A holistic approach to IBS
If you’re experiencing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome you’ll know it can make your life miserable.
IBS can include many symptoms but the top four are gas, bloating, discomfort and abnormal bowel movements.
The label IBS is often given when other conditions have been ruled out through testing.
Unfortunately, there’s rarely a simple solution and treatment is often focused on managing the symptoms, usually with a restricted diet or with medication.
Homeopathy offers relief of symptoms through a holistic approach.
Key symptoms of IBS
Abdominal cramping and pain are a key indicator for IBS.
Bowel movements may be loose, sluggish, or alternate between the two.
Gas and bloating can be very distressing, even when it is painless.
Some studies suggest that IBS may affect 5-10% of the population.
My experience suggests that this is a conservative figure.
Most women who come to my homeopathy clinic have some sort of digestive issue, along with a list of symptoms that they’re struggling with.
Possible causes of IBS
We don’t yet fully understand all the causes of IBS.
Research indicates that genetic background, environment and lifestyle are contributory factors but there is rarely just a single cause.
Some cases of IBS can be traced back to gastro-intestinal infections such as gastritis or food poisoning.
Stress and trauma are other known causes of IBS.
The term ‘gut-brain axis’ means that the gut and the brain are closely connected.
When there is stress, anxiety or depression, the impact on the bowel can be to move more quickly or slowly which results in constipation or diarrhoea.
The gut is a complex microbiome – with many different types of intestinal bacteria.
These bacteria are generally located in the large intestine, or the colon, where they ferment foods already partially digested in the upper intestine.
In some cases of IBS higher numbers of bacteria are found in the upper intestine.
This is knowns as Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO).
The medical approach to SIBO is treatment with antibiotic drugs.
This can be very helpful for some people, though it may not alleviate all the symptoms.
Allergies, intolerances and ‘leaky gut’
Food sensitivities are another underlying cause of IBS.
The list of potential food triggers is quite long: wheat, gluten, dairy and sugar are perhaps the best known, but caffeine, fruits and vegetables can also be problematic for some people.
When food is not fully digested, either due to an intolerance or simply due to insufficient digestive enzymes, gas, cramping and diarrhoea can occur.
Some people with IBS are thought to have a permeable gut, which means that bacteria and undigested food can leak into the tissues of the body, causing low-grade inflammation as well as IBS.
Dietary changes may help but often involve trial and error.
Even when trigger foods are eliminated, some symptoms can remain.
A low FODMAP diet is often recommended as a first step to alleviating IBS.
FODMAP stands for Fructans, Galactooligasacharides, Polyols, Fructose and Lactose.
Fructans – rye, wheat, onion, garlic, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and beet
Galactooligosaccharides – lentils, chickpeas and other types of beans
Polyols – sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol (found in low sugar and sugar-free foods)
Fructose – honey, agave, fruit, fruit juice and high-fructose corn syrup
Lactose – dairy including milk, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream (butter and cream are ok)
In the low-FODMAP diet, all of these goods are eliminated for a fixed period of time before being slowly re-introduced.
Can homeopathy help?
IBS and other digestive issues are very common in my practice.
It often appears alongside acne, eczema, allergy, candida, UTI, migraine, endometriosis and a wide range of problems with the female hormonal system.
By the time someone gets in touch with me, they’ve usually been to several specialists and had all kinds of tests.
Endoscopy, gastroscopy, ultrasound, breath tests, stool lab tests to name a few.
My approach is holistic which means that I take a full medical and personal history in order to piece everything together.
This can uncover an event, or a series of events, perhaps some type of shock, trauma or long-term emotional stress that appears to be a trigger.
I will also ask about details of past medications, such as long term or frequent courses of antibiotics and drugs such as lansoprazole.
There are different ways that homeopathy can help.
Sometimes remedies for shock and trauma are needed.
A gentle detox programme is often helpful.
Whichever approach I choose, I will always be looking for homeopathic remedies to match the symptoms.
Homeopathy has many digestive remedies used to support the entire gastrointestinal system. [Related post: Your liver is amazing]
These are some of the ones that I use most often.
Lycopodium – widely used for IBS issues such as gas, bloating and appetite problems.
Colocynthus – used for cramping pains that are better for doubling up and may be worse from stress.
Nux Vomica – helpful for acid indigestion and nausea, especially when there’s a dependence on over-the counter medication for relief
Arsen Alb – digestive issues with diarrhea, which may follow food poisoning
Argentum Nitricum – lots of flatulence and/or belching, worse for sugar and linked to nervous anxiety
Carbo Veg – heartburn with nausea and belching, accompanied by general fatigue
China Officinalis – slow digestion with acidity, bloating and belching
There’s a group of homeopathic remedies called bowel nosodes that are very helpful when healing the gut.
Homeobotanicals are organic and wild-crafted herbs that gently balance the whole gastrointestinal system. [Related post: The beauty of homeobotanicals]
There have been successful clinical trials on homeopathy treatment for IBS.
Find out more through this link to the Homeopathy Research Insititute.
Are you wondering if homeopathy could be helpful for you?
I offer a free 30-minute call where we can talk about your symptoms and how they are affecting you.
This gives me a chance to ask a few questions so I can start to get a feel for whether homeopathy could help and you get to find out more about what to expect.