Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS Home Remedies That Work
Personalize Your Prevention
Cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea: the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are uncomfortable and can be embarrassing too. Yet there are several lifestyle changes and home remedies that you can try to provide some relief. Although everyone’s body is different, once you find remedies that work, you can them for prevention.
Click through the slideshow to see some popular home remedies.
Exercise is proven to relieve stress, depression, and anxiety—especially when done consistently. Anything that relieves stress can help with bowel pain by stimulating regular intestinal contractions. If you’re not used to exercising, be sure to start slow and work your way up to the American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) recommended amount of 30 minutes a day, five days a week (AHA, 2012).
Deep breathing and progressive relaxation are other stress-reducing methods. Both allow you to relax your abdominal muscles, which can help make bowel activity more regular. When done properly, deep breathing helps you calm down. It entails breathing from your diaphragm, which is the muscle separating your abdomen from your chest.
Progressive relaxation is simply tensing and relaxing the muscles in your body, starting with your feet and moving through your whole body all the way to your face and scalp.
Eat More Fiber
Fiber is a bit of a mixed bag for IBS sufferers. It helps ease some symptoms, including constipation, but can actually make other symptoms—like cramping and gas—worse. Still, high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans are recommended as an IBS treatment if taken gradually over several weeks. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you take a fiber supplement, such as Metamucil, rather than dietary fiber.
Go Easy on the Dairy
Some people who are lactose intolerant have IBS. In this case, you can try eating yogurt instead of milk for your dairy requirements—or consider using an enzyme product to help dissolve lactose. Your doctor may recommend avoiding dairy products entirely, in which case you’ll need to ensure that you consume enough protein and calcium from other sources. Talk to a dietitian if you have questions about how to do this.
Be Cautious With Laxatives
Your over-the-counter choices can improve your IBS symptoms or make them worse, depending on how you use them. The Mayo Clinic recommends using caution if you use OTC anti-diarrheal medicines or laxatives such as Kaopectate or Imodium. Some medicines need to be taken 20 to 30 minutes before you eat to help prevent symptoms. Follow the directions on the package to avoid problems (Mayo Clinic, 2011).
Make Smart Food Choices
It goes without saying that certain foods can make gastrointestinal (GI) pain worse. Be on the lookout for which foods exacerbate your symptoms, and be sure to avoid them. Some common problem foods and drinks include:
- dairy products
Do Your Part
IBS can be a pain in the stomach, but you can take steps to prevent or alleviate symptoms. Managing your stress and watching your diet are two of the best ways to relieve IBS symptoms from home. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re uncertain about which lifestyle techniques to try or the best way to start them.