Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a fairly common condition that is characterised by chronic abdominal pain or discomfort associated with a change in bowel habits which cannot be explained by any functional or biochemical abnormality. You know how it is when you’ve tried the antacids, you’ve increased your fibre, you’ve had the colonoscopy and you’re told that you’re “fine”… but you still have digestive issues! If you’re seeking irritable bowel syndrome help in Melbourne, read on to find out more about IBS with this blog post from Melbourne Natural Medicine Clinic.
IBS Criteria & Categories
IBS is determined from the following criteria:
- Occurring for at least 3 months
- Onset at least 6 months before presentation to health practitioner
- Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort
- Two or more of the following symptoms:
- Improvement with defecation
- Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool
- Onset associated with a change in form/appearance of stool
IBS can be classified into three categories:
- Constipation predominant IBS (IBS-C)
- Diarrhoea predominant IBS (IBS-D)
- Mixed/alternating constipation & diarrhoea IBS (IBS-M)
What Causes IBS?
Though the cause of IBS is unclear, there are several factors that may contribute to digestive issues. These factors can include:
- Food allergy/intolerances – Reactions to foods, additives or preservatives can cause irritation. Often, food sensitivities can be caused by some of the other factors below, such as intestinal permeability and dysbiosis.
- Gastrointestinal dysbiosis – The gut microbiome (‘gut bugs’) can have a direct effect on bowel function. The presence of bad bugs, or an overgrowth or undergrowth of good bacteria, can affect motility, inflammation, gut hypersensitivity, immune function and intestinal permeability. The condition SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) can also lead to IBS-type symptoms.
- Intestinal permeability – This can occur due to dysbiosis, infection/inflammation or stress. The integrity of the bowel is compromised and the bowel becomes more ‘permeable’, allowing an inflammatory process to occur.
- Gastrointestinal infection/Post-infectious IBS – Some people will develop IBS after bacterial, viral or parasitic infections, e.g., ‘gastro’, food poisoning, etc.
- Stress and psychosocial factors – Our gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus can be affected by our nervous system. Those who are ‘gut’ reactors will relate to this. For example, when you’re stressed, you can’t eat ,or you may get gut cramps or loose bowels. The gut-brain connection is powerful, and elevated stress hormones can affect bowel function.
- Abnormal gastrointestinal motility – Similar to above, the speed of bowel transit can be affected by serotonin (95% in bowel, and 5% in the brain).
Thankfully, we can now investigate many of the above factors to determine whether these may be affecting your bowel symptoms. With natural medicines, we can support intestinal permeability, dysbiosis, SIBO, food sensitivities and the nervous system to reduce IBS symptoms.
Contact our clinic today to arrange a consultation and discover the available options for natural IBS treatment in Melbourne.