Irritable Bowel Syndrome, abbreviated IBS, is a common chronic condition that affects the health of the digestive system causing irritation and discomfort. This condition is characterized by severe stomach cramping, diarrhea (although some people get to experience severe constipation), and bloating. The symptoms are varied among different people, and in some cases, ease after avoiding certain foods. For this reason, if you experience any of these symptoms after a long period of time without any relief, you may want to see a medical doctor in order to establish the particular cause of the condition, the possible cause of treatment as well as any other natural remedies that may be incorporated along the way.

girl holding belly

While the precise cause of IBS remains unknown, the condition is thought to stem from heightened sensitivity within the digestive system. This causes problems with the digestion of food, and therefore increases pain from the gut area. As a result, digested food either goes through the system too fast (often causing diarrhea), or the process is painfully slow (leading to constipation). Additional factors that compound IBS include a stressful environment, psychological factors such as depression as well as anger and nervousness. if you have a difficult time managing IBS, look out for any of the natural remedies listed below.

 


1. Peppermint:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 3 Drops of peppermint essential oil or a teaspoon of dried peppermint and a cup of hot water.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Peppermint is a great remedy for a number of disorders in the digestive system. This remedy not only reduces abdominal cramping and bloating, it is also an excellent antispasmodic that regulates the movement of smooth muscles in the tract. Additionally, peppermint allows for food to pass through the digestive system with relative ease. If you would like to add peppermint to your daily diet, consider using fresh peppermint leaves or essential peppermint oil and follow the directions outlined below.

Directions:

  1. Place three drops of the peppermint oil in a glass and add the hot water.
  2. Stir the mixture and sip on this drink thrice daily.
  3. Repeat the procedure until you establish that you are feeling better.
  4. Alternatively, place a teaspoon of the dried peppermint in a glass and pour in the hot water.
  5. Allow the leaves to steep for 15 minutes and consume this drink.
  6. Repeat thrice daily.

Tip: Avoid taking peppermint in excessive quantities as this could severely compound the symptoms of IBS with extreme nausea and heightened loss of appetite.

 


2. Ginger:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Fresh ginger root (this may be replaced with ginger powder), a cup of hot water, a strainer and a tablespoon of honey.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Ginger is a wonder remedy for you if you suffer from IBS as its anti-inflammatory properties help ease abdominal pain and cramping. In addition, ginger is perfect for the reduction of flatulence and bloating, both common traits of IBS. You may use either fresh ginger root or ginger powder. Note however, that if you suffer from hypertension, it is advisable to stay away from this remedy as it has the potential to trigger an increase in the blood pressure.

Directions:

  1. Peel the ginger to get rid of the external layer before cleaning it.
  2. Grate the ginger to get small-sized gratings which you will then transfer to the cup.
  3. Pour in the hot water in order to steep the ginger for 10 minutes.
  4. Pass the mixture through the strainer and discard the ginger.
  5. Add the honey and stir before sipping on your ginger drink slowly.
  6. Drink this mixture thrice daily to ease the accompanying symptoms of IBS.
  7. Alternatively, add the grated ginger to the honey and mix properly to get a pulp-like mass. Indulge in this mixture just before your meals. This is done in order to enhance the process of digestion.

 


3. Fennel Seeds:

Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 2 Teaspoons of crushed fennel seeds, a cup of hot water and a strainer.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Fennel seeds have long been used for their amazing benefits on the digestive system. These seeds are rich in compounds that regulate the spasmic action of the intestines, which in turn relieves you of bloating and discomfort associated with IBS. The seeds have the advantage of ridding the digestive system of unhealthy fats. This is important because it lowers excess mucous production in the stomach, one of the factors that is linked to IBS.

Directions:

  1. Take two teaspoons of crushed fennel seeds and place in a cup before adding hot water.
  2. Allow the seeds to steep in the water for 10 minutes. This is an important step because it allows the water to soak the seeds’ beneficial active ingredients.
  3. Strain the mixture and enjoy the drink at least thrice daily.
  4. If, however, you would like a more flavorful approach, take a teaspoon of roasted fennel seeds powder in water at least twice daily until you get relief from IBS.

 


4. Probiotic Yogurt:

Time Required: 5 Min
What You Need: Probiotic yogurt.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Probiotic yogurt, by definition, refers to yogurt that contains ‘live cultures’. Live cultures contain bacteria that is friendly to the gut, and therefore constitutes a simpler way to improve the health of the digestion system. These bacteria also improve the structural lining of the intestines. Lastly, probiotic yogurt contains lactic acid which goes a long way in eliminating toxins from the gut.

Directions:

  1. Simply take probiotic yogurt on its own as often as you can.

 


5. Oat Bran in Breakfast Cereal:

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A tablespoon of oat bran and choice of breakfast cereal.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Oat bran is a great way of increasing dietary fiber intake, and helps relieve constipation for those whose IBS manifests in this way. Additionally, the oat bran is rich in antioxidants, vitamin B as well as minerals that are essential to the proper function of the digestive system. Note that at the onset of using this remedy, you may experience bloating which is one of the side-effects of increased fiber. As the body adjusts to the healthier changes, however, the bloating eases and you should be able to deal with the constipation that accompanies IBS. For this reason, it is imperative that you start off with just a teaspoon of the oat bran before building up on increasing the amount of the bran.

Directions:

  1. Simply add a tablespoon of oat bran to your breakfast cereal.

 


6. Ripe Bananas:

Time Required: 5 Min
What You Need: 2 Ripe bananas.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Ripe bananas are not only an instant source of energy, they are also packed with nutrients that come in handy in the management of IBS. Bananas are rich in soluble fiber which helps soak up excessive fluids in the digestive tract. This makes bananas an excellent way of managing IBS-induced diarrhea. In addition, bananas are rich in potassium which helps provide relief from flatulence and bloating.

Directions:

  1. Eat two ripe bananas daily.

 


7. Chamomile Tea

Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 3 Teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers, a cup of hot water, a strainer and a teaspoon of lemon juice.
Difficulty: Easy

 

Chamomile tea has a high concentration of tannins that soothe the digestive system and reduce spasmic action which increases the rate of diarrhea. In cases where the gut is irritated and inflamed, the tea’s anti-inflammatory properties help relieve the discomfort that is associated with IBS.

Directions:

  1. Place three teaspoons of the dried chamomile flowers and add the boiling water.
  2. Allow the dried flowers to steep for about 10 minutes before passing it through a strainer.
  3. Discard the used flowers and stir the lemon juice in the herbal tea.
  4. Drink the chamomile tea thrice daily until you get relief from IBS symptoms.

 


8. Fresh Carrot Juice:

Time Required: 40 Min
What You Need: 3 Fresh carrots, a juice extractor, 3 drops of lemon juice and a tablespoon of honey
Difficulty: Easy

 

Carrots are not only delicious, they are also an excellent natural remedy for the management of IBS as they contain pectin. Just like bananas, carrots contain fiber that helps alleviate IBS-induced constipation. It is important, however, to ensure that you do not eat the carrots in their solid state as this could easily exacerbate the bloating.

Directions:

  1. Wash the carrots well under running water before transferring them to a juice extractor.
  2. Juice the carrots to get your desired consistency and transfer to a cup.
  3. Add the lemon juice and honey and stir to mix well.
  4. Take the juice thrice daily until you feel better.

 


In addition to the above natural remedies, it helps to steer clear of certain foods which have been known to worsen IBS. Top on the list of foods to avoid is milk and dairy products, especially if you are lactose intolerant. For people in the latter group, the digestive system is incapable of digesting lactose (the natural sugar found in milk) and this only worsens the symptoms of IBS. Yogurt, as much as it is a dairy product, improves IBS because the bacterial load present converts lactose to lactic acid.

In addition to avoiding dairy products, you are also advised to avoid citrus fruits as these constitute some of the worst culprits in IBS. Other food groups to avoid are gas-producing foods. Common culprits in this category include cabbages, beans, carbonated drinks as well as broccoli. The paradox of this is that often, such foods are very nutritious but they come at a cost for you if you suffer from IBS. The best way to go around this is to experiment with varied cooking methods and amounts of the specific food before ruling out what works and what does not. The same can be said of hot spicy foods and a wide range of wheat products.

Stress worsens IBS, so you are advised to find ways to relax and avoid tension. Light exercises have also been shown to be helpful for many IBS patients. Ultimately, if IBS symptoms do not ease even after using the aforementioned natural remedies, it helps to get medical attention.