Self-help for irritable bowel syndrome

By monitoring their diet, employing stress management, utilizing prescription medication and dietary supplements as needed, and calling on alternative therapies such as biofeedback and acupuncture, people with IBS can lead a normal life.

By monitoring their diet, employing stress management, utilizing prescription medication and dietary supplements as needed, and calling on alternative therapies such as biofeedback and acupuncture, people with IBS can lead a normal life.

by Julia Busch — 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also called spastic colon, mucous colitis, spastic colitis, nervous stomach or irritable colon, is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders. It affects approximately 10 to 20 percent of the general population.

Considered a “functional” disorder that does not damage the bowel, the condition is caused by disturbances in the messages between the intestines, brain and autonomic nervous system. Symptoms can include cramping, gas, mucous, nausea, diarrhea, bloating, constipation and feeling that a bowel movement wasn’t completed.

With IBS, bowel nerves and muscles are extra-sensitive. Muscles may contract too much when you eat, causing cramping and diarrhea during, or shortly after, a meal. Nerves can be overly sensitive when the bowel stretches because of gas, for example, resulting in pain.

While IBS can not be cured, it can be controlled by reducing triggers, such as stress, irritating foods and over-exercise. For women, hormonal fluctuations may cause more susceptibility. Be alert as to what your triggers may be.

Suspect foods include fatty foods, caffeine (including the decreased amounts in decaf coffee), milk products, chocolate and carbonated drinks. Simply eating a large meal may trigger symptoms.

It is often helpful for those who suffer from IBS to regularly take colon cleansers containing soluble fiber and other digestive supplements with meals. Re-culturing/rebalancing the intestinal tract with probiotics may also be beneficial.

Beyond dietary considerations, those who suffer from this disorder should monitor their stress levels and also consider yoga and natural calming supplements.

Once properly diagnosed, an IBS individual need not suffer helplessly. By monitoring their diet, employing stress management, utilizing prescription medication and dietary supplements as needed, and calling on alternative therapies such as biofeedback and acupuncture, people with IBS can lead a normal life.

 

Julia Busch is president of Anti-Aging Press, Inc., editor of the So Young™ anti-aging holistic newsletter and author of 10 books. 800-SO-YOUNG.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 4, August/September 2005.

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