Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a gastrointestinal disorder featuring abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits.
We are often asked here at CK Health what is our treatment for IBS, however, there are three different types of IBS, all with different symptoms, so it is not a one sized fits all protocol to help.
IBS-C is dominated by constipation, IBS-D by diarrhoea and IBS-M, which is a mix of diarrhoea and constipation.
IBS is the most common diagnosis of gastrointestinal disorders, and seems to be a functional disorder when other digestive disorders don’t fit the picture.
Medically, it doesn’t seem to have a clear “cause” however, the Newcastle Naturopaths at CK Health like to really dig deep and find out what is the root cause of why your body isn’t functioning correctly, and with IBS there are a number of different avenues to explore.
What are the signs and symptoms of IBS?
There are lots of different symptoms, you may have one of them that can really impact your life in a dramatic way, or you may have a many of them that you have earned to live with.
These can include:
Bloating. Flatulence. Constipation. Diarrhoea. Mucous in stool. Loss of appetite. Abdominal cramps and spasms. Pain in lower chest. Pain in left shoulder. Increased urinary frequency. Menstrual issues. Lower back pain. Fatigue. Sleeping issues. Sexual dysfunction. Headaches. Loose bowel movements. Frequent bowel movements. Bowel movements with urgency. Feeling of incomplete evacuation.
What would we be investigating for you at CK Health for IBS??
- Testing: There’s quite a few tests we can utilise, depending on your symptoms, but the two main gut health tests we use to investigate IBS are the Thyrve test and the GI Map. Both are looking at the microbiome of the gut. One looks at all of the species and genus of the microbiome in detail and can give us insight into how to balance out your gut bacteria.
We know there are species of bacteria strongly linked with gastrointestinal disorders, so keeping them in check is important.
The other test, maps out your microbiome, looks at intestinal markers of digestion, autoimmunity, and if there is parasites present. Parasites can mimic IBS and treatment of them can improve your gut health.
- Diet. Food intolerances and sensitivities may be the underlying cause of alteration in your bowel habits.
They can cause both diarrhoea and constipation, and by removing foods that cause issues, your symptoms may really settle down. This can be assessed through discussing your diet and symptom patterns to discover links, and through food sensitivity testing.
Another aspect of diet is ensuring you are meeting your nutritional needs in terms of fibre as it helps improve bowel function. Reducing triggers like refined carbohydrates and sugars may help if candida is an underlying cause, as this exacerbates this.
- Stress. There’s a massive link with psychological issues and IBS. Helping you manage stress may see an improvement in your IBS.
How would you manage IBS?
Our management is always tailored to each individual. To give you an idea, if a person has predominately IBS-C, then we would be utilising herbs that have a laxative effect to get things moving, while working on your diet, balancing your bowel flora, and reducing your pain and discomfort.
If it is IBS-D, then slowing transit time down and improving nutrient absorption is a priority.
The “perfect” bowel movement should be easy to pass, with no straining or pushing, no feeling of urgency prior, and a feeling of completeness afterwards. It should be a brown in colour well formed sausage with a few cracks on the surface. Not shiny or smooth, not pebbly or blobby, and definitely not green, black or white in colour.
You might be able to see the occasional corn kernel, but there really shouldn’t be big pieces of undigested food. It should be free of mucous and contain no blood.
You should be having a bowel movement at least once a day, with the average of healthy bowel frequency being 1.5 times per day.
Naturopathically, we support bowel movements with herbs and nutrients that support liver function, reduce inflammation, help reduce anxiety, support bile function, and increase moisture, thus promoting easy to pass daily bowel movements.
At CK Health, we often help you over the course of 3-6months, utilising both pre- and probiotics, improve nutrition intake and absorption, helping you discover your triggers, removing them, working on healing and repairing gut function, and supporting you with the reintroduction of eliminated foods.
As you can see, IBS is not a simple condition. It’s quite complex, can have multiple symptoms, multiple underlying causes, and many different treatment options.
If you want to be in confident hands while managing your IBS, give us call on (02) 4077 3803 to book in a FREE 20min HEALTH assessment and discover how we can help you today.
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