Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a widely spread syndrome amongst the world population.
One person out of seven suffers from IBS and just in the U.S.A, the condition impacts the lives of 25 to 45 million people.
Statistics have shown that most patients are women, about two third of those suffering from IBS, and the remaining third being men.
The intensity of IBS symptoms vary among those impacted by the condition.
40 % of IBS patients report mild IBS, when 35 % express moderate symptoms while 25 % describe their condition as being severe and debilitating.
To this day, there is not one specific treatment that can cure IBS. We can talk about different methods or medications that can help you to alleviate the pain and bring you some relief.
In any case, always ask your doctor lots of questions and always feel free to express what is important to you.
It is shown that the better your relationships with your medical provider are, the better you’ll be in control of your symptoms.
Prevention plays an essential role in minimizing IBS symptoms and we are going to give you in this article the different options that are available for you to try.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that has been used for thousands of years to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases.
It is based on the belief that the Qi or Chi (the body’s vital energy) flows along meridians (channels) in the body and keeps one’s spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health in balance
In TCM, diseases are believed to be caused by the pathogenic factors of dampness and heat, either external (such as weather) or internal (such as internal injury from improper food for example).
In regards to IBS, TCM uses acupuncture (inserting thin needles) to remove dampness and heat from within the system by selecting certain acupuncture points along the meridians of the stomach and large intestine, most of which are located along the lateral side of the legs and arms.
Acupuncture has been proven effective for thousands of years to help with a wide range of diseases and to help restore balance in the body and the mind.
- CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy:
This therapy focuses on helping you change thoughts and behavior patterns that you have developed over the years in order to improve your IBS symptoms and the way you are apprehending this disease.
CBT is grounded in the belief that our thoughts (cognitions), feelings and behaviors are all related – more specifically, unhelpful thoughts negatively impact how we feel and these negative feelings can impact how we behave. By engaging in unhelpful or maladaptive behaviors, we reinforce our unhelpful thoughts.
So, how can CBT address this? Simply, by evaluating and modifying your thoughts and behaviors to make them more helpful, you can improve your emotional state as well as your physical state.
- Massage Therapy:
Massage therapy will help you to prevent IBS symptoms as it’s an effective way to relieve and to manage stress and anxiety.
Specific massage movements and massage on pressure points can be used to stimulate sluggish digestion in case of constipation, to relax abdominal muscles or to relieve bloating.
Massage on acupressure points can also help to stimulate the colon.
Recent studies have shown that regular abdominal massage reduced gastrointestinal symptoms with regard to constipation and abdominal pain and resulted in an increased number of bowel movements, although it may take up to two weeks to begin seeing some improvements.
Adapting your Diet:
When it comes to IBS, food plays a major role and the first thing to keep in mind is that each digestive system is unique and will react in its own specific way to food. It is often a matter of try-and-fail until you get the proper results.
To be able to point out the kind of food your gut is sensitive to, you can also go on an elimination diet. By cutting off some food, like caffeine-based drinks, insoluble fiber or nuts and chocolate, you will be able to point out which one causes troubles and which is safe to eat.
Twelve weeks without one of those elements will help you detect the food guilty for your troubles.
The best in our opinion, is to give a try to the Low-FODMAP diet.
Check with your doctor if you might benefit from a trial of the Low-FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) diet that proved very effective in helping reduce gases, abdominal pain and bloating.
To read more about this diet, you can also read this article (link to our article)
Working hand in hand with a nutritionist or a healthcare specialist is always a good idea, like this you’re making sure that you are still getting all the nutrients you need, no matter which diet you are on.
Last but not least, there are several medications that can be used to ease the pain and give you some relief:
- Smooth muscle relaxants: best for relieving or preventing intestinal cramping.
- Antidiarrheal medications: for diarrhea slow intestinal transit and reduce the frequency of bowel movements while improving the consistency of the stool.
- Laxatives: for constipation but to use with moderation.
- Antibiotics: these might help to alter the composition of your gut flora that might be responsible for the fermentation of poorly digested carbohydrates.