Cramping, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of all. These are the uncomfortable symptoms sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) experience daily.
It is estimated that 20% of Americans have IBS and that number continues to grow.1 Though IBS rarely turns into a life-threatening health issue, symptoms leave sufferers with severe discomfort while disrupting their social and personal lives.
There are a number of pharmaceutical medications on the market for this syndrome, but some problems lie with this treatment option: they aren’t effective for everyone, symptoms eventually return, medications may have severe health side effects, and these medications don’t treat the root issue of the problem.
The two main causes of IBS are food allergies and overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. If you’re taking a pill to relieve symptoms, but not the problem, you will never be truly healed and can spark other health issues at the same time.
While the cause and effects of IBS differ for each individual, the natural treatment options below have documented benefits and are worth trying.
1. Take Control of Your Diet
Since food allergies are one of the leading causes of IBS, it is important for IBS sufferers to be conscious of the foods they consume. The most common trigger foods include sugar, white starches, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods. Unfortunately, these feature heavily in the typical Western diet.
A landmark paper was recently published in the prestigious British medical journal Gut that found eliminating foods identified through delayed food allergy testing (IgG antibodies) resulted in dramatic improvements in IBS symptoms.
Start by getting a food allergy test to see what foods cause a reaction for your body. Continue with an elimination diet of these and other common trigger foods.
2. Restore Your Gut with Probiotics
Maintaining an optimal balance of gut bacteria is crucial to alleviate pain from IBS, and for overall health in general. Probiotics are friendly live bacteria found naturally in fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha and kefir or in supplement form.
3. Take Digestive Enzymes
Taking digestive enzymes with meals is beneficial because it helps your body break down food into an easier to digest form. We have naturally occurring enzymes, but they can diminish with age. Digestive enzymes may also help soothe inflammation and allow restoration of normal gut function. IBS sufferers over age 35 should consider this option a top priority.
4. Try Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil has been clinically proven to help those that are living with IBS. This herbal remedy has the ability to relieve discomfort and symptoms caused by IBS including bloating and abdominal pain. It specifically seems to be helpful for those with severe pain.
5. Reduce Stress
One of the most important natural remedies for IBS to consider is monitoring your stress levels. Having stress can harm your immune system and break down the lining of your gut, thus worsening symptoms of IBS.
It is important to consult with a doctor when trying new treatment options for any medical condition and remember that every sufferer of IBS is unique. What may work for some, may not work for you, but trying a mix of conventional and natural remedies for IBS is the optimal way to deal with this life altering syndrome.