Digestive Health - Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a commonly diagnosed condition characterized by a group of symptoms with or without visible signs of disease in the intestinal tract. The most common symptoms of IBS are:
• Abdominal pain, cramping or bloating
• Constipation alternating with diarrhea
• Mucous in bowel movements
• Feeling of incomplete evacuation with bowel movements

There are often multiple factors contributing to IBS. These include:
Dysbiosis – the presence of bacteria, fungus and viruses can lead to a gut environment conducive to IBS.
Food sensitivities – foods that are not digested well and/or trigger an immune response can lead to IBS.
Stress – people who are under stress or has experienced a stressful event are more likely to experience symptoms of IBS.
Vagus nerve dysfunction – irregular patterns of muscle contractions of the intestinal tract can result in pain, diarrhea or constipation.
IBS is often considered a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning conventional testing (bloodwork, stool tests, imaging) have not shown any determinable causes to the person’s symptoms. Naturopathic testing, including a comprehensive stool test, food sensitivity test and intestinal permeability test, may provide greater clarity and support treatment direction. Various questionnaires on assessing digestion, depression and anxiety may also provide important information.

There are several conventional medications that may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms. Most of the medications act directly on the intestinal tract, either slowing bowel movements or increasing fluid secretion to increase elimination.

A large degree of symptom management can be achieved through dietary and lifestyle modifications. These may include avoiding foods your body is sensitive to, adjusting eating routines, and incorporating regular exercise. Additionally, there are many nutritional supplements and therapies that can be effective at keeping IBS symptoms at bay and improving your quality of life. Your Naturopathic Doctor can help create a plan suitable for you.