Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects an estimated 10-20% of people in western countries. The condition causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation as well as accompanying tiredness, headaches, backache and muscle pain. All of these make IBS a particularly miserable condition.
Triggers for the condition differ from person to person, but typically include stress and diet – both of which can be addressed through complementary therapy. If you suffer from IBS, try the following to help ease symptoms:
1. Cut out toxicity
Reduce inflammation by lowering the amount of toxicity within the digestive system. You can do this by cutting out processed foods, high sugar/high fat foods, alcohol and tobacco. It is also worth getting tested for food allergies to see if anything else is exacerbating your symptoms.
2. Eat more fibre
Fibre is often a key factor when it comes to treating IBS. This is because fibre (especially water-rich fibre found in cooked vegetables) helps to eliminate harmful bacteria while encouraging good bacteria. Be sure to include plenty of fibre-rich vegetables in your diet to get the most benefit.
3. Try acupuncture
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the symptoms of IBS are caused by a disharmony between the spleen/stomach and the liver. The liver is responsible for the flow of qi, and when this becomes blocked or disturbed, IBS symptoms appear. Acupuncture looks to strengthen the digestive system while restoring a good flow of qi.
4. Get moving
If stress is a trigger for your IBS symptoms, exercising could help you naturally lower stress levels. Chinese theory also believes that exercising helps to promote the flow of qi to ensure any stagnation within the liver is lifted.
5. Help with herbs
Herbs that can help with IBS symptoms include fennel, which is both anti-inflammatory and carminative (helps to expel excess gas), and ginger, which helps alleviate abdominal spasms and eases nausea. Try these herbs in tea and consider combining with peppermint or chamomile to soothe physical and mental stress.
6. Try reflexology
Reflexology treatments can be tailored to your needs and can help to calm the digestive system, reduce inflammation and lessen IBS symptoms. Your reflexologist will also look to pay special attention to the lymphatic system to help eliminate toxins and open the body’s natural energy pathways.
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