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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Peristalsis is a process whereby muscular movements of the digestive tract and later the intestines, propel food down into and through the digestive tract by means of rhythmic contractions of the intestinal muscles and it is an involuntary action of the human body. The contractions are mostly rhythmic and coordinated, however they may become arrhythmic and lose their concerted action during a disorder medically known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the disorder causes the uncontrolled and spasmodic movements of the muscles leading to the halting and slowing of the movement of food. The development of either diarrhea or constipation and incidences of acute pain in the abdomen result as a consequence of these spasmodic actions of the muscles as the food in the intestines may speed up too quickly or slow down and even stop. The term “spastic colon” was often used before the condition was renamed finally as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS in short.

Many causes and underlying reasons for incidences of IBS have been proposed by a variety of different researchers over the years, however, the real reasons behind the disease remains unknown, and these proposals still have to be backed by solid evidences. Some of these causes of IBS proposed have included an infection from a bacterial, a viral, or other parasitic pathogens; this is the infection theory or proposal. Others have suggested that the abuse of certain antibiotics may be linked to the disorder. Another proposal suggests lactose intolerance as the cause of the disease. While still others contend that IBS could be caused by an adverse reactions to certain food items, including grains such as wheat or vegetables like broccoli consumed by the person. The presence of very smooth muscular tissue in the gastrointestinal region as well as in the other parts of the body of IBS affected individuals has been suggested by several experts and they link this to the reason for the syndrome. An inflammation or inflammatory reaction in the lining of the intestines is the probable cause of the IBS, suggest other scientist who have researched the disorder. Some of these proposals may be true while others may be off target, however, there still remains a particular phenomenon in all cases of IBS, and the disorder is increase and intensified by stress. That is psychological states can seriously aggravate the symptoms of the disease and this has been proven to underlie all cases of IBS. Doctors must first discount certain disorders like diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease to identify IBS as the disorder afflicting an individual. This is because problems with bowel functions are hard to diagnose as such and a definite cause for any of them is not very easy to point out in a patient.

Supplements and herbs

The symptoms and effects induced in a person by IBS can be effectively countered through the use of many types of natural supplements; these supplements can help in the control and reduction of the symptoms. The supplements given here have no known side effects and can be used along with conventional prescription medications and in combinations with other supplements. The alleviation of many of the symptoms of IBS and particularly the calming and soothing of the intestinal spasms can be achieved through the use of supplemental enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules, these capsules are directly dissolved and released only in the affected intestinal region and do not break up in the stomach thus they are able to reach the target region. Utilizing the enteric coated peppermint oil capsules a reduction in the abdominal pain caused by IBS was observed in 79% of patients and the pain was altogether eliminated or disappeared in 56% of patients, in a study conducted on 110 patients afflicted with IBS.

In several patients suffering from IBS the use of psyllium, which is a type of dietary fiber, reduces the symptoms of IBS, this result is not true for all the patients however. Psyllium as a supplement finds use in a majority of cases, with other disorders such as in alleviating constipation and because of its ability to absorb water in the intestine it is made effectively used in the treatment of diarrhea in a person. The absorbed water in psyllium can add bulk to the stool; this may ease some of the spasmodic concentration of the intestine. When psyllium is to be used as a supplement during the occurrence of any disorder, one must make sure to drink or consume at least eight glasses of water a day during the supplemental period. The use of this supplement must be stopped at once, if the symptoms of the disorder increase or are aggravated in any way whatsoever.

The prevention of a population spurt of pathogenic bacteria in the intestines is carried out by the presence in large numbers of bacterial species such as Acidophilus, which is a type of "good" bacteria and a normal and constant resident of the human intestine, supplements of this bacteria may also be helpful in dealing with the symptoms of IBS. The friendly bacteria in the intestines can be encouraged to grow and including supplements of FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) in supplements of acidophilus can generate population spurts of the bacteria. This supplement can also be taken separately and is available in this form as well, FOS is made up of indigestible carbohydrates on which the bacteria can feed and multiply.

Homeopathy

In persons affected with milder symptoms of IBS these homeopathic remedies given here will go a great length in providing relief and in alleviating the condition. The best method of treatment however is the alleviation and homeopathic treatment of the condition through a holistic approach via a constitutional prescription given by an experienced homeopathic professional using these remedies.

  • Argentum nit.
    Argentum nit. is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of patients suffering from IBS in which the symptoms of the disorder can include the presence of anxiety and nervousness, aside from great psychological distress. Physical symptoms of the illness can also include problems such as flatulence and nausea and the output of a greenish diarrhea suddenly and intensely, abdominal bloating and rumbling sounds in the stomach are quite common. The patient may suffer from the bout of abrupt, intense and painful diarrhea as soon he or she has consumed some water. Further health problems can be engendered in the individual if the person consumes a lot of salty and sweet foods, especially since the person often craves this kind of food. Patients suffer from other psychological symptoms and can become quite impulsive emotionally; they are also very expressive and can be overcome by claustrophobic feelings. Other physical problems include problems with the blood sugar levels. The presence of one or more of these symptoms calls for the immediate use of Argentum nit. as a homeopathic remedy in the treatment of this condition.
  • Colocynthis
    Colocynthis is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of individuals in which the symptoms of the disorder can include symptoms such as the appearance of cutting pains and cramping in the region of the abdomen. The person may feel a need to bend over making or to lie down and have the abdominal area pressed for relief from the pain and other symptoms. The area of the pubic bone may also be affected by cramps as another possible symptom during the disorder. After the person has eaten fruits or after drinking water, or just after he or she passes diarrhea, the painful sensations can increase in intensity. Psychological states play a very big role in the intensification of the symptoms and the discomfort and painful sensations can be greatly aggravated by emotions, this is particularly when the patient suffers from some sort of indignation or if anger is present, and especially so if it is suppressed. Other physical symptoms such as painful sensations in the legs, problems with the gall bladder and back pain are also present as additional disorders along with IBS. The presence of one or more of these symptoms calls for the immediate use of Colocynthis as a homeopathic remedy in the treatment of IBS in the patient.
  • Dioscorea
  • Lilium tigrinum
    Lilium tigrinum is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of IBS afflicted patients in which the symptoms of the disorder include a frequent and unproductive attempt throughout the day to move the bowels and the appearance of diarrhea suddenly the morning after. Physical symptoms may also include a sensation of a lump that has formed in the rectum, which can worsen when the person is upright and standing, this symptom is fairly typical in all patients afflicted with IBS. The other complication may be the development of hemorrhoids or piles causing a great deal of discomfort and pain to the individual. The region of the chest may also be affected by constricting feelings. Psychological states in such individuals may undergo a change and irritability and rage are commonly observed, other signs such as the display of strong emotions and excitement are also common.
  • Lycopodium
    Lycopodium is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of individuals suffering from IBS in which the symptoms of the disorder include the development of a chronic digestive problem and other types of bowel disorders. Flatulence is common and a lot of gas is produced in the stomach, concurrent to this physical symptoms can include the presence of abdominal bloating and a sudden feeling of fullness or satiation during the early part of consuming a meal. The condition of the symptoms may be alleviated to some extent if the abdominal region of the person is massaged or pressed gently, other physical problems commonly include the development of heartburn and stomach pain. The condition of the person is aggravated and commonly worsens between 4:00 and 8:00 P.M. in the evenings. However, the appetite of the patient actually improves and the patient may even get up at night to have snacks despite the fact that numerous digestive disorders afflict him on all sides, the person is positively ravenous and hungry at all times. Psychological symptoms include a loss of self-confidence, the person always has a worried look on his or her face, and a tremendous craving from food items like sweets develops. In addition the person may prefer warm drinks or fluids. The presence of one or more of these symptoms calls for the immediate use of Lycopodium as a homeopathic remedy in the treatment of the disorder.
  • Natrum carb.
    Natrum carb. is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of individuals suffering from IBS in which the symptoms of the disorder can include an inability to assimilate or digest food properly leading the person having to stay on a restricted diet, such patients also tend to be very mild individuals. If food items are eaten, especially the more disagreeable ones, problems such as indigestion and heartburn often set in, the intestine can also be given to ulcers in such cases. Drinking milk or consuming other dairy products can lead to the production of excess gas in the stomach, leading to diarrhea which can be acute and spurt out suddenly when passing stool, the patient in general is very intolerant to milk and milk products. Other symptoms include the sudden cravings for sweets and vegetables like potatoes, in some case milk may also be craved, but the patient has usually learnt his lesson by consuming it once. Psychologically the person may become aloof and wants to be alone, especially because he or she feels weak and sensitivity to things increases, on the other hand at least in front of others, the person puts on an appearance of cheerfulness and is very considerate to people. The presence of one or more of these symptoms calls for the immediate use of Natrum carb. as a homeopathic remedy in the treatment of the disorder.
  • Nux vomica
    Nux vomica is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of patients with IBS in which the symptoms include the presence of constrictions in the stomach along with acute abdominal pains; other symptoms can include bowel problems along with psychological tension. The person is also affected by chills and is psychologically irritable most of the time. The onset of cramps and production of excess gas in the stomach are other problems, which are typical symptoms, and the person can also be affected with a lot of soreness in the abdominal muscles. The patient enjoys some alleviation from the pain of the symptoms through the application of firm pressure on the abdominal region. There is also an urge to move the bowels especially because, the person may feel constipated a lot, however only very small amounts of stool or excreta actually comes out during any motion. Another part of the person affected is the rectum; a persistent sensation of uneasiness is often present in the region of the rectum of such individuals. The painful sensations and symptoms can abate for some time, especially after passing stool during the diarrhea. Other typical signs in such persons are a craving for coffee, tobacco and other stimulants including alcohol; the person also craves spicy food items. These cravings if satisfied often worsen or aggravate the condition. The presence of one or more of these symptoms calls for the immediate use of Nux vomica as a homeopathic remedy in the treatment of the disorder.
  • Podophyllum
    Podophyllum is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of individuals suffering from IBS in which the symptoms of the disorder can include abdominal cramps and pain. Other symptoms are the production of gurgling sounds in the abdomen, a sensation of sinking or empty feelings are also registered in the abdominal region. These symptoms are followed by the production of a watery, often foul smelling diarrhea, which can alternate with constipation. The stool produced is a pasty yellow stool with a lot of mucus. Physically the person feels weak and might faint or go into an unconscious state which on waking may lead to a headache. In general the symptoms are typically aggravated in the mornings. The discomfort and the pain in the abdomen especially in the right side of the stomach can be relived through rubbing actions. Other typical physical signs are the presence of stiffness in the muscles and the joints of the affected person. The presence of one or more of these symptoms calls for the use of Podophyllum as a homeopathic remedy in the treatment of the disorder.
  • Sulphur
    Sulphur is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of individuals suffering from IBS in which the symptoms of the disorder include a sudden attack of diarrhea which can wake a person in the early mornings with an urge to pass stool, this occurs around 5 a.m. each morning and can cause a great deal of inconvenience to the person. The person is also affected with this form of attack of diarrhea many times each day. The gas passed by the person is foul smelling and pervasive and is the result of constipation which also affects the person from time to time. Other symptoms typically experienced by the individual include an itching and burning sensation around the rectum, the area may become reddened and an irritation often sets in, the rectal region can also ooze liquid all the time which can cause a lot of discomfort. The affected individual in addition cannot remain standing too long, especially in a single position, the person also suffers from back pain and the posture of the individual is affected. The presence of one or more of these symptoms calls for the immediate use of Sulphur as a homeopathic remedy in the treatment of the disorder.

Additional things you may do

Your diet should include a variety of whole grains, and beans along with fruits and vegetables, all of which are high in fiber and will ease some of the symptoms. However, in order to reduce the production of gas and consequent abdominal bloating, these high fiber foods must be let into the diet in a slow and phased manner. Psyllium is a good supplement for a lot of abdominal and stomach problems, however by including a lot of these high fiber foods in the daily diet, the need for this supplement will not be felt. Meals should preferably be frequent with smaller servings to allay hunger as well as not to strain the stomach. You should avoid or reduce the intake of fatty food items and stimulants like caffeine and alcohol. To check if any of the foods that you consume actually contribute to the rise of symptoms in the body, leave out one food item at a time from the diet and add them slowly back, this exercise will give you an idea of the sort of food item that is causing you any symptoms; this exercise should preferably be done over several weeks if possible for optimal results. At all events, reduce the levels of stress. To reduce anxiety and stress, meditation, biofeedback and other alternative techniques can be very effective. Stress reduction can also be achieved through regular and daily exercises, carried out for at least twenty minutes each day; the movements of the bowel are also normalized if such a regimen is followed.

Usual dosage

  • Psyllium, one to three tbsp of psyllium powder dissolved in juice or water daily. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Peppermint oil, one or two capsules (enteric-coated capsules with 0.2 ml of peppermint oil each) thrice daily between food.
  • FOS, 2,000 mg daily. For IBS should be taken in combination with acidophilus.
  • Acidophilus, one pill of acidophilus daily (should be taken on an empty stomach).

Other beneficial herbs

Comments

From Amol - Oct-30-2012
I suffered like hell due to irritable bowel syndrome. After reading many posts I feel that I am not alone suffering form this hell. It's difficult to go on long tours. I tried argentum nitricum-1M but it didn't help. I used to get bloated and passed lot of flatus due to it. Then finally I chose lycopodium and within 5 days I am much better. Thanks to Dr Hahnemann. God bless him.
From Vaibhav - 2010
Exercising or involving yourself in any outdoor sport can help a lot.
From Kelli - 2010
A low fat vegan diet high in soluble fiber, drinking really strong ginger fennel mint tea, and yoga can help.
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