Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is frequently a term given to unexplained digestive conditions. It can be common where people eat a western diet, but is comparatively unknown in cultures where people eat simple, natural foods, and do not over-eat.
Although not life-threatening, IBS can indicate more serious problems, so it is important to get checked out. Assuming that more serious conditions been ruled out, there are a number of steps you can take to help yourself.
Avoid caffeinated or carbonated drinks, tobacco, alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners, antacids and laxatives. When your intestines upset you, temporarily go on a bland diet. Put meals through a blender when eating is painful, and wear loose fitting clothing so as not to make matters worse.
Ideally opt for an organic wholefood mainly plant-based diet, cutting out processed foods. The fibre in vegetables can be helpful.
Try drinking additional water. Daily, drink one tablespoon of black strap molasses in a cup of hot water, and take 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil. Take probiotics (in supplements, fermented food or live yoghurt), twice weekly, to help increase good gut flora and reduce unwanted bacterial strains. You may require increased intake of minerals and trace elements due to malabsorption. A naturopathic practitioner would be able to advise you about the appropriateness and dosage of relevant supplements.
Eat on a regular schedule, ideally with 5 hours between meals, and don’t eat before going to bed.
Naturopathic medicine is about finding the cause, not simply addressing the symptoms, if you want a longer term fix. So search for any food intolerances by keeping written records of your reactions to food and drink, and any emotional or other stressors.
Avoid stress and having to rush. Lifestyle is a big factor in IBS. Try deep breathing to feel calmer, and remember that regular exercise, specifically outdoors, is needed in order to maintain good health, including good bowel health.
Natural remedies to relieve gastrointestinal pain and expel the gas include taking a luke warm enema. Or you could take charcoal tablets, but not daily, as it would cause constipation. Peppermint tea (3 or more cups a day) soothes the entire intestinal tract. Chamomile tea also helps.
If you need extra help, a naturopathic therapist can help you tailor-make a dietary and lifestyle plan to target your individual condition.
Shaf Khan, Naturopath and Herbalist, is a graduate of CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine).