Healing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Has IBS caused you to know where all the bathrooms are on your route?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects 1 in 5 adults in the United States, making it one of the most common ailments diagnosed by doctors. IBS symptoms range from bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation to the more life-threatening colorectal cancer. They encompass disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.

IBS is a common digestive system disorder that is a result of inflammation of the colon. While most people experience digestive troubles once in a while, what sets IBS (also known as "spastic colon") apart is belly pain and diarrhea or constipation that comes back again and again. IBS involves abnormal gut contractions that tend to be chronic, characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, mucous in stools, and irregular bowel habits with alternating diarrhea and constipation symptoms.

What Causes IBS?

The medical field does not know what causes IBS. It is believed that the signals between the brain and intestines are disrupted. This miscommunication may cause abnormal intestinal muscle contractions. Anyone can develop IBS, but the condition is twice as common in women as in men. It is also more likely to affect people who have a family history of IBS.

Remedy Options

The first step toward managing IBS is to identify what aggravates your symptoms. Besides stress, common triggers include eating a meal, hormonal changes and certain medications. It is important to note that no specific foods have been universally linked to IBS symptoms.

Keeping a food diary may help you pinpoint which foods are problematic for you. You may find it helpful to avoid caffeine, alcohol and fatty foods. Getting more fiber or water may also improve symptoms. It is suggested to introduce probiotics or prebiotics and omega oils into your diet. Probiotics or prebiotics are specific types of bacteria that live in the human gut. They are known as “friendly” bacteria that have been found to relieve lactose intolerance, prevent vaginal and bladder infections and allergies, and also reduce the growth of harmful organisms in the digestive tract. Omega oils can help to lubricate and keep food moving smoothly and efficiently through the intestines, thereby encouraging regular, healthy bowel movements. Omega oils provide nourishment to the intestinal lining cells and help to strengthen the intestinal lining and prevent the passage of harmful toxins into the bloodstream. Other treatment options can include medication and lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and stress management to control symptoms.

Reflexology can help to relax the gastrointestinal tract, filtering organs (liver, kidney and spleen) and encourage elimination. Most people don’t know that reflexology is both a science and an art. Reflexology therapy helps to reestablish communication throughout the body via thousands of nerve endings on the feet, hands and ears that represent the body in the miniature. Each nerve pathway creates an electro-chemical flow that communicates with the entire body through the central nervous system to restore balance.

If your stomach feels sluggish or you are constipated, try this easy and quick hand reflexology tip to ease stomach discomfort and constipation. The entire flat section of your palm from below the finger knuckles to above the thumb knuckle houses reflexology points for the stomach, intestines, liver and spleen. Stimulating these points will help your stomach feel better and move waste products that have stored in your intestines.

Support the back of one hand with four fingers of your other hand. Starting at the edge of your palm under the pinky knuckle, use medium pressure with your thumb to “walk” across the palm to the other edge. Bring your thumb back under the pinky but down half an inch towards your wrist and repeat the path across your palm. Repeat the thumb walk until you have walked the entire flat section of the palm, ending up at the base of the thumb. Switch hands and repeat. Try this exercise every day until you feel your stomach getting better. Drink plenty of water to flush out toxins.

Helen Chin Lui is a certified reflexologist, certified energy medicine practitioner and Reiki practitioner. She is the founder and owner of the Healing Place in Medfield, MA, where she specializes in helping people of all ages with chronic digestive disorders. Helen can be reached at 508-358-6463 or visit www.healingplacemedfield.com.