Condition Spotlight

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects between 6–18% of people worldwide. This condition involves changes in frequency or form of bowel movements and lower abdominal pain.

Diet, stress, poor sleep and changes in gut bacteria may all trigger symptoms.

However, triggers are different for each person, making it difficult to name specific foods or stressors that everyone with the disorder should avoid.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

It may come as a surprise to you, since it’s often regarded as a trivial condition, but irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most burdensome chronic ailments being reported by patients in the Read More

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition in which the large intestine, or colon, fails to operate normally. It is a functional disorder, since there is no evidence of structural damage to the intestine. Symptoms include pain, constipation, diarrhea, gas, nausea, anorexia, and anxiety or depression.15 The cause is unknown, but food allergies, excess dietary fats, and stress seem to be implicated in IBS. Treatment of IBS aims to reduce the irritation to the digestive system and therefore relies on dietary changes, herbal remedies, and stress reduction.

The usual treatment for IBS is to increase dietary fiber. To avoid food sensitivities (not allergies, since there does not seem to be an immune component in IBS), fiber from a source other than grains is recommended, such as vegetables, fruits, oat bran, guar gum, psyllium, and legumes (beans and peas). According to James Braly, M.D., of Hollywood, Florida, nuts, seeds, and fruit with small seeds (such as raspberries) should be avoided, as should alcohol, caffeine, and spices. Dr. Braly notes that supplements should include zinc, vitamin A, and evening primrose oil.

Enteric-coated peppermint oil is used in Europe to treat IBS. Without enteric coating, the peppermint oil is absorbed in the upper digestive tract, often causing heartburn and esophageal reflux (stomach acid regurgitating into the esophagus). Ginger also has a long history of use to relieve digestive complaints.16 Herbs such as chamomile, valerian, rosemary, and balm have antispasmodic effects on the intestines.