Several of my patients suffer with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Traditional drugs don’t always work for everyone and can sometimes make matters worse. The question I often hear people ask is, “What else can I do to help stop these stomach spasms?”
If you have IBS, and traditional treatments haven’t relieved your symptoms, don’t give up hope. There are many lifestyle changes along with natural remedies that have given my patients a new lease on life. How is that possible? Let’s first take a look at what IBS is.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
It’s really not known what causes irritable bowel syndrome. Some doctors think it’s the result of miscommunication between the brain and the intestines. Some feel it’s caused by nutritional deficiencies, allergies, or food intolerances. Others feel stress, underlying emotions or anxiety is the cause.
IBS is considered a functional condition that affects about 50 million Americans. It can have many of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal cramping/pain relieved after bowel movement
- Alternate between diarrhea and constipation
- Frequent gas and flatulence
- Passing mucus in stool
Currently, there is no cure for IBS. But here are some very effective natural treatments that I recommend to my patients to control their IBS:
IBS Relief from Nature, Alternative Therapy, Supplements
Most of the suggestions listed here involve making changes to your diet and overall lifestyle. You may choose to involve the services of an alternative healthcare practitioner or talk to your doctor about dietary supplements that might work for you.
L-glutamine, an amino acid, is very effective at stopping diarrhea. It soothes the irritated lining of the bowel and helps stop the spasms. Get in powder form and mix about ¼ to ½ tablespoons with cool water. Drink on an empty stomach.
Acacia Senegal – a soluble fiber that also helps absorb water, converting bowel contents into a passable gel that both stops diarrhea and prevents constipation.
Vitamin C – 1-2,000 mg a day; not only boosts your immune system but helps digest food and keep the bowel moving normally.
Magnesium – 500 mg a day. A natural anti-spasmodic, helps stop and prevent gut spasms.
Digestives – such as ginger, peppermint chamomile, and oolong can be enjoyed as teas, or infusions. Some, like peppermint, come in hard candy. Peppermint is one of the best spasms, nausea, gas relievers around. It has been used for centuries as an after-meal digestive.
Avoid – Insoluble fibers like wheat, bran, raw fruit, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, legumes, and sprouts. These can intensify bloating, gas, and flatulence. They can also irritate the colon and can cause spasms and diarrhea.
Avoid – Stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, all irritate the colon.
Consume – Soluble fiber like rice/rice cereals, oats, soy, barley, potatoes (white/sweet), yellow vegetables, mushrooms, beets, bananas, applesauce. Soothes and normalizes the colon, both stopping and preventing diarrhea and constipation.
Exercise – Regular, physical movement helps keep the intestines working normally. Avoid long periods of sitting or lying down which can worsen IBS symptoms.
Hypnosis – A very effective treatment at reducing most or all, IBS symptoms. Promotes relaxation and re-programs the mind-gut connection; particularly effective where anxiety and stress are big factors.
Acupressure/acupuncture – A practitioner puts pressure on meridians that correspond to your digestive tract and helps normalize and balance their function.
Reflexology – focuses on certain reflex points in the soles of the feet. A practitioner puts pressure on the points corresponding to your intestines which helps them function correctly.
Yoga – Noted for its relaxation capabilities, yoga is very effective at controlling IBS symptoms. Yoga works to relax muscles and un-kink the intestines to help them function normally.
Abdominal massage – helps move small stool deposits together to reduce the number of bowel movements. Lie on your side with knees bent and use your fist to massage from the left lower quadrant up, across your abdomen, back and forth, until your entire colon has been massaged.
People with IBS plan most of their lives centered around the nearest restroom. It can negatively affect personal relationships, social activities as well as contribute to depression and low self-image.
However, as I’ve shared with you here, natural treatments using alternative remedies and supplements can help you live a lot more comfortably with IBS. In some cases, they can eliminate symptoms altogether. They’re safe, they work, and they can help you enjoy life again!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.