Irritable Bowel Syndrome, commonly known as IBS, is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects approximately 1 in 5 Australians.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is known to cause signs and symptoms such as altered bowel movements (diarrhoea, constipation or swinging between both), pain and cramping, and bloating.
Did you know that bacteria imbalance is a common culprit?
People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) usually have lowered levels of beneficial bacteria, including bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, and high levels of ‘bad’ bacteria, including Enterobacteriaceae. Restoring the good bacteria can significantly improve quality of life, promote regular bowel motions, and reduce signs and symptoms, such as pain. There are specific strains of bacteria that have been clinically found to provide greater benefit to IBS patients. This means that choosing any probiotic off the shelf may not provide the same relief as a probiotic that has been specifically developed for IBS.
Many people know there is food reacting but are not sure what!
These are foods that cause an inflammatory response in the gut when they are consumed. It is hard to resolve any signs and symptoms when these foods are constantly being consumed and irritating the gut lining. As part of an effective treatment plan, we recommend identifying the reactive foods (common ones are gluten and FODMAPs, however, other foods can also be a problem), and removing them from the diet for a period of time while we work to repair the gut lining and balance the bacteria. Through testing we are able to identify food reactions, these are usually different to allergies.
We often hear about the connection between the gut and the brain and in IBS this is common.
There is a significant link between IBS and stress. Patients commonly report worsening of IBS symptoms when they are feeling stressed. Naturopathic treatment of IBS always addresses the nervous system, to reduce levels of stress and the effect that stress has on the body, and improve any underlying conditions such as anxiety and depression. Herbal medicine has been shown to be beneficial in the management of IBS. Herbs called adaptogens help to boost the body’s resilience to the effects of stress, and other herbs, such as anxiolytics, can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
The best approach to permanent correction?
It’s hard to know exactly what is going on in the gut, as signs and symptoms for IBS can be similar to other digestive problems, such as IBD. Testing is absolutely necessary to ensure a thorough assessment. A comprehensive stool assessment can reveal a number of things about the health of the gut, such as dysbiosis (altered gut flora), the presence of yeasts and parasites, inflammation, and leaky gut. With this information, our Naturopaths develop a targeted treatment plan that is effective and specific to the individual, ensuring the best health outcomes for the patient.