Soothing Strategies For IBS Symptoms

For sufferers of IBS symptoms (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) any treatments that offer relief are welcome interventions indeed.

IBS is characterised by bloating, abdominal pain, discomfort in the abdominal region and altered bowel habits, i.e. diarrhoea or constipation. It is a source of chronic pain and fatigue and has a huge impact on a person's quality of life. As a result of the physical discomfort experienced, it may also lead to depression and/ or anxiety.

Soothing Strategies For IBS Symptoms

What Are The Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

The causes of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms are unknown however, it appears that risk of developing IBS symptoms increases significantly after a gastro-intestinal infection. It is also believed that people suffering from IBS symptoms have an imbalance in intestinal flora (the technical term is 'intestinal dysbiosis'). The brain-gut response to stress has also been proposed as a possible cause of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms or at least the presence of stress may exacerbate the symptoms.



How is IBS Symptoms diagnosed?

Since there is no specific test to identify IBS symptoms, diagnosis requires excluding other conditions that may cause IBS-like symptoms. For example, ruling out parasitic infections, lactose intolerance and coeliac disease is necessary before a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome can be made. Plus, people over the age of 50 who present with IBS-like symptoms should also have a colonoscopy in order to rule out more serious conditions like cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. Practitioners in nutritional medicine also use specialised stool tests to assess bacteria levels in the gut, yeast overgrowth and the ability of the digestive system to break down foods.



IBS Treatment

One of the first steps to take if you suffer from IBS symptoms is to remove certain foods from your diet and see if it reduces your symptoms. Removing foods containing gluten, i.e. bread, pasta, baked foods, etc. as well as dairy foods and fructose, is a good place to start. Also, avoid or minimise the consumption of caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea or cola that may have a tendency to stimulate the intestines.

The next step is to add a source of soluble fibre to your diet. Psyllium husks or pectin are good examples ( BCN's DigestEZE contains pectin). Soluble fibre acts as a bulking agent and allows for a softer, more easily passable stool. Soluble fibre like pectin also acts as a'prebiotic' which means it provides food for healthy bacteria in the gut. Insoluble fibre, like bran, is not a suitable option if you have irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and it may even aggravate symptoms.

Peppermint oil has been shown to soothe the irritable bowel syndrome symptoms by improving digestion, absorbing gas and settling the gastrointestinal tract. It has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties. Peppermint may also reduce the amount of yeast and bacteria in the gut which may be a major cause of IBS symptoms for some people. Peppermint oil is one of the ingredients found in BCN's DigestEZE.

Since IBS is an inflammatory response in the body, natural anti-inflammatory agents are certainly beneficial in helping to reduce the symptoms. Some natural anti-inflammatories include: curcumin, quercetin (a plant-derived bioflavonoid), slippery elm (ulmus rubra) and aloe vera. All of these ingredients are found in BCN's DigestEZE.

In addition to reducing the inflammation associated IBS it is also beneficial to provide the intestinal lining with the nutrients it needs in order to promote optimum functioning. L-glutamine is the preferred fuel for the cells of the intestine and glucosamine is essential for the secretion of the protective mucous lining of the gut. These two ingredients are also found in BCN's DigestEZE.

Some cutting-edge research has shown that relaxation techniques and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) are also beneficial in reducing the symptoms of IBS. While stress may not necessarily be the cause of IBS it can certainly exacerbate symptoms. Learning to relax the muscles in the digestive tract through HRV training has been shown to have dramatic results in reducing the symptoms associated with IBS.

If you would like more information about HRV and how it may improve your IBS, please contact Body Concepts.

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