Five Ways to Reduce Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Pain During the Holidays
For people with chronic Irritable Bowel Pain
By Amy Cater
Acupuncturist at the Two Frogs Healing Center
The hectic holidays are a recipe for pain for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
The stress of shopping, preparing to entertain family and friends, and indulging in rich foods goes right into the bowels of people suffering from IBS. This can cause severe abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation - all which are aggravated by food and stress that irritate the colon.
What kinds of food can cause IBS?
IBS affects one in five Americans (20%), making it one of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions. IBS symptoms like abdominal pain can be caused by stress or by eating certain foods such as wheat, chocolate or dairy products, which irritate the ultra-sensitive lining of the colon. It is a primary cause of missed work and school days.
Who is most affected by this condition?
The vast majority of those diagnosed are women. For many, there is a great deal of anxiety and humiliation associated with the constant urgency to go to the bathroom, as well as a pervasive fear of not making it in time.
Many people consult their doctors to find symptom relief. Unfortunately, the treatment options include medications that can cause a host of unpleasant side effects.
The downside of IBS medications
Many doctors will recommend high fiber diets, or fiber supplements to stop diarrhea, or stool softeners to ease constipation. Most people are also prescribed medications like antidepressants and antispasmodics to alleviate IBS symptoms of pain, cramping, bloating, or diarrhea.
These drugs can create unpleasant side-effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, sexual problems, dizziness, tremors, headache and weight gain. Natural alternatives to medications provide significant long-lasting relief to IBS sufferers.
Natural healing for Irritable Bowel Syndrome pain and irritation
Here are five healthy and natural ways to relieve the pain and irritation of IBS:
1. Eliminate irritating food triggers
One of the most effective ways to reduce abdominal pain, cramping and diarrhea is to eliminate foods that irritate your intestines. Avoid foods such as high-gluten grains (especially wheat, rye, and barley), chocolate, dairy products, alcohol, and caffeine. These food irritants have been shown to cause stress and low-grade inflammation in the digestive tract of people with IBS.
More over, studies show that 70% of people who suffer from IBS reduce their pain and other symptoms through dietary changes. Try reducing or eliminating wheat, dairy, and the other food irritants for three to four weeks and you should see an improvement in your symptoms. Adding the right foods also helps relieve IBS pain and symptoms.
2. Add soothing herbal teas to ease digestive irritation
Try drinking peppermint or ginger teas throughout the day, instead of coffee or soda. These herbal remedies have been shown to aid digestion, as well as offer relief from gas and bloating. An important tip: if you have a "hot stomach," the ginger tea can make you hotter. Try the cooling peppermint tea instead.
Not only herbal teas help, so does exercise.
3. Exercise regularly
A regular exercise program has also been shown to significantly reduce the irritating symptoms of IBS. Aerobic exercise such as vigorous walking will increase blood flow in the body, which aids in healing the intestines, lifts your mood, and improves sleep.
Exercise improves muscle tone, including the muscles of the colon (which will help regulate and improve elimination). Yoga is another beneficial form of exercise to improve muscle tone and reduce stress. Additionally, there are several yoga postures that directly benefit and improve digestion. In addition to exercise, supplements help also.
4. Digestive supplements improve digestion
Healthy bacteria can be depleted by antibiotic use, stress, chlorinated tap water, and birth control pills; and too little healthy bacteria can aggravate digestive problems. A daily broad-spectrum probiotic, taken 30-minutes before a meal, will help to restore beneficial, healthy intestinal bacteria.
Probiotic supplements are found in yogurt, but the milk in yogurt can often cause irritation to the digestive system. Probiotics in capsule form can offer a broader spectrum of beneficial bacteria strains without the irritation. They are available at most health food stores in refrigeration. Reducing stress helps, too.
5. Reducing stress gives your intestines a break
While supplements help to improve digestion, stress-reducing practices will do even more to bring balance and ease to your digestive system. Meditation, accompanied by slow, gentle abdominal breathing (which is how babies breathe) will provide tremendous relaxation and relief from the stress that can lead to pain in your intestines.
Tai chi and chi gong are also excellent and time-honored practices combining movement and breath. Adopting gentle practices such as these will not only help you reduce stress; experts agree that these practices can help you lead a longer, healthier life.
Ending your worries about IBS this holiday season
Give yourself the gift of relief from IBS pain, discomfort and stress. Implement these five ways to reduce your IBS symptoms and get a new reason to celebrate this holiday season. Clients who have adopted these recommendations have reported reduced or complete elimination of pain. They also have improved regularity, ease in bowel movements, and freedom from worry about food triggers.
Get rid of your IBS pain for good.
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Amy Cater is a licensed and nationally board-certified acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, as well as a certified practitioner of medical Qi Gong and instructor of Pan Gu Shengong. She has helped numerous people heal from digestive disorders, including IBS, Crohn's disease, Celiac disease, colitis and ulcers.
She has joined our practice at the Two Frogs Healing Center. Learn more about her free lectures on Getting Rid of IBS pain and discomfort at http://www.twofrogscenter.com/ibs_talk.html.
Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is generic and for general information purposes only, and is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any condition, illness, or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.
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