IBS – Natural Treatment Options for Women

  • Tara Andresen

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Natural Treatment Options for Women

Many people feel intestinal discomfort or changes in bowel movements from time to time and may not realize that these can be the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is also known as spastic colon and primarily affects the large intestine or the colon.  It is a syndrome or a collection of symptoms and more a “functional disorder” than a disease in itself. When a person’s digestive system does not function correctly, he or she can experience chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, cramping, gas, bloating constipation and altered bowel habits.

At some stage in their lives, up to one in five people experience IBS. According to recent studies, it is common among 10 to 20 percent of the population in North America.

While it is known to affect anyone at any age, women are two to three times more likely to develop IBS, and often suffer more symptoms during their periods. Plus, IBS can manifest itself as early as the teens and or early adulthood.

Though it is difficult to pinpoint any one particular cause, there are many reasons that could trigger the symptoms of IBS.  They could range from allergies caused by certain foods ranging milk and milk products, chocolates, spices, alcohol and certain vegetables. Stress too plays a role in increasing IBS symptoms in some women. Hormonal changes also trigger IBS and these only worsen during menstrual periods.

IBS affects the digestive tract also known as the colon. The most common IBS symptoms include chronic abdominal pain or discomfort accompanied by cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and/or constipation.

Although there is no conventional cure for IBS, its symptoms can be controlled and relieved through medicines and alternative therapy. Alternative forms of IBS treatments that are known to relieve symptoms include dietary adjustments, natural medication, acupuncture and psychological interventions.

Naturopathic treatment options for IBS can include:

Dietary changes

  • Identify individual food sensitivities and remove those aggravating foods.
  • Improve intake of soluble fibre but reduce insoluble fibre.
  • Improve stomach acid secretion to aid in food digestion.
  • Improve digestive enzyme levels to better process foods.
  • Have regular meals and take time to eat at a leisurely pace.
  • Go slow on fizzy drinks, caffeine and alcohol


There is some evidence that taking probiotics may help to ease symptoms in some people with IBS. Probiotics are nutritional supplements that contain good bacteria. Taking probiotics or foods that contain probiotic may increase the good bacteria in the gut which may help to ward off bad bacteria that may have some effect on causing IBS symptoms.

Lifestyle changes

  • Regular exercise is known to help to ease symptoms and maintain bowel regularity.
  • Managing stress levels. Anything that can reduce your level of stress like relaxed breathing exercises, yoga, hypnosis or meditation can help.

Acupuncture therapy to treat IBS.

Acupuncture is an effective alternative treatment for irritable bowel syndrome that promotes regulation of underlying organ malfunctions.

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment can benefit IBS symptoms by:

  • Providing pain relief by lowering the threshold to bowel pain
  • Regulating the motility of the digestive tract
  • Raising the sensory threshold of the gut.

Acupuncture can be safely and effectively combined with other treatments such as relaxation exercises, herbal medicine and psychotherapy.

In addition to offering acupuncture and related therapies, your naturopath may often make suggestions as to other dietary and other lifestyle changes that may be helpful in combating IBS symptoms.

If you are suffering from IBS, take the first steps to address it effectively by getting on touch with an experienced Naturopathic doctor.

Contact us at NDCare Clinic. Book your appointment with Dr. Tara Andresen at one of her Toronto Naturopathic clinics today!