Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an umbrella term which is applied to stomach pain, constipation (C-IBS), diarrhoea (D-IBS), bloating and distention (which is the visible manifestation of a swollen intestine).
As I mentioned in this post, IBS can be an undiagnosed SIBO, or Candida infection which can be treated with antibiotics. As IBS is not a disease, it doesn’t have a per se cure.
I have struggled with IBS-like symptoms including horrible distention for a number of years, partially due to my use of alcohol. I wouldn’t say I’m “healed,” but I hope these techniques will help you deal with IBS (see future posts on this subject).
To frame this, it is my perspective that IBS is due to a number of factors: irritated intestines, which makes them swell and makes the intestinal barrier ‘leaky’; food allergies or intolerance; alcohol, which aggravates the intestines; and insufficient ‘good’ bacteria’ in your intestines (which also influences butyrate production). The focus is therefore on (1) reducing inflammation; (2) repopulating the intestine with good bacteria.
(1) Reducing Inflammation:
-Eliminate alcohol, which is a gut irritant and also kills all the bacteria in your intestines. If you are not struggling with IBS, you probably don’t need to worry about moderate alcohol affecting your intestines.
-Avoid caffeine (I say avoid not eliminate because…I’m being realistic…).
-Eliminate common food allergens. This includes soy, gluten, and lactose. The FODMAP diet, where one avoids “Fermentable Oligosaccharide, Disaccharide, Monosaccharide, and Polyols,” has shown good results in dealing with IBS. The logic is that these sugars improperly, or slowly, break-down in the intestines, which causes gas build-up and reduced waste mobility. The FODMAP diet is a fairly restrictive diet, and works best through complete elimination of FODMAPs, and slow reintroduction of foods while being alert to triggers.
The best way to do this is to use a food diary, where you record the foods and the symptoms that arise. Keep in mind a food allergy is an immediate, histamine-driven reaction, and intolerance goes away once the food is through the system (i.e. within 1-2 hours of digestion), and a sensitivity is generally a low-grade inflammatory response which can last a day or more.
Further, it is important to remember that inflamed intestines may have compromised mucosal and cell-permeability (the limitations of which are well-said in the study), which may lead you to believe that you are intolerant to a certain food, when you are not. Please remember to re-introduce foods because long-term FODMAP diet will change your gut micro-biome and likely lead to nutritional deficiencies.
-Take Peppermint oil capsules to reduce inflammation and aid in smooth muscle contractions of the intestines. See here.
-Take Tumeric: there is weak evidence it reduces inflammation in the bowel, and tumeric is pretty cheap so why not.
-Take L-Glutamine: good evidence that it plays an important role in gastrointestinal mucus. It is a non-essential amino acid as your body can make it, but “dietary supplementation of glutamine found to be beneficial in maintenance of normal intestinal villous morphology.”
(2) Fixing your bacteria
There is no evidence that supplementing with probiotics works to completely heal IBS (though it also helps reduce symptoms). Used alone, I would also think probiotics would be ineffective; consider that Candida is opportunistic and grows more quickly in inflamed conditions. If you aren’t treating the inflammation, then I’m not sure how effective adding a couple bugs could be against the rising tide of yeast (!!).
So, as part of a holistic approach, I would recommend adding probiotics in the morning on an empty stomach with water, after working to reduce inflammation. I use this site to identify probiotics based on my budget needs (they are an independent tester who get affiliate $ if you purchase through their links; Don’t want to? get the ranking and buy it off site).