Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common disorders of the gastrointestinal tract that people experience. It is believed to account for up to 50% of all referrals to gastroenterologists.
Women experience this condition more than men, at a 2 to 1 ratio. Up to 15% of all people in the world have this condition. IBS has several physiological, psychological, and dietary factors that contribute to its occurrence.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
There are a variety of different symptoms that people with IBS experience. Diagnosis of IBS is determined by a combination of the following characteristics:
- Distension or pain in the abdomen
- Changes in bowel function, including diarrhoea or constipation
- Hypersecretion of colonic mucous
- Dyspeptic symptoms, including anorexia, flatulence and nausea
- Either anxiety or depression to varying degrees
The most typical symptom presentation that results in a diagnosis of IBS is bloating, bowel motions relieving pain, and an onset of more frequent bowel motions.
When someone has IBS, there are a variety of things that a naturopath considers when coming up with a treatment plan. These include:
- Increasing dietary fibre
- Identifying and eliminating allergenic or intolerant foods from the diet
- Reducing and/or eliminating refined sugars from the diet
- Supporting healthy gut microflora
- Supporting mental health, particularly reducing stress if present
Herbal and Supplement Support
Specific treatment options to consider for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) include:
- Probiotics help to support a healthy and diverse intestinal microbiome. Improving gut function and helping to address inflammation.
- Provide supplemental dietary fibre to help support and normalise stool formation and frequency.
- Reduce inflammation using anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, liquorice, chamomile, and peppermint.
- Reduce hypersensitivity of the gut using peppermint, fennel, lemon balm, chamomile, and St Mary’s thistle.
- Support liver function using dandelion, globe artichoke, and turmeric.