Bloating, cramps, diarrhea or constipation, and abdominal pain—all these conditions are quite uncomfortable and frustrating on their own. Imagine what a gut-wrenching experience (pun-intended) it would be if all these flared up together and that too for a long period of time.
While you may not even want to imagine suffering from this situation, unfortunately, it is a sad reality for many people worldwide, medically known as irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
IBS is a chronic disorder of the digestive system that leads to symptoms such as bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and pain. These symptoms tend to come and go in periods lasting a few days to a few months at a time.
The condition usually develops between 20 and 30 years of age and affects twice as many women as men. For most of the cases, the condition is life-long, although it may improve over several years.
- Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Preventing Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Home Remedies to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Method 1: Peppermint Tea
- Method 2: Probiotic (Yogurt or Kefir)
- Method 3: Aloe Vera
- Method 4: Apple Cider Vinegar
- Method 5: Baking Soda (Bloating Relief)
- Method 6: Psyllium Fiber
- Method 7: Coconut Oil
- Method 8: Lemon
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
While the exact cause of IBS is still unknown, a number of factors can contribute to the symptoms of IBS.
- An anomaly in digestion—the body moves food through the digestive system by squeezing and relaxing the muscles of the intestines. When the food moves too quickly it causes diarrhea, because the digestive system does not get enough time to absorb water from the food. On the other hand, if food moves too slowly it causes constipation, as too much water is absorbed, making your stools hard and difficult to pass.
- Extra sensitive bowel—abnormalities in the gastrointestinal nervous system can make people with IBS oversensitive to digestive nerve signals. For example, the body overreacts and treats mild indigestion as severe abdominal pain.
- IBS triggers—a number of stimuli can trigger the symptoms of IBS. However, not all people with the condition react to the same stimuli. These include:
- Foods such as chocolate, milk, fizzy drinks, alcohol, processed snacks, and spices.
- Stress—intense emotional states such as stress or anxiety can interfere with the working of the digestive system and worsen the symptoms.
- Hormones—it is believed that hormonal changes play a role in this condition in women as the symptoms seem to worsen during or around menstruation.
- Illness—acute gastroenteritis or bacterial overgrowth in the intestines can also trigger IBS.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The most common symptoms of IBS are:
- Abdominal pain and/or cramping that may be relieved after a bowel movement.
- Diarrhea or constipation.
- Bloating or swelling in the stomach.
- Mucus in stool
- Frequency of going to toilet increases
- Increased feeling that you have not completely emptied your bowels
Preventing Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Stick to a balanced diet and do not avoid any certain group of foods.
- As different people react to different stimuli, maintain a symptom journal of which foods and which amounts seem to trigger your IBS. Alter your diet accordingly.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep things running smoothly in the gut.
- If the IBS is being triggered by stress or anxiety, try deep breathing or other progressive relaxation exercises to relax muscles in your body.
- Never skip a meal and also eat at regular intervals to help regulate your bowel function.
Home Remedies to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Along with taking necessary precautions, a number of home remedies can also come to your aid to control and manage the symptoms of IBS. Read on to learn the top 8 home remedies for IBS (immediate relief).
Method 1: Peppermint Tea
Peppermint oil or tea is considered to be one of the best remedies for IBS (immediate relief). Peppermint is an antispasmodic that can calm and soothe the stomach. Peppermint also allows the digestive gas to pass by relaxing the muscles.
You can either drink a cup of peppermint tea with ingestible peppermint oil or consume enteric-coated peppermint capsules that pass through the stomach intact and dissolve in the intestines, relieving painful gas and bloating.
Note: Do consult your doctor before taking the peppermint capsule.
Things you’ll need:
- Water – 1 cup
- Ingestible peppermint essential oil
- Peppermint leaves – 5 to 6
Single-Step Treatment: Prepare and drink a cup of peppermint tea
- Heat a glass of water in a saucepan. The water should be sufficiently hot and not boiling.
- Add the peppermint leaves to the water and let it steep for a few minutes.
- Strain the tea in a cup and add 2 to 3 drops of ingestible peppermint oil to it.
- Stir well and consume the peppermint tea.
- Alternatively, you can also use peppermint tea bags as they are more readily available and easy to use.
Drink 2 to 3 cups of peppermint tea every day, 30 minutes before a meal. Your symptoms will start to ease out immediately. Do this for 4 to 5 days to get relief from IBS symptoms.
If consuming peppermint capsules, take 1 capsule three times daily for a week, preferable 1 hour before any meal. You can continue taking it for longer if the symptoms have not cleared up.
Method 2: Probiotic (Yogurt or Kefir)
Probiotics can be taken both as a preventive measure and one of the most effective remedies for IBS (immediate relief). Probiotics such as yogurt and kefir help increase the good bacteria in your gut and restore the normal functioning of the digestive system.
Single-Step Treatment: Eat a cup of yogurt every day
- Eat a cup of yogurt every day to replenish the healthy bacteria in your gut.
- Drink four ounces of kefir milk or water in the morning on an empty stomach. Every second day increase the amount until you are able to drink a full 8-ounce glass.
You should see some improvement within 1 week. Continue taking probiotics on a long term to keep IBS symptoms in check and maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Method 3: Aloe Vera
If you frequently suffer from constipation due to IBS, you can also try consuming aloe vera juice. Aloe vera acts as laxative and helps regularize your bowel movement.
Note: Do not go ahead with this remedy if you are suffering from diabetes, kidney failure, or thyroid disease. It is also not recommended for children or pregnant women.
Single-Step Treatment: Consume aloe vera juice everyday
- Take 2 oz of fresh aloe vera juice twice a day.
You will get a positive result after the very first use. However, you will have to consume it regularly for a long period to ensure regular and healthy bowel movement.
Method 4: Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can also turn out be a savior if suffering from IBS–diarrhea when the food moves too quickly through the intestines and the digestive system does not get enough time to absorb water from the food.
A lot of times, IBS can also be caused by low stomach acid, resulting in the food not breaking down properly and creating gas and discomfort. Apple cider vinegar also helps in increasing the acid in the stomach, thus aiding in breaking down the food. It also helps in adding good bacteria to your gut and can be used to treat acid reflux.
Single-Step Treatment: Drink diluted apple cider vinegar
- Mix 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water.
Consume this drink 5 minutes before any meal. Repeat 2 to 3 times in a day. You should see your symptoms subsiding after just a few doses. The remedy may take longer to work depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Make a habit of consuming this drink on a regular basis to keep your digestion on track.
Method 5: Baking Soda (Bloating Relief)
Baking soda acts as an antacid and helps neutralize the acids in the stomach, thus reliving the bloating and indigestion and the consequent discomfort.
However, baking soda should be taken with caution as it reacts with the stomach acids and forms carbon dioxide. Excess of carbon dioxide can lead to stomach distention and even perforation in extreme cases.
Single-Step Treatment: Mix baking soda in water and consume
- Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of water.
- Mix it well and drink up.
Consuming baking soda will give you immediate relief whenever you suffer from gas and bloating. If needed, drink it every 4 hours. But do not consume more than 5 teaspoons of baking soda in a day.
Method 6: Psyllium Fiber
Psyllium is a natural source of fiber that can help in both diarrhea and constipation caused by IBS. When ingested, the psyllium fiber soaks up fluid in the intestines and swells up into a bulky gel. It relieves diarrhea by making the stool less watery, and in case of constipation, it prompts passage of stool.
Single-Step Treatment: Consume psyllium fiber in a glass of water
- Add 1 teaspoon of psyllium fiber to 1 glass of water.
- Mix it well and drink immediately.
Consume the fiber once every day before or during a meal. It will give you immediate relief from diarrhea and in case of constipation it will set off a bowel movement.
Method 7: Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is rich in essential fatty acids that act as anti-inflammatory agents soothing an irritated stomach and colon and relieving cramps and abdominal pain. It also helps to cleanse your colon off any harmful bacteria or fungus and reduces your chances of falling sick too often. Including coconut oil in your diet will also give you softer skin and shiny hair.
Note: Use 100% organic coconut oil only for consumption.
Single-Step Treatment: Consume 1 tablespoon of coconut oil daily
- Consume 1 tablespoon of organic coconut oil daily to keep symptoms of IBS in check.
- You can also mix the oil in your coffee, smoothies, or dishes to make it easier to consume.
Consuming coconut directly will alleviate an upset stomach within an hour. Continue consuming it on a daily basis to keep maintain a healthy gut.
Method 8: Lemon
Lemon works by alkalizing the excess acids in your stomach and relieving gas and bloating. It also helps stimulate the liver which then produces more bile and optimizes digestion. It will also help strengthen your immune system.
Single-Step Treatment: Drink a glass of lemon water
- Squeeze out the juice of half a lemon in a glass of warm water.
- Mix it well and sip it slowly for an hour or two. Gulping it down in quickly can lead to heartburn.
Lemon water will give you relief from the stomach ache, gas, and bloating within an hour. You can also ditch your morning coffee for a glass of lemon water to maintain the acidity in your stomach and prevent the flare-ups.
- You can also drink fennel tea by steeping 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink the tea 3 times a day to relive spasm and bloating.
- Increase fiber in your diet to ensure regular bowel movement. You can also try consuming 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds every day.