Irritable bowel syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder also known as “spastic colon”. This is due to the irritability and irregularity in the movement of the intestines. It is studied that every 1 in 5 Americans suffer from this syndrome. IBS is characterized by bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. It is a chronic condition and people affected have to deal with it for a long period. It is not a as severe as other diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease but this may lead to embarrassment and discomfort.
Symptoms of IBS
- Mood swings
- Abdominal pain
- Mucus in stool
When IBS becomes worse it may cause rectal bleeding, sudden weight loss and abdominal pain during night.
IBS trigger factors vary from person to person depending on their food habits and lifestyle. But the commonly known factors are as follows,
- Intolerance to certain food
- Hormonal changes
- Bacterial overgrowth
Diagnosis of IBs greatly depends upon physical examination and medical history. The following types of tests are available to detect if a person is suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- CT scan
- Lower GI series
- Lactose Intolerance Test
- Breathe Test
- Blood Test
- Stool Test
Usually doctors suggest dietary changes and the following medicines for people with IBS.
- Anti-Diarrheal medication such as Loperamide, Chloestyramine and Colestipol
- Anticholinergic and antispasmodic such as Hyoscyamine and Dicyclomine
- Antidepressant medications such as tricyclic antidepressant or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)
- Fiber Supplements
Necessary Lifestyle Changes
IBS can be overcome by making certain changes in lifestyle for a long-term relief from the syndrome. The following are the various lifestyle changes compulsory for people with IBS
- Take fiber rich fruits and vegetables
- Avoid fried and fatty food items
- Eat at regular intervals
- Check for lactose intolerance and then consume milk or milk products
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Exercise regularly to prevent bloat
- Use anti-diarrheal and laxatives with caution
Home Remedies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The following are the popular remedies for IBS that works effectively and has no side effects unlike the OTC medicines.
Yogurt has lots of beneficial bacteria which forms a protective layer on the intestines and fight from harmful bacteria. It prevents the bacterial overgrowth by stimulating the secretion of lactic acid which flushes the bacteria out of the body. It can be taken as such or made smoothies by adding any fruit or vegetable to it, because of its potential as a really effective home remedy for irritable bowel syndrome. It should be taken several times a day to cure IBS completely.
Peppermint reduces symptoms like bloating and cramping. According to a study published in British Medical Journal, fiber, antispasmodics and peppermint oil is very effective in the treatment of IBS. It consists of menthol oil which is soothes the muscles in the digestive tract thereby relieving gas, bloating, cramps and intestinal spasms. Add 2-3 drops of peppermint oil to one-fourth cup of warm water and drink it 3-4 times a day. Peppermint tea also can be prepared by steeping dried leaves in hot water for 10 minutes. It is one of the best home remedies for irritable bowel syndrome.
Fennel seeds are effective in digestion and relieve intestinal spasms and bloating issues in the stomach. The fat accumulated in the intestine inhibits the over-production of mucus that leads to IBS. Fennel seeds are known to eliminate fat from the intestines and thus prove to be a great remedy for IBS. Crush half spoon of fennel seeds and boil it in a cup of water. Steep it for 10 minutes and then strain it to obtain the herbal tea. Take this fennel seeds tea twice or thrice a day till there is relief in the symptoms. Alternatively dry-roasted fennel seeds can also be taken directly along with warm water.
Ginger reduces gas and bloating and thus it is recommended to those with IBS. It has anti-inflammatory properties which helps in reducing the inflammations in the intestines and relaxes the muscles. Make ginger tea by adding freshly grated ginger to a cup of boiling water and steeping it for 10 minutes. Drink this tea two or three times a day depending upon the severity of the symptoms. The grated ginger can also be taken directly by mixing it with a spoon of honey. This mixture should be taken before meals to get rid of diarrhea and improve the process of digestion. It is one of the best home remedies for irritable bowel syndrome.
Cabbage contains sulfur and chlorine that cleanses the mucus membrane of the stomach and intestinal tract. It has laxative properties which eases the bowel movements and keeps the body hydrated. Wash a fresh cabbage and cut it into small pieces. Using a juicer, extract the juice of the cabbage and drink one half glass at a time. This can be done three to four times a day depending on the severity of IBS. It is important to check for suitability of this home remedy for irritable bowel syndrome before bringing it into regular use because in some people cabbage causes bloating and flatulence.
Along with these home remedies for irritable bowel syndrome and prescribed medicines it is very important to keep the body active and moving. Bloating and gas can also be due to long working hours or lack of exercise. So it is important to workout everyday so that the body releases natural pain-killing hormones such as endorphins. It not only fights pain and cramping during IBS but also helps in easing the process of digestion.