Ugh. We’ve all experienced it. And it is not fun.
Cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation. Whether from food, stress, hormones, or even a virus, a digestive tract upset is miserable.
Many people have bouts with an agitated digestive system, but what is it when this uncomfortableness happens frequently, becomes all encompassing, and interrupts daily living? It may be IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome and over 40 million people are affected by it [Crohns Colitis Foundation].
IBS affects the large intestinal tract, specifically the muscles associated with it. It is typically not an indication of a more serious condition, however, the symptoms can be bothersome and debilitating in living a normal life.
What are symptoms of IBS?
Symptoms of IBS are different for each client, but include:
– swelling or bloating abdomen
– mucus in stool
What causes IBS?
Although causes of IBS can be difficult to pin point, there are a variety of triggers that can foster IBS symptoms.
Some triggers of IBS are:
Food Allergies – intolerances to such things as gluten, caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods, fried and/or processed foods, and dairy can bring about significant IBS issues.
Hormones – more women than men are known to suffer from IBS which may indicate a link between fluctuating hormones, menstruation, and IBS symptoms.
Stress – anxiety and stress can contract intestinal muscles and worsen symptoms for many people with IBS.
Illness – bacteria and viruses may cause flare ups of IBS from altered good bacteria growth in the intestine and in some cases, infection.
How are IBS triggers detected? In functional medicine, it’s vital to test and discover what brings about symptoms of IBS. Rather than masking relief from symptoms with drug prescriptions, functional medicine looks at what may be provoking IBS and how to bring about a more balanced digestive tract naturally.
Functional IBS Testing to discover IBS triggers can include:
US Biotek Food Sensitivity Panel – this food allergy test provides insight into how the body is reacting to certain foods and nutrients. By testing for blood antibodies, this test can investigate visible and hidden sensitivities.
SIBO Breath Test – Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, otherwise known as SIBO, happens when bacteria that typically lives in the lower intestine travels up to the small intestine and produces methane and hydrogen gases. SIBO can be a trigger for IBS symptoms so this breath test can be beneficial for analyzing intestinal bacteria.
This test is conducted by ingesting a lactulose drink which the bacteria feed off of and then blowing in a bag to test the methane and hydrogen gas levels.
Hormone Panel – this saliva based test observes the fluctuation of hormones throughout certain times in women’s menstrual cycles, allowing for examination of how hormones may be playing a role in IBS symptoms.
How can IBS be treated naturally? Although there is said to be no “cure” for IBS, functional medicine doctors may take into great consideration the triggers and associated symptoms of IBS in a course of treatment.
Acupuncture can have an impact on both the triggers and the symptoms themselves and can be a good option for those searching for alternative and natural therapies. Encouraging balanced energy flow in the body, particularly for the abdominal area, acupuncture can reduce bloating and swelling of the abdomen and relieve intestinal cramping.
Acupuncture may also help calm the central nervous system, encouraging the body to react normally to digestion. It can also assist in relieving chronic stress and anxiety that may be pro-moting muscle cramping and indigestion. This can be of great benefit to those who experience anxiety due to IBS as well!
Natural Enzymes and Herbs may also have a positive impact on relieving IBS. Enzymes aid in digestion which can be beneficial if there are known foods that the body has difficulty with. A variety of enzymes are available to assist in digestion for certain types of foods such as dairy, protein, fat, and sugars.
In addition, natural medicine herbs may assist in hindering the start IBS symptoms or relieving them once they’ve kicked in. Try peppermint oil capsules to relax the digestive tract after eating and actual ginger root (a few pieces in tea can be perfect) for its anti-inflammatory properties before or after a meal.
Probiotics can be a wonderful place to start in supporting healthy bacteria growth in the gut and intestines. Look for probiotics that contain Lactoballicus strains (like L. acidophilus, L. paltarum, and L. rhamnosus) and Bifidobacterium strains (like B. infantis, B. longum, B. bifidum). Many of these can be found in the refrigerated section of health food stores.
Where can an IBS be treated?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be frustrating and debilitating in living a normal and productive life.
Is it time to stop letting IBS get in the way of living the way the you want?
We can help!
If you are suffering from IBS and live in Castle Rock, Parker, Centennial, Highlands Ranch, Larkspur, Monument, or Colorado Springs, contact us for a free 15 minute phone consultation to see how we can test and treat your symptoms.