It’s something most of us would rather not talk about. Bloating, Diarrhea, Constipation or Gas: the unmentionables.  But it’s  a fact of life for many who suffer from bowel disorders. And with it’s uncomfortable and often embarrassing symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome can wreak havoc on one’s active lifestyle. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Many patients have been helped tremendously by incorporating a few changes into their diet and by learning how stress may affect IBS flares.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms: Pain in the abdominal area, bloating, or periods alternating between constipation and diarrhea are all common symptoms seen in those with IBS. Cramping during a bowel movement or mucus filled stools may also occur.  Sometimes people may report an  “increased urgency”  in terms of having to get to a bathroom quickly, or having what is referred to as “increased frequency” meaning that one is having bowel movements more often than normal.  In numerous cases patients report that their symptoms may wax and wane and that they may experience periods where their symptoms are minimal to none, and others where it seems like the IBS has returned with a vengeance.

Are there specific causes of IBS? There has not as of yet been any one identifiable theory which explains why irritable bowel syndrome occurs. However, there are some theories which say that in those with IBS, the gastrointestinal area of the colon is very sensitive and may react differently towards certain foods and/or during stressful periods in someone’s life, than others without this sensitivity.  There is also some thought that the immune system may be a component of IBS as well.

Moods and IBS: It is very interesting that research has determined that the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter chemical that has a direct influence on mood, is also associated with normal functioning of one’s gastrointestinal system.  In depressed persons, serotonin levels are low and many of the anti-depressant medications help increase the levels of serotonin in the brain.  The gastrointestinal tract or (GI) tract actually has over 95% of the serotonin in the body, the brain contains the other 5%.   In IBS patients it is known that the transporter cells inside the GI tract that are responsible for carrying the serotonin out of the GI tract may not work as well as in patients without this issue.

How to Relieve IBS Symptoms:   Keeping a food journal and noting what foods are aggravating during flare ups can be helpful for reducing IBS symptoms. Watching one’s stress, and increasing fiber when you’re not having a flare up but reducing it during the times when the condition is “active” may also be useful. We’ll talk more in upcoming articles about some other important things to know about IBS but for now, I wanted to leave you with a product that may be helpful for some patients who suffer from the symptoms of IBS.

There are some prescription medications that you can talk with your doctor about, as well as some over the counter remedies. 

CharcoCaps is a homeopathic remedy that was used for the past week by one of my family members. He reported having very good success with the product so I wanted to share the information with all of our readers. The product can be obtained over the counter. We purchased this box at our local CVS pharmacy but it does not require a prescription. It was particularly helpful for relieving both the frequency and urgency issues of having to go to the restroom quickly, and has also reduced the amount of gas that was occurring. As always before using any product either over the counter or prescription, check with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to use.

Do you have a favorite remedy for IBS? Write in and let us know what works best for you.