Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is considered one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders; affecting the small and large intestine (colon). There is not an exact number of IBS suffers; however, some estimates believe it is a problem for 20% to 30% of Americans. IBS is also commonly known as spastic colon, gastric colitis, mucous colitis, nervous indigestion, and intestinal neurosis.
What Causes IBS?
The official cause of IBS is considered unknown. In other words, no cause can be found from biopsies, x-rays, or laboratory tests. IBS is therefore technically a functional disease. Because there are no lab tests to diagnose IBS, it is diagnosed on symptoms alone.
Not all IBS cases have the same root cause, but, there are some common underlying factors.
IBS sufferers may have one or more of the following present:
One possible cause is the link between the intestinal tract and brain. This is also known as a dysregulated gut-brain axis; with stress as a major underlying factor. Stress and gut-brain miscommunication result in spasms. The spasms may be fast in the form of diarrhea or slow in form of bloating or constipation.
Food Allergies or Sensitivities
The major dietary factor with IBS is food allergies or sensitivities. They have been linked with IBS since the early 1900s. The most common food allergies are grains and dairy products. Other foods known to trigger symptoms include high carbohydrate foods, hot spices, coffee, alcohol, and fatty food.
FODMAPs are a group of short-chain carbohydrates called fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, which tend to be poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Common foods include cookies, bread, or pasta; artichokes, onions, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and legumes like lentils and chickpeas.
Chronic Digestive Infections
Many IBS sufferers report that symptoms began after an infection, such as parasites, bacteria or fungi. In fact, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) has been shown to be a driving factor in up to 85% of IBS cases.
Functional Lab Tests to consider
3 Key Strategies You MUST Follow To Overcome IBS
Low FODMAP diet
As mentioned previously, FODMAPs are a major trigger for IBS. Removing them from the diet is a critical first step in healing. All other treatments will usually fail if the diet is not in place first. Studies have shown that 75% of IBS patients show improvements from symptoms when FODMAPs are restricted/removed from the diet. In many cases, hidden food allergies and sensitivities should also be addressed (as mentioned above).
Integrate Antimicrobials To Eradicate Intestinal Infections
Antimicrobial herbs such as oregano oil, berberine, grapefruit seed extract, and garlic have been shown to be as effective as prescription antibiotics. That said, some cases do respond better to prescription antibiotics but should be evaluated by your natural health care practitioner first.
Get Stress Under Control
Stress comes in many forms and is different from case to case. The possible psychological triggers in IBS patients may include depression,anxiety, fatigue, sleep problems, hostile feelings, and unresolved emotional traumas from childhood experiences. This can include anything from illness, abuse, neglect, or a death of a loved one.
It is important to identify what these are and take measures to resolve them if one is looking for root-cause resolution. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is becoming a go-to adjunct therapy but supporting the adrenal glands and stress response can go a long way here as well. B-complex, vitamin C, magnesium, sodium and potassium, plus herbals such as rhodiola, ashwagandha and ginseng are all great for adrenal support.
With all that said, IBS can be a complicated disorder to fully resolve. This is largely because:
With that said, healing is entirely possible when working wtih a qualified natural health care practitioner and following a customized strategic protocol.
If you're looking to get support for your IBS, reach out to your trusted natural health care practitioner to determine the first set of next steps in your healing journey.