Irritable Bowel Syndrome is also known by its acronym IBS. While IBS is a problem for women more often than men, it's not associated with other colon conditions.
There is no inflammation of the colon, obstructions, or growths. This is a condition is experienced by one in five Americans and is thought to be undiagnosed and untreated in as much as 70 percent of sufferers.
There is no consensus among medical doctors about what causes the condition. The most common opinions are that IBS is related to food allergies or sensitivities, reactions to stress, immune system reactions, or that a person's colon and bowel are simply not working properly in general.
Each IBS sufferer may experience the disorder differently as well. Common symptoms include abdominal cramping, bloating, and pain; however, some people with IBS will have chronic diarrhea. Still, others will have chronic constipation, while another set of people will bounce between those two states.
The symptoms often increase when eating particular foods, big meals, or experiencing stress or depression. Since nerve endings connect the colon to every part of the body, almost anything can cause problems similar to IBS. Because of this, a variety of treatments are often tried.
Treatment for IBS varies. Depending on the person, their doctor, and the severity of their IBS symptoms, strong prescription medications may be used to help relieve the constipation or diarrhea. However, many doctors will suggest alternative approaches before suggesting medications.
The first approach to managing IBS is changes in diet. If your IBS is caused due to food intolerance or allergies to certain foods, removing those from your diet can create drastic improvements. It's common for people have lactose or gluten intolerance without knowing it.
Some people may be sensitive to foods which contain heavy amounts of grease and their IBS problems flare up after greasy meals. Heavy meals can also trigger a bout of IBS. Simply by cutting down the amount you eat in one sitting, and eating fewer but smaller meals each day, can help relieve IBS symptoms.
Including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet can help with IBS, particularly when constipation is a chronic problem. Bananas, for instance, will help relieve both diarrhea and constipation. Many people try taking extra fiber supplements, but these can actually cause the gas and bloating problems to become worse.
Herbal formulas can be of great help to IBS sufferers. Herbal formulas are constructed to support and fortify the digestive tract.
Alfalfa or Chlorophyll are colon scrubbing herbs, which can help immensely with constipation problems. These also neutralize gas in the stomach and colon.
Slippery Elm is an herb used to assist with diarrhea. It normalizes the stools and soothes, coats and heals the entire digestive tract. Slippery Elm should be taken with lots of water.
Cascara Sagrada is one of the strongest herbal laxatives. It promotes activity in the bowel muscles, so this could cause a bit of cramping, but it's not an irritant or a purgative.
Peppermint is an herb that works wonderfully for gas, bloating and stomach pains caused by indigestion. This herb will cause the gas to pass out of your body.
Garlic will also help expel gas from your system, and it has the added benefit of being able to help your colon rid itself of mucus and parasites which could be causing some of the IBS problems.
See our full article on Garlic Facts Remedies and Health Benefits
Additionally garlic is an infection fighting herb, so if there are harmful bacteria in your colon causing the IBS, the garlic can help rid your body of them.
It's vital to remember that IBS is not just about the intestines. Regardless of the treatment, the whole person must be taken into account.