Case Study: Irritable bowel syndrome

Patient: Mary
Age: 35
Occupation: PA

Health history : Digestive problems for 6 years. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

loose bowel movements 2 or 3 times daily, often mucus with the stools; occasional bouts of diarrhoea when very stressed. Causing her to feel drained and tired. Constipation the week before her period—doesn’t empty her bowels for u to 4 days, & then it is dry and painful. Bloating and severe, cramping abdominal pain which passes after a bowel movement or when period starts.

Marked PMS symptoms ,such as mood swings and irritability. Over the last few years, periods have become more irregular. Tired a lot of the time, forgets things, lowered concentration. Often skips lunch or grabs a sandwich while working on the computer. Got out of the habit of breakfast years ago.

Looking at Mary’s busy and stressful lifestyle, it is clear that her job and the demands it exerts on her has taken it toll. Mary’s poor eating habits over a period of years have damaged her digestive Qi. (This energy is the basis of healthy Blood. The spleen and Stomach are responsible for turning food into Blood.)

In Chinese Medicine women’s heallth is said to be dominated by Blood (and men’s health by Qi). This refers to the importance of the Blood in roles such as fertility, pregnancy, periods and the menopause. If the sources of Blood production (Spleen and stomach) are compromised, the liver(which stores the Blood) will become dry and hard. When this happens, the liver is unable to control the movement of Qi, and various symptoms of fullness can arise. In Mary’s case there is constipation before her period, PMS.

Deficient Spleen energy is evident from the diarrhoea, the tiredness, the inability to concentrated and her poor memory, her weight gain, a weak pulse on the right wrist, and a pale and tooth-marked tongue.

Applying the diagnostic routine helps to pinpoint the problem. Lifestyle cannot be ignored. Energy imbalances can become manifest in unexpected ways.