Are you looking for help for IBS? Are you wondering if there are home remedies for IBS symptoms?
I love helping people discover the root cause of their digestive problems. But I have to warn you.
While my suggestions are often simple, they aren’t always easy. I also do not offer silver-bullet pills that will magically erase your abdominal cramps, stomach bloating, chronic diarrhea or constipation.
Western medicine, by its own admission, does not have a cure for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Instead, it offers pills to help mitigate the symptoms. While they can occasionally bring some relief, they never actually solve the problem of what causes IBS in the first place.
Holistic health offers you the opportunity to figure out the underlying cause of your digestive disorder. When you figure that out, you can use diet and home remedies for IBS so that you can stop having symptoms entirely, not just mask them with pharmaceuticals.
This article is part 2 in a series of articles about Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Part 1 was about understanding IBS.
Here’s a preview of the rest of the series.
In order to get help for IBS you have to figure out your own underlying reasons for having these symptoms in the first place.
As we discussed in the first article, IBS is a syndrome. There are no specific tests to determine if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome; instead, a doctor diagnoses it when you clinically meet a wide parameter of symptoms. That means that a dozen people could be diagnosed as having IBS but they could all have different symptoms.
As an herbalist I do not diagnose or treat diseases or syndromes. Instead, I work with individuals to help them discover their unique path to better health. In my consultations you will never hear me say, “Take this herbal remedy for IBS.” Instead we look at your life to determine what has led you to these symptoms.
Let’s take a look at some of the root causes of IBS.
Are you sick of hearing about stress? Everywhere you turn there is another expert or study claiming that pervasive stress can wreck everything in your life, from your libido to your digestion. It almost seems to me that stress is talked about so much that it has become white noise. Everyone knows about it but few are doing much to actually address it. Stress is such a common part of our culture that many people can just feel like it’s normal. Everywhere they turn people are stressed! What’s even worse is our culture seems to reward people who are stressed. We are told to do more more more. Buy more more more. Work more more more. Do more for your kids and on and on.
But it’s true.
Stress can be a major part of what causes IBS. When a person is perpetually stressed they are always operating under their sympathetic nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system is responsible for your flight-or-fight response system. This is great if you are being chased by a tiger and you need to get the heck out of there. But when that metaphorical tiger is continually chasing you it means that your body doesn’t have time to relax, repair and, you guessed it, digest.
You will hear many suggestions for stress practically everywhere you look: yoga, mindfulness meditations, walks in the woods, etc. Those are great suggestions. I make these suggestions myself. But more and more I see that people need permission to do less. Adding a walk in nature to an already busy schedule will only have limited effects.
If you want help for IBS then decreasing your busy schedule and finding ways to relax can help you to have huge improvements with your IBS symptoms.
Diet can be a big role for folks who have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Rather than go over this here, you can read more about the IBS diet in part 3 of this series.
In herbalism, digestion often reigns as king. We often start with digestion when working with all sorts of chronic problems. With people who are looking for help for IBS, digestion is their obvious main complaint but herbalists tend to look at digestion differently than most.
I look at the energetics of the person. Do you have cold digestion or do you have hot digestion? Understanding the differences between these two imbalances is a major way someone can determine which herbal remedies for IBS are going to work best for them.
We’ll discuss the differences between hot and cold digestion in part four of this series of articles: herbal remedies for IBS.
SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Your small intestine normally does not harbor much bacteria. What happens with SIBO is that for a variety of reasons (often hypochlorhydria) the small intestine becomes home to bacteria which then cause havoc on the digestive system. If a doctor diagnoses you with SIBO then antibiotics are often prescribed.
Antibiotics may give some initial improvements. However, while they kill the bacteria in the small intestine they also kill the beneficial and very important bacteria in the large intestine. Antibiotics also don’t ever address why you may have developed SIBO in the first place.
Since we live in a world of antibiotic over-use and are currently threatened with superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics, I really caution people against jumping on this train too quickly. In part four of this series we will look at herbs that can also inhibit bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine without destroying beneficial gut bacteria.
Antibiotics could be necessary for some people. But if you really want help for IBS, then you need to get to the root cause of the problems.
Another underlying cause of IBS can be poor gut flora. Your colon is home to trillions of different microorganisms who help to further break down and absorb your food. When your gut flora becomes disrupted through antibiotic use, parasites, or poor food choices, you will have a harder time properly digesting and absorbing food.
Moving from an imbalanced gut flora to a healthy gut flora is rarely as simple as taking probiotics. Food choices, fermented foods and prebiotics will also play important roles. We will discuss the importance of probiotics and IBS in part 5 of this series.
When seeking help for IBS and trying to figure out home remedies for IBS it’s really important to take a step back to determine the underlying cause. There is, unfortunately, no simple silver bullet miracle cure for IBS. Instead you need to understand and address the reasons why you are experiencing these symptoms. Remember my warning: It’s simple but rarely easy. However, the good news is that once you get this figured out you can look forward to a life without constant digestive distress.
Ready for the next part? Here’s a look at the rest of the articles in this series:
Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal. She's a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and the Education Director for LearningHerbs. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.