Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic, episodic intestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits. It affects one in seven Americans, although most go undiagnosed. IBS can have a substantial impact on well-being and health, but doctors underestimate the impact the disease can have, particularly the pain and discomfort.
IBS is thought to be caused by a hypersensitivity of the lining of the colon. If you suffer from chronic irritable bowel–type symptoms, such as bloating, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel habits, ask your doctor about getting a formal evaluation for celiac disease. If you have celiac, then go on a strict gluten-free diet. If you do not have the disease, the current recommendation is to first try a healthier diet including more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, while avoiding processed foods. The reason people may feel better on a gluten-free diet—and therefore conclude they have a problem with gluten—is because they’ve stopped eating so much fast food and other processed junk. If you eat a deep-fried Twinkie and your stomach aches, it may not be the gluten.
If a more healthful diet doesn’t help, try to rule out other causes of chronic gastrointestinal distress. Researchers found that about one-third of people who avoid wheat and/or gluten don’t appear to have gluten sensitivity but, instead, have other conditions, like an overgrowth of bacteria in their small intestines, fructose- or lactose-intolerance, or a neuromuscular disorder like gastroparesis or pelvic floor dysfunction. Only after each of these is ruled out do I suggest people suffering from chronic, suspicious symptoms try a gluten-free diet.
A number of plant foods, such as peppermint oil, kiwi, ginger, cayenne pepper, have been found effective in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.
The information on this page has been compiled from Dr. Greger’s research. Sources for each video listed can be found by going to the video’s page and clicking on the Sources Cited tab. References may also be found at the back of his books.
Image Credit: The Clear Communication People / Flickr. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
All Videos for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Yoga Put to the Test for IBS, Inflammatory Bowel, Menopause, and Osteoporosis
A study using sham acupuncture underscores the necessity of controlling for expectancy effects.
Ultra-Processed Junk Food Put to the Test
What happened when ultra-processed foods were matched for calories, sugar, fat, and ﬁber content in the first randomized controlled trial?
Prunes: A Natural Remedy for Constipation
Prunes, figs, and exercise are put to the test as natural home remedies for constipation.
Fasting for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
More than half of IBS sufferers appear to have a form of atypical food allergy.
Fiber vs. Low FODMAP for SIBO Symptoms
It may not be the number of bacteria growing in your small intestine, but the type of bacteria, which can be corrected with diet.
Are Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) Tests Valid?
Even if we could accurately diagnose SIBO, if there is no difference in symptoms between those testing positive and those testing negative, then what’s the point?
The World’s Largest Fasting Study
Buchinger modified fasting is put to the test.
Are Ancient Grains Healthier?
Ancient wheats like kamut are put to the test for inflammation, blood sugar, and cholesterol control.
Is Fiber an Effective Anti-Inflammatory?
Most Americans get less than half the recommended minimum fiber intake a day and the benefits of fiber go way beyond bowel regularity.
Ground Ginger to Reduce Muscle Pain
There have been at least eight randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of ginger for pain.
Is Aloe Effective for Blood Pressure, Inflammatory Bowel, Wound Healing, and Burns?
I discuss the risks and benefits of aloe vera.
How to Strengthen the Mind-Body Connection
Slow-paced breathing at the right frequency can result in a vagal nerve activation, which may have a variety of beneficial effects.
Ginger for Nausea, Menstrual Cramps, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Powdered ginger can be a highly effective, cheap, easy-to-use, safer treatment for nausea, migraine headaches, and menstrual blood loss and pain. Does it also work for IBS intestinal cramping?
Peppermint Oil for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Peppermint essential oil should be considered the first-line treatment for IBS.
How to Diagnose Gluten Intolerance
After a formal evaluation to rule out celiac disease, those who suspect they might have gluten sensitivity should first try improving their diet and then have other causes excluded before going on a gluten-free diet, since as many as 1 in 3 people who avoid gluten for symptom control end up having a different disease altogether.
Is Gluten Sensitivity Real?
For more than 30 years, the medical profession has debated the existence of an intolerance to the wheat protein, gluten, unrelated to allergy or celiac disease. What is the evidence pro and con?
Cayenne Pepper for Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Chronic Indigestion
Chronic red pepper powder ingestion may be an effective treatment for IBS and chronic dyspepsia (indigestion), both of which can arise from food poisoning.
Kiwifruit for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
A kiwifruit intervention was found to improve bowel function in those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. This was accomplished without side effects, such as heart attacks and stroke associated with the primary drug prescribed to treat the condition, tegaserod.