Diarrhea and constipation are uncomfortable subjects to discuss. But for sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), there's no way 'round it. If you suffer the embarrassment of chronic diarrhea, gas, cramps and constipation, there are natural ways to find relief.
- Watch what you eat. Processed foods are often laden with artificial additives that can worsen your symptoms. Try to eat fresh produce. Avoid alcohol, coffee and fizzy drinks, as they exacerbate the problem.
Keep a food and symptom diary for a month. On a daily basis, record what you eat and how it affects your bowels. In time, you'll start to see patterns of foods that cause flare-ups.
Avoid laxatives, steroids, antacids, aspirin, sleeping tablets, and if at all possible, the contraceptive pill. All these substances are known to irritate the bowel. The stomach nerves are also very sensitive to nicotine, so avoid smoking and smoky places.
Turmeric fights inflammation and exaggerated bowel muscle contractions. Its anti-inflammatory properties inibit the chemical histamine, which can cause the muscles of the bowel to contract abnormally. The recommended dose is 600mg of standardized turmeric extract daily.
Grapefruit extract is a natural antibiotic that is also effective against the yeast Candida. It has been shown to relieve constipation, flatulence and abdominal discomfort. It can be taken in capsule form or as a liquid extract.
Re-establish the optimal balance of "good" bacteria in the gut by taking supplements called probiotics. Normalizing the bacterial balance reduces the likelihood of frequent flare-ups.
Artichoke extract has been shown to alleviate symptoms including flatulence, bloating, abdominal pain and nausea, and has been used by the Greeks since the 4th Century B.C. The recommended daily dosage is 320mg of standardized artichoke extract.
Carry strong mints with you. Herbalists often use peppermint to relieve indigestion, nausea, and IBS symptoms. You can also try peppermint tea or peppermint oil capsules.
Psyllium husk (a great source of fiber) is highly effective for treating both constipation and diarrhea. If you take it at bedtime in a glass of warm water or milk, it acts as a laxative, but if you take it in yogurt, it will act as a binding agent.
If stress is causing your symptoms to worsen, try taking lemon balm in your tea. Place a few leaves of the herb in boiled water, leave it to stand, then drink. Or, you can put a few drops of the lemon balm essential oil in a warm bath to ease painful bowel spasms.
Nut grass (Cyperus rotundus) is an herbal ingredient in traditional Indian and Asian anti-diarrhea formulations. It comes in various forms, and as an ingredient in many products. Contact a good health store near you.
Seek medical advice if your symptoms persist for more than 12 weeks in any one-year period. Your doctor can distinguish between IBS and other conditions such as bowel cancer by examining you and doing a series of tests.