Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of the digestive system, which has many and varying causes and symptoms. Its symptoms can involve any of the following: Diarrhoea, constipation, gas/flatulence, heartburn, indigestion, haemorrhoids intestinal cramping/spasming, indigestion. These symptoms can come in any number or combination, and each sufferer is affected differently. IBS is unpredictable in nature – it can go for long periods of time and then suddenly flair up for no obvious reason. It can be painful, uncomfortable and embarrassing, and have a very negative effect on your quality of life. According to the NHS, 3 out of 4 IBS sufferers have had a least one bout of depression, and just over half will develop generalized anxiety disorder (overwhelming feelings of anxiety, fear and dread).
There is no medically agreed cure for IBS – a condition with such varied causes and symptoms can be hard to pin down, and a general cure is therefore difficult to find. This is where holistic and alternative therapy can help, because at the heart of all holistic therapies lies the principle of looking in depth at the individual – their lifestyle, diet, emotions and feelings, energy levels, psychological state and so forth; it acknowledges everybody’s individuality and therefore has space to treat very specifically to the person. Treatment plans are tailored and unique to the individual, and can be very effective by taking into account the body as a whole, looking at not only the physical symptoms but how these can manifest and be influenced by psychological, mental and emotional factors.
There are a number of ways in which IBS can be treated, if we look at the factors that affect it – such as stress and food. Nutritional Therapy can offer help in formulating a dietary plan that avoids foods that trigger or exacerbate the symptoms. Again, different foods have different effects on (different) people, and a consultation can determine the types to avoid.
One of the most commonly agreed causes (or it can most certainly exacerbate symptoms) is stress and worry. It becomes a dangerous spiral of anxiety, as the symptoms and inability to control your digestive system and bowel movements in public can cause embarrassment and panic, which then in turn amplify the symptoms.
Relaxation can help ease symptoms and allow you to deal with the effects in a calmer and healthier way – it can help turn off the distress and upset. Yoga and Meditation can be very effective in this way; guided meditation for a beginner unused to the techniques can allow the effects to carry on into everyday life and practice. Hypnotherapy is another common therapy to help treat IBS – working at breaking patterns within the mind that cause stress and anxiety can have a knock-on effect on the body’s way of responding to these negative feelings.
Another popular form of treatment for IBS is acupuncture. Acupuncture can help in a number of ways, by treating different aspects of the syndrome. It provides pain relief, helps calm and reduce stress, and can help control the bowel’s tendency to move uncontrollably of its own accord. The British Acupuncture Council website explains how acupuncture can help and the treatment in more detail, though of course individual treatments will vary.
If you suffer from IBS and are looking for some holistic help but aren’t sure which of these therapies will be right for you – we offer free 15 minute consultations for all of our treatments. There is often a bit of cross-over between treatments and we will try to help you find the one that suits you best! Contact us for more information 🙂