Did you know that every 1 in 9 people who experience food poisoning will develop IBS? Worldwide, it’s estimated that 5-10% of the population has IBS, and the exact cause remains unclear. You might have IBS or know someone who does, but what could be contributing to this disorder? In this article, we’ll explore the facts, research, and remedies to help you understand, manage, and improve your bowel movement.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. When there is an increase in spontaneous contractions of muscles in the small and large intestines. The inconsistent motility may prevent your body from fully forming feces, so stool that comes out is often watery, loose, or scanty. Other symptoms one may experience are trapped gas hence the pain and discomfort, white/ clear mucus in stool or sudden urge to use the restroom.
IBS is characterized by disruptive symptoms and changes in bowel habits. It is a chronic condition that you’ll need to manage long term. However, it’s important to remember that IBS doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer. So, no need to add extra worry to your bucket. IBS is often classified into 3 main types:
IBS-D (Diarrhea-Predominant): This type is characterized by frequent diarrhea, urgency, and loose or watery stools.
IBS-C (Constipation-Predominant): People with IBS-C experience infrequent bowel movements, hard stools, and a sense of incomplete evacuation.
IBS-M (Mixed-Type): irritable bowel syndrome with mixed symptoms, including both constipation and diarrhea. IBS-M is also known as IBS-A because symptoms tend to alternate.
The impact of IBS can range from mild inconvenience to severe debilitation. It can control many aspects of a person’s emotional, social and professional life. The exact cause of IBS is different from one person to another person and treatments often include change of diet, lifestyle and reducing stress.
Research about Stress Management and IBS
Research shows the impact of psychological stress on irritable bowel syndrome. Stress-induced reconstruction in neuro-endocrine-immune pathways acts on the gut-brain axis and microbiota-gut-brain axis, and causes symptom flare-ups or exaggeration in IBS.
IBS is a stress-sensitive disorder; therefore, the treatment of IBS should focus on managing stress and stress-induced responses. Learning effective stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, self-care practice or counseling, can be instrumental in managing IBS symptoms. Living & Manage.
Research on Gut Microbiome Imbalances and IBS
Acute gastroenteritis (stomach flu), and infection in GI can precipitate the development of IBS, and studies have demonstrated changes in the gut microbiome in IBS patients. These changes may explain some of the symptoms. Microbiome imbalances appear to manifest two main categories of IBS. Diarrhea-predominant IBS-D is associated with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. And constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C) is associated with increased levels of Methanogens (microorganisms that are similar to bacteria that help reduce carbon dioxide into methane.) Methane gas slows intestinal contractility, which facilitates the development of constipation. Therefore, some antibiotics and dietary supplements have been used to relieve IBS symptoms in some severe cases.
Natural Remedies to Help You Manage
There are various natural remedies that can help alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life. Some of these may include:
Dietary changes: Identifying trigger foods and following a low-FODMAP diet can help reduce symptoms. Making sure having fiber food with every meal can help reduce inflammation and irritation in your GI.
Probiotics: Studies with certain probiotic strains such as Bifidobacterium showed a significant decrease in abdominal pain, along with improvement in the sensation of incomplete, bloating, and an increase in bowel movement frequency in patients with fewer than 3 movements per week.
Vitamins and Trace minerals supplements: It may be an indirect way but effective. You can help your body adapt to stress and anxiety with the right vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients play an important role in supporting brain function, including mood regulation. And they can also affect our stress response. Micronutrients perform a range of functions, including enabling the body to produce enzymes, hormones, metabolism, and immune system function. Low levels of vitamin D3, B12, Zinc and Magnesium have been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Adaptogens: Adaptogens are plant-based compounds that help your body stay balanced when you’re stressed. People have been using adaptogens as a type of herbal medicine for hundreds of years. Herbs such as Schisandra berry, Ginseng, Reishi Mushroom, Astragalus root, Ashwagandha or Rhodiola have helped regulate the nervous system and can help you stay balanced.
Bach Flower Remedies: A safe, gentle way to restore the balance between emotion, mind, and body. The power of flower essence has been used and recognized for a long time. Introducing the right flower can help you regulate your emotions better.
Practice Mindfulness: While passive ways of stress management like taking supplements are helping, to guarantee sustained results it requires an active method. Mindfulness is not just sitting in silence and meditating but also involves the observation of the mind. You can have a monkey mind and still practice mindfulness.
Regular Exercise: Physical activity can improve bowel regularity and is an excellent stress management method.
Natural Remedies: Some herbals like peppermint, ginger, and aloe vera help ease digestive discomfort. Aloe vera also has mild laxative properties and is soothing, and excellent for IBS-C. Calendula and Oregano have antibacterial properties, very helpful for bacteria overgrowth in the stomach and small intestines. Slippery elm bark is amazing for inflammatory bowel, it can soothe the lining of the stomach and intestines and reduce irritation.
Hydration: Drinking plenty of water is essential for maintaining healthy bowel function.
In conclusion, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder that one may have to manage long term and the exact cause still remains unclear. Understanding the different types of IBS, the role of the gut microbiome, and the impact of stress can help you or someone you know manage their symptoms more effectively.
By incorporating supplements, natural remedies and making lifestyle changes, you can experience significant relief from their symptoms and lead a healthier, more comfortable life. If you or someone you know struggles with IBS, remember that you are not alone, and there are resources and strategies available to help you on your journey to better digestive health.