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Herbal Medicines For Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is also known as irritable or spastic colon, and there is no real understanding of why it exists, although it seems to occur when the muscles that line the walls of the intestines and the colon, go into spasm. The muscles contract for no apparent reason, causing pain and diarrhea alternating with constipation. Other symptoms include a cramping pain in the abdomen, swelling, general malaise and lethargy, back pain, and often, excessive wind. Symptoms can subside and even disappear for long periods of time, but many sufferers continue to experience symptoms recurrently throughout their lives. It is a chronic, irritating, and uncomfortable condition, but it is not life-threatening and the symptoms can be reduced in many cases by proper treatment.


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Endoscopy: The doctor inserts a long thin tube into your bowel. The tube has a camera in it, and other mechanical devices, so the doctor can look at the inside of the bowel to check for problems. What is the treatment? Is there a Cure?

Physical exam Blood tests X ray of the bowel: This x-ray test is called a barium enema or lower GI (gastrointestinal) series. Barium is a thick liquid that makes the bowel show up better on the x ray. Before taking the x ray, the doctor will put barium into your bowel through the anus (a barium enema).

Consult a qualified practitioner/therapist for: Counseling and Hypnotherapy Both have been shown to be very effective in reducing the symptoms. Hypnotherapy has a particularly good record.

Massage, Relaxation Techniques (Including Yoga, Meditation, and Biofeedback) All these therapies are beneficial. Herbal Medicine A soothing tea of camomile, peppermint, and fennel is recommended. Herbalists may prescribe cramp bark, golden seal, wild yam, and licorice.

These may be specific to your own unique form of the condition and may include general treatments such as laxatives if you have constipation and anti-diarrheals if you suffer from diarrhoea. You may also be given specific drugs to reduce the spasms in your bowel that is responsible for much of your discomfort.

You should consult your doctor if you believe you have the disease and they will discuss the treatment options with you. They will usually discuss your diet and whether you can make any changes in order to improve the condition, such as increasing the fibre in your diet, before going on to specific treatments.

Sadly there is no cure (as its not classed as a disease) but there are three methods used to alleviate the symptoms. These are: (in order of importance)

Eat natural yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, or any other of the cultured milk products that are not fatty. Eat smaller portions, and more times per day, chewing your food at least 25 chews before swallowing.

Stress and IBS Daniel believes that his symptoms are related to his emotions and stress: 'I thought that when I was stuck on the toilet, experiencing the most severe cramps, thinking I was about to pass out from the pain, feeling like I was about to throw up, I was the only one. I'm still trying to work it out but I believe it has a lot to do with my psychological state. I say this because although I don't get too stressed out at any one moment, I do have general worries about money and life. I tend to find when I'm not worrying about these things I don't get the pain as much, if at all. It's easier said than done of course, I can't just stop worrying about money or my future, but being aware of these things seems to help - being optimistic and knowing that everything is only temporary. I have been taking Colpermin (peppermint capsules) as a preventative which often helps and for a while I took painkillers which I think helped.'

If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you will know how difficult it is to treat. Doctors can be dismissive of IBS symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation and bloating, and when treatment is offered it may only help for a short while before the distressing symptoms return.

Mina also found that dietary change helped control her symptoms, alongside traditional medication: 'I've made a number of changes to my diet. I've eliminated milk and mostly any dairy, fried foods, sugar for the most part, pop, alcohol, potato chips, spicy food, rice, pasta and bread. Most recently I'm eliminating flour. But my best friend for the last couple of years has been Imodium Quick Dissolve tablets. I don't ever leave home without them. I just have to make sure I don't overdo it. If I ever become immune to the wonder drug I am gonna be a real mess!'

Let's first of all discuss the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Every individual is different and may have different symptoms but the most common symptoms are abdominal pains, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, uncomfortable bowel movements, and it may also cause vomiting as well. In all it's not a nice condition because your bowel seems particularly over-sensitive and will often force you to make frequent visits to the toilet whilst causing a lot of discomfort at the same time.

Aromatherapy

Essential oils of peppermint or sassafras help relaxation and reduce painful spasms.

Acupuncture This can be beneficial in helping to relieve IBS. Read out for herbal medicines. Check out herbal supplements and skin disorders

As regards the cause of IBS, no-one really knows but a common theory is that it is largely brought on by stress. Some experts also believe it is a result of an abnormality in the immune system. Whatever the cause the good news is that IBS can be effectively treated, even though there is not one outright cure.

??? Diarrhea ??? Feeling like you still need to have a bowel movement after you've already had one ??? Feeling a strong urge to have a bowel movement

Flaxseed Watching your diet is sometimes not enough to completely control the symptoms, and natural or herbal supplements can help, as Marion discovered: 'After about six months of a horrendously restrictive diet (ultra low-fat vegan with no raw veggies or fruit except banana) and a lot of Metamucil, I managed to get it sort of under control. But if I deviated from the diet, the chronic diarrhea would come back. Someone I met told me that she had helped her IBS by taking a tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseed with a glass of water or juice every morning. I thought it was another crackpot cure, but eventually I decided to try it. She had told me that pre-ground flaxseed didn't work because flax seed starts to oxidize as soon as you grind it and that whole flax seeds are no good either, because they cannot be digested properly. After years of IBS, in about two weeks it just went away. I cannot believe that I now have perfectly normal, regular bowel movements.'

All the self-help tips in this article have come from IBS sufferers who have found a way to control their irritable bowels. Before trying any form of self-help, please make sure that you have your doctor's approval, and do check that anything you try will not interfere with any medication you are taking.

Looking at your diet Laura describes how a close examination of her diet helped her IBS: 'I was placed on every kind of medication, and sometimes they worked in the short term, sometimes they didn't work at all. The doctor finally suggested trying to alter my diet in cycles, and we discovered that eating meat was my problem. I became a vegetarian and no longer have constant problems. Sometimes I even go years without any pain at all. It's worth all the effort you put into it when you finally feel better.'

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS for short, is a particularly unpleasant condition caused by a number of symptoms affecting the area around the bowel, gut or intestines. It is a condition that cannot be completely cured, but it can be effectively treated and kept at bay to a large extent.

diet changes medicine stress relief For diet change, see the rules below. For medicines, you must speak to your doctor. There are several, but the most important may be for control of acute diarrhea. Stress does not cause IBS, but may trigger it (as does the wrong foods) so you must learn stress management (see our article on stress management.

Different food combinations can cause IBS symptoms in different individuals: keep a detailed record of everything you eat and drink, and of all bowel movements and their consistency.

 
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Kim, who also suffers from bad diarrhea, says: 'I tried taking digestive enzymes with acidophilus and found significant relief within three days. I am not afraid to eat now, but find that I still cannot eat very much refined sugar or high fibre vegetables. I have also added a cup or two per day of peppermint and chamomile tea. When I do have an episode it occurs late in the day and by the next morning I am feeling back to normal.'

??? Pain and cramping ??? Occasional mucus in the stools. What are the examinations the doctor needs to do to confirm the diagnosis?

Soluble versus insoluble fiber Some nutritionists believe that IBS sufferers' intestines react differently to soluble and insoluble fiber, and this has been Stu's experience: 'After trying all kinds of drugs and healthy eating, my pains were still there. I found by accident that it wasn't so much what I ate but whether I ate it on a full stomach or not. My failsafe is pasta on an empty stomach, I get no reaction - it is soluble fibre that settles the colon apparently. I quickly searched on the internet for recipes high in soluble fibre and I have improved. Most significantly though I am on no medication and this puts me in control of the IBS, not the other way around. I think this is important as stress certainly can trigger the symptoms off. I don't avoid insoluble fibre as it is essential for the body, but I recommend that you eat it on a full stomach.'

Test which spices are ok for you. Ginger in small amounts can be really helpful. Hot chili and other similar spices are person specific. You must test yourself, and if the reaction is negative, avoid them from then on.

Sufferers often find that they have to deal with the symptoms themselves, through self-help methods and supplements, rather than by using conventional medicines. However, this does not mean that there is no hope of improvement. By sharing their experiences, sufferers can learn a lot about what really helps to ease IBS.

Fatty foods like French fries , milk products like cheese or ice cream (except yogurt and parmesan cheese), chocolate, alcohol, caffeine (found in coffee and some sodas), carbonated drinks like soda.

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not really a true disease; it is classified as a functional disorder. Whatever it is classified as, if you have it, you suffer, and feel and are ill.

Calcium tablets Linda, who suffers from severe diarrhea, says: 'What has helped me for more than two years is calcium carbonate, an over-the-counter supplement. I take three tablets a day, one at each meal. The most success has come from using any formula of calcium supplement that is like Caltrate 600 Plus with vitamin D and minerals. The only side effect is at the beginning of taking the calcium you may have some gas or indigestion, but this usually goes away after taking a regular dose for a few days.'

If you have it, we will outline what you should and should not eat here. The usual symptoms are: ??? Bloating and gas ??? Constipation and / or

Remember that IBS is not going to kill you, but you must do your best to eliminate the symptoms. Proper rest, exercise and good mental attitude also can assure your return to a normal bowel.

A final word Lastly, please do make sure that you have been officially diagnosed with IBS and had your symptoms fully investigated before trying any self-help methods. As Joe found out, bowel symptoms can be due something other than IBS: 'I was diagnosed with IBS, but I went to get a second opinion. They did an ultrasound followed by a barium follow-through which showed major inflammation and blockage of my small intestine. The final diagnosis is Crohn's disease. It's a pity they didn't catch it before I was seriously ill, instead of fobbing me off with excuses of 'It's IBS, there's no cure so live with it!''

Other possible treatment options include aloe vera which will help boost your immune system, and therefore may help to ease the symptoms, and anti-depressants if the disease is said to be a result of stress. Another possible treatment is psychotherapy and hypnotherapy which has been known to help treat the disease in some instances.

Orthodox medical treatment has been largely unsuccessful in the treatment of IBS. Antispasmodic drugs are often recommended but in many cases they are ineffective. The best way of controlling the condition is by reducing and learning to cope with stress, and by eating a diet that does not exacerbate the condition.

Treatment Diet and Nutrition Research shows that eating more fiber, in the form of oats, dried beans, peas, fresh fruit and vegetables, can greatly reduce the symptoms of IBS, but improvement may take months rather than weeks. Also, bear in mind that wheat bran, often prescribed as the standard treatment for IBS, can actually make the condition worse for some sufferers. Eat plenty of natural, unsweetened live yogurt or take daily supplements of Lactobacillus acidophilus to boost the levels of healthy bacteria in the digestive system.

Fiber, water and yoga Pam, who struggles with constipation, has developed a combination of things which work for her: 'I drink Metamucil (psyllium fibre) every day and try to relax, pray or meditate, even do a little yoga. The more I make myself relax and take time to de-stress the better I can manage my problem. I know time for yourself is very hard to come by sometimes but I have to if I'm going to manage this. I try to drink at least three bottles of water a day. This is also hard sometimes but I have to take care of me the best I can. I also take a mild anti-depressant. This has helped a bunch in my stress department and in turn has helped my IBS.'

As to diet, see these important rules below to control your symptoms and avoid the following food if you can, as they are known triggers to the symptoms of IBS:

Also do the following Drink no less than 8 glasses of water daily Eat foods rich in fiber. Fiber can be helpful because it improves how the intestines work, whether you have diarrhea, constipation or both.

Fiber also may reduce bloating, pain and other symptoms of IBS. It does this by bulking the stools and making them softer. Foods rich in fiber are: bran, carrots, apple, whole grain bread, and natural cereals (such as rice).

It is estimated that about 30 percent of people in the West has suffered from IBS at some stage, and 13 percent of those do so regularly. IBS appears to be brought on and exacerbated by anxiety, stress, and nervous problems. Symptoms often appear worse during menstruation. Other causal factors include food intolerance.

If you suffer from constipation rather than diarrhea, you could try magnesium supplements instead, as these can have a slight laxative effect. Digestive enzymes and probiotics

MORE FREE INFO

On all aspects of health and more on nutrition visit our website for a huge resource of articles, features and downloads and at http://www.net-planet.org/index.html

Overall your treatment options for irritable bowel syndrome will ultimately depend on your own specific form of the condition, and your doctor will generally advise you on the best course of action. The important point to remember is that although there is no outright cure, there are a number of different ways you can help fight the condition so you can live a relatively normal life free of any discomfort.






About the author:
Sophie Lee has had IBS for 14 years. She runs the IBS Tales
website at http://www.ibstales.com where you can read hundreds
of stories and tips from IBS sufferers.


 
 
     
 
 





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