IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a catch-all term for a number of digestive disorders. A person is usually diagnosed with IBS if they have the usual symptoms of abdominal bloating, regular constipation or diarrhoea, abdominal pain and wind and no disease or other disorder is found.
Secondary symptoms can include headache, backache, depression, fatigue and weight fluctuations but symptoms vary greatly between individuals depending on key factors such as lifestyle, diet and food intolerances for example. As other more serious disorders can have similar symptoms to IBS it is always wise to get a diagnosis from your GP. There are medications available but they are not usually successful long term and can come with side effects so taking a natural approach to redress the balance of the digestive system and deal with the underlying causes can be more effective.
Some Natural Assistance
A high fibre diet is essential to stimulate regular bowel movement. Minimise or eliminate refined foods and sugar from the diet and avoid high fat foods such as meat and full fat diary. Moderate caffeine and artificial sweeteners that can be laxative and eat natural high fibre complex carbohydrates like fruit, veg, beans and peas (minimise wheat bran as it can be irritating to the bowel). Drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water daily is also essential.
Food allergies or intolerances are very often at the root of IBS or can be a contributing factor especially an intolerance for lactose (dairy foods) or/and for gluten in grains such as wheat, barley, oats and rye. Consider QXCI allergy/intolerance analysis to determine your sensitivities (See box) . Great improvement can occur when intolerant foods are removed from the diet.
Many sufferers of IBS notice that their symptoms are worse at times of stress either physical, mental or emotional. Try to identify your sources of stress and eliminate them but where that is not possible go for stress control methods such as massage, Aromatherapy, meditation, counselling. Exercise is also a great stress reliever and helps stimulate bowel movement .
There are many natural supplements that can soothe and help IBS including pro-biotics that rebalance bowel flora. As symptoms vary it is wise to seek professional advice but there are some preparations that in general suit most IBS sufferers. One new product on the market is Bowel Tonic A which is recommended by Dr. John Christopher in his book “School of Natural Healing”. It a combination of herbs such as Cascara, raspberry leaves, lobelia and ginger root which aim to cleanse, soothe and assist healing of the bowel. Available in health stores.