IBS is one of the most commonly diagnosed gastroenterological disorders. Characterized by both chronic and recurring symptoms, many people suffer because the medical community offers no cures and they are unaware of the alternative possibilities.
Common symptoms of IBS include gas and bloating, pain, nausea and vomiting, mucous in the stool, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, cramps, unpredictable bowels and fullness after eating very little.
Treating the Cause
Natural approaches to disease focus on treating the cause of the disorder, rather than merely trying to quell the symptoms. Holistic practitioners believe there are five possible causes of IBS:
- Food allergies
- Enzyme deficiency
- Bacterial Imbalance
- Irritation of the digestive tract wall
Herbal treatments can help with many possible causes of IBS.
- Slippery Elm – Prepared from slippery inner bark of a specific elm tree and has been used for indigestion and stomach ailments by Native Americans. It is believed to help constipation and diarrhea, coats the lining of the stomach and intestines and calms the digestive system. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can potentially decrease the inflammation and irritation behind many IBS symptoms. Slippery Elm can be found in capsule and powder form. Slippery Elm can affect the absorption of other herbal remedies or medications, and should not be taken within several hours of either. It is considered a reasonably safe and nutrition remedy and can be given to babies and debilitated persons.
- Aloe Vera – Commonly used herbal medicine for IBS. Aloe Vera juice can ease symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, cramps and flatulence.
- Peppermint – Taken in tea or capsule form, can ease gas and bloating. Peppermint also helps with indigestion and should be taken before eating, as it increases the production of gastric juices that aid in digestion.
- Ginger – comes as a tea, biscuit, root and crystallized form and is safe, even for pregnant women. Ginger has antiemetic and anti-nausea properties and also works as an anti-inflammatory, relaxing the muscles of the gut. It also relieves cramps and indigestion.
- Chamomile – taken as a tea and is most known as a relaxant and sleep aid. It has both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and relieves spasms, cramps and nausea.
- Fennel – is an anti-spasmodic that works as an antacid. Fennel can be taken as an herbal tea or individuals can chew the brown seeds to relieve symptoms such as gas, bloating and indigestion.
- Senna – comes as a tablet and liquid made from its pods, which can be ingested directly as well. It is an age-old home remedy for mild to moderate constipation and can be used in lieu of or in conjunction with prunes, grapes or grape juice and figs.
- Oregano – an effective herbal medicine for IBS due to anti-spasmodic properties that alleviate bloating, cramps and diarrhea. It can be taken in capsule or tea form.
Individuals who suffer from IBS have many natural treatment options that can be used in conjunction with one another or with allopathic medications. Herbal medicine for IBS should treat the cause and include Slippery Elm, Peppermint, Chamomile, Fennel, Senna and Oregano. Before starting any herbal treatment, consult your physician and a qualified herbalist.