IBS stands for Irritable Bowl Syndrome, a condition so common in Canada that we have one of the highest rates of IBS in the world. This being IBS awareness month, I’d like to point out that a lot can be done to manage and prevent its uncomfortable symptoms without resorting to medication.
The symptoms of IBS include:
- Cramping pain in your lower abdomen
- Bloating and gas
- Diarrhea or constipation, or bouts of both
- Relief of pain after bowel movements
- Feeling of incomplete emptying after bowel movements
- Mucus in your stool
- People with IBS may also have associated upper abdominal symptoms such as nausea and heartburn.
A diagnosis is made through process of elimination to rule out other possible conditions. Tests may include stool sample testing, blood and urine tests, ultrasound and x-rays.
While certain foods have been shown to trigger symptoms for many people, the exact cause of IBS in unknown. There is, however, a clear connection between prolonged anxiety and the chronic manifestation of IBS symptoms.
What you can do if you have IBS
Although certain medications are sometimes prescribed to alleviate particular symptoms, know that there is a lot you can do to treat and prevent IBS without drugs.
Take control through your diet
The first is diet. Your health care provider should recommend an elimination diet, where foods that are suspected of causing an allergic reaction are eliminated, then gradually added back to see which ones trigger symptoms. The most common culprits are dairy products, wheat, corn, peanuts, citrus, soy, eggs, fish, and tomatoes.
Feel better with supplements and herbs
Probiotics, ground flaxseed and peppermint oil capsules have all been shown to provide relief of the various symptoms of IBS. Consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider for details and dosage.
Why stress management is the key
Getting regular exercise, engaging in calming activities and seeking counseling can all help lower the effects of stress on your body. This is an important step as it has been shown that stress causes chemical changes in the lining of the colon that increase IBS symptoms. Research suggests that there are direct links between the brain and the gastrointestinal system, which would explain why flare-ups of IBS are sometimes triggered by emotional upsets or stress.
Also documented is the fact that when a person is under stress, the body diverts blood flow away from the digestive system resulting in indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, and/or painful colon spasms.
IBS, stress and acupuncture
IBS patients get very good results with acupuncture because it regulates the energy and blood flow of all of the organs in the body, including those related to digestion. Acupuncture has also been proven to have a long lasting effect on stress. In these ways, it has been very beneficial to many of my own patients in their management of IBS. I have seen symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating, heartburn, diarrhea and constipation, all disappear when dietary changes are combined with acupuncture treatments.
If you would like more information on how acupuncture and diet can help with IBS, you can reach me at (819) 681-8228 or via my website at acupuncturemonttremblant.com.
Be well and thrive!