Health & Wellness Articles

Alternative Therapies for IBS

Relieve Symptoms Naturally

180SHARES
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes uncomfortable and painful symptoms like cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. In the U.S., this condition affects between 10% and 30% of the population. Traditional treatment for IBS usually involves medication, which is effective, but often causes undesirable side-effects. However, according the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are several complementary and alternative therapies that may be very effective at treating IBS.

Most of these remedies focus on stress management because there is evidence to suggest that IBS is related to an abnormal immune system. Because stress affects your immune system, stress management can be an effective treatment for IBS.

Here are some of the ways you can manage stress, and improve symptoms of IBS:
  • Meditation. In 2001, the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy outlined a study in which participants practiced Herbert Benson's (1975) Relaxation Response Meditation technique twice a day for 15 minutes. Researchers observed significant improvements in many IBS symptoms. Read more about easy relaxation techniques.
     
  • Psychotherapy. A 1983 edition of The Lancet (a UK medical journal), reported that psychotherapy caused significant improvement of IBS symptoms.
     
  • Regular exercise. The NIH recommends exercise as a way to improve IBS symptoms and enhance overall health. Read SparkPeople's guide to exercising with IBS to get started.
     
  • Acupuncture. The results of a small 1997 study published in Hepatogastroenterology showed a significant improvement both in general well-being and symptoms of bloating in participants undergoing acupuncture treatments.
     
  • Hypnotherapy. A randomized, controlled trial reported in the British Journal of General Practice in 2006, found that hypnotherapy improved symptoms and decreased the need for medication in people suffering from IBS. Continued ›
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180SHARES

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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • NNUOLA
    I have found that the root powder slippery elm has benefited several patients of mine. As a probiotic, it promotes growth of good bacteria and has high nutrient values. It is also described as a 'demulcent', soothing to wounds, aches and pains.

    I have prescribed slippery elm with a few other herbal medicines including peppermint oil - to success.

    ola
    blog.saintandsm
    ith.com - 5/30/2013 8:12:47 AM
  • I have IBS, but have significantly reduced my attacks and symptoms from food by being treated with Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (look it up). It is a combination of old world acupressure (no needles!) and a computer simulating your allergy (in my case corn, dairy, potatoes, peanuts, onion, and magnesium). I had gone 25 years without purposefully eating those items and now I can! Still get symptoms from stress and the allergy can come back (usually years later) but 1 treatment will fix it again. All 6 items took less than 10 treatments (15 mins each) to fix. - 5/23/2013 1:02:19 PM
  • C_DONE
    I can only comment to my experience, but since I quit eating wheat and minimize my other grain intake, I have been symptom free. I suggest reading Dr. William Davis's Wheat Belly book for more scientific info on getting IBS under control or eliminating it all together. By the way I have lost 30 pounds during my wheat-free new life! I am getting plenty of fiber through vegetable and fruit sources as recommended by most "experts" on IBS. - 6/27/2012 10:49:24 AM
  • Actually, allergies are often a trigger for asthma; asthma is not the same as an allergic reaction. Asthma is the reaction of the cells in the branches of the lungs secreting too much mucousa and the muscles contracting. - 5/28/2012 8:34:41 PM
  • Interesting. I note most of the alternative therapies have to do with reducing stress.

    Everyone should note, there has been extensive research into IBS therapy using hookworm.... yes, the hookworm parasite.

    Turns out many cases of IBS are actually allergic reactions. When people with diverticulae or IBS symptoms are given worm eggs, their symptoms completely resolve. The theory is, our bodies evolved in conjunction with the parasite, and since modern sanitation facilities have essentially removed hookworm from the population, people's immune system has nothing to react to and thus starts to attack the lining of the bowel (much like some asthma is an allergic reaction).

    The hookworm poses its own problems, so hookworm therapy is not a cure... but it is interesting. - 5/17/2011 10:45:21 PM
  • I struggled with IBS for more than a year. During that time I tried a self-hypnosis recording from the UK that helped a lot, called the IBS Stress Kit. It is a 100 day program that progresses through a series of 5 guided meditations.

    However, my symptoms disappeared as soon as I stopped taking a progestin-only birth control pill. If you are a female taking a POP and have IBS, it is worth going off it for a month or two to see if that's the cause for you as well, assuming of course there are other bc methods you can use! - 5/6/2011 2:11:29 PM
  • Eat Right For Your Type!
    My Sister-in-law was diagnosed with IBS when she was in her early 20's; she had the full colonoscopy and everything. Doctor gave her the typical diet of no red meat, many other limitations, and a prescription. This did her no good. She read "Eat Right For Your Type" and followed the outline for type O blood (her type). This blood type requires lots of red meat and other things that were on her "no" list. Right away she felt better, when I say right away I mean the first day- with NO medicine!! 10 years later she still uses this eating guideline and has NO problem at all!! - 5/6/2011 9:13:21 AM
  • People with IBS should check out going gluten free. IBS is one of the major symtoms of gluten sensitivity. Gluten intolance has over 250 different symtoms, IBS is just one of them. - 5/6/2011 8:04:38 AM
  • People with IBS should check out going gluten free. IBS is one of the major symtoms of gluten sensitivity. Gluten intolance has over 250 different symtoms, IBS is just one of them. - 5/6/2011 8:04:38 AM
  • JANEYR1
    As a homeopath I have tried food diaries etc but have never been able to work out what can suddenly cause a bout of IBS for me. I avoid gluten and lactose. I personally do not go anywhere without my homeopathic combination remedy to deal with the bloating and cramping. If I am at home if have found Massage with fennel is also very helpful. - 3/9/2011 4:35:33 PM
  • My doctor recommended fiber (naturally or in a OTC pill like FiberCon) to relieve some of the symptoms without medication. It seems to help. - 3/8/2011 9:20:33 AM
  • I have had small episodes of IBS since I was first diagnosed with it when I was little, a few years after my parents divorced. I believe everybody has there own triggers for the problem - I find dairy, and for some reason my beloved caffiene both tend make my stomach very bad. Which is why I would agree that meditation probably goes some way to soothing the symptoms, as mine can also be triggered by excitement, not just stress. Anything that causes my body to be in a relaxed state helps my general digestion. Other than that, I tend to stick to simple foods I know I can digest. Keeping a food diary such as the meal tracker is a great way of determining your problem foods. - 4/15/2010 9:49:03 AM
  • I really enjoyed this article. I have IBS for many years and refuse to stay on medications long term, but choose to manage via many of the methods talked about here. It's nice to see that the stuff I've found to work (especially the stress reduction) is showing up in an article. I'm so tired of people asking why i don't just 'take something' for it. Glad to know other people are interested in managing their symptoms without a pharmacy. - 3/29/2010 2:12:34 PM
  • I had IBS for years due to a stressful job. It got a lot better with a change in diet and then went away completely after changing jobs. - 7/13/2009 3:08:41 PM
  • HYPNOJOANIE
    I'm a consulting hypnotist and I have seen great results with hypnosis and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). I was diagnosed with IBS several years ago and have kept it in check with these two methods. - 2/20/2009 5:49:18 PM

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