Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the number one digestive complaint experienced by Australians – over four million people are affected. Symptoms of flatulence, bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, Constipation and Diarrhoea with no identifiable structural problem can be uncomfortable and make life difficult. For some reason, in those with IBS the bowel does not function as normal, propelling food through by regular muscular contractions (called peristalsis). Instead, the muscles of the intestines spasm and contract irregularly, which can lead to the food moving through too fast or too slow.
A number of things can trigger or exacerbate IBS, particularly Stress, Anxiety or Low Mood. Other culprits include food allergies and intolerances, bacterial, viral and parasitic infection (and its treatment with antibiotics). A tendency to IBS can run in families.
The good news is that there are a number of natural ways to control and alleviate the symptoms of IBS. Fibre is extremely important for all sufferers, as it is necessary to regulate both Constipation and Diarrhoea. Fibre containing foods and supplements such as Blooms Slippery Elm Powder, TNP Quick Fibre Plus, Psyllium husk and Flaxseed meal may reduce symptoms of bloating, pain, cramping and flatulence. It is important to remember to increase your water intake when taking fibre supplements, especially if you suffer from Constipation.
It is also important to avoid food triggers, and food allergy/intolerance testing may assist in working out what these are. Many people find that dairy and Gluten trigger their symptoms.Probiotic supplements, in particular those with the strain Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, like Ethical Nutrients IBS Support, have been highly researched and shown to provide relief of symptoms by restoring a healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines.
Also recommended are herbal carminatives, which ease digestion and help to reduce spasm of the intestines – these include Peppermint, Fennel and Ginger - drinking Planet Organic Calming Tea may help. Nutra Life Digestive Enzymes may assist in the breakdown of food and reduce the load that the body has to cope with. Magnesium is one of the nutrients involved in all muscle contaction, and taking this may help to reduce cramping and spasming of the intestines. A powdered form such as Herbs of Gold Muscle Resuscitation will be better absorbed into the digestive tract where it is needed.
Treating the Stress that is often a trigger is also vital - Magnesium helps here too, as does a B Vitamin Complex (Herbs of Gold B Complete Sustained Release) and herbal remedies like Fusion Stress and Anxiety and Herbs of Gold Extra Strength St John’s Wort 3600. For fast relief from Stress and Anxiety, Bach Rescue Remedy is particularly effective - just drop four drops under your tongue or into a glass of water and drink.
Updates - 3 November 2014
Brands, M et al (2011), ‘A pilot study of yoga treatment in children with functional abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome’, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 26 May 2011.
Up to 19% of children in Western nations like America and Australia suffer from recurrent abdominal pain such as that of IBS. In functional conditions like IBS, drug therapies are often limited and so other treatment is often required.
This trial is one of the first to examine the effects of yoga on IBS and abdominal pain in children. 20 children between the ages of 8 and 18 received 10 yoga lessons over 12 weeks. After treatment, all children reported a decreased frequency of pain, and those aged 8 to 11 also had decreased intensity when the pain did come. These results persisted after the treatment program had stopped.
Exercise has been shown in other studies to offer benefits to those with IBS – now we know that Yoga may too.
Vive Health Naturopaths recommend the following products for IBS:
|1. Ethical Nutrients IBS Support (30 caps)||1-2 caps on empty stomach away from food.|
|2. TNP Quick Fibre Plus (375g)||2 heaped tsp x 2 day.|
|3. Blooms Slippery Elm Powder (125g, 200 Tabs)||1-2 tsp x 1-3 daily.|
|4. Nutra Life Digestive Enzymes (60 caps)||1 cap x 3 daily (with meals).|
|5. Planet Organic Calming Tea (25 bags)||As needed.|
|6. Herbs of Gold Muscle Resuscitation (150g, 300g)||1 tsp in 200ml water x 1-2 a day.|
|7. Herbs of Gold B Complete Sustained Release (60 Tabs)||1 tab with breakfast.|
|8. Fusion Stress and Anxiety (30 Tabs, 60 Tabs)||1 tab with breakfast and 1 with lunch.|
|9. Herbs of Gold Extra Strength St John’s Wort 3600 (30 Tabs, 60 Tabs)||1 tab x 2 daily.|
|10. Bach Rescue Remedy (10ml, 20ml)||4 drops under the tongue or in water as needed.|
NOTE: Consideration should always be given to individual requirements. Please consider seeing a qualified practitioner before commencing a new treatment protocol or when combining supplements with pharmaceutical medication.
For more information on Irritable Bowel Syndrome or to ask a Qualified Naturopath a question Click Here.