I have decided to write a piece about Irritable Bowel Syndrome this week as it is a condition I seem to be treating on a regular basis these days. I recently read that about 1 in 5 people in the UK develop IBS at some stage in their lives.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition affecting the large intestine (colon) and even though the symptoms, which i will list below, are uncomfortable and unpleasant they do not cause a change in the tissue of the colon, unlike Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease.
When food travels through the body it does so by a process called peristalsis, this explained simply, means a squeezing and relaxing of the muscles in a rhythmic way. When this rhythm is disturbed the muscles either push the food to quickly or slowly through the colon.
General symptoms of IBS
IBS can vary from person to person but well-known symptoms include:
- Changes in bowel habit, such as Constipation or Diarrhoea, sometimes alternating between the two
- Abdominal bloating, which can be severe
- Stomach cramps
- Passing of mucus with stools
Although these are the main symptoms, people suffering IBS can be affected by nausea, tiredness and depression, especially if the condition is severe.
What causes IBS
IBS is caused by many things however once you have found what triggers this condition it is far easier to manage.The most common causes are:
- Food – this is the biggest trigger I have seen in my practice and not as simple as just avoiding wheat or dairy. The foods that can act as a trigger can be so varied and are as individual as the person themselves. It could be something like a certain spice or even foods that are healthy such as fruit or vegetables.
- Stress- this is another very common factor.
- Acute Illness – especially after antibiotics, where the bowel flora has been changed.
- Hormones – common in women who have episodes of IBS around their periods.
How I treat IBS
Firstly I look at what is triggering this condition, generally starting with the diet. Keeping a food diary is the best idea. It is then a case of avoiding which ever food or food group found to be the trigger. Oddly enough it can be foods you would not think about such as fruit or vegetables but wheat, gluten or dairy are the most common causes.
The following is general advice which can help:
- Eating at regular times
- Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water
- Avoiding carbonated drinks which produce gas
- Exercising regularly can help stimulate normal contractions of the large intestine
Reflexology can really help in treating IBS for several reasons:
- During a session of Reflexology the whole body is in a state of deep relaxation, this is when the body can re-balance and heal.
- The whole of the digestive system reflexes are worked and any areas that are problematic are found and treated.
- The adrenal glands are balanced, so if stress is a cause this can be calmed.
- Hormones imbalances can be addressed.
Depending on what is found during a session and the particular symptoms suffered, I often suggest the addition of a good Probiotic to help with healing the large intestine and rebalancing bowel flora, especially if the IBS has started after antibiotics.
There are also Tissue Salts such as Nat Sulph 6x which is indicated in Diarrhoea alternating with Constipation. The person needing this Tissue Salt often complains of abdominal bloating and colic with intolerance of tight clothing around the abdomen. There may be intense thirst for cold drinks and much flatulence.
I hope you have found this piece on Irritable Bowel Syndrome helpful