The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be very frustrating, uncomfortable and restrictive. Pain, cramping, wind, nausea and diarrhoea are all symptoms that you could encounter, and these can have a negative effect on your lifestyle and mood.
Every IBS sufferer’s situation is different, but thankfully there are some natural ways that can help to improve your symptoms over time. Some small adjustments to your lifestyle could help to relieve the severity of your pain and prevent discomfort from occurring so regularly.
Here are some suggested ways to try and alleviate your symptoms:
Relaxation and talking therapy
Stress and anxiety are closely linked with IBS in many cases. Just think about when you are worried or nervous – those butterflies in your tummy are a symptom of your digestive system reacting to the brain’s fight or flight response to the situation.
By focussing on ways to reduce stress and promote relaxation, you are helping your body to minimise digestion issues. Incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine can be beneficial to everyone. Try practising diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing each morning when you wake and each night before you go to sleep. Guided meditation and progressive muscle relaxation techniques are also very useful and there are many online classes and Apps available to help you along the way.
If you find that your stress levels are escalating daily and are getting too hard to cope with, then talking to a therapist or counsellor could be really beneficial for you. They will be able to provide useful suggestions to help deal with stressful situations or just be there to listen to your concerns.
When done regularly, exercise is a tried and tested way to relieve stress, depression and anxiety. Whether it’s a jog in the park, a yoga lesson or a cycle ride, exercise can help to relieve the stress that causes IBS by stimulating regular intestinal contractions.
If you are not used to regular exercise, then start slowly with a brisk walk and then build up to longer routes and a faster pace. The NHS recommends that you do some form of physical exercise every day, as well as 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
Re-assess your diet
When it comes to IBS, certain foods can make your gastrointestinal (GI) pain much worse. It’s always helpful to keep a food diary to track your symptoms, noting down any foods that could potentially be triggers for you. Common food and drinks that can exasperate the symptoms of IBS include alcohol, dairy products, gluten, caffeine, fizzy drinks, fried foods and certain vegetables including cabbage, beans, cauliflower and broccoli.
A recommended fibre intake can look different for some IBS sufferers than others. For some, fibre helps to ease constipation, but in others, it actually worsens other symptoms like cramping and diarrhoea. Still, high-fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans are recommended as an IBS treatment if incorporated into the diet gradually over several weeks.
Some people may find that avoiding dairy products helps with their symptoms. Or in other cases, they opt for lactose-free alternatives. If you choose a dairy-free lifestyle, then it’s important to ensure that you consume enough protein and calcium from other sources.
Many people find Acupuncture treatment very effective to relieve IBS complications if used in conjunction with the above lifestyle adjustments too.
In Chinese medicine, all these symptoms are typical of a syndrome that’s known as spleen (or pancreas) deficiency. This is heavily linked to today’s connected and fast-paced lifestyle, which typically leads to excess over-thinking and anxiety, which in turn affects digestion.
Generally, most people will find that digestive symptoms are usually noticeably improved by about the third or fourth session of Acupuncture. Most patients begin with a session once a week. After the first session, they will usually notice some benefits, but these will then fade during the first day or two after the session; then, following their second session, the benefits tend to last a little longer until eventually, they will find their symptoms fading altogether.
If you are interested in finding out more about Acupuncture therapy for IBS and digestive issues, then I would love to hear from you. Please contact me via phone or email and we can create a plan together to help reduce your suffering.