Traditional treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) includes adding more fiber to the diet, reduction of stress, and an anti-spasmotic drug. However, not everyone responds to traditional treatments. A study of 225 patients at the Royal London School of Medicine in London discovered that half of all IBS patients turn to complementary therapies. In contrast, only 26% of IBD patients seek out alternative therapies for relief from symptoms.
Patients taking herbs or using other alternative medicines should always tell their medical doctor about these therapies. Some herbs can interact with prescribed medication or over-the-counter remedies.
This supplement can help the healthy gut bacteria grow, while reducing the harmful bacteria. Be certain that there are 'live organisms' in the pills. Another source of healthy bacteria is yogurt (make sure the container says 'contains live cultures'). Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) may be added to acidophilus pills. FOS are carbohydrates that are not digestible by humans, but serve to help the beneficial bacteria to grow.
Chamomile is known to soothe the digestive tract as an anti-spasmotic. While no human studies have been performed on this supplement in relation to IBS, it has been proven to reduce irritation and cramping in animals. Chamomile can be taken as a tea, or as a capsule.
Evening Primrose Oil
Many women with IBS report that symptoms are worse during their menstrual period. Evening primrose oil may help to improve symptoms.
A food elimination diet can help discover 'trigger foods' that set off IBS symptoms. Keeping a food and symptom diary for a few weeks might point out problem foods. Try eliminating those foods and see what the results are. Common triggers are caffeine, high fat foods, sorbitol, and milk products.
This supplement can help reduce spasms in the colon. Peppermint oil can be taken in either capsules or tea. While more effective, capsules can cause anal irritation. Peppermint oil has even been approved for use by IBS patients in Germany.
Psyllium should be added to the diet gradually by beginning with a few teaspoons and slowly increasing the dosage over a week's time. Taken with at least eight glasses of water a day, psyllium can help with the symptoms of constipation or diarrhea. Discontinue use if either condition worsens.
As with any medical condition, it is beneficial to maintain a well balanced, low-fat diet and drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.