NUTRITIONAL THERAPY FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME (IBS)

December 1, 2010 by  
Filed under FOR IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME

NUTRITIONAL TREATMENT

Studies have shown that many people with IBS have food sensitivities. Wind and other IBS symptoms diminish when these sensitivities are discovered and the offending foods are eliminated from the diet. Clinical experience suggests that wheat is one of the most common food sensitivities in people with IBS, and this is supported by some scientific evidence.

Some people with IBS-like symptoms may not in fact be able to digest the sugars lactose (found in milk) and fructose (found in high concentrations in fruit juice and dried fruit). The artificial sweetener sorbitol (found in diabetic and sugar-free products) can make diarrhea worse. Research shows that in a large majority of IBS patients with lactose malabsorption, a lactose-restricted diet can improve symptoms markedly both in the short term and the long term. Fructose- and sorbitolreduced diets in people with fructose malabsorption reduce gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, cramps, diarrhea and other IBS symptoms. People with IBS should consider the possibility that milk, fruit juice, dried fruit and products containing sorbitol might make their IBS symptoms worse.

  • Probiotics and Anti-Yeast Diet

An imbalance in the organisms in the gut (gut dysbiosis) is common in people with IBS. One study found reduced numbers of “friendly” bacteria such as lactobacilli and bifid bacteria and higher numbers of harmful bacteria in those with symptoms of IBS. Overgrowth of yeast organisms, such as Candida albicans, also seems very common in people with IBS. Reducing yeast in the gut is often effective in improving IBS symptoms. Probiotics appear to help people who have IBS. Some studies have shown improvements in symptoms of pain and flatulence when people with IBS took supplements.

  • Fiber may help in IBS, but it depends on the type of fiber. Most studies find that people with IBS will generally not benefit by adding wheat bran to their diets. In fact, some people feel even worse after taking wheat bran supplements. However, fiber from other sources, such as psyllium (20–30g per day of psyllium seed husk fiber), may alleviate symptoms.

HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT

The evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy in treating IBS is quite strong – two controlled studies in Germany published in the 1970s showed positive results.

However, these looked only at a single homeopathic medicine and, as with homeopathic treatment for many conditions, several medicines may be appropriate. To start with, two pills of all of the medicines discussed below should be taken twice daily in the 6C strength.

  • Argentum Nitricum may be indicated when anxiety is associated with IBS. The affected person has a lot of bloating and a craving for sweet food.
  • Phosphoric Acid may be indicated, particularly if a person’s symptoms have been triggered by emotional stresses, such as relationship difficulties or bereavement, and are associated with weak memory. Diarrhea is usually a prominent symptom.
  • Nux Vomica may be given if there is a frequent urge to pass faces, often without result, as well as irritability and poor sleep.

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