Chinese medicine for Crohn’s and other IBD’s – Part one

We had a surprisingly-useful first session with a Chinese Medical Practitioner a couple of days ago. I was recommended Simon Jones, based at the Ludlow Clinic by an old colleague whom Simon had helped very much in the past. I’d actually been looking for someone that might be able to give me some acupuncture treatments, as it’s a recommended treatment for IBD by Jini Patel Thompson in her fantastic book ‘Listen to your Gut‘. Yes, I’m going to go on about this book constantly, but it’s been both an inspiration and a lifeline for me over these last couple of weeks.

Simon gave us a simple-but-useful overview of what’s happening in the body with inflammatory bowel disease. Of course, it’s all about stress, and how we manage it. I’ll try to describe my take on it, although his was a lot more accurate and comprehensive!

Evolution has equipped our bodies with a fantastic ‘fight, freeze or flight’ mechanism that ensures that the population stays stable no matter what the life-threatening situation might be.

When faced with a threat, half of us are evolved to ‘freeze’ – our bodies, under threat, are more sedentary, and are programmed to put on fat. This way, is there’s a famine, that body type will survive, but if there’s a Tiger attack, that body group will be more likely to get eaten. The other body type is programmed the other way round; their job is to either fight or run away. Under threat, the body doesn’t get fat but uses all its resources to provide adrenaline, so that fight or flight is possible. The person gets skinny and active instead of fat and sedentary. This body type would die in a famine, but survive the Tiger attack.

But the body needs to pull these fight or flight resources from somewhere, so it takes energy from two places that both use a lot of energy resource, but aren’t needed in a life-threatening situation: two things you’re unlikely to be doing whilst running away from a Tiger are eating, and having sex. So the body borrows its energy from the gut’s nervous system, and the reproductive system.

Now that would all be fine if there were Tigers roaming around Bishop’s Castle, but nowadays, that’s a pretty rare occurrence. But the body reacts to any kind of stressful situation in the same way as it would a tiger attack.

So when I let myself get stressed about a project deadline, or an unhappy client, or – more relevant to my psychology – a completely-imagined threat that may or may not happen in the future, the body reduces the amount of energy that the gut’s nervous system is allowed, and the gut is forced to perform under pressure. This causes all sorts of problems with normal blood flow around the gut, and this under-performance will make the gut intolerant to certain foods, and generally unbalanced.

It’s this imbalance which is the root of all of the problems, and so it’s this imbalance that needs addressing.

So, we’re taking a staged approach to treatment with the Chinese Medicine. Soon I should receive a package of herbs which will address the infection caused by the abscess; I just finished a course of antibiotics, but want to be sure that the infection is gone from my whole system from the root level. The next stage is to bring down the inflammation, and thirdly – most importantly – we address the energy imbalance in the system.

I asked Simon about acupuncture, and his feeling was that at this stage, acupuncture might bring me some temporary balance and relief of some sympathy for a day or so, but I need something which will go more deeply to the root of the problem on a daily basis, which the herbs can do, whereas it’s not practical to go for an acupuncture treatment every day for several weeks. So acupuncture will be useful when I’m more healed and just in need of tweaks and maintenance, but we’ll go with the herbs for now, which I feel really good about.

Looking forward to the parcel delivery!