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Natural Treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome, characterized by abdominal pain and discomfort, is one of the most commonly diagnosed health problems. This article discusses a few natural remedies to get rid of this problem.
HolisticZine Staff
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) encompasses a group of health conditions, which causes pain and discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, stomach pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. It is estimated that one out of every five Americans suffers from the symptoms of this syndrome. Though IBS disturbs the normal day-to-day activities, it rarely causes long-term health complications.

The exact cause of this syndrome is not known. However, IBS is observed to be more common among the individuals who have sensitive intestine or compromised immune system. Majority of the people suffering from IBS tend to ignore the symptoms and do not opt for medical treatment. Diagnosis of IBS is done based on the symptoms, physical examination, and medical history of the patient. After a correct diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe medications in order to manage IBS. Many times, natural remedies and dietary as well as lifestyle changes can effectively control the symptoms of IBS.

Natural Treatment Guidelines

One of the most effective natural treatments for this syndrome is peppermint oil. This medicinal oil helps relieve abdominal cramps and bloating by hampering the circulation of calcium in the colon. Peppermint oil is also effective in reducing muscle contractions, thereby alleviating stomach pain. Children and pregnant women are not recommended to use peppermint oil without consulting a qualified physician.

Grapefruit seed extract can also be used to relieve bloating, abdominal discomfort, and constipation. According to the studies conducted on women with irritable bowel syndrome before and during menstrual period, evening primrose oil is found to be effective in alleviating the symptoms.

Dietary fibers help regulate the bowel movement. Therefore, the consumption of high-fiber diet including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables like spinach, carrot, etc., can help treat diarrhea and constipation. The amount of fiber intake should be increased gradually so as to prevent bloating and/or gas formation. One can take fiber supplements, if he/she has problems in digesting the dietary fiber.

Another effective natural remedy is to avoid problematic foods like spicy foods, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and chocolate. For individuals with gas problems, vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower should be limited in the diet. Since these foods are difficult to digest, they may aggravate the symptoms of the syndrome.

In case of lactose intolerant people (problem in digesting lactose), limiting dairy products in the diet may also alleviate the symptoms of the syndrome. While doing so, make sure to add other foods that are rich in proteins, calcium, and vitamins. One can replace milk with yogurt for easy digestion.

In addition, one should opt for healthy habits like drinking adequate amount of water and fruit juices, eating meals at regular intervals, and exercising regularly. It is to be noted that these natural treatments may take certain time for complete recovery. It is always advisable to consult and seek advice from a qualified physician before following any of these natural treatment options. For better results, you can opt for proper stress management and other lifestyle changes.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.