Irritable Bowel Syndrome – a real pain in the gut

Irritable Bowel Syndrone (IBS), also called ‘spastic colon’ and ‘mucous colitis’ is a functional problem with the colon which means that there is no structural damage to the colon and that due to a multitude of reasons the colon stops functioning effectively. IBS affects over 15% of the population and twice as many women are affected as men. As such there is no anatomical cause for IBS so therefore it is not an inherited condition.

Research suggests a link between IBS and emotional factors, diet, toxins, drugs, and hormones which all heighten the sensitivity of the gastro intestinal tract. Psychologically research shows feelings of anxiety, resentment and guilt and a refusal to ‘let go’ are most conducive with the onset of symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms

Two major clinical types are recognized: – 1) Spastic colon type – alternating between diarrohea and constipation and lower abdominal colicky pain over the sigmoid colon which is relieved by a bowel movement. 2) Painless urgent diarrohea type – diarrohea occurs immediately upon rising or after a meal. Other common symptoms include chronic fatigue, foggy head, abdominal bloating, gas, nausea, headaches, depression, cravings for sugar, sweets, yeast (bread) and alcohol, loss of libido, swollen or inflamed joints, chemical, paint and perfume sensitivities, food intolerances and allergies. The length and duration of symptoms lasts for months to even years of suffering.


Using colonscopies and MRI scans to detect IBS, orthodox treatment protocol involves taking soluble fibre supplements such as fibrogel or metamulcin. Laxatives, and antidiarrheals are given for diarrohea, whilst antispasmodic drugs in combination with tranquilisers and barbiturates such as librax help relax the bowel in IBS. Low doses of tricyclic and SSRI antidepressants are the most widespread medications used to combat the abdominal pain, diarrohea or constipation.

Complementary treatment protocols involve increasing dietary fibre through vegetables, fruit, psyllium and oatbran; avoiding flatulence causing foods such as cabbage, cauliflower, brocolli and sprouts; avoiding fermented foods like dried fruits, apples, pears and melons; avoiding food sensitivities such as chocolate, wheat, corn, citrus, yeasts and tomatoes; eating smaller meals more frequently (little and often); eliminate dairy products and supplementing with soy or rice milk; avoiding alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, grapefruit juice, artificial sweeteners and sugars; and increasing fluid intake to minimum 6-8 glasses per day to ensure adequate hydration in the gastro intestinal tract.

A trained naturopath will support a client through dietary changes and detoxification by implementing: colonic irrigation; essential fatty acids; digestive enzymes such as bromelain; anti parasitic program; removing heavy metal toxicity; in-taking large quantities of healthy gut bacteria probiotics especially lactobacillus acidophilus and bifodobacterium bifidum; liver and gall bladder flushes; taking additional zinc and vitamin C, caprylic acid, Calcium and magnesium. Digestive herbs such as peppermint, fennel, chamomile, olive leaf, oregano oil and ginger may also be introduced to calm symptoms.

‘Your Health is in Your Hands!’
©Article written by Caroline Evans

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