I think I may have IBS – how can I treat it?

Saturday, 13 February 2016

I think I might have IBS – could you tell me a bit more about the symptoms and how one can manage it? I’ve heard there is no cure.


We ask Dr Graham Duncombe from Skin & Body Renewal:

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a common condition which affects the colon. The diagnosis is based on symptoms only as there are no structural changes that occur in IBS. It is important to rule out other more serious conditions which may present with similar symptoms, such as Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease. Some of the most common symptoms of IBS include chronic abdominal pain, bloating,diarrhoea, constipation and cramps. Some patients experience constipation alternating with diarrhoea while others may experience one or the other.

The exact cause of IBS is not known, but it is most likely a combination of different factors that combine to produce the symptoms. Many IBS patients have dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of their natural gut flora. We have billions of beneficial bacteria which reside in the colon and contribute to valuable metabolic processes including digestion. Stress, antibiotic use and poor diet kills off our good bacteria and allows harmful bacteria and fungi like candida to overgrow in the digestive tract. Dysbiosis can produce many of the symptoms of IBS and may certainly be the cause in many patients.

Food intolerances may also contribute to the symptom picture of IBS. Many IBS patients have more severe symptoms when they eat certain foods. A wide variety of foods have been identified as possible triggers, but some of the most common ones include gluten, dairy, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spices and alcohol. If food intolerance is the cause of the IBS, symptoms will disappear when the food is removed from the diet. A very poor diet high in inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates may also cause symptoms due to the high levels of inflammation they produce in the gut.

Stress is another known cause of IBS symptoms in some patients. I am sure we have all experienced butterflies in our tummies when we are nervous. Similarly stress and anxiety may influence the contraction of the muscles around the intestines causing cramps and IBS symptoms.

Although there may be no “cure” for IBS, many of the causes such as dysbiosis, stress and anxiety can be treated effectively, and a poor diet can be corrected. It is very possible to live a symptom free life with proper treatment and life-style modification. If you need help managing your IBS, one of the Health Renewal doctors could give you expert guidance.”

Ask Dr Duncombe all your health questions here.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Banish bloating
Irritable bowel syndrome explained
BSA goes on a juice detox
How can I increase the good bacteria in my gut?
The beer boep: What’s the story?

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  1. Nixxi

    Great article, I can certainly relate because I too have IBS. I find that a good water intake helps and avoiding certain foods also like wheat. My IBS also acts up when I’m stressed so I need to take it easy. It really is very uncomfortable :(

    3 years ago •

  1. Shantel Vivekanandan

    IBS and Candida had been friends of mine for a very long time. Constipation and bloating was the order of my life. About almost four years ago I learnt about kefir. I cultivated it for about six months before the task became just to labourious to maintain. I eventually gave up on constipation medication and tried a better balanced diet and to increase my levels of probiotic as well as to increase my water intake significantly. The probiotics whether natural or supplements took a long while to kick in. However, once they did my issue was almost completely resolved. I don’t have the best diet and I do like junk. But I have found that moderation, probiotics and lots of water helped my colon to restore itself.

    3 years ago •


    Great advice. We should all try and take good care of our health.

    3 years ago •

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