IBS Treatment

IBS Treatment

One in five people in the UK suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a digestive disorder, the symptoms of which include abdominal pain, cramping, and changes in bowel function. IBS is classed as a functional disorder which means that there is no evidence of physical abnormality to explain its symptoms which are thought to be the result of extraordinarily strong muscle contractions in the bowel wall.

With no medical cure for IBS, self-treatment is the best way to deal with the condition. While there are a number of over-the-counter remedies, most people, in the first instance, turn to natural remedies to see if they can obtain some form of relief. Some of those remedies include…

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint relaxes and calms the stomach muscles, and as such is useful in treating the pain and bloating commonly associated with IBS. In relaxing the stomach muscles, peppermint helps the body to get rid of excess gas, one of the symptoms of IBS.

Peppermint oil should be taken in the form of enteric-coated capsules so that the oil isn’t released in the stomach where it could cause indigestion and heartburn. Peppermint can also be taken in tea.


If you suffer with constipation then the use of marjoram and fennel essential oils can be used to help relieve this symptom of IBS. Dilute a few drops of the oil into a “carrier” oil (e.g. almond or grape seed oil), and massage into the abdomen. Or place 10 drops into a warm bath and soak for around 15 minutes to ease the pain associated with constipation. Marjoram should not be used if you’re pregnant.

Probiotics (live bacteria)

Beneficial bacteria are naturally present in our stomachs, and help suppress potentially harmful bacteria. IBS sufferers are thought to have an imbalance of these good and bad bacteria, the bad bacteria producing excessive gas, so probiotics can help restore the balance. Probiotics can be taken as dietary supplements in powder or capsule form, or you can include yogurt containing live bacteria in your diet.


Diet obviously plays an important part in the treatment of IBS. Food intolerances could be the cause and if you believe they are then you should embark on a diet eliminating those foods you think might be the culprits. Symptoms should be closely monitored for improvement and then the foods slowly re-introduced noting any changes to determine which foods you need to avoid in the future.

If you suffer from excess gas then avoid or limit your consumption of beans, cabbage, caffeine, and alcohol. Fatty and gas-producing foods can make diarrhea worse, as can sorbitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free gum and candy. Try to avoid these foods if your symptoms include diarrhea or loose and runny stools.

Drink at least 1.5 litres of water a day. The color or your urine is a good indication of how much water you’re drinking and if it’s darker than the color of straw you might need to up your intake. Water is important in treating IBS because if the body is dehydrated than it will be felt first in the colon; and dryness in the colon can lead to irritation of the lining of the digestive tract, exacerbating the symptoms of IBS. Remember that tea, coffee, alcohol, and fizzy soft drinks act as diuretics ridding the body of water and minerals and as such should be avoided, or at least limited.


Exercise is important when it comes to treating IBS. As well as helping to keep bowel movements regular, exercise makes the body stronger and improves the immune system making it more able to ward off other disorders and illnesses.

Many believe that IBS is the result of psychological problems. If the mind is “ill” then it can lead to physical ailments. Exercise is not only important for physical well-being, but for good mental health, too. People who exercise speak of the mental as well as the physical benefits they gain. So if you suffer from IBS, then exercise could prove a vital tool in helping to combat the condition. And the endorphins released in the body after exercise are natural painkillers and anti-depressants, making the individual feel good and helping to cope with any pain or discomfort the individual might be feeling.


If you think that stress is a trigger to your IBS then you need to learn how to manage it. Exercise can help to deal with stress, as can yoga and meditation.

Bowel movements should never be forced or repressed. You should take the time, and privacy, so that your body gets to do what it has to without any undue stress. If you have an aversion to using public toilets then this could be a cause of your IBS, and should be addressed.


Research carried out in the UK a few years ago claimed that hypnotherapy could provide an effective long-term treatment for IBS. For some sufferers psychological factors and stress play a big part, so hypnosis can be used as a form of relaxation thereby helping to relieve symptoms. If all other remedies have proved ineffective then you might want to consider hypnosis.