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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


What is IBS?


Also commonly known as spastic colon, IBS is a Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder (FGID) characterised by chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and the alteration of bowel habits. Diarrhea or Constipation may predominate or alternate, and this will lead to the categorisation of the problem (IBS-D, IBS-C, or IBS-A respectively). IBS has no known to organic cause, and, as such, the diagnosis of IBS is simply the diagnosis of the ‘presence’ of certain symptoms as mentioned above.

The most common attempt at a medical explanation of IBS is that the disorder is related to maladaptive functioning in the relationship between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. My experiences in living with and treating this disorder suggest to me that the underlying reason is most likely of a psychological (mental or emotional) or spiritual nature, and that the symptoms have manifested through the psychological process of somatisation.

The onset of IBS is seemingly not age dependent, although it does seem that with increasing stresses impacting our lives as we get older, we are more likely to begin suffering from IBS through an accumulation of unresolved stress factors. That is just my viewpoint based on the clients that I see, and isn’t backed up by any research that I am aware of.

Having a good relationship with both your GP and your therapist is essential, since several other, potentially more serious, conditions may present the same symptoms as IBS, including coeliac disease, fructose malabsorption, parasitic infections such as giardiasis, chrohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and functional chronic constipation to name but a few. It is therefore vitally important that sufferers don’t simply accept a GP diagnosis of IBS indefinitely if treatments are not resolving the problem: you have the right to challenge the GP’s diagnosis, so take your health into your hands, research the alternative conditions, and make suggestions!

IBS has no known impact on life expectancy. It does, however, contribute to a weakening of the bowels, the long term impact of which is unknown. It is also a source of constant fatigue and pain which, when taken into consideration with toilet habits, has significantly detrimental effects on the quality of life that an individual can enjoy, and often has an adverse impact on a person’s effectiveness in the work environment. Some studies have shown a correlation between IBS and increased suicide rates, citing the perceived feelings of hopelessness of a cure and the poor quality of available medical services to assist them as reasons for the increased suicidal thoughts. Our own experience suggest that GP’s are quick to diagnose and prescribe, but fail to offer long term, or permanent, solutions to the problem, unlike Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).

IBS: A Short Video Explanation

Signs and Symptoms of IBS


The dominant symptoms of IBS are abdominal pains in association with frequent bouts of diarrhea or constipation and a change in regular bowel habits. There can also be increased urgency for evacuation, yet feelings of incomplete evacuation (tenesmus), accompanied by bloating or abdominal distension afterwards. This often leads to embarrassing ‘accidents’ which can lead to increased stress, lowered self-esteem and even anxiety about leaving the house.

Studies indicate that approximately two thirds of IBS sufferers will also suffer from a psychological disorder, typically depression or anxiety, and about one third of sufferers will face sexual dysfunction while suffering, notably a loss of interest in sex.

Individuals with IBS, more commonly than other people, will have gastroesophagal reflux, genitourinary problems, chronic fatigues syndrome, fibromyaligia, headaches, and backaches as well.

IBS symptoms, it seems, are a perfect example of the operation of a vicious circle: psychological or spiritual issues have somatised into a physical issue which, in turn, has an adverse psychological effect resulting in an exacerbation of symptoms. When viewed in this manner, it is evident that the application of a pharmaceutical solution will only treat the physical symptoms and resultant, second stage, psychological issues. CAM, by contrast, tackles the root psychological or spiritual issue, which breaks the circle.

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Treatment for IBS


 Once a person accepts that the physical symptoms they experience are actually manifestations of psychological or spiritual issues, the good news is that IBS is completely treatable. Naturopathic interventions can support the lifestyle changes necessary to rid yourself of the problem permanently. Vibrational Medicine techniques can pinpoint the source of the trouble, and deliver targeted remedies against the problem. Aromatherapy massage, especially when combined with Reiki Healing, can promote deep relaxation to help overcome any stress factors which may be contributing to the situation. EFT can combine powerfully with NLP to address any underlying psychological issues relating to self-esteem, for example, which may be further contributing to underlying stress related causes.

The list could go on, for example, to consider the benefits that Herbal remedies and Homeopathy can provide, but suffice to say that whichever CAM treatment modality you choose, there is an effective solution to part or all of the IBS problem.

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Medical Disclaimer:

Please note that any advice offered either on this site or in my practice is not meant to substitute medical advice. For medical advice, please consult a relevant medical professional.

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