Irritable Bowel Syndrome – How A Homeopath Can Help
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a chronic disorder of the gastrointestinal system that affects the way it functions. IBS is unlike many other gastrointestinal problems in that it is a diagnosis of exclusion. This means that doctors will deliver a diagnosis of IBS after ruling out other GI problems such as gastritis, ulcers or Crohn’s disease. IBS, therefore, is not considered a disease but rather a collection of symptoms with no known cause.
The movement of food in our GI tract is controlled by an elegant and synchronized contraction and relaxation of the muscles in the intestinal walls. In IBS, the movement is disordered and the colon is either hyperactive or underactive
People who have IBS regularly experience a wide range of abdominal issues such as pain, cramping, bloating, heartburn and nausea. These symptoms are accompanied by a change in bowel habits that can include constipation, diarrhea or both. Additional functional conditions occur in about half of people who have IBS. These include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic back pain, migraines, TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) and urinary issues. Many people suffering from IBS also suffer from anxiety and depression.
IBS affects all ages, including children and the elderly. Globally, it’s experienced by about 11% of the population. Females are more likely to be affected than males. In addition, the risk of having IBS is twice as high in people whose mother or father had IBS.
Although no one cause has been pinpointed, there is research to suggest small intestine bacterial overgrowth or SIBO might play a part in IBS. Other factors may also contribute such as exposure to environmental toxins and heavy metals, prolonged ingestion of antibiotics or a stressful lifestyle.
People with IBS are advised to look at their diet and consider eliminating wheat and dairy to see if it brings improvements. Other problematic items in the diet could include coffee, tea, citrus, vinegar and spices.
Doctors may prescribe drugs or sedatives to help treat the symptoms, but are often just as likely to advise their patients seek strategies for stress relief including regular physical activity and psychotherapy.
Because other issues need to be tested for and eliminated as possible causes, the average length of time it takes to be diagnosed with IBS is two to three years.
So, why wait for a diagnosis to begin feeling better? Homeopathic treatment is a safe and gentle way to address symptoms before, after or during any testing or diagnostic work done in a doctor’s office.
As a homeopath, I take an in depth look at all of the symptoms my clients are experiencing and assess lifestyle factors, such as quality of sleep, levels of stress, and dietary habits, that can have serious impacts on health.
Together, we devise strategies such as a food elimination plan and stress reduction techniques that will work alongside a homeopathic remedy to help restore balance to your gut and gently restore health.
Here is a snapshot of a few of the remedies used to treat IBS and many other gastric disorders – remember, it’s all about the symptoms, not the diagnosis. I’ve included some ‘non-IBS’ symptoms to show what additional elements would suggest the use of a particular remedy in my treatment.
Staphysagria– symptoms of abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea. Prone to urinary tract infections. New health problems may be triggered by major surgery. Someone needing this remedy can be mild-mannered with a habit of suppressing anger or carry a feeling of humiliation from some past event.
Argentum Nitricum– client says they get stomach pains and “nervous diarrhea” before speaking in public or delivering major presentations at work. They are anxious, restless, and express fear that they have a serious disease. They also suffer from a fear of closed spaces or open spaces. They report they feel worse after consuming sweets, milk, nuts, or alcohol.
China Officinalis– client experiences gas and bloating, constipation or diarrhea, nausea, and vertigo. Issues such as headache, sciatica or other painful complaints as also present and tend to re-occur at regular intervals. This person feels weak and depleted after such episodes.
Lycopodium Clavatum– gastrointestinal issues flare when under prolonged stress, with uncomfortable abdominal bloating and constipation. Craves sweets and dislikes cold drinks. Milk causes diarrhea. They experience heartburn. An important symptom is a loud rumbling in their abdomen along a lot of burping and passing gas. Any symptoms they experience may come and go suddenly.
Nux vomica– client will report that they are aggravated by coffee and alcohol or overeating which they may see as inevitable parts of their lifestyle. They also experience constipation with a lot of straining when on the toilet and a ‘not done feeling’. They feel chilly. They suffer from cramping and sharp pains in the abdomen that are worse after eating, better with warmth or warm drinks. A person needing this remedy will also have a tendency towards anger and impatience.
Colocynthis– a person needing this remedy has abdominal cramps that are relieved by bending double. They can have diarrhea and stool where blood or mucous is present. Unlike other IBS remedies, their symptoms are relieved by eating. Issues of IBS can arise after an experience of anger or a show of temper and irritability which is otherwise unlike them.
Natrum Muriaticum– client reports constipation due to dryness, which is apparent in other parts of their body. They crave salt and lemons and prefer drinks that are icy cold. They may have hemorrhoids. The personality of someone requiring this remedy is sensitive, introverted and can tend towards perfectionism. Their headaches feel like “tiny hammers beating in the head” that are worse from being in the sun or from reading or excessive studying.
Platinum Metallicum– there is a dull burning pain in the esophagus and upper stomach area caused by not eating or from stress. They are constipated and may suffer from panic attacks. They have a passionate personality and are inclined towards feelings of jealousy in their relationships. They feel the need for drama or excitement in their life.
Sulphur– acid reflux is a chief complaint with diarrhea (often in early morning) alternating with constipation. Skin can be dry and rough, with itching felt more violently at night, aggravated by washing.
Many clients I have seen present with diagnosed or undiagnosed intestinal issues that cause a serious reduction in their quality of life. To see the relief on their faces when their symptoms resolve over their course of treatment is priceless. You don’t have to wait for a diagnosis to feel better!
The Epidemiology of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921083/
Eradication of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11151884