Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a fancy word for a list of ailments otherwise not explained.

Very stressed man
Stress is the most significant trigger for irritable bowel syndrome.

Most Common GI Disorder

IBS is characterized by recurrent irritation and inflammation of the large intestine, resulting in abdominal bloating and pain that is relieved by bowel movements. A functional disorder with no evidence of accompanying structural defect in the intestines, IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder of the modern day, and it leaves doctors puzzled. It tends to run in families, as family members typically share eating patterns / habits and may also share behavioural patterns (i.e. poor stress response).

Numerous Factors May Alter the Health of Your Digestive System

The cause of this digestive problem is of multiple sources. Altered bowel flora (overgrowth of bad bacteria and fungi) and insufficient digestivefunctions create an environment in the gut that leads to irritation and very unpleasant symptoms.

Stress Can Affect Digestion

Stress is the most significant trigger and it seems to be part of the aetiology, as stress hormones disrupt the digestive system.

Modern Day Diet Promotes Unhealthy Environment in Your Gut

Typical meat and potatoes meal that has almost no fibre.
A diet with rancid heated oils and very little unhealthy for your gut.
Photo by Monika Henkel

A diet based on processed foods, with little consumption of fresh vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds, and whole grains is low in factors that promote gut health – fibre, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids – and high in damaging factors – meat, saturated fat, trans fats (also called partially hydrogenated oils), rancid and over heated oils, sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Contributor: Antibiotics, Laxatives, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Oral Contraceptives

Drug therapy is a huge contributor. In addition to antibiotics, which wipe out friendly microflora as well as their intended targets, thus leaving the gut wide open to colonization by pathogenic (bad) organisms; numerous commonly used drugs irritate the intestinal lining, e.g., laxatives, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, even oral contraceptive pills interfere with normal bowel flora.

Alcohol and Nicotine Can be Distruptors

Excess alcohol consumption also alters bowel flora and increases gut permeability to toxins and it plays part in the development of food allergies. In addition, alcohol increases the adrenal gland’s secretion of stress hormones, which – as I mentioned above, disrupt digestive secretions.

Nicotine also has the same stimulating and damaging effect.


IBS is one of the diseases that can be very successfully treated by nutritional therapy. The key is identifying and eliminating the underlying factors and re-harmonising the digestive system, while improving the stress response of the patient.

In minor cases, improvements can be seen within the first few days of treatment. In moderate to severe cases of IBS, most patients will experience significant improvements within 4–6 weeks. Long standing digestive disorders can lead to food allergies, causing the well known symptoms – in which case testing, complete elimination of allergens and gut healing procedures are essential.

A naturopathic treatment always starts with a thorough investigation to find the root of the problem, whatever the health concern may be. We are all very individual: as there are no two snowflakes alike, neither are any two human bodies. Once we found the cause, with a tailor made menu plan and herbal supplement regime your body can be gently ushered back to health – without side effects.

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