Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders, affecting twice as many women as men.  Symptoms vary but can include abdominal pain and discomfort, alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation, gas, cramping and bloating.

Although the exact cause is unknown, triggers can include food intolerances, stress and hormones.  Some people can effectively control their symptoms with diet and by managing stress, however those with more severe symptoms may be treated with medication.  Unfortunately, medication is not always effective and may come with unwanted side effects.  The good news is there are some non-pharmaceutical alternatives that have been found to help ease symptoms in certain people:

  • Probiotics:  According to research, gut flora imbalances may contribute to IBS symptoms.  Probiotics may help restore balance and reduce symptoms
  • Digestive Enzymes:  Some digestive enzymes such as lactase, amylase, cellulase and protease may help ease digestion and help some with IBS
  • Vitamin D:  Vitamin D supplementation may have beneficial effects in patients with IBS and vitamin D deficiency
  • Fish oil supplements:  The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may help lubricate the digestive tract and support healthy levels of inflammation
  • Fiber:  Fiber may help bind toxins, which may exacerbate IBS and may also support beneficial bacteria levels.  People with IBS are advised to gradually increase their fiber intake to 30-35 grams/day (both soluble and insoluble).
  • Magnesium:  Maintaining adequate magnesium levels may ease IBS symptoms and help alleviate constipation
  • Ginger:  Ginger may help to reduce the symptoms of IBS by relaxing the intestines

References: 

(1) Dean, C. (n.d.). Magnesium Helps IBS Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.dummies.com/health/diseases/ibs/magnesium-helps-ibs-symptoms/

(2) Definition & Facts for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (2017, November 1). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/definition-facts.

(3) Edgar, J. (n.d.). IBS Supplements: Fiber, Probiotics, Prebiotics, and More. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/ibs/features/supplements-for-ibs-what-works#1.

(4) Fried, H. B. (2017, June 14). 5 supplements for IBS. Retrieved from https://www.newhope.com/supplements/5-supplements-ibs.

(5) Ginger and IBS. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/409169-ginger-and-ibs/.

(6) Irritable bowel syndrome. (2018, March 17). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016.

(7) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome.

(8) Irritable Bowel Syndrome | IBS. (2019, May 7). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/irritablebowelsyndrome.html.

(9) Letter: vitamin D supplementation and the irritable bowel … (n.d.). Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/apt.12188.

(10) MacMillan, A., & MacMillan, A. (2016, October 10). 7 Natural Remedies for IBS That May Work for You. Retrieved from https://www.health.com/ibs/natural-remedies-for-ibs

(11) Photo Gallery: Dietary Supplements for IBS. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/digestive-health-pictures/dietary-supplements-for-ibs.aspx.