Columnist and Medical Herbalist Pamela Spence MNIMH shares her advice for coping with IBS
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) affects so many of us, yet it often only appears in the ‘additional’ list for patients at my clinic. Maybe that’s because many people have found ways to just live with it, while others believe nothing can be done.
The pain, constipation, urgency, bloating and loose stools can be anything from mildly annoying, to intense and lifestyle-limiting. Some sufferers are even afraid to stray too far from a loo in case they get caught out. Eating out can be miserable.
If every other possibility has been excluded and you have been diagnosed with IBS, a good place to start is by eliminating wheat from your diet. Some people find eating wheat can exacerbate symptoms and that cutting it out reduces bloating.
But it’s important to understand IBS can also be made worse by stress. When we feel stress, we release a cascade of hormones directly affecting the gut – so try to avoid stress if you can!
You can also try some simple herbs that can be bought as teas. Chamomile is great for easing bowel spasm, gently encouraging bowel movements and reducing anxiety. Fennel is the top remedy for bloating and wind, while Peppermint soothes the digestion and reduces feelings of nausea.
Of course, one size doesn’t fit all and we herbalists have access to lots more remedies. Guelder Rose, for example, is a key gut antispasmodic, while Slippery Elm soothes irritated mucosa and slows down transit time.
Whatever your symptom pattern, rest assured there are things you can do to improve the situation. Become IBS aware!
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