Homeopathy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition characterized by muscles in the intestines squeezing either faster or slower than normal. This creates sudden bouts of diarrhea and constipation, along with pain, cramping, and excess gas. While the cause is not fully understood, there is evidence that food allergies and emotional stress may contribute to the condition. Many possible homeopathic treatments exist for IBS, all based on the specific details of the patient’s history and experience with the syndrome. The goal of the homeopath is to bring the patient’s body back into balance. Research indicates that homeopathy for IBS can be effective by reducing stress, alleviating the abnormal hypersensitivity of the bowels and relieving the symptoms of bowel hypermotility. Homeopathy gets at the root cause of the difficulties and brings harmony back to the various bodily systems.

Homeopathic Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Because homeopathy addresses the patient as a whole by seeking out and removing the root cause of the disturbances, treatments significantly reduce the risk of recurrence of the condition. Homeopathic remedies are harmless, non-toxic and can be taken along with conventional medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

  • Digestive upsets accompanied by anxiety point to Argentum nitricum as a remedy. Nausea, bloating and rumbling flatulence are followed by sudden and intense greenish diarrhea. The patient craves sweet or salty food, and large amounts can create more IBS issues. The patient is probably also impulsive and expressive, and may have claustrophobia and blood sugar problems.
  • When muscular contractions in the esophagus and intestines seem to be moving in the wrong direction, accompanied by a feeling of constriction all along the digestive tract, Asafoetida might provide relief. The person may feel that a lump is moving up from the stomach or a bubble is stuck in the throat. Even though the abdomen feels inflated, the person cannot pass gas in either direction. Constipation alternates with diarrhea that can be profuse, watery and explosive. The person may regurgitate small amounts of food. One study indicated those patients who took Asafoetida for IBS experienced more improvement than those taking a placebo.
  • When cutting pains and cramping are so bad the person doubles over or needs to lie down and press on the abdomen, a homeopath might recommend Colocynthis. Cramps may be felt around the pubic bone. Pain usually is worse after drinking water or eating fruit and just before diarrhea passes. Unexpressed anger makes the difficulties worse. Occasionally, gall bladder problems, back pain and leg pain are present when this remedy is needed.
  • If constricting feelings in the chest are accompanied by frequent unsuccessful attempts to move the bowels all day, with sudden diarrhea the following morning, Lilium tigrinum might be chosen. The patient probably feels as if there is lump in the rectum, which seems worse when standing up. Hemorrhoids may develop. The person tends to be irritable and angry, and IBS is worse after excitement and strong emotions.
  • For chronic digestive discomforts and bowel problems, Lycopodium might be the best option. Band-like pain around the waist and heartburn are common. A feeling of fullness with bloating starts during or soon after a meal, and a lot of gas is usually produced. The patient may feel better after rubbing the abdomen. Still, the patient may feel ravenous, and may eat in the middle of the night. Other symptoms include a craving for sweets, a preference for warm drinks, a worried facial expression, and problems with self-confidence.
  • A person having trouble digesting and assimilating a variety of foods and who must stay on a restricted diet might find relief from Natrum carbonicum. If offending foods are eaten, indigestion, heartburn, and even ulcers may occur. The person often cannot tolerate milk, and consuming dairy products can lead to gas and diarrhea with an empty feeling in the stomach. The person probably craves potatoes, sweets and sometimes milk. The patient’s personality is cheerful and considerate, but, when not feeling well, wants to be alone to rest.
  • Bowel problems and abdominal pain, when accompanied by constricting sensations, chilliness, tension and irritability, can point to the remedy Nux vomica. Painful gas and cramps, along with sore muscles in the abdominal wall, are common. Firm pressure applied to the abdomen brings some relief. When constipated, the patient feels an urge to move the bowels, but only small amounts come out. There might be a constant state of uneasiness in the rectum. After diarrhea has passed, the pain may be eased for a little while. The patient often craves strong, spicy foods, coffee, alcohol, tobacco and other stimulants, but these usually upset the digestive system even more.
  • When constipation alternates with pasty yellow bowel movements containing mucus and watery, offensive-smelling diarrhea, treatment might call for Podophyllum. Abdominal cramping and pain is linked with a gurgling, sinking, empty feeling. The very early morning is the worst time of day, and the patient may have a headache and feel weak and faint afterward. Rubbing the abdomen may bring some relief. The patient might also have stiff muscles and joints.
  • When the patient wakes up around 5:00 a.m. to rush to the bathroom with sudden diarrhea, Sulphur might help. Diarrhea may occur several times a day, but at other times there might be constipation with offensive gas. The rectum may ooze, itch, burn and turn red from irritation. The patient may have back pain and poor posture, and feel worse after standing for a long time.

What to Expect During a Visit with a Homeopathic Practitioner

Homeopathic medicine can reduce Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms by lowering food sensitivities and allergies. Homeopathy treats the patient as a whole and does not simply focus on the disease. Careful attention is given to the minute details about the presenting complaints, including the severity of diarrhea, constipation, pain, cramps, mucus in the stools, nausea, heartburn, emotional triggers and conventional laboratory findings. In addition, the patient’s eating habits, food preferences, thermal attributes and sleep patterns are noted. The patient’s family history and diseases, along with the patient’s emotions are discussed. Then the homeopathic practitioner will select the remedy that most closely matches the symptoms.

What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Possible root causes for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) include emotional stress, a low-fiber diet, use of laxatives, a period of infectious diarrhea, or other temporary bowel inflammation. Up to 60 percent of IBS patients also experience anxiety and depression. Levels of the brain chemical serotonin usually are low among patients with IBS. People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) also may be sensitive to certain foods, such as artificial sweeteners, chemical additives, red meat, dairy products, chocolate, alcohol, sodas and gluten (the “glue” in wheat and other grains). IBS may affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, creating more issues for the patient.

Additional Resources

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

National Library of Medicine--Medlineplus on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Studies on homeopathy for IBS

Alternative treatments for IBS

Tips on controlling IBS symptoms

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