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Diarrhoea and Constipation

Diarrhoea and Constipation treatment potential for acupuncture and herbal medicine in traditional chinese medicine

Balancing Bowel Health: Integrating Eastern and Western Approaches for Management of Diarrhea and Constipation

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine's understanding).


Dealing with digestive issues such as diarrhoea and constipation can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Western medicine often focuses on identifying the underlying cause and prescribing medication to relieve symptoms. However, in Chinese medicine, the approach is holistic and seeks to restore balance to the body.

In Western medicine, diarrhoea and constipation are usually treated with medications such as laxatives or anti-diarrhoeal drugs. These drugs work by either increasing bowel movements or slowing them down. If the cause of the symptoms is an underlying medical condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome, the focus may be on managing the condition itself.

Chinese medicine views diarrhoea and constipation as symptoms of an underlying imbalance in the body. This imbalance can be caused by a variety of factors, such as poor diet, emotional stress, or environmental toxins. To restore balance, Chinese medicine practitioners may use a combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy.

One approach in Chinese medicine is the Five Elements theory, which categorizes the body's organs and functions into five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Diarrhoea and constipation are thought to be related to imbalances in the Earth element, which governs the digestive system. By restoring balance to the Earth element, the body can regain normal digestive function.

Another approach is channel therapy, which involves using acupuncture to stimulate specific energy channels in the body. By unblocking these channels, the body's natural healing processes can be activated, which may help to relieve symptoms.

Chinese medicine also emphasizes the importance of Qi and Blood in maintaining health. Qi is the body's vital energy, while Blood refers to the body's circulatory system. Imbalances in Qi or Blood can cause a variety of symptoms, including digestive issues. Chinese herbal medicine is often used to support Qi and Blood, which may help to relieve diarrhoea and constipation.

Shan Han Lun and Wen Bing are two schools of thought within Chinese medicine that focus on understanding and treating infectious diseases. While diarrhoea and constipation may not be caused by infectious agents, these schools of thought emphasize the importance of understanding the body's overall balance and how to restore it.

Finally, Chinese medicine recognizes the importance of phlegm, heat, cold, wind, and other factors in understanding the body's balance. By addressing these factors, practitioners can help to restore balance and relieve symptoms.

In conclusion, diarrhoea and constipation can be effectively managed through a combination of Western and Chinese medical approaches. While Western medicine may focus on identifying the underlying cause and prescribing medication, Chinese medicine seeks to restore balance to the body through a holistic approach that includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy. By combining these approaches, patients can receive comprehensive care that addresses the root causes of their symptoms.


  1. Maciocia, G. (2013). The Practice of Chinese Medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences.

  2. Bensky, D., & Barolet, R. (1990). Chinese herbal medicine: formulas and strategies. Eastland Press.

  3. Zhang, X., Li, X., Liang, Y., Li, J., & Li, F. (2016). Advances in diagnosis and treatment of diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 36(2), 232-238.

  4. Zhang, J., & Wang, Y. (2019). Progress of research on TCM treatment of diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 39(2), 314-320.

  5. Liu, Z., Liu, J., Shi, Y., Zhang, Q., & Guo, Y. (2020). Acupuncture and electro-acupuncture for people with subacute or chronic constipation: a protocol for a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Medicine, 99(39), e22230. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000022230

The primary objective of Chinese Medicine is to treat the whole person rather than a specific disease or its given name.  It is an adjunct to Western medicine, with a distinct focus on identifying the underlying cause within Chinese medical  theory and using it's principles in a safe and modern clinical setting.

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