Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Holistic Approach to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Several types of food can exacerbate IBS symptoms, including fatty and fried foods, foods containing wheat, carbonated beverages, chocolate, caffeine, and some vegetables including cabbage, broccoli, and beans.  Let your experience guide you.
  • A study found that when IBS patients changed their diet and excluded beef and all cereals except rice-based ones, cut back on citrus fruits, caffeine, and yeast, and used soy products instead of dairy, they had less abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Food additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the artificial sweetener Aspartame can trigger IBS symptoms.
  • To reduce gas, avoid carbonated beverages, don't chew gum, and watch your consumption of beans, grapes, and raisins.
  • Avoid sugarless gum if it contains sorbitol, a sweetener that can cause diarrhea.
  • Soluble fiber can be very helpful for people with IBS whose predominant symptoms include constipation, and for some people with diarrhea.  Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are rich in fiber, particularly soluble fiber.  If you start adding fiber to your diet, do so slowly over several weeks and be sure to drink plenty of additional water.
  • If you don't get enough fiber from dietary sources, try psyllium, a natural source of soluble fiber.
  • Avoid insoluble fiber, which is found in bran, eggplant skins, and bell peppers.  It can make IBS symptoms worse.
  • Digestive enzymes are safe and appear to effectively reduce gas.  For those who are vegetarians, health food stores sell enzymes derived entirely from plant sources, such as papaya.
  • Probiotics, essentially natural healthy bacteria like acidophilus in supplement form, appear to be very safe and possibly helpful for IBS.
  • Tricyclic antidepressant drugs like desipramine, typically presribed at one-half to one-third the typical dose used for depression, may help in IBS by modulating pain sensations in the central nervous system.  Since tricyclics are often constipating, this treatment may be particularly useful for individuals whose IBS is marked by frequent diarrhea.
  • People with diarrhea can get symptomatic relief with the antidiarrheal medication loperamide (Imodium).
  • Peppermint is an herb that relaxes the smooth muscle of the bowel wall and can help ease symptoms such as cramping, abdominal distention, and the frequency of bowel movements.  Enteric-coated capsules containing peppermint oil are very safe, don't cause the heartburn of non-coated peppermint oil or peppermint teas, and have been found to be effective.
  • Acupuncture is safe and there is some evidence that it can help with IBS.
  • A randomized controlled study published in JAMA found that treatment with a combination of Chinese herbs significantly improved IBS symptoms.  While both standardized and individualized herbal combinations proved effective in the short term, fourteen weeks after the end of treatment, those who took the personalized prescription maintained greater improvement.

Source from Yoga as Medicine by Timothy McCall,M.D.