While there is no cure for IBS, there are treatment options available to help reverse many of its symptoms.

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Depending on the day, living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be anything from frustrating to debilitating. This “functional” bowel disorder may create symptoms like:

If you experience any (or all) of these symptoms, it’s only natural to want relief. You might even wonder if IBS can be reversed. Here’s what you need to know about whether it’s possible to stop this condition in its tracks.

Learn more about IBS.

Though medical research may one day find a cure for IBS, as of now, no such intervention exists. However, this doesn’t mean you’re without options for relief.

“There is no cure for IBS, but dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as medications, can help manage symptoms,” says Chris Damman, MD, chief medical and scientific officer of Supergut and clinical associate professor of Gastroenterology and Medicine at the University of Washington.

The goal of IBS treatment is not so much to cure the condition, but to allow you to live a life not impeded by symptoms.

In more extreme cases, your doctor might recommend medications, but treatment often focuses more on lifestyle interventions that don’t require a prescription.

The right combination of therapies can not only reduce symptoms, but will make it so you’re able to manage your own digestive health.

Hop on the internet and you’ll find dozens of interventions intended to treat IBS — not all of them backed up by science. Here are some options with well-established evidence.

A low-FODMAP diet limits foods that contain a certain type of fermentable carbohydrates. Onions, beans, garlic, wheat, milk, cabbage, and other foods are eliminated or removed on this diet plan.

Complications or risks

Though a low-FODMAP diet may offer significant relief for many people with IBS, it might pose problems for others.

“Limiting high FODMAPs can treat IBS symptoms, but also may deplete healthy microbes in the gut,” says Damman.

There are some ways around this. “A complementary strategy to limiting high-FODMAP fibers is the addition of low-FODMAP fibers like arabinoxylan, various gums, beta glucan, and resistant starch. This can help promote a healthy microbiome while decreasing unhealthy microbes that may contribute to IBS symptoms.”


Research in 2016 suggests that a low-FODMAP diet can be a highly effective means of managing IBS symptoms.

In fact, Damman says it’s often the first line of therapy for people with mild to moderate versions of the condition.

Reducing your stress levels through meditation, breathing exercises, or simply cutting back on commitments could be the breakthrough you need for IBS relief.

In a 2020 study, 70% of participants who completed an 8-week mindfulness-based practice reported reduced IBS symptoms.

Complications or risks

You’re not likely to experience adverse effects from incorporating stress reduction techniques. Just be sure to practice meditation or other calming exercises in a safe, quiet space.


The benefits of stress reduction stretch far beyond IBS symptom management. People who practice mindfulness meditation may see improvements in:

  • sleep quality
  • mental health
  • memory
  • emotional health
  • pain control
  • hypertension

Could taking up jogging or going to Pilates calm your bowels? Possibly.

Various studies have examined the effects of physical activity on IBS symptoms — mostly with encouraging results. A 2019 review of research found that exercise was potentially a feasible and effective treatment for IBS, while an earlier study concluded that exercise should be used as a primary treatment for the condition.

Complications or risks

Talk with your doctor before taking up a new form of activity. For some people, certain types of exercise may cause pain or injury.


Beyond managing your IBS, exercise could come with additional benefits like increased muscle tone, weight loss, and better metabolic health.

A variety of drugs and supplements exist to treat IBS, some of which may be helpful for your specific symptoms.

Complications or risks

Prescription drugs and supplements may come with side effects or could interact with medications you’re already taking. Be sure to clear any prescription or OTC medications with your doctor.


“For mild to moderate IBS with constipation-predominant symptoms, osmotic laxatives like polyethylene glycol can be particularly helpful,” says Damman.

“For IBS with diarrhea predominance, loperamide and other medications that decrease secretion of fluids or slow intestinal transit time can be useful. Additionally, medications that bind bile acids can be helpful [for] some folks with IBS,” Damman explains.

Some questions to ask your doctor or healthcare professional before introducing a new IBS therapy include:

  • Which treatments will help manage my specific symptoms?
  • Are there any treatments I should not try?
  • What foods should I eat or avoid?
  • Will supplements interact with the medications I’m currently taking?
  • Should I see a dietitian?

Does IBS shorten your life expectancy?

Although a 2020 study reports that 50% of people with IBS worry that their condition will shorten their lifespan, the research does not show that IBS raises any risk of premature death.

Does IBS put you at risk of other health problems?

Having IBS does not increase your risk of developing colon cancer in the long term. And it doesn’t turn into digestive conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, either.

That said, there may be some overlap between IBS and other “functional” conditions such as:

  • fibromyalgia
  • headaches
  • skin rashes

Is IBS a permanent condition?

Since there is no cure for IBS, it is considered a “permanent” condition. However, some people experience alternating periods of relief (remission) and periods of symptoms (flares).

IBS may not currently be curable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t minimize its impact. A variety of at-home treatments may help with unpleasant symptoms.

Diet changes, stress reduction, medications or supplements, an exercise routine, and other interventions may add up to living your best life with this diagnosis.