What Can You Do Naturally to Improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Natural Remedies for IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, more commonly referred to as IBS, is a condition related to the digestive
system that prevents the body from processing food at a regular rate. There are three types of IBS;
constipation-predominant, diarrhea-predominant and alternating between the two. It’s unpleasant
at the best of times and can be wildly painful at the worst, but there are natural remedies and
things to avoid that can ease the pains and keep the symptoms at bay.
The symptoms pertaining to IBS are very widespread and not at all exclusive to the condition; they
can often be indicative of other medical issues or intolerances. The major symptom is abdominal
pain or cramping, often with a noticeable relief after passing wind or going to the bathroom to
‘complete the digestive cycle’. Abdominal bloating, nausea and the feeling that the bowels aren’t
properly emptied after going to the bathroom are all signs of IBS, as well as any noticeable mucus
present in the stools. These symptoms will usually first show at the stage of young adulthood;
beyond the age of 40, it’s likely that the onset of these sensations is symptomatic of something
So what causes IBS? For such a varying condition, the exact underlying cause remains unknown,
but there are a variety of factors that tend to affect different individuals, often in combination;
– Infection; up to 25% of IBS cases may be due to the cause of infection. Even after the virus or
bacteria is gone, about of a condition such as gastroenteritis can infect the bowels and disrupt
the balance of bacteria in the bowels or alter nerve functionality.
– Intolerance; Intolerance to certain foods can trigger IBS, particularly foods high in lactose or
fructose, which occurs when the body fails to properly absorb these sugars. Lactose is highly
prevalent in dairy products, and fructose is commonly found in types of syrup. Sorbitol is another
sugar-alcohol that metabolizes slowly within the body and can cause intolerance.
– Medication; certain types of medication can have a large impact on metabolism and the body’s
digestive process. Antibiotics and painkillers can quite often lead to constipation or diarrhea,
thereby triggering an IBS response.
– Stress; stress, anxiety and other strong emotional-physical responses can sometimes lead to
malfunctions of the nerves in the bowels.
– Diet; the general diet of the person in question can also be a major factor in IBS, although it is
quite often possible to narrow down the dietary issue to a more specific intolerance. Some tend
to find that high-fibre diets cause issues with constipation while changing to a low-fibre diet
eases the pain. Others find that particularly sugary or spicy foods loosen the bowels a little too
much. This is ultimately dependant on the individual.
Regardless of the potential causes or factors contributing to IBS, there are several natural ways to
remedy the symptoms and discomfort. Try these simple steps to ease the pains of IBS;
Since the symptoms and types of IBS are so varied from individual to individual, the best way to
identify the problem areas in your diet is to keep track of the foods you eat each day and the onset
of IBS symptoms that you experience. This might help you to notice a correlation between the
types of food you are eating, and potentially even suggest a particular intolerance as opposed to
generic IBS. After mapping your regular diet for a couple of weeks, try cutting out foods like apples,
onions, beans, milk, and mushrooms; these are examples of FODMAP foods (Fermentable
Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols); a group of carbohydrates that
produce gas and are often thought to contribute to IBS.
Certain types of herbal tea will relax the intestines and give you a noticeable decrease in the
abdominal pain brought on by IBS. The two best types to go for are peppermint tea and ginger tea.
If you’re opting for peppermint, be careful to ensure that you are getting the tea that contains real
peppermint, as opposed to simply flavoured black tea. Peppermint is known to reduce gas pain
and abdominal spasms. Ginger also works wonders on your digestive health and soothes IBS-
related pains. For top quality, grate some fresh ginger into your tea, or even into just a cup of
boiling water and leave it to infuse before straining. Alternatively, lemongrass and ginger tea is a
commonly available option in teabag form. Whichever one you choose to drink, aim for 4-6 cups
spread out throughout the day for optimum results.
At least 30 minutes a day of exercise is important for your general health and wellbeing, but it also
encourages a healthy digestive system and can help with IBS. The tricky thing is if your
experiencing painful IBS symptoms, the last thing you want to do is get out there and hit the gym,
and often you’re feeling too weak to do so. Even just a 30 minute walk will make a difference, and
it’s much more manageable when experiencing symptoms. If symptoms temporarily subside, turn
that walk into a jog. You have to go at your own pace, but getting out and doing some non-
competitive exercise helps to relieve stress and releases endorphins with naturally painkilling
Especially if you’re experiencing diarrhea-predominant IBS, probiotics should be a regular staple in
your diet. Diarrhea drains your body of fluids and the good bacteria in your gut that help balance
out the bad bacteria. Eating yogurt regularly is a great way to replace those good bacteria that
your body is missing, to help combat the bad and keep you feeling healthy. Natural yogurt
containing active bacteria such as acidophilus is the best way to go. There are also a lot of drinks on the market these days, kevita and also Kombucha that are full of probiotics and are a great drink to take daily.
Instead of the classic ‘three big meals a day’ spiel, try eating smaller meals more frequently
throughout the day. Ingesting too much food at once can overstimulate your digestive system,
making it difficult for the body to process all the food properly. Instead of scoffing down the entire
plate in 5 minutes, also pay attention to the way that you eat; not only does it allow you to actually
experience and enjoy your food, but eating slowly and chewing more prevents you from swallowing
so much air, which turns into intestinal gas and abdominal pain.
There are two types of fibre, soluble and insoluble, both of which are important depending on
which type of IBS you suffer from. Soluble fibre is great for diarrhoea-predominant IBS, as it helps
to soak up the liquids in the intestines. Oatmeal and fruits such as strawberries and grapefruit are
great sources of soluble fibre. Insoluble fibre helps with constipation-predominant IBS, as it helps
the stools to pass through the intestines at a faster rate. Leafy greens, wheat, bran and wholegrain
are the best sources of insoluble fibre. It’s important not to add too much fibre to your diet too
quickly, because if your body isn’t used to it then it can actually worsen the symptoms of gas and
bloating. Instead try to increase your intake gradually, so your body has time to get accustomed to
it. Drinking the standard 6-8 glasses of water a day is also vital, as it will help move the fibre
smoothly through your system.
There are other suggested (albeit unproven) methods for easing the symptoms of IBS, such as
acupuncture, aromatherapy of frankincense, oil supplements and digestive enzymes, but what it
really comes down to is diet and exercise. IBS affects everyone differently, and rather than further
complicating your system with chemical painkillers or an array of daily supplements, having an
effective understanding of your own body and experimenting with the ways in which changes in
diet and exercise can improve your own condition is the best way to manage IBS.