What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is characterized by ongoing abdominal pain or discomfort and changes in bowel pattern. IBS is a complicated digestive disorder with varying symptoms, which can range from mild to severe. Common irritable bowel symptoms can include loose or more frequent bowel movements, gas, mucus in the stool, loss of appetite, diarrhea and/or constipation.
IBS mostly affects the large intestine. Sometimes irritable bowel syndrome is referred to as irritable colon, spastic colon, spastic colitis, mucous colitis, or nervous stomach. The causes of IBS are unclear, but it often occurs after an intestinal infection. An imbalance of the bacteria in the gut, intestinal inflammation, food allergies, hormones, overactive nerves in the intestine, and disorders of the intestinal muscles may also play a role. Stress is often an underlying or aggravating factor.
Irritable bowel syndrome is often confused with – but is not the same as – inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD and IBS symptoms can be similar, but IBS is usually less severe. Although IBS is not as severe as Crohn’s or colitis, it is the first step on the continuum to more serious bowel disease, and still has the power to completely disrupt your life. Depending on the severity of your IBS, you may:
- Not be able to sleep well
- Be in constant pain
- Be unable to engage in social activities due to diarrhea or flatulence (gas)
- Have trouble eating due to pain and bloating
- Suffer from mouth ulcers, anal fissures, constipation, spasms, cramping, hemorrhoids, etc.
- Have “brain fog”, poor memory, a plugged ear, and/or floaters in your eyes
After healing myself of serious gastrointestinal disease, consulting with people with all types of colon and bowel conditions for over ten years, and answering thousands of questions on my online forum, I have won international recognition as an expert on natural remedies for irritable bowel syndrome. Even if you have tried every IBS treatment available without success, don’t give up hope – my natural remedies for irritable bowel have helped tens of thousands of people worldwide.
M.M., B.C., Canada
“I heard about Absorb Plus from a friend who has Crohn’s disease. Having suffered with IBS for years, I was curious to learn more about this product. I bought Jini Patel Thompson’s excellent book, Listen to Your Gut, and read all the information on your website. I had been traveling in Asia for seven months and was experiencing the effects of several stomach bugs acquired along the way, including a 10 lb. weight loss and anemia. After being home for 4 months, I still wasn’t gaining weight.
My doctor sent me to a gastroenterologist for testing and I was told that I had inflammation and ulceration of the colon, consistent with some form of colitis. After the procedure, I immediately went on the elemental diet as described in Jini’s books, drinking 3-4 Absorb Plus shakes with flax oil and iron every day for a week. It was easy to do, as the shakes were delicious and left me feeling full and satisfied.
Natural Remedy For Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Depending on the severity, combination, and frequency of symptoms, IBS can be a minor annoyance, or, something that really interferes with your quality of life. Unfortunately, the drug treatment protocols for IBS are not very effective in the long-term and some of them have side-effects that are often worse than the original symptoms. For example, I once took an anti-diarrhea medication that made me bloat like a pelican’s gullet and expel big, loud, smelly farts all day – believe me, I preferred the diarrhea.
The good news is there are many natural treatments for IBS that are very effective and work to heal your body synergistically. However, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a bowel problem, these remedies will work to heal whatever irregularity you’re experiencing. Here are just a few natural treatments for some of the most pressing symptoms of an irritable bowel:
The easiest remedy for constipation is simply to increase your intake of vitamin C (in ascorbic acid form) and magnesium citrate. Along with that you add a stool bulking and softening agent – taken once or twice a day – my favorite used to be Metacleanse a combination product (flax, psyllium and bentonite). I used to recommend MetaCleanse but the manufacturer has stopped producing it so, in its place, you can use 1 tbsp. sprouted flax and chia powder along with 1/2 tsp. bentonite clay. NOTE: You cannot use these remedies if you are on an exclusively elemental diet – only if you are combining Absorb Plus with regular foods. Vitamin C is an excellent immune booster with many extensive clinical trials showing large doses to be quite safe. About 40% of Americans are deficient in magnesium so this is a mineral you probably will only benefit from – the only side-effect of too much Vitamin C or magnesium is diarrhea.
Start at 2000 mg vitamin C and 250 mg magnesium citrate per day. You can increase up to 6000 mg of vitamin C and 1000 mg of magnesium.
For maintenance, eat lots of fresh fruit and ‘non-scratchy’ complex carbohydrates (zucchini, carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, etc.) and drink at least 8 – 10 glasses of spring or filtered water per day, along with one or two doses of the flax/chia seed powder + bentonite combo.
However, this is a quick-fix remedy that will alleviate the symptom and stimulate a bowel movement, but it will not provide long-term healing. To heal the root cause of constipation, you need to eradicate pathogenic microorganisms (like bad bacteria, yeast, fungi, etc.) and then re-populate the bowel with good bacteria. Lots more information on how to do this in my book, Listen To Your IBS, or, if constipation is your primary symptom, then you could get my book specifically on constipation called Listen To Your Colon. Also, see my video below on Colonic Massage as this is very helpful when you’re constipated or bloated.
An amino acid called L-Glutamine is the best remedy I’ve come across for diarrhea and it works very quickly (usually within 2 – 3 days). It’s virtually tasteless and dissolves easily in water. L-Glutamine directly nourishes and heals the mucosal lining of the intestine and causes the bowel to re-absorb the water in your stool, thus reducing the number and frequency of bowel movements. Do not use if you have any liver or kidney disease.
The flax/chia seed powder + bentonite combo is also an excellent product for absorbing water and producing bulkier stools and seems to be well-tolerated by most people. For long-term healing of your diarrhea, you need to eradicate pathogenic microorganisms (like bad bacteria, yeast, fungi, etc.) and then re-populate the bowel with good bacteria. Lots more information on how to do ths in my book, Listen To Your IBS.
Avoid foods that cause diarrhea such as refined sugar, refined flour (white, bleached), hydrogenated fats, caffeine, and acidic, tomato-based foods like spaghetti sauce and pizza. Most people find coffee (regular or decaffeinated) highly irritating as well. Anyone with irritable bowel syndrome should automatically avoid processed foods, luncheon meats or hot dogs, and foods with artificial flavor/color, preservatives or msg. Colonic massage is also an excellent way to reduce frequent bowel movements, as the massage helps move all the separate little stool deposits around the colon and out at once, rather than in many separate bowel movements:
As with any illness or disorder of the body, full healing can only be effected when the emotional and mental components are also addressed. Anger, fear and anxiety are emotions that are typically stored and expressed in the gut. This is clearly evidenced in our language – how often have you heard expressions like, his guts were churning with anxiety, or, the bile rose in her throat whenever she thought about what he’d done, or, her stomach clenched in fear. In fact, what do people do when faced with extreme violence or fear? They often urinate or defecate uncontrollably.
Any bodywork therapies that utilize somato-emotional release will be very healing to people with IBS. Somato (body)-emotional release is based on the premise that emotional trauma is actually stored in the physical tissues of the body – not just in the mind or soul. When you release the event, or memory, or feeling at this level, the catharsis is particularly effective and healing. Therapies like craniosacral, EFT, matrix reimprinting and other forms of energy healing can all facilitate somato-emotional release. It’s best to look for a therapist that specifically lists somato-emotional release as part of their practice. Choose your practitioner the same way you’d choose a counsellor, make sure it’s someone with legitimate qualifications that you feel comfortable and safe with. You should notice a difference after 2 sessions, if you don’t, then you have not found the right practitioner yet – keep looking!
I once went to a craniosacral therapist who specialized in somato-emotional release. We started first with my neck and he began by just holding it as I lay on my back (fully clothed). Then, as I relaxed, he slowly began to rotate my head gently to the left and up a bit. Much to my surprise, I immediately experienced a technicolor memory of being hit as a child. Even more surprising, I re-experienced the fear and anger I had felt then and tears began streaming down my face. When he sensed the emotion was getting a bit much for me, he gently moved my head back to its former position and the memory, the feelings, and the tears disappeared instantly! I was back to the jolly self I walked in there as. I lay there laughing over how bizarre that was and wiped the tears away. He waited for me to relax again and then moved my head back to the same position and immediately I was back in the memory crying away again. He continued this process until I had worked through the memory and released it. Then he moved on to work with other parts of my body.
A friend of mine would experience visions and feel as though she left her body during certain acupuncture sessions. Another friend re-experienced and released a memory of childhood sexual abuse when the craniosacral therapist began working on her arm. You wouldn’t think a sexual abuse memory would be stored in someone’s arm, but the memory began with her being forcefully grabbed at the elbow and marched up the stairs, so that’s where her body stored it. One of my readers feels distinctly linked with her inner child whenever her energy healer works on her colon. She cries throughout the session and sometimes for a while afterwards, but for the next few days experiences no symptoms of bowel distress whatsoever. Going beyond the psychological, talk-therapy approach and into the body itself can be a very profound and deeply healing experience.
There are many routes to healing and each person has to find their own particular path. Just try to keep in mind that the easiest treatment protocol (for example, popping a pill) is not always the best for your body long-term. Experience teaches us it’s best to seek out ways of healing that work holistically and heal the whole body in an integrated, long-lasting manner.There are many more effective treatments for common symptoms of IBS available in my book, LISTEN TO YOUR IBS, including heartburn (acid reflux), spastic colon, spasming and cramping, pain, joint swelling, etc.