Irritable Bowel Syndrome is characterized by gas and/or abdominal pain (often painful), bloating, indigestion, acid reflux, burning mouth or throat, mouth blisters, constipation and/or diarrhea (or alternating), mucus in the stool, seepage from the rectum, heartburn.
Having a white tongue (not associated with pain or sores) that seems dry with teeth marks (indentations) on the side of your tongue is often a sign of dehydration, but is also a sign of indigestion.
Also, the feeling of something stuck in your throat, but not really, is a sign of too little acid. Stress suppresses stomach acid.
Leaky gut is a condition where tiny food particles and other matter seep through the intestinal wall and enter other bodily tissues and the blood stream. It is typically caused by inflammation of the lining of the intestines. The results of leaky gut are often toxicity and pH imbalance.
Most people with indigestion are short on necessary digestive enzymes. The discomfort is from the partially undigested food sitting in the gut due to lack of dietary enzymes. And, it is often the gas from this undigested food that causes the most pain. Antacids coat the stomach offering some temporary relief to the symptoms, but what you really need is digestive enzymes or a change in your diet to get rid of the cause. Don't be one of those people who buy anti-acids, and yet continue to eat the very things that are sending you to the store to buy them.
There is no evidence that IBS will ever cause a disease, although disease can cause symptoms of IBS. It is important to rule out possible conditions.
Possible Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Gall bladder, pancreas, and/or liver problems.
Food sensitivities, especially to gluten found in grain products. Eating 'trigger' foods. These foods may be different for different people.
Lack of exercise.
Pinched spinal nerves.
Muscle tension, as well as nerve or muscular disorders, especially those of the mid and lower spine area.
SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) may be an issue if you had a case of food poisoning and have not felt normal since. Even minor food poisoning can cause a bout of SIBO. Treatment is the same as for IBS.
Those with Crohn's disease can suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. However, while no one is sure what causes Crohn's dis-ease, it is not the same thing as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. See Crohn's Dis-Ease.
Acid reflux or GERD, which may or may not be related to being overfat in the midsection.
Serious illnesses, such as cancer.
Drugs (prescription or otherwise)
Natural Old World Remedies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms
For Irritable Bowel Syndrome in General
Digestive enzymes not only help your foods to digest, which means you can absorb nutrients, but also eliminate gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and loose stool, mucus in the stool, pressure and pain associated with these symptoms. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome you cannot afford to be without a multi-enzyme digestive supplement. See Digestive Enzymes & Supplementation (lower on this page).
Negative feelings, especially those negative feelings we have over control issues (especially lack of control), sit in the gut and can cause symptoms of IBS. Write down your negative feelings on paper. It is also helpful to write down what you have eaten each day. Keep in mind that it can take up to 72 hours to suffer a reaction from something you eat or drink today. Being able to look back over the past few days can be very helpful in establishing any diet sensitivity patterns.
For stomach muscle pain or spasm associated with diarrhea, place an ice pack or moist heat on your tummy for no more than 20 minutes, alternating up to 4 times, and then break for an hour. You may also place the ice pack or moist heat on your spine to calm those nerves that stem from your spine to your stomach. For moist heat, find a thin cloth, wet it, wring it out and place on your stomach. Place a hot water bottle over the cloth. Do not use a moist cloth with an electrical heating pad unless you have the type of heating pad that can be used with moist heat.
Get moving. Do some squats, abdominal crunches, or go for a walk. Or, do some bending and reaching. Bend over and touch your toes (or your ankles or knees), hang there for a few seconds, let your head dangle and relax. Slowly come up to standing and then reach for the sun. give it a good stretch. Stand up on your toes if you can. Stretch as far as you can. Then, bend over again and touch your toes. Do this up to 12 times.
Gentle stretches and exercise performed on a regular basis tone the back and abdomen, helping to increase the tone and function of the gut. Continue to drink as much water and other liquids as you can to avoid dehydration if you have diarrhea.
Massage your stomach in a circular, clock-wise motion (left to right). Start at your belly button and work outwards toward your pelvic bones. Do this for 2-3 minutes. Just soft, gentle pressure. You may also massage your lower back as best you can. The lower back often feels pain while the body is constipated.
Avoid the following foods. Spicy or acidic foods, red meat, bananas, sugar and most white foods (white bread, white rice, white pasta, etc.).
Although strong black coffee and teas are stimulants and can often help with constipation, they are diuretics because of the caffeine they contain. Meaning, caffeine flushes moisture from the body. It can also be a stomach and intestinal irritant, due to its acidity. Limit caffeinated coffee and black tea to two cups per day and drink an extra cup of water for every cup of caffeinated beverage you do drink to replace fluids.
Eliminate dairy. Dairy is one of the worst culprits for Irritable Bowel. Avoid it when you are having an episode. It aggravates IBS. Many folks have sensitivities to dairy products and do not even realize it. Dairy can, both, cause constipation and diarrhea.
Avoid gluten. Gluten, found in wheat, barley, rye, millet, other grains, and some prepared foods, can cause constipation, diarrhea, nutrient deficiencies (such as Iron and Folate deficiency), bladder pain, Tinnitus (ringing in the ears), osteoporosis, gas and bloating, muscle cramps, and headache. Gluten is found in products made from grain products, especially wheat. You do not have to have an all out allergy to gluten to have it cause symptoms of IBS. Avoid eating gluten, at least for a few weeks to see if your symptoms improve.
Drink no fluids with your meal. Fluids slow digestion by disturbing and washing away enzymes that help to digest your food.
Specifically for IBS Diarrhea
Eat baby food if you have diarrhea, especially painful diarrhea, until you are well past the loose stool stage. At the very least, eat only bland, soft foods until your diarrhea subsides.
Digestive enzymes not only help your foods to digest, which means you can absorb nutrients, but also eliminate gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and loose stool, mucus in the stool, pressure and pain associated with these symptoms. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome you cannot afford to be without a multi-enzyme digestive supplement (see information below).
Specifically for IBS Constipation
Chronic Constipation can lead to body toxicity and all manner of disease as a result. It can also cause pain involving the lower back and the sciatic nerve.
Try swallowing one teaspoon of Olive Oil every morning until regulated.
Eat 2-3 prunes every morning, or drink 4 oz. of prune juice. Or, munch on 6 ounces of dried fruit (a mix of raisins, prunes, apricots, and figs).
Eat fruit on an empty stomach at least 20-30 minutes before consuming other foods.
Fiber is important because it helps push the nasties right on through and eliminate or at least reduce toxic waste. However, fiber absorbs moisture and if you don't drink enough water along with it Fiber can backfire causing even more constipation. Try eating orange and yellow veggies (rather than fruit), such as squash, carrots, pumpkin for constipation. Try whole, cooked oatmeal and an apple every day.
Drink enough water can lead to body toxicity, and all manner of disease as a result. It can also cause pain involving the lower back and the sciatic nerve. Drink enough water. Not getting enough water could be your only problem. If you are constipated try drinking a full glass of water every 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes. Drinking 6-10 glasses of pure water each day is suggested. However, do not drink fluids with your meal. It slows digestion. Fluids disturb and wash away necessary acids and enzymes.
Swiss Krissis an herbal product that is both a mild stimulant and a stool softener. It can be found at most natural health stores. There is also a herbal bowel regulator from India called Triphala. It is an Ayurvedic medicine containing a mixture of three fruits. It tones the digestive system without being a stimulant laxative. It is intended for regular use and benefits improve the longer it is used.
Specifically for IBS Pain
Ginger tea may help with stomach upset and pain.
Peppermint is a natural muscle relaxant and used properly, can be a wonderful stomach soother. Peppermint is found in many stomach relieving preparations, including multi-enzymes. Peppermint tea or sucking on a Peppermint candy can help with bloating.
Note: Peppermint can make things worse if you have acid reflux or indigestion due to the lack of stomach acid. Peppermint actually relaxes the sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach, which keeps food from entering the esophagus. A dysfunctional sphincter muscle is one of the main causes of acid reflux. If you have either one of these conditions, and you would like to try Peppermint for intestinal pain, use Peppermint in capsule form so that it will bypass the throat and upper stomach.
Specifically for IBS Indigestion, Gas, Burping & Bloating
Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in an 8-ounce glass of water and drink it down. Baking soda zaps acids by making the digestive tract more alkaline.
Drinking seltzer water can help in moving gas bubbles along.
Take some grapefruit peel and place it in a glass of hot water. Drink it like tea. It helps keep burps away.
Again, as under Old World Nutrition for IBS above, drink no fluids with your meal. Fluids slow digestion by disturbing and washing away enzymes that help to digest your food. Drink your fluids, either, a half hour before eating or wait until afterwards and, then, only sip.
Curcumin, the yellow coloring in Turmeric, is great for healthy pancreatic function. In fact, it has been proven to stop cancer cells by shutting down chemicals linked to tumor growth. Arugula, onions, poultry, eggs and fish (rather than red meat) are good for the pancreas as well. so is getting 15 minutes of sun each day, which turns up Vitamin D levels. Turmeric reduces gas and bloating in 87% of all cases. It is otherwise called Zeodary root and originates from India.
Digestive bitters can help as well. Swedish Bitters is a 500 year old formula (of 11 ingredients) that stimulate the secretion of digestive juices in the stomach, liver and pancreas.
Aloe Vera juice, not gel, can help to heal the lower esophageal sphincter and soothes mucous membranes. It also make for a great digestive aid and helps with heartburn, IBS and acid reflux.
Note: Do not use the juice directly from the plant. It contains natural chemicals that will give you diarrhea. This has been removed in store bought products. Drink 1/4 cup of juice 10 minutes before a meal for 6 weeks. Fair warning! It can be nasty tasting, so you might want to mix it with juice.
Mix 2 Tablespoons of Organic Apple-Cider Vinegar with a bit of honey to 8 oz. of water and drink. Vinegar helps to break down foods in the stomach by replacing acid that some of us no longer have. ACV is a good source of Malic Acid, which works well for reducing muscle pain. It also contributes to pH balance and weight loss. Vinegar may also be added to juice. You may do this up to 3-4 times throughout the day.
Note: The stomach naturally secretes acid to digest foods, particularly proteins. Some individuals actually may have an over-abundance of stomach acid and, therefore, more stomach upset when using Apple Cider Vinegar.
Supplements for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Magnesium is important for healthy intestinal functioning. Magnesium supplements draw moisture to the intestines. 500 mg per day divided into two doses, morning and night, should be enough. You can take safely take up to 1000 mg per day. Magnesium may be taken without Calcium.
Calcium supplements help reduce gas pain. When taking Calcium, take Magnesium as well to avoid Calcium build-up. In fact, make sure you are getting enough minerals (especially Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc) through your diet or supplements.
Aloe Vera juice (not gel) is intended for internal use, and its main use is to help heal ulcers and other intestinal irritations. The juice is not pleasant for the most part, but you only need a teaspoon after meals. Otherwise, the juice becomes a laxative.
Probiotics and prebiotics (acidophilus, lactobacillus, etc.) help to restore the healthy flora in your bowel, relieve colitis (mucus in the stool), improves digestion, mood and mental clarity.
Garlic's allicin (anti-microbial) wards off infection. Eat one raw clove daily for two weeks and twice each week thereafter. There are limitations to how much garlic you should consume. It is a very powerful herb. If you do not like the taste of garlic you might try a supplement instead, but always follow the directions on the label.
Note: If you have any current medical issues (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.) ask your doctor before using Garlic supplements.
Flax oil (1 tablespoon per day) or ground Flax seeds (2-3 ground tablespoons per day). When using ground seeds make sure to drink your daily quota of water (4-8 glasses of pure water) to avoid constipation.
Omega Fish Oils (as directed on the label) from fish, salmon or krill oil can help with IBS. It may help to take these before bedtime. These essential fatty oils also help to calm your tightly wired nerves, which are often a cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
If you already eat fish 2-3 times per week, there's no need to take fish oil supplements.
Omega 6s (from foods) - Corn oil, peanut oil, cottonseed oil, poultry, evening primrose oil, safflower oil, grape seed oil, sesame oil, meat, soybean oil, sunflower oil. Too much Omega 6 without Omega 3 can be unhealthy.
Note: Do not take fish oil supplements if you have history of heart disease or diabetes. Just so you are aware, vegetarian formulas do not work as well for inflammation. The supplement shown above is combined with an antioxidant for extra cell protection.
B-Complex with Folic Acid for healthy nerve function. Muscles can't work without healthy nerves. This includes nerves and muscles that help to eliminate waste.
See Supplements for proper dosages, foods containing the nutrients you are seeking, and precautions.
Enzyme Deficiency & Supplementation
This next bit of information could save you from a lifetime of pain and suffering. In fact, it could save your very life. Not to mention, taking away every last symptom of Irritable Bowel Syndrome you have ever had!
What are enzymes? If your body was a factory, and in many ways it is, enzymes would be the factory workers. We cannot reproduce enzymes once we have lost them, but we can add enzymes through our foods and supplements to help out the factory workers we have left and slow down their death rate. A deficiency in enzymes might be the result of poor diet, aging, gall bladder removal, pancreatic dis-ease or some other illness. Sometimes, there is no deficiency, but a combination of stress and poor diet result in not enough factory workers being available to digest your foods properly.
Digestive enzymes help your foods to digest naturally, which means you can absorb nutrients, but also eliminate gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, loose stool, mucus in the stool, pressure and pain associated with these symptoms.
Enzymes are naturally found in plant foods as well. Take unripe papaya, for example, which contains proteolytic enzyme called papain, a natural enzyme that aids in the digestion of protein. However, I don't suggest you eat unripe papaya. First of all, it would taste nasty and, secondly, large or excessive doses of papaya by anyone can result in damage to the throat and mouth. Thirdly, symptoms of IBS is rarely a case of being deficient in just one enzyme.
When you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome you cannot afford to be without a multi-enzyme digestive supplement to support the digestive process. This is probably the only supplement I will ever suggest taking on a daily basis if you suffer from stomach distress on a regular basis, especially after eating. Taking enzymes is like swallowing a bit of powdered food in a capsule that helps to digest what's in your stomach. That's all. There are absolutely no side-effects. None. For example, if you have no gall bladder, you can take them for the rest of your life, if need be, to help digest your foods at every meal.
You can get an idea of which enzymes you might be deficient in by downloading my free TCL Wellness Handout, Enzyme Deficiency Checklistbelow. In it you will also discover which foods are giving you the most trouble, so you can choose to reduce or eliminate them from your diet. However, supplementing with over-the-counter multiple digestive enzymes often allows you to continue to eat your favorite foods without having to remove foods from your diet and with out experiencing any symptoms at all. It also explains how to choose the right supplement.
Be Wary of Enzyme Supplements Containing Hydrochloric Acid
If you have IBS, do not experiment with Hydrocloric Acid supplements or enzyme supplements containing hydrochloric acid, especially if you have a pre-existing condition, such as heartburn, acid reflux or peptic ulcers, without speaking to your doctor first. The stomach naturally secretes this acid to digest foods, particularly proteins. Some digestive enzyme supplement products contain Hydrochloric Acid. Avoid these supplements. While some individuals say it helps, others report they actually have more stomach upset when their enzyme product contains this ingredient. Dietary enzymes that do not contain Hydrochloric Acid have not been known to cause any side-effects what so ever and are safe to take with these conditions.
Note: If you have cancer or have ever had cancer please discuss taking digestive enzymes with your doctor. Proteolytic enzymes may have a negative effect on your treatment or prognosis.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Associations
Spiritual/Psychological causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Irritable Bowel has many different symptoms and each symptom is an expression of something going on in the mind. When it comes to IBS, there is gut-wrenching dread over something. You are worried, and this may be an understatement.
Flatulence (burping and passing gas) - Something in your life is making you gulp like a fish out of water. There is a fear here, perhaps of slowing down, for whatever reason. Is there an aspect of your life you are having a hard time digesting?
Mucous in the Stool - Mired in the past. There are layers of confused thoughts and you are having a hard time assimilating the new.
Cramps - Fear of letting go of the unnecessary or unwanted in life ( relationships, objects, old worn out commitments, etc.). Holding on out of fear of what is coming next, which may be unknown.
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