It is NHS Selfcare Week and to mark this I am sharing some of my top tips for IBS.
Although IBS has many symptoms that come and go, the most common symptom is a crampy, colicky pain or a continuous dull aching, located in the lower abdomen. The pain or ache is often relieved after passing gas or having a bowel movement. IBS is also associated with constipation and/or diarrhea. There is no specific identifiable cause (although there are various theories), no identifiable pathology and no single treatment.
IBS affects different people in different ways which in my clinic will affect the treatment that I prescribe for that individual. However, here are 5 general tips to help self manage mild IBS. If symptoms persist, you are likely to need more specific help.
Chew your food well. This is the first step of digestion where not only are you physically breaking the food down by chewing, but you are also mixing in the digestive enzymes contained in saliva starting chemical digestion. The smaller and more mixed the food, the better.
Digestive enzymes: It is possible that you are not producing enough of your own digestive enzymes to effectively break down food. Lactase is a common enzyme deficiency, although it isn’t the only one. To get around this, take a good combination enzyme containing protease, lipase and amylase.
Probiotics: We have all heard about the ‘good’ bacteria in our guts. These are hugely important for the function of our bowel, an imbalance of ‘good:bad’ bacteria can contribute to lower abdominal bloating and discomfort. A good supplement containing Acidophilus and bifidobacterium is a good place to start at replenishing the good and out-competing the bad.
Keep hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is essential to health and well being, but often something that people over look. If you have loose bowels, you’ll be loosing more water through your stools, and if you are constipated, it could be a sign of dehydration. Aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses or mugs of fluid per day (more if you have diarrhoea), ideally as water, herb teas or well diluted fruit juice. Herb teas such as chamomile, ginger, fennel, peppermint, cinnamon have the added benefit of being naturally caffeine free, helping digestion and can relax the digestive system and ease trapped wind.
Food intolerance: There is more and more evidence pointing to food-intolerance as a significant factor in IBS. Some of the most common allergens include dairy products, eggs, wheat, gluten, soy and yeast. If you have a suspicion that one of these is aggravating your symptom’s, avoid it for 6 weeks and see if that helps. If you are not confident on where to start, or you think it could be several things, you are best advised to have an IgG food intolerance test to pin-point the foods you are reacting to. It is really important that you maintain a well-balanced diet at all times. I offer IgG food intolerance testing, so do get in touch on 07736829755 if you would like to discuss having a test.
Hopefully these tips will help get your IBS under better control. If your symptoms persist, you are likely to need more focused help. Herbal Medicine has a lot to offer patients with IBS by helping to regulate bowels, assisting digestion, absorption and assimilation of food and reducing symptoms such as bloating, discomfort, nausea, excess acid,indigestion, wind etc. I offer a free 10 minute telephone consultation with no obligation to book, so if you would like more information about how I can help, please don't hesitate to call me on 07736829755