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Reclaiming Digestive Freedom: 52-Year-Old Peri-Menopausal Woman Finds Relief from IBS and Acid Reflux Without Drastic Diets

Suzanna came to see me because she had experienced a significant downturn in her health over the past three years. She was 52 years old with teenage children and a busy work life in academia. While she had always been healthy and active, she had recently been struggling with constipation, loose stool, and indigestion. She had seen medical specialists, who had diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux. She had met with a nutritionist who recommended an extensive elimination diet, but she felt hesitant about making such dramatic changes and didn’t know if she would stick to such a limited diet. Her primary care doctor had prescribed a short course of medication for the reflux and suggested that she see an acupuncturist for the IBS symptoms. In our first meeting, I learned that Suzanne had been through a series of stressful events at work and that parenting her teenage son had become increasingly difficult for her. She also explained that her periods had become more irregular and while she had not thought much about how it might affect her health, she assumed she was heading for menopause soon. After doing my acupuncture assessment, I identified that Suzanna’s digestive pattern was linked to emotional stress and menopausal changes. Her body needed support to regulate digestion.  I explained that acupuncture could help to regulate her digestive system as well as calm her nervous system, which has a significant effect on both hormones and digestion. As her digestive symptoms lessened, I began to help Suzanna to find simple strategies for managing her stress level. She also felt more open to exploring how what she ate was affecting her body, and I supported her to make small but significant dietary changes that allowed her to have much more control over her symptoms, while not sacrificing the pleasure of eating and cooking for her family. After three months of care, Suzanna rated the intensity of her symptoms at a 2 out 10, compared to 8 out of 10 when she started treatment. 

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