Alternative Medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
There are four key categories of alternative medicine treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
, an enteric nervous system disorder (also known as spastic colon) characterized by abdominal pain in association with constipation, diarrhea, or alternating bowel dysmotility.
All alternative medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome should be natural and very safe; though there is no cure for IBS, alternative medicine can significantly alleviate or even help prevent all IBS symptoms.
You can also choose Irritable Bowel Syndrome alternative medicine treatments that are symptom-specific
from the chart below.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Alternative Medicine: Diet
Diet plays a direct role in gut function (something that is instinctively obvious to IBS sufferers). There is in fact a proper "IBS diet", as IBS is not so highly individualized that no accurate generalizations can be made, and dietary changes can make a tremendous improvement to all IBS symptoms.
There are very clear dietary guidelines to follow for how to eat safely for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, based on the well-established effects certain categories of foods have on the GI tract. The key word here is categories
. Any food that is high in fat, insoluble fiber, caffeine, coffee (even decaf), carbonation, or alcohol is problematic. All of these food categories are either GI stimulants or irritants, and can cause violent reactions of the gastrocolic reflex. This directly affects the muscles in the colon and can lead to pain, constipation AND diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
Soluble fiber is the single greatest dietary aid for preventing Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, as well as relieving them once they occur. Soluble fiber is not typically found in foods most people think of as "fiber," such as bran or raw leafy green vegetables (these foods are high in insoluble fiber, a dietary trigger). Soluble fiber is actually found in foods commonly thought of as "starches", though soluble fiber itself differs from starch as the chemical bonds that join its individual sugar units cannot be digested by enzymes in the human GI tract. In other words, soluble fiber has no calories because it passes through the body intact.
Soluble fiber soothes and regulates the digestive tract, stabilizes the intestinal contractions resulting from the gastrocolic reflex, and normalizes bowel function from either
extreme. Soluble fiber prevents and relieves both diarrhea and constipation. In addition, IBS responds to how
you eat as well as what
you eat. Check here for comprehensive information about the IBS alternative medicine approach to diet
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Alternative Medicine: Supplements
There are many types of supplements for symptom management of IBS that are very effective. In particular, prebiotic soluble fiber supplements, herbs (such as peppermint and fennel) that have beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal tract, heat therapy, probiotics, calcium and/or magnesium, and digestive enzymes are all of proven benefit. Results are usually felt very quickly - sometimes even immediately.
Most reputable Irritable Bowel Syndrome supplements, particularly medical foods for IBS, are very safe and carry little to no risk of side effects. They're usually inexpensive as well. In terms of risks versus benefits, supplements are a significantly better, safer, and likely more effective option than IBS prescription medications. Check here for comprehensive information about IBS alternative medicine options in supplements
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Alternative Medicine: Therapies
Alternative therapies, particularly gut-directed hypnotherapy and acupuncture, are clinically proven methods of relieving IBS symptoms. Hypnotherapy actually offers the potential for a permanent cure, and research to establish this effect is ongoing. Both forms of treatment can (and should) be tailored to specifically address IBS patients, with a focus on reducing the frequency, severity, and duration of attacks. Impressively high success rates are achievable, and side effects should be non-existent.
Gut-directed or gut-specific hypnotherapy has been proven successful at reducing or even eliminating all Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. Over 15 years of solid scientific research has demonstrated hypnosis to be an effective, safe and inexpensive treatment for IBS alleviation. For Irritable Bowel Syndrome, one of hypnotherapy's greatest benefits is its well-established ability to reduce the effects of stress. If you're struggling with IBS, the tension, anxiety, and depression that comes from living with an incurable illness can actually undermine your immune system and further compromise your health. Hypnosis can reduce this stress and its resultant negative impact by placing you in a deeply relaxed state, promoting positive thoughts and coping strategies, and clearing your mind of negative attitudes.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome in fact is almost uniquely suited to treatment by hypnosis or self-hypnosis, for several reasons. First, as just noted, stress-related attacks can be significantly reduced. Second, one of the most impressive aspects from hypnotherapy, and of tremendous benefit to IBS sufferers, is its well-documented ability to relieve virtually all types and degrees of pain. Finally, because IBS is not a disease at all but a syndrome, if you can relieve and prevent the symptoms, you have effectively cured yourself of the disorder. The underlying dysfunction may still be present but if you suffer no noticeable effects from it, you will be living an IBS-free life.
Hypnotherapy also offers the unique possility of a self-directed therapy, as there is the clinically proven option of using a self-hypnosis program specifically for IBS. Check here for comprehensive information about the IBS alternative medicine therapy of gut-directed hypnosis
Acupuncture is one of the ancient forms of traditional Chinese healing arts. Acupuncture is not a self-directed therapy, whereby a person balances his or her own body's chi (energy or life force). Acupuncture is instead a treatment administered to a patient by a trained practitioner, who balances the body's chi by stimulating areas (acupuncture points) along the primary meridians, or channels, through which chi flows. These meridians run deep within the body and regulate all physical and mental processes, surfacing at the various acupoints. Acupuncture is the stimulation or sedation of these acupoints in order to balance the body's flow of chi. Acupuncture has become widely available throughout America, with many health insurance plans covering treatment by licensed acupuncturists. Check here for comprehensive information about IBS alternative medicine therapy through acupuncture
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Alternative Medicine: Stress Management
Stress inhibits the parasympathetic nervous system, and stimulates excessive adrenaline production, which in turn upsets the rhythmic muscle contractions of the gut. Given that people with IBS are prone to suffer from irregular GI contractions by definition, it's easy to see why stress is such a powerful trigger. Several interesting studies have actually shown the direct link between emotional stressors and subsequent IBS flares.
One stress factor that can have a significant impact on IBS symptoms is sleep loss. Since a poor night's sleep results in fatigue and a corresponding lower stress-tolerance level, being tired allows IBS to be more easily triggered. A significant correlation has been noted between morning IBS symptoms and the quality of the previous night's sleep. In fact, morning IBS symptoms seemed to rise or fall in direct association with the prior night's quality of sleep. A less strong but still significant relationship was found between end of day IBS symptoms and the quality of sleep during the previous evening. Ensuring an adequate night's sleep should be a top priority for reducing stress-induced IBS symptoms.
Yoga is another highly effective IBS treatment for stress-related symptoms. Yoga, a system of physical and mental exercises, rests on three foundations - exercise, breathing, and meditation - with the goal of joining together the body and mind into a state of balance and harmony. Yoga has been proven to provide a wide variety of significant health benefits, both physical and mental, including the alleviation and even prevention of digestive distress. In particular, yoga is an excellent way to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea. There are even specific yoga poses meant to address particular digestive problems; combining a regular yoga practice with an emphasis on these poses can help successfully manage IBS. Check here for comprehensive information about IBS alternative medicine through yoga
Chart for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Alternative Therapies by Symptom