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IBS symptoms can be so uncomfortable that many of us seek “alternative natural remedies” to relieve our symptoms. Much like any other syndromes or disease, there are several remedies that present themselves as a cure. I’ve heard it all – from turmeric, to rubbing basil and peppermint oil on your tummy, to drinking different teas. But is there actual scientific evidence behind these so-called remedies? The truth is, many of these “cures” lack research that supports them as effective remedies for IBS.
Popular Remedies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Tumeric and IBS
Dr. Oz previously had a segment on his show where he promoted turmeric, fresh or in the form of a supplement, as an anti-inflammatory that will soothe your digestive tract and decrease painful IBS symptoms. Though there are studies that suggest turmeric might be beneficial to some people suffering with IBS, there is limited evidence that shows it’s an effective method of treatment. I’m not saying turmeric won’t relieve symptoms to a certain degree in some people, but there is no real research to support the claim that turmeric is an effective treatment for IBS. So be cautious when adding this in to your diet, and don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work like magic 😉
Tea and IBS
Tea remedies are incredibly popular. Some teas are definitely more comforting than others for your digestive tract. I love a really good quality blend for digestive health. Peppermint and chamomile are my go-to’s when I’m out and about and don’t have my special blend. I usually get a large with one tea bag of each. IBS or not, we can all admit that sitting down with a hot cup of tea can relieve stress, a contributing factor to IBS symptoms. Although tea is comforting, I never suggest it to my clients as a stand-alone solution to treat IBS symptoms. I see it more as an additional benefit – those who suffer from IBS don’t need tea, but if they’re searching for a comforting hot beverage to relax with, tea would be their best bet. Read more about tea’s effects on your tummy here.
Probiotics and IBS
Last but not least, I’ve heard many people promote a diet high in probiotics as way to manage IBS symptoms. I can see where this idea stems from as probiotics in general are thought to replenish the good bacteria in your gut, thus potentially improving the health of your digestive system. Although it sounds helpful in this respect, we don’t really have enough research at this moment to strongly suggest one strain of bacteria over another. It’s really an experiment (and can be an expensive one at that!). It’s very probable that probiotics actually do not treat IBS. A study published by BMC Gastroenterology in 2013 tested two groups of people with IBS; one group consumed a product with probiotics twice a day, while the other group didn’t. The results showed that probiotics were not an effective treatment for IBS.
How to Identify IBS Myths and Misconceptions
The key to differentiating facts from fiction is similar to the way you identify a fad diet for weight loss. Much like weight loss diets, IBS “natural remedies” promise a quick-fix, which may work in the short-term, but in reality, is usually pretty unsustainable. Many natural remedies are promoted for their anti-inflammatory properties. Yes, most natural remedies contain a high amount of these, which could be a temporary source of comfort your digestive tract, but suggesting that these are the cure for IBS is absolutely false. The low FODMAP diet is the only evidence based remedy for the treatment of IBS at this time. In fact, over 80% of my clients that implement the diet have reported over 50% decrease in digestive symptoms like gas, bloating, discomfort, diarrhea and/or constipation after eliminating high FODMAP foods.
Want to learn more about the Low FODMAP diet? It can be complicated to follow, so in order to be successful and follow it well, register to get a copy of this Free Guide:
The Real Truth about Relieving IBS Symptoms
The reality is, those who suffer from IBS can find varying degrees of relief from these remedies, but I find that following a low FODMAP diet and eliminating trigger foods is the best way to manage IBS symptoms long-term. IBS is a “chronic disorder”, meaning that it can be managed through appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes for the long-term. As much as I would love to offer a “cure”, managing IBS is a lifelong activity, and a lot of determining what’s right for you is trial and error. Working with a professional, such as a registered dietitian or team that specializes in IBS and digestive health, like our team at the Clairmont Digestive Clinic, is something that may help you sort through what works and what doesn’t work for your body.
For a few more management strategies, read my top 3 Strategies for Healthy Digestion article.
Stay tuned for next weeks post as we talk about a few natural remedies that may actually be beneficial for your IBS!
Join me in the free Facebook group Beyond FODMAPs where you can connect with others, get advice and support to help you improve your digestive health and better manage symptoms.
Wishing you good gut health & wellness,
Stephanie and the Team