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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Digestive Health, The Natural City

By The Natural City on June 21, 2017 in Nutrition | comments


What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome and which natural remedies might help with the symptoms?

How do you know whether you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an extremely common gastrointestinal condition in our Western world. Estimates of how prevalent it is differ, but most studies show that it affects approximately 10-15% of the population1.

If you think you might have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you need to make an appointment with your doctor to confirm the diagnosis.  This is because several IBS symptoms, e.g. abdominal pain, are also linked to other conditions.

Signs that you may have Irritable Bowel Syndrome include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Constipation, alternating with diarrhoea (frequent, loose bowel movements)
  • Gas and bloating
  • Fatigue, emotional stress and anxiety
  • Headaches

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: causes and triggers

The medical field isn’t certain about the root cause of IBS.  What is known is that the symptoms result from changes in the rhythm with which intestinal muscles contract and relax to move food through the gut2

Researchers have also identified several factors that seem to be linked with either developing Irritable Bowel Syndrome or triggering its symptoms, including:

  • Low levels of certain nutrients
  • Insufficient levels of digestive enzymes
  • Food intolerances, e.g. lactose or gluten
  • Nervous tension and stress
  • Dysbiosis – imbalances in natural probiotic bacteria levels
  • Hormones – symptoms often worsen during menstruation\
  • Certain compounds in food known as short-chain-carbohydrates (also called FODMAPs)

Three natural remedies that may help to relieve or reduce IBS symptoms

Once your doctor has confirmed that your symptoms are due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, he or she will probably recommend diet and lifestyle changes.  In more severe cases, you may also be prescribed medication.  If you would like to try using natural IBS symptom remedies in addition to your doctor’s recommendation, here are three that are supported by research:

  • Aloe vera: studies have shown that Aloe vera has beneficial effects on diarrhoea-dominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms3.
  • Probiotics: because dysbiosis is a common symptom of IBS,  restocking natural “friendly bacteria” levels with a high-quality probiotic may help.  Studies3,4 show promising benefits from using probiotics to relieve symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain.
  • Vitamin D3: the scientific link between healthy immunity and Vitamin D is well established4.  Now, research suggests that Vitamin D supplements may also help to relieve IBS symptoms.4

1Davis 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).
2Kaur IP, Chopra K, Saini A. (2002), Probiotics: potential pharmaceutical applications. Eur J Pharm Sci 15.1: 1–9.
3McFarland LV, Dublin S. (2008,)Meta-analysis of probiotics for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol 14: 2650–61.
4Hewison, M. (2012), An update on vitamin D and human immunity. Clinical Endocrinology, 76: 315–325. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2011.04261.x
5Sprake 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