Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be a nightmare for many people as it begins its insidious hold on your digestive system and your life. There are so many possible causes, that the sufferer is hard pressed to find its source. And the mission, in itself, is the exasperating factor of the condition. There are so many possibilities: Food allergies, slow bowel motility, colon sensitivity, reaction to personal medications, enzyme deficiency and/or a precursor or side-effect of a more serious, inflammatory bowel disease. There are many things you can do to ease the situation but the best way to successfully deal with Irritable Bowel Syndrome is to embark on an in-depth personal detective-work campaign. And the discovery of the source is what will finally be the solution to the problem.
Diarrhea-often and moderate to severe
Constipation-often and moderate to severe
Diarrhea alternating with constipation
Pain-occurring in the lower bowel, often relieved by a bowel movement
Frequent bowel movements when bowel pain occurs
Excessive gas, bloating
The Road to discovery, as mentioned above, starts with a little journey of self-discovery which will involve a little detective work. This means it is best for the IBS sufferer to keep either a mental or written log of what is eaten, looking out for triggers. You often have to work backwards. Once an episode starts, count backward from when you started to feel ill to what was eaten anywhere from 6-8 hours ago. (This is an approximate time for digestion to take place.) Usually this will expose the culprit.
Common food allergies and intolerances are gluten,wheat, corn, dairy, eggs, peanuts, seafood, sulphites, MSG and other additives. Another way to target the source or sources of the problem is by elimination. Eliminate the suspected food or additive and then slowly introduce it. It shouldn’t take long for it to be noticeable. Also, take a look at any meds or other pills (even natural supplements)and take note of when you started the prescription or supplement, noting if taking it altered your wellness in any way.
Natural supplements that help with the discomfort are available at your local natural health store. They can assist you in dealing with pain, etc, while you try to discern the source of the problem. Also, speaking with your doctor or naturopath will inform you of the many tests available that will help you pinpoint the substance/substances that are the source of the problem.
Probiotics are the first choice, as they will add good bacteria to a tummy problem that is definitely building superfluous bad bacteria. And since all they are doing is growing your beneficial intestinal flora to fight the bad,there is no risk in taking several. Buying a probiotic that contains a broad spectrum of bacteria strains, offers a greater opportunity for the product to provide the particular strain you require.
Digestive enzymes are another possibility. You may not be producing enough enzymes to break down your food properly. Purchasing a quality enzyme and taking one with larger meals, is a good way to see if it is helping. It is recommended to take a mild dose at first as enzymes are very active and caution is always wise. Also, noteworthy is the variety of enzymes available. There are some that target dairy, gluten, fats, carbs and proteins. If you’re not sure yet which food source is effecting your digestion, stick with a general enzyme that will cover all the bases. It makes sense, anyways, to take a general enzyme, as often, more than one food group can be the problem.
Soothing herbs and supplements can help with the inflammation and discomfort of IBS. Ginger, mint, fennel, chamomile and licorice root supplements are all natural sources that will help with inflammation, nausea, gas, etc. Many people either take these herbs as a supplement or a tea, or even in a chew or candy form after a meal. But these are temporary fixes. Your main concern is to find the sources of the disorder and avoid them. But while you are doing your very important detective work, taking a combination of several probiotics and enzymes will ease the pain and could kickstart the healing process.