Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that can either cause diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramping, or even bloating.  Even though symptoms of IBS are uncomfortable, it does not change your bowel tissue or increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer like Crohn's Disease.  IBS is a chronic condition, but people can keep symptoms under control by managing diets, lifestyles, and stress.

Signs Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Because IBS can affect each person differently, people will experience varying symptoms, but the primary symptom is abdominal discomfort.  Symptoms can worsen during menstruation or episodes of severe stress.  Symptoms of IBS can include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden urge to have bowel movements
What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is believed to be caused by a combination of factors because the exact cause is unknown.  The intestinal walls are lined with a layer of muscles, which contract and relax in unison as food enters from the intestines from the stomach.  If you are affected by IBS, these contractions can be stronger or weaker.  The former can induce bloating, gas, or diarrhea, while the latter may slow the digestion process and lead to constipation.  Common causes are listed below. 

  • The foods you eat
  • Dietary allergies
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Bacterial overgrowth in the intestines
  • Infectious diarrhea

Dherbs Approach...adjusting your diet is always key!

Natural Remedies
  • Exercise can be a beneficial remedy for those with IBS because it helps stimulate proper intestinal contractions.  Additionally, exercising may help to relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can induce symptoms of IBS.  If you don't exercise regularly, you may want to start with low-intensive exercises like walking, swimming, riding an exercise bike, Tai Chi, yoga, or even pilates.  It is recommended to exercise 30 minutes a day for five days a week to see positive effects. 
  • Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more.  When you have IBS, it is important to drink water because energy caffeine or alcoholic drinks can make diarrhea worse, and carbonated drinks can prompt gas or bloating.  It is recommended to drink 8-10 glasses of water every day.  You can also drink half your body weight in ounces of water.  If you weigh 150lbs and divide that by 2 to get 75, you should be drinking 75oz of water per day. 
  • It is best to maintain a regular eating schedule.  Try to eat at the same time every day to promote regular bowel movements.  It may be beneficial for those with diarrhea to eat smaller meals more frequently, whereas people with constipation may have need to eat larger meals that are high in fiber to help move food through the intestines. 
  • Use ginger as a natural remedy.  Ginger helps to stimulate saliva, bile, and gastric juices, which can help with proper digestion.  The easiest way to reap the benefits of ginger is to make tea.  Pour hot water over freshly sliced ginger.  Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of raw, organic honey.  Drink this once or twice a day until IBS symptoms subside. 
  • It can be beneficial, for IBS symptoms as well as overall health, to avoid processed foods, dairy products (especially if you are allergic to them), meats, fried foods, sugars, salts, and stimulants.  These foods can often inhibit proper digestive function or worsen symptoms of IBS.  Switching to a more plant-based diet can help regulate gastrointestinal health and eating fibrous fruit and vegetables can help firm up stools or promote bowel movements. 
  • When you have IBS, it is recommended to observe how your body reacts to the foods you eat.  If you eat something and notice that it induces symptoms of IBS, discontinue that food item from your diet.  During this time, it may be beneficial for you to take a food allergy test, so that you know what foods to avoid. 
  • Slippery elm, which is obtained from the inner bark of the red elm tree, may help heal irritated tissues in the digestive tract.  You can obtain slippery elm powder and make it into a tea.  Take 1 teaspoon of the powder, 1 teaspoon of raw honey, and put them in 2 cups of boiling water.  You can add cinnamon for added flavor if you like.  Drink this concoction once or twice a day. 
  • Certain foods are notorious for producing gas.  It can be optimal to eliminate these foods from your diet to decrease the amount of gas you have.  These foods include beans, cabbage, cauliflower, bran, Brussels sprouts, pears, raisins, onions, and the list continues.  Additionally, you can avoid carbonated drinks, eat slowly, and chew your food thoroughly. 
Things you should eat
  • Turmeric 
  • Ginger
  • Bell Peppers
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Okra
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Butternut Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Dark Leafy Greens (spinach, arugula, chard, & kale)
  • Radishes
  • Scallions
  • Bamboo Shoots
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