Blog

How to treat IBS naturally and effectively – Can it be done?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be one of those really quite annoying conditions and it can feel like there is no end goal or hope. Over the last few years, since being diagnosed I have looked at different ways and I have always asked the question of if it was possible to treat IBS naturally, and if so how to treat IBS naturally and effectively.

As you may know, IBS usually has different symptoms, from abdominal or stomach pain/cramps, all the way to diarrhea…or both, yep that’s the worst. It can be different for every sufferer and can differ in pain levels as well.

Why natural?

If I am honest. I am not against none ‘natural’ remedies, I would even say I am fully for them, but I do like to explore other alternatives. Obviously, I would say here that taking the words of a Dr or medical professional is always worth it, and should never be ignored!

The reason I wanted to look at natural, was just to explore what might be out there and to help others who may not enjoy the pharmacy side of life.

So, what could work?

There are a number of different remedies or techniques that can be tried. These have been highlighted by Dr Saito -Loftus who is a Gastroenterologist.

Probiotic

Many of you may have heard of probiotics before, usually found in certain types of yoghurt. They are essentially live bacteria, they can be found in supplements and fermented food. This area of research has really only just begun, and studies are quite early in their development.

Randomised clinical trials have suggested that it may provide relief, as opposed to a placebo.

Writing for Health.com, Dr Saito-Loftus noted that “I’ve met patients who swear that they make all the difference in the world, and others that don’t feel they make much of an impact at all in their symptoms,” says Dr. Saito-Loftus. “One problem is that there are so many brands and formulations, chances are what you pick up in the store is not the same product that performed well in clinical trials.”

She also noted that probiotics can change the ratios and amount of natural gut bacteria, so in some cases could cause more harm than good!

Prebiotics

Much like the Probiotics, very little research has been done, or even begun on this area of bacteria. Prebiotics are essentially nondigestible carbohydrates that help feed the good bacteria in your gut.

Prebiotics can be found naturally in foods such as garlic, onions, bananas and raw asparagus. They can also be supplemented if you so choose to (if you are already consuming more garlic than a vampire could handle.)

 

Peppermint Oil

Ah, the humble peppermint oil! Used a lot in many of the tablets or remedies prescribed by Dr’s. It’s been noted that clinical trials of peppermint oil have dated back to 1970s, and multiple studies can be found to show that peppermint oil is thought to be a natural anti-spasmodic.

From a personal point of view, I have found that peppermint oil has helped me when I am in pain, or experiencing cramps, but does not help with the more explosive issues. But can be a cheap and easy remedy for those more painful episodes!

Stress reduction

I know a lot of people reading this will have probably picked up their PC or phone and thrown it across the room. We all live stressful lives, I included. I run a full-time blog, a number of smaller websites and also a full-time job as a consultant, how are you meant to lead a relaxing and unstressful life in today environment!

I found that when I was at university I was at my worst for IBS, though at the time I didn’t know that that’s what I had. I assumed the bad kebab and the large amounts of alcohol the day before

were the problem. For me, stress is one of the biggest trigger points for my IBS, when I have had a really bad day at work, or I know that I have client meetings that will NOT go well, my stomach becomes a gurgling, mess of pain and unhappiness.

I also know that when my stomach is bad, I get stressed about it. And yep, you guessed it, the vicious circle begins!

So, what can we do to reduce this? For me, I find that taking a set time out of my day to go to the gym, listen to some relaxing music, and enjoying some me time really helps. By doing this I block out the parts of work that I know are worrying me, and I take time to just enjoy myself.

For others, it may be that taking the time to practice yoga, or meditation could really help them relax and de-stress. Going for regular therapeutic massages that allow you to drift into a light sleep could also help. It’s very much about finding the right solution that fits your lifestyle and your day to day living.

Anything else?

There have also been studies into how increasing the amount of fibre in your diet, or by supplementing digestive enzymes into your everyday life may also help relieve the symptoms of IBS.

At the end of the day, it’s a little bit of trial and error, I found that by increasing my ways of de-stressing and increasing the fibre in my diet actually helped me loads. I also cut down on certain foods that I felt might be triggering it, such as milk (though I am not lactose intolerant).

You may also find that following certain guides may help, for instance, The IBS Miracle claims that they can reduce or cure IBS naturally. After reading the guide I felt my IBS was reduced, mainly due to stress reduction techniques and small changes in my diet.

4 Comments - Leave a Comment
  • Michael -

    Hi Mike,

    I agree that IBS can be very annoying and while certain medicines do help, the idea of just changing simple things like your diet can also have a great effect on your diet.

    I personally like yogurt and high fiber foods like oatmeal — so I’m glad to know that if in the future I ever get this, to keep eating what I already like 🙂

    Is there anything specific you like to eat or drink when you get this?

    • Mike -

      Hey Micheal,

      Thanks for stopping by! When I get my episodes of IBS, I usually stop eating altogether and increase my water intake a little to help ease out any gases. This has always been the best method for me. 

      As for my diet to try to prolong or stop my IBS episodes, I have actually recently increased my fibre and much like you have done added yogurt to my diet (breakfast usually!).

      I have also recently started to try ProBiotic drinks, as well as looking into supplementing my diet with a ProBiotic tablet, though I am currently researching how effective these are due to the lack of studies!

  • Ciara -

    I didn’t know about prebiotics before reading your post! Probiotics are still an active area of research, but prebiotics seems like a very new and emerging science. I would love to know more! Do you find that eating certain foods that are known to contain prebiotics (garlic, raw asparagus), help with your IBS symptoms?

    • Mike -

      Hey Ciara, 

      Thanks for dropping in! For me, it’s very much about eliminating foods, I am quite lucky that very few foods really trigger my IBS. 

      So for me, I don’t seek out foods that I know contain Prebiotics. Though I do have these in my diet, to try to keep it as balanced and as healthy as possible. 

      I am hoping more and more research will be done into Prebiotics over the next few years, to help us fully understand what they can do to help us. 

  • Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *