How to Manage IBS Naturally
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common conditions that affects the digestive system. IBS is what’s referred to as a functional disorder. It is a long-term condition that causes recurring pain or discomfort in the abdomen and can cause altered bowel habits. It causes symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.
Based on a statistic taken in Australia, about one in every five people may experience signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). You can develop IBS at any age, but for most people, the first symptoms tend to show up in early adulthood and women are more likely to get IBS rather than men and oftentimes they have more severe symptoms.
Some can control their symptoms by managing their diet, their lifestyle and stress, but for those who experience severe symptoms most are treated with medication and counseling. Aside from prescription medicines you can also try natural remedies and over-the-counter remedies to cure and lessen Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
The signs and symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS vary but are usually present for a long time. You may experience systems like:
- Abdominal pain, cramping or bloating that is related to passing a bowel movement
- Changes in appearance of bowel movement
- Changes in how often you are having a bowel movement
- Bloating caused by increased gas or mucus in the stool.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have a persistent change in bowel habits or other signs or symptoms of IBS. This may indicate a more serious condition, like colon cancer.
Signs and symptoms you should be aware of:
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea at night
- Rectal bleeding
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Unexplained vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent pain that isn’t relieved by passing gas or a bowel movement
The precise cause of IBS isn’t known, but it may include factors such as:
- Nervous system. You might experience discomfort when there are abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive system. This happens when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can cause your body to overreact to changes that normally occur in the digestive process. Such changes will result in abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation.
- Severe infection. You can develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after a severe bout of diarrhea or gastroenteritis. A bacteria or virus could have caused this, or it may also be caused by a bacterial overgrowth in the intestines.
- Severe stress. If you are exposed to stressful events, especially if you are a child, you have more tendencies of experiencing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Aside from IBS children experiencing severe stress may also feel headache, unexplainable pain, vomiting, and unbearable discomfort. Stress is never a good thing no matter what your age is.
- Muscle contractions in the intestine. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract as they move food through your digestive tract. If you are experiencing contractions that are stronger and last longer than normal it can cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. Weak intestinal contractions are also not good. It can slow the food passage and lead to hard and dry stools.
- Changes in gut microbes. Changes in bacteria, fungi and viruses, which normally reside in the intestines, play an important role in our health. Research indicates that the microbes in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are different from those in healthy people.
IBS can be triggered by two main factors, food and stress.
- We all need food to survive, but many of us have food allergies. There isn’t much research or information regarding food allergy or food intolerance in relation to IBS. Normally food allergy rarely causes IBS, but many people experience worse IBS symptoms when they eat or drink certain foods or beverages, like dairy products, citrus fruits, beans, wheat, cabbage, milk and carbonated drinks.
- Most people with IBS experience worse or more-frequent signs and symptoms when they are under severe stress. Stress may aggravate IBS symptoms, but it doesn’t cause them.
Some prescription medication may come with potential side effects and aren’t always as effective as advertised. Aside from prescription medicine you can try natural remedies and over-the-counter remedies. Below are some natural remedies you may try:
Colonic Irrigation and Colon Hydrotherapy
Believe it or not, thousands of IBS sufferers have found relief from their condition by working with a qualified colon hydrotherapist to do a deep colon cleanse and reset their gut health. Colon Hydrotherapy has been around for centuries and was used in ancient times as a way of improving overall health. Even Hipocrates, the grandfather of western medicine, said that the colon is the river of life and all diseases begin in the gut. For more information, contact your local certified colon hydrotherapist today.
Avoid problem foods
There might be some food that doesn’t get along well with your stomach, make sure to avoid them. These may include alcohol, chocolate, caffeinated beverages, dairy products, and sugar-free sweeteners such as sorbitol or mannitol. If you’re lactose intolerant, avoid drinking milk and try yogurt instead. Or you can also use an enzyme product to help break down lactose.
When you have IBS, fiber can be a mixed blessing. Although it helps reduce constipation, it can also make gas and cramping worse. So, if you want to experiment with fiber you can start by slowly increasing the amount of fiber in your diet over a period of weeks. If your signs and symptoms remain the same or worse, tell your doctor and a dietitian. Or you can also try fiber supplements since they cause less gas and bloating. Just make sure to introduce it slowly and drink plenty of water every day to reduce gas, bloating and constipation.
Examples of foods that contain fiber:
Eat on time regularly
Avoid skipping meals, and try to eat around the same time every day to help regulate bowel function. If you have diarrhea, eating small frequent meals can make you feel better, but if you’re constipated, eating larger amounts of high-fiber foods can help move food through your intestines.
Drink lots of water
Drink plenty of fluids every day. Alcohol, carbonated drinks, and beverages that contain caffeine can stimulate your intestines and can make your diarrhea worse as well as produce gas. Avoid these drinks and drink plenty of water instead.
Exercise helps relieve depression and stress, stimulate normal contractions of your intestines, and can help you feel better about yourself.
IBS is often associated with chronic gastritis, this may cause the lining of your small intestine to break down, creating tiny openings that allow digestive by-products, called lipopolysaccharides, to slip through and enter your body. These uninvited guests can ignite the immune system, causing a generalized inflammatory reaction and symptoms such as achiness and fatigue. If your IBS makes you feel tired or achy, you can try taking L-glutamine. L-Glutamine is a supplement that can help the lining of your gut heal to correct the permeability issue.
If constipation is your main IBS symptom, you may want to try the ancient Chinese medicine technique acupuncture. Acupuncture can help relieve constipation and get the bowels moving again. It involves inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points to balance the body’s energy or life force, also called qi (pronounced “chee”). A study published in December 2020 in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that acupuncture improved functional connections in the brain that eased symptoms of IBS-D and improved quality of life for patients.
Mindfulness for Stress Relief
Reducing stress through mindfulness can help calm down your gut nerves. Based on a study published in September 2020 in the journal Neurogastroenterology and Motility, it states that after an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction practice, more than 70% of the participants in the study showed improved IBS symptoms. Andrew K. Powell recommends the 5-5-5 practice. That is, “smell the roses” by inhaling through your nose for a count of five. Hold that breath for five counts, then exhale through your mouth for a count of five or longer, as if you are blowing out candles on your birthday cake”.
Physical activity is an integral part of the mind-body connection, this is where yoga comes in. Studies suggest that regular yoga can be helpful in managing IBS. It states that practicing yoga can lead to improvements in physical health and a more positive outlook on life, which helps decrease IBS symptoms.
Peppermint oil has been used as a herbal remedy for centuries. ACG acknowledges that this herb can soothe the gut and provide relief for all IBS symptoms. A recent meta-analysis published in January 2019 in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies found that regular intake of peppermint oil capsules with meals helped reduce IBS symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, and constipation. Just take note that peppermint oil could make heartburn worse so be careful how much you take. It’s best to talk to your doctor before trying peppermint oil.