiety, insomnia, etc.

The fact that she had this internal cold made her “middle” (digestive organs) like an ice block, which hardens her tissues even more, causing more stagnation, and stagnation = pain from a Chinese medicine perspective. I instructed her to avoid all cold and raw foods, and to focus on foods with gently warming spices such as ginger, garlic, onions, cinnamon, cloves, etc. She did confirm that cold foods would dramatically trigger her IBS pain, but she’d never understood why.

Her internal cold also made her averse to drinking water, and the lack of fluids then dried her up, only making her insides even more stiff and “brittle”, and contributing more to constipation.

Summary of acupuncture treatment for IBS

While I do tend to find IBS is one of the easier things to treat with Chinese medicine, hers was a particularly easy and fast case. We will continue seeing her every other week until her other symptoms improve more and her tongue & pulse diagnosis give me internal evidence that she’s significantly more balanced; then we’ll move into monthly treatments until we see she no longer needs the support of Chinese medicine.

The most inspiring thing for both of us is the fact that although she’s a western doctor, her eyes are now open to the fact that no single form of medicine has all the answers. Despite her training that told her that western medicine is the only “real” medicine, she now sees that Chinese medicine is not only just as legitimate, but maybe even more effective for dealing with chronic health issues.

She now feels reinvigorated in her own practice, since she has personal experience with tools she can share with her patients, through referring them to other providers who might be a huge asset as part of her patient’s health care team.


Get your Hormones Balanced without Ever Treating your “Hormones”

July 18, 2018

Acupuncture is commonly used to balance hormones One of the most common things that brings women into my Fort Collins Acupuncture practice is imbalanced hormones. Either women have lab confirmation that their hormones are out of whack, or they just know they have a hormone issue because they have symptoms such as hot flashes (whether […]

Read the full article → by Inger Giffin, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.

Who Will Get the Most Benefit from Treatment at Wisdom Ways Acupuncture

July 11, 2018

If you’re open to learning more about yourself in the treatment process, and to be a partner in your own healing, then you’re probably a great fit for our practice! I’m told that I have a very unique style of work in my acupuncture clinic. What this mostly means is that patients find my work […]

Read the full article → by Inger Giffin, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.

What does “Balance” Actually Mean in the Acupuncture Clinic? How to Know if You’re Balanced and How we Get You Back to Balance

June 30, 2018

As acupuncturists, we frequently use the very vague word “balance”. Because this word can mean so many things, I find it helps my patients if I can explain what this means. Acupuncturist’s Balance = Doctor’s Homeostasis Western medicine actually has a very similar concept, science calls it “homeostasis”. Humans have homeostatic functions happening throughout their […]

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Fascinated by Disease…or Fascinated by Wellness? This Makes All the Difference

June 27, 2018

Some years ago, something “horrible” happened in the life of myself and my Significant Other (SO): his eyes one day got wonky, and long story short when he went to the doctor that week for an elbow injury and mentioned his eye symptoms, the doctor immediately walked out of the room, made a phone call, […]

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Overview of the 5 Elements of Acupuncture Theory: Can You Guess Your Elemental Type?

June 21, 2018

During acupuncture treatments as well as out and about when I’m giving talks, people are usually fascinated when I start talking about the 5 Elements of acupuncture theory, because they reveal so much about what makes us tick, as well as the health issues we’re likely to encounter. This video covers a very basic overview […]

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Are Herbs Necessary to Add to Acupuncture for Menstrual Problems?

June 20, 2018

Does Every Hormone Imbalance or Menstrual Problem Require Herbs for Successful Treatment? I get this question frequently enough that I thought I’d take the time to answer it in writing. The short answer is yes. The longer answer is usually. Treatment of Women’s Health in China Historically, if you were to enter a clinic in […]

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Summer is Here! Time to Nurture your Heart Fire

May 20, 2018

We’ve arrived!  The sun is bright!  The days last seemingly into the night and a playful feeling fills the air. Most of us long all year for summer, and finally, finally, it is here.  We are energized, invigorated, and connections and fun with loved ones is the norm. What is it about this season of […]

Read the full article → by Inger Giffin, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.

Success Stories from the Acupuncture Clinic: Severe Migraines

May 10, 2018

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on my website, I LOVE treating migraines. To regularly see patients go from having a debilitating, life-stopping condition, to being symptom free without medications, is so satisfying for both myself and my patients. Today, a patient whom I’ve been seeing for migraines just reached the transition phase from coming in regularly, […]

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Study: Acupuncture Effective for Endometriosis – Study Results and Clinical Experience

May 8, 2018

My experience using acupuncture for endometriosis A very common ailment I treat in my acupuncture practice is endometriosis. Sometimes women come in with an actual diagnosis based on a laparoscopy; other times it’s just suspected based on their severe pain which might be just around their period, or in bad cases commonly causes various symptoms […]

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Give a Woman a Fish, She’ll Eat for a Day. Teach her “How to Fish” and She’ll Maintain Great Health Forever

April 14, 2018

Teach, don’t just heal with acupuncture and send women on their way One of the guiding principles in my acupuncture practice is teaching women how to care for their own health, so that they don’t have to rely on me or anyone else to maintain basic wellness. Of course I expect women to need my […]

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Case Study: Acupuncture for Anxiety, a Real World Example

March 27, 2018

Anxiety is one of the most common things I treat here in the acupuncture clinic. Recently I posted a blog about the new study that gives us a clue as to how acupuncture is helping with stress, by regulating our stress hormones in the brain, blocking the HPA pathway to ward off heightened tension. On […]

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Clinical Success Stories: Two Fertility Patients, Far End of Extremes in Severity. Which one is similar to YOU?

March 15, 2018

Since I just had two fertility patients this week give birth to bouncing little perfectly healthy babies, I thought I’d share a write-up of what the treatment process looked like for them both. Their cases were about as opposite as they come on the scale of both difficulty, as well as time to conceive & […]

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Ready, Set…WOOD SEASON! Acupuncture Advice for Staying Balanced in Spring

March 15, 2018
Thumbnail image for Ready, Set…WOOD SEASON! Acupuncture Advice for Staying Balanced in Spring

“And the day came, when the risk it took to stay tight in a bud, became more painful than the risk it took to blossom” – Anaïs Nin Looking out a window of my acupuncture clinic, I see a flat watercolor blend of dull browns and grays — for most members of the plant kingdom, […]

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Wood Element/Spring & Acupuncture Theory VIDEO: Tips to Keep Your Wood Element Balanced as we Head Into Spring

March 10, 2018

As you watch this video, if you suspect you’re a Wood type because you see these qualities in yourself…remember!…it doesn’t mean that you’re like this all the time, or even that you ever display the extremely imbalanced traits that I discuss here. Those who are very unbalanced in their element display the most exaggerated traits […]

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An Acupuncturist’s Insight: What your Impatience/Agitation and What I Saw in My Garden Have in Common

March 4, 2018
Thumbnail image for An Acupuncturist’s Insight: What your Impatience/Agitation and What I Saw in My Garden Have in Common

  Wake up, it’s Spring! Last week, I stepped into my garden for the first time since fall. Low and behold, there, shooting up like little explosive fireworks, were my Chives! In little 5 inch tall bundles, they announced the arrival of Spring. But doesn’t it seem early for this? And then the acupuncturist in […]

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Acupuncture Continues to go Mainstream: We’re not Quacks Anymore!

February 19, 2018

Since I first decided to study acupuncture in 1993, my chosen field has grown exponentially. When people would ask what field my studies were headed towards and I’d say “holistic medicine”, I’d get a cocked head indicating complete confusion. Almost 100% of people did not know what that meant. Now, 25 years later, acupuncture and […]

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Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Chronic Parasitism: An Acupuncture Approach to Treatment

January 10, 2018

Recently, I have become fascinated with the condition of Chronic Parasitism causing chronic inflammatory conditions.  Chronic inflammatory conditions are often combined under the term “knotty diseases” in Chinese medicine acupuncture theory, illustrating that they are difficult to unwind or untie…they are so deeply imbedded in the system that to get rid of them is like […]

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Foods to Nourish Your Jing–An Acupuncturist’s Approach to using Chinese Medicine Nutritional Principles for Staying Healthy

January 2, 2018

Last week, I wrote about our Jing, how In Chinese Medicine it’s connected to our Kidney energy, and therefore the Water Element, and the season that we’re in right now: winter. Acupuncturists know that we want to do everything possible to avoid tapping into and therefore depleting our Jing — the root of all energy […]

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Classical Chinese Medicine – What it is, Why it Matters, and why I’m Moving Towards it in my Practice

January 1, 2018

The Change from Classical to Traditional Chinese Medicine While Chinese medicine has been around for several thousand years, it underwent a dramatic change in the last century, which created massive changes in the effectiveness and scope of the medicine — which we still experience today. In an effort to modernize and standardize the medicine, bringing […]

Read the full article → by Inger Giffin, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.