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The Natural Therapy Shop

IBS fact sheet

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Are you troubled by stomach and digestive issues? Constipated one day, going too often the next? Have you been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and been told there’s not a lot you can do about it? As a naturopath, I see clients with digestive related disorders a lot and know from experience there’s a lot you can do to improve your digestive health.

(IBS) has become a very common problem for both men and women and causes a lot of uncomfortable symptoms for the sufferer.

 

Common Symptoms

 

  • Constipation and/or diarrhoea (sometimes alternating)
  • Cramping abdominal pain
  • Presence of mucus in the stool
  • Straining or increased urgency (depending on presenting symptoms)
  • Bloating and/or flatulence
  • Feelings of incomplete evacuation
  • Symptoms may be relieved by passing a bowel motion

 

Causes of IBS

 

  • Anxiety, stress and/or depression – strong emotions can affect the nerves supplying the bowel in susceptible people
  • Gastrointestinal  infection – an episode of gastroenteritis can sometimes result in persistent bowel symptoms even after the offending pathogen has been controlled. As well as upsetting the bacterial population status, it is thought that the infection may cause changes to the nerve function to the bowel.
  • Food intolerance – lactose intolerance and impaired absorption of other sugars such as fructose and sorbitol are believed to be a major dietary trigger for IBS.

 

Treatment - Lifestyle Factors

Managing stress is an important factor in helping reduce the symptoms of IBS. Taking the time to prioritise preparing healthy food, regular exercise and getting enough sleep is a great foundation to build on. It is important to avoid dealing with stress by using stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and cigarettes as they adversely affect nervous system function and can make things even worse in the long term.

Allergies or sensitivities to certain foods can trigger or exacerbate IBS symptoms. The easiest way to determine if a food substance is a problem is to eliminate that food for 30 days and then take careful note of any symptoms upon re-challenging the food at the end of this time period. Wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn and fructose are common problem foods in susceptible people so may be a good place to start.

Digestive system health is important for everyone but even more so if IBS is a problem. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, fermented vegetables and kefir contribute to a healthy intestinal bacterial balance along with probiotics as recent research has confirmed. Too much sugar, on the other hand, can disrupt the intestinal flora, favouring the proliferation of unhealthy bacteria species such as Candida albicans or the Clostridium species.

Treatment – Herbs and Nutrients

     

     

Useful Herbs to Consider in IBS Management

      

Black Walnut – a useful de-worming herb.  

Globe Artichoke – helpful for people with sluggish fat digestion i.e. who feel bloated after eating fats as it stimulates bile flow and production.     

Licorice – has anti-inflammatory properties as well as assisting with the adrenal stress response.  

Passionflower – well known for its use in anxiety and to support the nervous system.      

Psyllium seed – a soluble fibre to help maintain intestinal health.    

Slippery elm – a soluble fibre with noted soothing and nutritive properties acting on the intestinal walls.       

Withania – specific for stressed out and fatigued people needing adrenal support.         

Specific Products That Can Help

Motion Potion – this convenient powder contains everything you need for good bowel health. It soothes, strengthens, detoxifies and heals – great stuff!

Betaine Digestive Aid - supplementing with hydrochloric acid can assist with protein digestion in the stomach as well as increase bowel motility both of which reduce inflammation within the intestines.             

Kefir – diarrhoea and/or constipation contribute to an imbalanced bowel flora environment. Ferments like kefir help maintain a balanaced and healthy bowel flora environment.

Jayne is a naturopath and herbalist who enjoys assisting people to experience better health and vitality through nutrition, nutritional supplements and herbal medicines. As a naturopath, her aim is to find the underlying obstacles to vital health unique to each person.

www.vitalchild.com.au

jayne@vitalchild.com.au