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Treatment for IBS

Treatments for IBS

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a common condition impacting the digestive system. Symptoms generally consist of abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of the two. 

Research suggests several potential causes for IBS. A prominent theory is that IBS symptoms result from the body’s reaction to stress, indicating a disruption of the gut-brain axis. For this reason, treatment often focuses on stress relief along with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.

Stress & IBS

Stress and anxiety are not just emotions, but physiological processes. When the brain identifies a potential stressor, it excretes hormones that instruct the body on how to react. Cortisol and Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) are both implicated in IBS. As they are released in the brain, nerves connected to the rest of the body are activated to tell the heart to beat faster, the lungs to absorb more oxygen, and essentially prepare for running away or defending oneself from the threat. 

Not every stimulus will cause the release of these specific hormones, nor does one stimulus itself mean that the body will suddenly experience high stress. Rather, these hormones build up over time in the body to create a concentration, and high concentrations of these hormones cause physiological symptoms in the body, including those of IBS. 

Excessive production of cortisol, in particular, has been traced to IBS symptoms, as it activates glucocorticoid receptors in the digestive tract, leading to colon spasms and cramping. 

Over-The-Counter Treatments for IBS 

There are three types of IBS, IBS-D (diarrhea prominent), IBS-C (constipation prominent), and IBS-M (a combination of diarrhea and constipation). 

Depending on your type of IBS, your medical provider may prescribe a medical treatment to manage the symptoms. It’s important to be in regular contact with your doctor so they can measure your progress and make adjustments as needed. 

Best Treatment for IBS with Constipation 

For those with IBS-C or IBS-M, your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter laxatives to help with constipation and encourage bowel movements, as well as additional fiber supplements. 

Best Treatment for IBS with Diarrhea 

IBS-D patients may be prescribed an anti-diarrheal medication to slow down their bowel movements instead. 

Research also suggests that certain types of antidepressant medication can help target IBS symptoms. TCAs, or tricyclic antidepressants, are an older class of antidepressants that repress pain signals sent from the brain to the gut, leading to less abdominal pain. In addition, TCAs can be taken for a longer period than most IBS-specific medications, as well as slow the overall process of digestion and excretion. 

This makes it an excellent choice for IBS-D patients with moderate to severe IBS, as it decreases the frequency of their bowel movements while managing pain. However, patients should be aware of common side effects like dry mouth, nausea, and blurry vision.

For milder cases of IBS-D, SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) can be used to regulate the amount of serotonin in the body, slowing bowel movements, and reducing pain and diarrhea. This type of medication also has fewer side effects than TCAs.  

How can I heal my IBS naturally? 

Countless studies suggest CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) benefits IBS patients as much – if not more so – than IBS-specific medications. Therefore, CBT therapy can provide both physical and emotional relief from IBS symptoms. Mediation has also been found to improve the balance and health of the gut microbiome, promoting more anti-inflammatory bacteria which may improve digestion. 

Certain herbal compounds have been used for thousands of years for digestive symptoms associated with IBS due to their ability to naturally reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and regulate the digestive process.  

Curcumin 

Curcumin, extracted from turmeric root, has a wide range of health benefits due to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a polyphenol, which is an organic molecule with many hydroxyl groups on the outside, allowing it to react with factors in the gut to inhibit inflammatory response. 

The ancient remedy is a staple of Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda and has drawn much clinical interest in the last few decades due to its remarkable ability to target symptoms caused by inflammation. A 2022 meta-analysis reviewed 9 quality studies on curcumin for patients with IBS, concluding that curcumin showed a significant reduction in IBS severity, especially abdominal pain and life quality. 

Peppermint Oil: 

Peppermint oil exerts several properties that can benefit patients with IBS. 

Menthol, the ingredient that gives peppermint its fresh, minty taste, reduces inflammation in the body, and exerts anti-microbial properties which help regulate the gut microbiome. Menthol also decreases the frequency of spasms in the gastrointestinal tract, making it especially effective for IBS-D patients, who typically experience abnormally fast gut contractions. 

Ashwagandha 

Current research on IBS highlights the direct connection between chronic stress and IBS symptoms. This means that attenuating the impact of excessive cortisol on the gut may play an increasingly larger role in IBS management. Ashwagandha, an herbal adaptogen, is a promising solution as it not only reduces cortisol serum levels but also promotes calming GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) activity. 

GABA is an important factor for IBS patients, as they present with dysregulated GABAergic systems and lower levels of GABA neurons and receptors. This may be one of the reasons so many IBS patients struggle with chronic stress and anxiety. 

Evinature’s Tips & Recommendations 

Exercise, maintaining diet, and stress relief methods are all key components in treating IBS. It’s also important to ensure your treatment is tailored to fit your lifestyle and symptoms.

If you’re curious about trying herbal compounds for IBS, take our free online assessment for a tailored program that meets your personal needs.  

 

 

 

Summer-Pitocchelli-Schwartzman
Summer Pitocchelli-Schwartzman

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Summer Pitocchelli-Schwartzman

DISCLAIMER

This blog is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment, or medical advice. The content provided is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a physician or healthcare professional regarding any medical or health related diagnosis or treatment options. The claims made regarding specific products in this blog are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Summer-Pitocchelli-Schwartzman
Summer Pitocchelli-Schwartzman

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