Doctor You: Natural Recovery from IBS
Videos are available with this book, and we recommend that you watch
the videos as you begin learning about your options for dealing with Irritable
(Inflammatory) Bowel Syndrome. Although you may find some
repetition, the videos will help you process the information in this book,
and we strongly suggest that you watch them.
Coping with Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be very challenging. Someone
struggling with IBS may have little warning before needing a bathroom:
Bloating, alternating constipation and diarrhea, cramping and sudden
attacks make maintaining a normal social / personal life extremely difficult.
Symptoms seem very serious, and can be alarming. The steroids
that are often prescribed for IBS can cause weight gain, water retention
and additional health problems. They may make symptoms better but
don’t cure IBS.
Dr. Noa: Natural IBS Therapies
Cindy’s Experience with IBS
In the summer of my 28th year I became involved with a political group.
I went to government meetings and spoke on behalf of the group in
which I was participating. I did not feel particularly stressed, but evidently
I was, because my body responded to the stress by terrible intestinal
One day for seemingly no reason I became ill. I had awful stomach
cramps and sudden bouts of diarrhea. I thought I must have an intesti3
nal flu or mild food poisoning, and waited for it to pass. Although there
were days when I felt better and days when I felt worse, my malady did
not “pass” for about two months.
I was very sensitive to foods that had not bothered me before, such as
dairy products and chocolate. Within two months I lost about twenty
pounds. Not only did I feel terrible, I became concerned that there
was something awfully wrong with me. I was afraid to go to the doctor
because I did not want to go through colonoscopies and other tests, and
did not really want to know what it might be that was making me so ill–
although some research had told me I was probably suffering from IBS.
We had a beach vacation planned and I decided that when we returned
I would have to face the music and go to the doctor. While driving the
18 hours to the beach I began to relax and the stress I had been under
began to melt away. A friend had baked us some chocolate chip cookies.
I knew they would make me sick, but I decided to eat one anyway since
it was vacation. Surprisingly, I felt fine, and for the rest of the vacation I
I felt well when the vacation was over, and I did not become ill again.
That whole ordeal was evidently stress related.
Not everyone is able to step out of a stressful situation and recover from
an illness. But a pleasant vacation and even restful and fulfilling weekends
seem well advised for someone suffering from a stress related illness.
Nothing causing stress can be important enough to justify sacrificing
your health. Evaluate what is causing you stress and determine how
to reorder your life to avoid it. Take care of yourself and live to fight
Anthony’s Natural Recovery from IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects your
large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes
cramping, abdominal pain, bloating gas, and alternating diarrhea and
Although the symptoms and impact on life can be devastating, in many
cases IBS can be controlled through management of diet, lifestyle and
the amount of stress a person encounters.
Symptoms of IBS
The most common symptoms are:
Abdominal pain or cramping
Diarrhea or constipation — sometimes even alternating bouts of
constipation and diarrhea
Mucus in the stool
Potential More Serious Related Illnesses
Similar symptoms could accompany a more serious condition, such as
an infection, colon cancer, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. If there
is a concern that an illness with more serious implications might be
present, someone with these symptoms may want to see an MD and go
through the recommended course of testing (colonoscopy, CT scan).
IBS often responds quickly to natural therapies–provided they are followed
carefully–so if the recommendations are followed without good
result a visit to a doctor might be a good idea.
How Do People Get IBS?
The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract
and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from the stomach
through the intestinal tract to the rectum. When someone has irritable
bowel syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than
normal. Food is forced through the intestines more quickly, causing gas,
bloating and diarrhea.
In some cases, the opposite occurs. Food passage slows, and stools become
hard and dry. Abnormalities in a person’s nervous system or colon
may play a role, causing a sufferer to experience greater than normal
discomfort when the intestinal wall stretches from gas.
There are a number of other factors that may play a role in IBS. For example,
people with IBS may have abnormal serotonin levels. Serotonin
is a chemical messenger that’s normally associated with brain function,
but it also plays a role in normal digestive system function. Often people
with IBS don’t have enough “good” bacteria in the digestive tract. A
healthy intestinal flora (the bacteria that should be growing in a healthy
intestine) is said to be one of the most significant factors in achieving a
healthy immune system.
There may be food triggers, emotional triggers or drug triggers for an
attack of IBS. Many people find that their signs and symptoms worsen
when they eat certain foods. For instance, chocolate, milk and alcohol
might cause constipation or diarrhea. Carbonated beverages and some
fruits and vegetables may lead to bloating and discomfort in some
people with IBS.
Some people who believe they may have IBS might only be suffering
from lactose intolerance. Simply eliminating dairy products from the
diet is a simple remedy.
Most people with IBS find that their symptoms are worse when they
experience greater stress, such as a change in the daily routine, loss, or
other significant life change. Because women are more likely to have
IBS, some believe that hormonal changes may play a role in IBS. Many
women find that signs and symptoms are worse during or around their
Many people with IBS share these characteristics:
Young adulthood: IBS symptoms first appear before the age of 35
for about half of those with the disorder
Female sex: more women than men are diagnosed with this condition
A family history of IBS: studies have shown that people who have
a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, with IBS are at increased
risk of the condition. It’s not clear whether the influence of family
history on IBS risk is related to genes, to shared factors in a family’s
environment, or both
The impact of IBS on the overall quality of life of its sufferers may be its
most significant complication. IBS might limit limit a person’s ability
Make or keep plans with friends and family due to the necessity of
being near a bathroom
Enjoy a healthy sex life since intestinal pain makes sex uncomfortable
and / or unappealing
Diarrhea and constipation, both signs of irritable bowel syndrome, can
aggravate or even cause hemorrhoids. More serious conditions don’t always
result, but untreated IBS leaves intestines irritated for a long time,
which can lead to inflammation, a precursor to further disease.
What Conventional Medicine Typically Recommends for IBS
Tests and Diagnosis
Criteria for making a diagnosis
Abdominal pain and discomfort lasting at least 12 weeks, though
the weeks don’t have to occur consecutively
Additionally, at least two of the following:
A change in the frequency or consistency of your stool — for example,
you may change from having one normal, formed stool every
day to three or more loose stools daily, or you may have only one
hard stool every few days
Straining, urgency or a feeling that you can’t empty your bowels
Mucus in your stool
Bloating or abdominal distension
Some symptoms that might suggest another more serious health problem
New onset after age 50
Nausea or recurrent vomiting
Abdominal pain, especially if it’s not completely relieved by a bowel
Diarrhea that is persistent or awakens you from sleep
Any of these symptoms might lead an MD to want to do additional
testing to further assess a person’s condition. Some tests that might be
recommended are stool studies to check for infection or malabsorption
problems, flexible sigmoidoscopy (which examines the lower part of the
colon (sigmoid) with a flexible, lighted tube: sigmoidoscope), colonoscopy,
or computerized tomography (CT) scan.
A doctor may also suggest a test for lactose intolerance. Lactase is an
enzyme needed to digest the sugar (lactose) found in dairy products.
Some people don’t produce this enzyme, and may have problems similar
to those caused by irritable bowel syndrome, including abdominal pain,
gas and diarrhea. A wheat sensitivity can also produce similar symptoms.
While there are medical tests to determine whether a person is
lactose intolerant or sensitive to wheat, the easiest way to determine
whether these sensitivities are present is to eliminate them from the diet
to see if the symptoms improve in the absence of the irritants.
Common Medical Therapies
While the first recommendation might be to reduce stress, as with so
many illnesses, conventional medical treatment primarily focuses on the
relief of symptoms through the use of pharmaceutical drugs:
Anti-diarrheal medications. Over-the-counter medications, such as loperamide
(Imodium), may be recommended to help control diarrhea.
Anticholinergic medications. Some people are given medications that
affect certain activities of the autonomic nervous system (anticholinergics)
to relieve painful bowel spasms. These may be helpful for people
who have bouts of diarrhea, but can worsen constipation.
Antidepressant medications. For people whose symptoms include pain
or depression, a doctor may recommend a tricyclic antidepressant or a
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). These medications help
relieve depression as well as inhibit the activity of neurons that control
For those who have diarrhea and abdominal pain without depression, a
doctor may suggest a lower than usual dose of tricyclic antidepressants,
such as imipramine (Tofranil) and amitriptyline. Side effects of these
drugs include drowsiness and constipation. SSRIs, such as fluoxetine
(Prozac, Sarafem) or paroxetine (Paxil), may be recommended for those
who are depressed and have pain and constipation. These medications
can worsen diarrhea, however.
Antibiotics. It’s unclear what role, if any, antibiotics might play in treating
IBS. Some people whose symptoms are due to an overgrowth of
bacteria in their intestines may benefit from antibiotic treatment.
Two medications are currently approved for specific cases of IBS:
Alosetron (Lotronex). Alosetron is a nerve receptor antagonist that’s
designed to relax the colon and slow the movement of waste through
the lower bowel. The drug was removed from the market soon after its
original approval because it was linked to serious complications. The
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has since allowed alosetron to
be used again — with restrictions. The drug can be prescribed only by
doctors enrolled in a special program and is intended for severe cases of
diarrhea-predominant IBS in women who haven’t responded to other
treatments. Alosetron is not approved for use by men. Generally, alosetron
is only intended to be used if usual therapy for IBS has failed.
Lubiprostone (Amitiza). Lubiprostone is approved for adult women
and men who have IBS with constipation. Lubiprostone is a chloride
channel activator taken twice a day. It works by increasing fluid secretion
in the small intestine to help with the passage of stool. Common
side effects include
nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Currently, the drug is generally
prescribed only for those with IBS and severe constipation for whom
other treatments have failed.
Risk & Benefit Considerations for Conventional Therapies
Some medications that may help with diarrhea tend to worsen constipation,
while some given to help with constipation may tend to irritate
diarrhea. Since both conditions may be present with IBS, these medications
may do as much harm as good. SSRIs have many side effects and
possible dangers. The two medications specifically for IBS are potentially
dangerous, and their effectiveness has not been proven.
Natural Alternatives to Conventional Treatments
Although the body may not respond immediately to changes, the goal is
to find long-term, solutions. Some that may work well are:
Gradually increase the amount of natural fiber in the diet over a period
of weeks can be helpful. Some examples of foods that contain fiber are
whole grains (flaxseed, rye, brown rice, oatmeal, and barley), fruits,
vegetables, and beans. Alternating these sources of fiber to see which are
most helpful is a good idea.
Avoid problem foods. If certain foods make IBS symptoms worse, a
person who is trying to recover should avoid eatint them. Common
culprits include alcohol, chocolate, caffeinated beverages
such as coffee and sodas, medications that contain caffeine, dairy products,
and sugar-free sweeteners such as sorbitol or mannitol. Foods that
might make gas worse include beans, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
Fatty foods may also be a problem for some people. Chewing gum or
drinking through a straw can both lead to swallowing air, causing more
Eating smaller meals may help. If a person has have diarrhea, you may
find that eating small, frequent meals is helpful.
Dairy products should be eaten with care and avoided if they are known
to cause a problem. Those who are lactose intolerant might try substituting
yogurt for milk, and / or use an enzyme product to help break down
lactose. Consuming small amounts of milk products or combining them
with other foods also may help. Sometimes dairy products need to be
Drinking plenty of fluids is important. Water is best. Alcohol and
beverages that contain caffeine stimulate the intestines which makes
diarrhea worse, and carbonated drinks can produce gas. Kombucha tea,
a fermented beverage often found in health food stores, may improve
intestinal health by restoring healthy levels of helpful bacteria, and by
helping to restore a healthy PH balance.
Regular exercise helps relieve depression and stress, stimulates normal
contractions of the intestines and can improve self image. For those who
have been inactive, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase
the amount of time dedicated to exercise.
Sufferers should be careful about using over the counter diarrhea medicines.
In the long run, these medications can cause problems if not used
appropriately. The same is true of laxatives.
Stress is known to increase symptoms of IBS. Reducing stress or practicing
stress management skills have been reported to be beneficial. In one
trial, psychotherapy and relaxation combined with conventional treatment
were more effective than conventional treatment alone in twothirds
of people with IBS.
Hypnosis for relaxation has dramatically and consistently relieved symptoms
of IBS in some people.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which uses acupuncture and
Chinese herbal therapies, has been reported to be helpful in the treatment
of IBS, although no formal research has evaluated this claim.
A detoxification through elimination of foods that are common allergens
is always helpful, and can serve to identify foods that are more
likely to cause upsets.
Acupuncture: although study results on the effects of acupuncture on
symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome have been mixed, some people
use acupuncture to help relax muscle spasms and improve bowel function.
Herbs: peppermint is a natural antispasmodic that relaxes smooth
muscles in the intestines. Peppermint may provide short-term relief of
IBS symptoms, but study results have been inconsistent. Use of entericcoated
capsules is advisable, since peppermint may aggravate heartburn.
If any prescription medications are taken, it is wise to check with a doctor
or pharmacist before taking herbs since there may be conflicts.
Hypnosis: hypnosis may reduce abdominal pain and bloating through
relaxation of abdominal muscles.
Probiotics: probiotics are “good” bacteria that normally live in the intestines
and are found in certain foods, such as yogurt, in dietary supplements
and Kombucha tea. It’s been suggested that people with irritable
bowel syndrome may not have enough good bacteria, and that adding
probiotics to the diet may help ease symptoms. Some studies have found
that probiotics may relieve symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain
Regular exercise, yoga, massage or meditation can all be effective ways to
relieve stress. Yoga can be practiced in a class or at home with video or
books to guide the practice.
Stress is often a significant contributor to IBS, and finding ways to deal
with stress is likely to be helpful in preventing or alleviating symptoms.
Counseling may be helpful. In some cases, a psychologist or psychiatrist
may help a person learn to reduce stress by looking at responses to
events and learning to modify or change responses.
Biofeedback. This stress-reduction technique helps to reduce muscle
tension and slow the heart rate with the feedback help of a machine,
then the machine is eliminated and the person makes the changes on his
/ her own. The goal is to help a person enter a relaxed state so that he /
she can cope more easily with stress.
Progressive relaxation exercises. These help to relax muscles one by one.
One starts by tightening the muscles in the feet, then slowly letting all
of the tension go. Next, the calves are tightened and relaxed. A person
continues until the muscles in the body, including those in the face and
scalp, are relaxed.
Deep breathing. Most adults breathe from their chests but breathing
from the diaphragm, the muscle that separates your chest from the abdomen,
is relaxing and supports health. This is accomplished by allowing
the belly to expand while inhaling. When exhaling, the belly naturally
contracts. Deep breathing can also help relax abdominal muscles,
which may lead to more-normal bowel activity.
R&R: observing a day of rest each week is a long tradition, and even a
part of the Judeo Christian faith, since it is one of the ten command15
ments. Rest is important for health. Taking at least a day each week to
relax (laugh, eat good food and engage in pleasant activities) with loved
ones and enjoy life can serve to give perspective to problems, and to help
a person recover health, personal peace and well-being.
Supplements for Overcoming IBS
Caraway Oil and Peppermint Oil 90 mg of peppermint oil plus 50 mg
of caraway oil in enteric-coated capsules taken TID. Peppermint oil
combined with caraway oil may reduce gas production, ease intestinal
cramping, and soothe the intestinal tract.
Full Spectrum Caraway Seed 400 mg 60 Caps by Swanson Premium
Lactase (for lactose intolerance) 6,000 to 9,000 IU tablets chewed with
a meal containing lactose, or add 1,000 IU in liquid form to 8 ounces of
milk. Lactase enzymes taken prior to consuming milk or dairy products
may help ease IBS symptoms.
Kirkland Signature Fast Acting Lactase – Compare to Lactaid – 180 Caplets
Probiotics: refer to label instructions. A daily drink containing probiotics
significantly reduced IBS symptoms in one study.
Nature’s Bounty Probiotic Acidophilus Capsules Twin Pack, 200 Count
Psyllium 3.25 grams taken TID. Some people with IBS may benefit
from bulk-forming laxatives. Psyllium has helped regulate normal bowel
activity and improved symptoms in some people with IBS.
NOW Foods Psyllium Husk 500mg, 500 Capsules
Melatonin helps regulate gastrointestinal function and sensation. In one
trial, people with irritable bowel syndrome who took melatonin experienced
significantly less severe abdominal pain.
Nature’s Bounty Melatonin, 3 mg, 240 Tablets
Peppermint 0.2 to 0.4 ml in enteric-coated capsules, TID. Peppermint
oil reduces gas production, eases intestinal cramping, and soothes irritation.
It has been reported to help relieve IBS symptoms in two analyses
of controlled trials.
Peppermint, Caraway Seeds, Fennel Seeds, and Wormwood: refer to
label instructions. A combination of peppermint, caraway seeds, fennel
seeds, and wormwood was reported to be an effective treatment for upper
abdominal complaints in one trial.
Peppermint Oil Capsules for Irritable Bowel Syndrome ~ Heather’s Tummy Tamers
Artichoke: refer to label instructions. In a preliminary study of people
with irritable bowel syndrome who took an artichoke leaf extract daily
for two months, 26% reported an improvement in symptoms.
Source Naturals Artichoke Extract 500mg, 180 Tablets
Chamomile: refer to label instructions. Chamomile’s essential oils may
ease intestinal cramping and irritation. The herb is sometimes used
by herbalists to relieve alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation.
Chamomile tea is soothing to the digestive tract.
Traditional Medicinals Organic Fair Trade Certified Chamomile Herbal Tea, 16-Count Wrapped Tea Bags (Pack of 6)
Evening Primrose Oil may help with Premenstrual Syndrome, which
can contribute to or worsen IBS. Refer to label instructions. In one trial,
women with IBS who experienced worsening symptoms before and during
their menstrual period were helped by taking evening primrose oil.
NOW Foods Evening Primrose Oil 500mg, 100 Softgels,
Fiber (All Forms) Refer to label instructions: supplementing with fiber
may help in finding the right balance of regularity without episodes of
Grapefruit Seed Extract, refer to label instructions: in one study,
grapefruit seed extract significantly improved IBS symptoms in 20% of
people taking the liquid, while all of the patients taking capsules noted
definite improvement of constipation, flatulence, abdominal discomfort,
and nighttime rest.
Grapefruit Seed Extract-Maximum Strength 250mg – 60 – Capsule
Wormwood, Ginger, Bupleurum, Schisandra, Dan Shen, and Other
Extracts: take a Chinese herbal formula containing wormwood under
the guidance of a qualified practitioner. A standardized Chinese herbal
combination containing extracts from plants including wormwood,
ginger, bupleurum, schisandra, and dan shen reduced IBS symptoms in
Doctor You: Natural Therapies
Learn to be your own doctor: Doctor You
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Copyright © 2011 By Doctor You, Inc.
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