TCM Treatment for IBS

TCM Treatment for IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the digestive system. The exact cause is unknown – it’s been linked to things like food passing through your gut too quickly or too slowly, oversensitive nerves in your gut, stress and a family history of IBS. However, TCM treatment for IBS may be effective…

The symptoms can vary between individuals, but some common ones include:

  • Stabbing or churning abdominal pain
  • Bloating and swelling of the abdomen
  • Change of bowel habits (constipation and/or diarrhoea)

IBS isn’t seen as a specific disease, but rather a set of symptoms. Stress, diet and hormones are all possible triggers for IBS so it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle (good diet, exercise and good sleep patterns).

Research has demonstrated that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can benefit from multiple treatment options to address this often complex disorder. One of these options is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), including acupuncture, herbal formulas and dietary therapy.

TCM views IBS as a result of spleen and stomach dysfunction, as both these organs are vital to the digestion and transformation of food. When they are not functioning correctly, there is often retention of dampness in the digestive system which will further affect the functioning of the whole system, including the liver.

 TCM Theory

There are a number of syndrome differentiations that may affect IBS. Some of these include:

  • Cold-Damp – Loose water stools with poor appetite and bloated stomach.
  • Damp-Heat – Stools are frequent with foul smells and a burning sensation.
  • Food Retention – Frequent bowel movements with bloating and belching.
  • Stagnation of Liver Qi – Tightness around the chest, tenderness around ribs and frequent bowel movements.
  • Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency – Frequent bowel movement, loose stools, tiredness, nausea, abdominal pain and poor appetite.
  • Kidney Yang Deficiency –Loose stools at night and in the morning with abdominal pains.

TCM Treatment for IBS

As well as individual herbal prescriptions, commonly-used formulas are an easy and efficient way to potentially help manage the symptoms of IBS. Due to the different syndromes, practitioners may find it beneficial to combine standardised formulas depending on each individual case.

  • Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang
  • Gui Pi Tang
  • Gui Zhi Tang
  • Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San
  • Shen Ling Bai Zhu San
  • Si Jun Zi Tang
  • Si Ni San
  • Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang
  • Xiao Chai Hu Tang
  • Yu Ping Feng San

For herbalists wanting to prescribe tailor-made solutions for all conditions, we offer a bespoke in-house dispensary service. Please visit our dispensary website or contact

If you would like any further advice regarding the above information, please contact If you would like to purchase any of the mentioned items, please visit our online shop.

Disclaimer: Please note that this information is intended for qualified herbalists or healthcare professionals only. If you are a patient, please consult your practitioner for a diagnosis as these recommendations may not be suitable for you. If you would like us to recommend a practitioner who uses Phoenix Medical products and services, contact us at and we will gladly assist you.

Referenced from the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM). Find out more. 

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