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Irritable Bowel Syndrome: what is it, and what can help with the symptoms?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: what is it, and what can help with the symptoms?

How can you tell if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions. Estimates vary, but most studies show that it affects between 10-15% of the population1.

If you suspect you have IBS, the first thing to do is to speak to your doctor.  This is because many individual Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, especially abdominal pain, can also be associated with other conditions.

Signs that you may have IBS include:

  • Frequent, loose bowel movements (diarrhoea), alternating with constipation
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloating and gas
  • Headaches
  • Emotional stress, anxiety and fatigue

What actually causes IBS?

Researchers have yet to identify the cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with any certainty.  They do know that the symptoms result from changes in the way intestinal muscles contract and relax to move food through the gut2.

However, certain factors do seem to be associated with either developing IBS or triggering the symptoms, including:

  • Food intolerances, e.g. gluten or lactose
  • Stress and nervous tension
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Inadequate digestive enzyme production
  • Dysbiosis – insufficient ‘friendly’ probiotic bacteria levels
  • Hormones – many women find their symptoms are worse during menstruation 
  • Certain food compounds called short-chain-carbohydrates (also known as FODMAPs).

Researched natural remedies that may help with IBS symptoms

Once you’ve been medically diagnosed with IBS, your doctor will probably recommend diet and lifestyle changes to help you manage the effects.  In severe cases, he or she may also recommend medication.  If you would like to complement these recommendations with researched natural remedies, here are the top three to try:

  • Aloe vera: researchers have found that Aloe vera can help with IBS symptoms, especially if they are diarrhoea-dominant3
  • Probiotics: one of the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is dysbiosis, which can be addressed by replenishing gut flora via a high-quality probiotic.  Studies4,5 show promising benefits from using probiotics to relieve symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain.
  • Vitamin D3: many studies6 support the link between Vitamin D and immune system health.  Recent research also suggests that supplementing with Vitamin D may help to relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.7
1http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/ibs/#3
2http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome/DS00106/DSECTION=causes
3Davis K et al. (2006) Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial of aloe vera for irritable bowel syndrome. Int J Clin Pract 60.9: 1080–6 (7).
4Kaur IP, Chopra K, Saini A. (2002), Probiotics: potential pharmaceutical applications. Eur J Pharm Sci 15.1: 1–9.
5McFarland LV, Dublin S. (2008,)Meta-analysis of probiotics for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol 14: 2650–61.
6Hewison, M. (2012), An update on vitamin D and human immunity. Clinical Endocrinology, 76: 315–325. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04261.x
7Sprake EF, Grant VA, Corfe BM. Vitamin D3 as a novel treatment for irritable bowel syndrome: single case leads to critical analysis of patient-centred data. BMJ Case Rep. 2012 Dec 13;2012

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome: what is it, and what can help with the symptoms?

Do you have gastrointestinal or IBS problems? Learn what the top 3 researched natural remedies are that may help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

How can you tell if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions. Estimates vary, but most studies show that it affects between 10-15% of the population1.

If you suspect you have IBS, the first thing to do is to speak to your doctor.  This is because many individual Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, especially abdominal pain, can also be associated with other conditions.

Signs that you may have IBS include:

  • Frequent, loose bowel movements (diarrhoea), alternating with constipation
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloating and gas
  • Headaches
  • Emotional stress, anxiety and fatigue

What actually causes IBS?

Researchers have yet to identify the cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with any certainty.  They do know that the symptoms result from changes in the way intestinal muscles contract and relax to move food through the gut2.

However, certain factors do seem to be associated with either developing IBS or triggering the symptoms, including:

  • Food intolerances, e.g. gluten or lactose
  • Stress and nervous tension
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Inadequate digestive enzyme production
  • Dysbiosis – insufficient ‘friendly’ probiotic bacteria levels
  • Hormones – many women find their symptoms are worse during menstruation 
  • Certain food compounds called short-chain-carbohydrates (also known as FODMAPs).

Researched natural remedies that may help with IBS symptoms

Once you’ve been medically diagnosed with IBS, your doctor will probably recommend diet and lifestyle changes to help you manage the effects.  In severe cases, he or she may also recommend medication.  If you would like to complement these recommendations with researched natural remedies, here are the top three to try:

  • Aloe vera: researchers have found that Aloe vera can help with IBS symptoms, especially if they are diarrhoea-dominant3
  • Probiotics: one of the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is dysbiosis, which can be addressed by replenishing gut flora via a high-quality probiotic.  Studies4,5 show promising benefits from using probiotics to relieve symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain.
  • Vitamin D3: many studies6 support the link between Vitamin D and immune system health.  Recent research also suggests that supplementing with Vitamin D may help to relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms.7
1http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/ibs/#3
2http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome/DS00106/DSECTION=causes
3Davis K et al. (2006) Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial of aloe vera for irritable bowel syndrome. Int J Clin Pract 60.9: 1080–6 (7).
4Kaur IP, Chopra K, Saini A. (2002), Probiotics: potential pharmaceutical applications. Eur J Pharm Sci 15.1: 1–9.
5McFarland LV, Dublin S. (2008,)Meta-analysis of probiotics for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol 14: 2650–61.
6Hewison, M. (2012), An update on vitamin D and human immunity. Clinical Endocrinology, 76: 315–325. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04261.x
7Sprake EF, Grant VA, Corfe BM. Vitamin D3 as a novel treatment for irritable bowel syndrome: single case leads to critical analysis of patient-centred data. BMJ Case Rep. 2012 Dec 13;2012
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: what is it, and what can help with the symptoms?
 

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