IBS is a collection of different symptoms which make up the individuals triggers and presentation. If you experience a sudden change in bowel habit, weight loss, or bleeding from the bowel the first port of call should be to go to your GP and get relevant blood tests to rule out any serious disease.
Then you can make a clear decision as to the type of treatment you would like to choose.
Herbs have an excellent track record in the treatment of gastrointestinal problems; they will work gently, effectively and rapidly.
I recommend before you go on any radical ‘cleanse’ or ‘detox’ or ‘parasite cleanse’ suspecting you have IBS that you get a proper diagnosis.
At my clinic I offer state of the art stool analysis (Genova diagnostics UK), regularly a good thorough medical history and nutritional assessment can point to the cause of the problem.
Types of assessment which can be done (Prices will vary, samples may be blood, saliva or stool)
- Comprehensive stool digestive analysis
- Helicobacter Pylori stool test/breath test
- IBS status
- Fungal screening
- Coeliac profile
- Candida antibody profile
Symptoms can include the following:
- Abdominal pain, often relieved by passing wind or faeces
- Abdominal bloating
- Diarrhoea, constipation or alternation between both
Factors which are known to affect IBS sufferer’s
- Intolerance to certain foods this can be more common with IBS associated with diarrhoea (consider wheat, gluten, corn, dairy, coffee, tea, sugar, lactose, citrus fruits).
- Body reactions to foods which may be causing intolerance include sweating, headaches, nausea, skin rash/itching, itchy throat, runny nose, palpitation, fatigue, urgent bowel movements.
- Family History
Many people who suffer with the diarrhoea form of IBS have been found to have certain dietary triggers, if you think this applies to you keep a symptom diary which records what you have eaten and how it affects you. You may see a pattern of a particular food which is aggravating your symptoms (See the list above). If so cut it out completely for a minimum of 2 weeks and continue to record your symptoms.
For some people high fibre in the form of insoluble fibre like e.g. Bran can be an aggravating factor, replace with more soluble fibre food sources like vegetables and fruit.
If you have sudden onset IBS symptoms, make sure it is not an underlying infection by getting a stool test if your doctor cannot provide this we can provide it at the clinic after a consultation.
The yeast Candida can sometimes mimic IBS symptoms when it overgrows in the system this can be caused by repeated antibiotics or a combination of stress and poor diet.
It is important to get a correct diagnosis as Candida can be self diagnosed and misdiagnosed with people going on unnecessarily strict diets.
If stress is the main trigger for symptoms this must be addressed long-term as part of the overall treatment strategy either with exercise, meditation, or some new hobby which relaxes mind and body.
Slippery Elm Powder
This is derived from the inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree found in the US. It provides a directly soothing effect on the gastrointestinal system; it provides a protective healing barrier on the digestive mucus surfaces. It is both soothing to diarrhoea and helps to draw water into the bowel in cases of constipation. Can be taken by those who convalescing for its nutritive powers, particularly useful in this regard for both children and the elderly. Useful in acid reflux conditions, taken last thing at night to protect the stomach from the effects of excess acid.
- Take ½ to 1 teaspoon with all meals and between all meals for excess acid and reflux until symptoms improve, then take with all meals
- For IBS take both with and between meals when symptoms are bad, this will help both constipation and diarrhoea
Hints: can be taken mashed with a small amount of banana, in hot milk, cold milk, in a small amount of yoghurt.
Referred to as “mother of the gut”. Chamomile has many properties which can be used to calm and sooth the digestive tract. It relaxes spasm associated with cramping; it also reduces anxiety which can be a factor in the symptoms of IBS particularly in children. It can also facilitate expulsion of trapped wind in the stomach.
Can be taken as a tea, tincture or for very small children a tea added to bath water in the evenings or the tea can be sweetened with honey and made into an ice-pop to make it more appealing.
Useful where there is a sluggish bowel. Dandelion root is a very gentle laxative. It works by stimulating the production of bile from the liver. Bile is the bodies natural laxative and also facilitates the breakdown of fats in the digestive system.
Dandelion root can also form a useful part of a gentle cleanse for the colon as part of a general detox. It would be useful as part of an exclusion diet if you are keeping a symptom diary. Dandelion root can form a natural caffeine alternative, roast dandelion root coffee is commercially available.
It can be taken as a tea, tincture or capsule.
This herb has proven to reduce the cramping or spasm associated with IBS. It relaxes the intestinal smooth muscle returning it to its normal relaxed state.
It can be taken as a tea, tincture, if there is accompanying reflux then enteric coated capsules are the most suitable option.
Warming Digestive Tea
Teas are a wonderful way of treating the symptoms of IBS particularly bloating and cramping. The mistake some people make is not making them strong enough. Sometimes one tea bag will not be enough to improve symptoms. In such cases I suggest buying lose leaf herbal tea it is far superior and will allow you to make a stronger infusion.
You will need
– Cinnamon sticks
– Ginger, fresh or dried (fresh is better if you can get it)
– Fennel seeds (other options include aniseed or dried liquorice root)
- 1. Grind up 3 tspn of fennel seeds, 1-2 inches of a cinnamon stick well with a pestle and mortar.
- 2. Slice 3 slices of fresh ginger
- 3. Add all the herbs to a tea pot and pour over 500mls of boiling water (you might like to use less or more water depending on your tastes). Allow to infuse for a minimum of 15 minutes, longer if you can.
- 4.Strain as you pour and drink throughout the day, this tea can be taken to work in a flask and boiling water added to it as required through the day.
This is only a small selection of the herbs used to treat IBS at the clinic we stock approximately 150 different herbs this enables us to make up a prescription tailored exactly for your needs.