A temporary stomach upset after over-eating or over-drinking can be ignored, but a change in bowel habits could be indicative of a medical condition, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), that needs attention. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the large intestine that leads to stomach cramps, bloating and changes in bowel habits, means constipation or diarrhea (loose stool). Some people with IBS experience both constipation and diarrhoea alternately. IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress, but it does not cause permanent harm to the intestines and does not lead to intestinal bleeding, or to serious disease (such as cancer). Homeopathic medicines for IBS help treat the symptoms of IBS, reducing their severity with time.
The conventional system of medicine has practically no treatment for IBS, but homeopathy does. Remedies for IBS are made of natural substances having zero side effects. Homeopathy does not treat diseases but rather human beings suffering from diseases, thus ensuring a complete cure. As a comprehensive holistic approach to healthcare, natural medicines are able to offer a solution to many of these problems.
Top Homeopathic Medicines For IBS
The most prominent homeopathic medicines used symptomatically for IBS treatment include Nux Vomica, Aloe Socotrina, Lycopodium, Bryonia Alba, Alumina, Colocynth, Kali Phos and Argentum Nitricum.
1. Nux Vomica – Top Remedy For IBS
Nux Vomica is the top natural medicine for IBS. The prominent symptom calling for its use is frequent ineffectual urge to pass stool. There is passage of a small quantity of stool or poop very frequently. There is constant urge to pass stool. Inspite of passing stool a number of times, there is dissatisfaction as if bowels are still not completely empty popularly known as a ‘never get done feeling’.
Abdomen pain lessens for a very short time after stool, but it renews soon after stool expulsion, along with an urge to pass stool again. When some peculiar food like spicy food, coffee, and alcoholic drinks worsens the condition, then Nux Vomica is the best choice. The worsening of condition after anger spells is also an important marker for using Nux Vomica.
When and How to use Nux Vomica?
This medicine can be used in persons having frequent ineffectual urge to pass stool. The stool passes in small quantity frequently but there is a feeling that some stool still remains in the rectum that needs evacuation. It works well in both low and high potencies. To begin with, it is best to start with low potencies. Nux Vomica 30 C can be used two to three times a day initially. When relief starts, the dose should be reduced gradually.
2. Aloe Socotrina – For Managing Loose Stool In IBS
Natural medicine Aloe Socotrina is one of the best remedies for managing diarrhea. The stool is loose and may be accompanied by passage of a large quantity of gas. The key indication to use it is an urge to pass stool soon after eating/drinking anything. There is urgency to pass stool, the person needs to literally rush to the toilet. Sometimes mucus may be expelled along with stool. Pain in the abdomen before and during stool occurs. The abdominal pain vanishes after passing stool. Aloe helps in regularising the intestinal movements since they are at an increased pace in patients with IBS.
When and How to use Aloe Socotrina?
This medicine can be used to manage loose stool in IBS cases. The most important features to use it are the desire to pass stool soon after eating/drinking and a marked urgency to pass stool. This natural remedy can be used in low and high potencies. A person may use Aloe Socotrina 30 C twice or thrice a day. For using higher potencies like 200C and 1M, it is advised to consult a homeopathic doctor.
3. Lycopodium – For Excessive Gas And Bloating
Lycopodium is a natural medicine sourced from plant ‘club moss’. It is an important medicine to deal with excessive gas and bloating in IBS cases. The abdomen feels full and distended soon after eating anything even in small quantity. Gas and bloating is most marked in lower abdomen. Worsening of complaint may occur in evening hours especially between 4 pm to 8 pm. It is also a wonderful medicine to manage gastric issues occurring after eating certain specific foods, like beans, cabbage, onions, etc. Alteration between diarrhea and constipation is yet another indicator to use this remedy.
When and How to use Lycopodium?
Use of Lycopodium should be considered in cases where gas and bloating of abdomen is the main concern of the sufferer. To begin with, one may take Lycopodium 30C twice a day. Higher potencies can be used as well but only under a homeopath’s supervision
4. Bryonia Alba – For Constipation With Hard, Dry Stool
Bryonia Alba is highly effective for constipation with dry, hard, large stool and a bloated abdomen. The stool is excessively dry as if burnt. Stool is passed with much difficulty. Burning in anus on passing stool may be observed. Headache from constipation is another indication for using Bryonia Alba.
When and How to use Bryonia Alba?
Persons having constipation with dry, hard, large stool can use this medicine for great relief. The usual recommended dose is Bryonia 30C two to three times a day.
5. Alumina – For Constipation With Skipped Days For Stool
Alumina can provide great help when there is constipation with absence of urge to pass stool for many days in a row. This results in missing days without stool. The intestines work at a very slow pace in cases needing this medicine. The stool remains in the rectum for many days without any urge to pass stool. When the urge occurs, the stool passes by putting strain. The stool in a few patients is hard while in others it is soft; passage of stool is difficult with much effort in both cases. Potatoes seem to be the most intolerable food for patients requiring natural homeopathic remedy Alumina.
When and How to use Alumina?
Those having constipation with no urge for stool resulting in days without passing stool can find this medicine most effective. Various potencies like 30C, 200C and 1M are available for this medicine. When self-prescribing as per the above indications, it is safe to use its 30C potency that can be taken one to two times a day. For using high potencies (like 200C, 1M), it is always advised to consult a homeopathic expert.
6. Colocynthis – To Manage Stomach Cramps in IBS
Colocynthis is a top medicine to relieve stomach cramps in IBS cases. In cases needing it, eating/ drinking even in the smallest quantity leads to cramping. Bending forward or putting pressure over abdomen may provide relief. Loose stool may be present. Stools are watery, yellow and frothy and attended with the passage of gas.
When and How to use Colocynthis?
Use of this medicine is highly recommended to manage abdominal cramps. One may use it in 30 C potency which is the most frequently used potency of this medicine. Though higher potencies are available, they need to be taken under the supervision of a homeopathic physician. Colocynth 30 C can be taken two to four times a day as per severity of symptoms. Once relief starts to appear, one to two doses a day of Colocynthis are sufficient.
7. Kali Phos – When Stress Worsens Gastric Problem
It is very clearly understood till date that stress plays a major role in making IBS symptoms worse, and controlling stress will automatically bring down intensity of gastric symptoms. So homeopathic medicines that help to manage stress can be prescribed in IBS cases if it is found to be the main culprit in any case of IBS. The top most remedy for this is Kali Phos. It is the most widely used remedy for stress and usually physician’s first choice of remedy in stress cases. Persons who are under a constant stressful state, always sad, worried, depressed or anxious, are ideal subjects to use this medicine. Most common complaints they face are loose stool and gas in abdomen. The stool may have a foul smell and exhaustion attends loose stool.
When and How to use Kali Phos?
This medicine can be given in cases where constant stress is affecting the gut health and worsening the IBS symptoms. The most commonly used potency of this medicine is 6X. This potency comes in tablet form. Kali Phos 6X can be taken three to four times a day, four tablets each time. It will work to control stress level that will help relive gastric symptoms occurring subsequent to stress.
8. Argentum Nitricum – For Diarrhea And Anxiety In IBS
Argentum Nitricum will best treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome with marked diarrhea in people with chronic anxiety, especially anticipatory anxiety. Anticipatory anxiety means anxiety arising from overthinking about events that are to take place in the future. Other than this, they may have anxiety every time they have to appear in public, crowds or in public meetings. The anxiety results in diarrhea with frequent stools. Such persons are impatient by nature and do everything in haste.
When and How to use Argentum Nitricum?
In any case where it is found that anxiety is what is making IBS symptoms worse (especially loose stool), this medicine can be used for relief. Argentum Nitricum can be used in low as well as high potencies. In low potencies like 30C, it can be used one or two times a day. Higher potencies like 200 C, 1M can be considered as well but these are always used in infrequent doses like once in week, fifteen days or sometimes once in a month depending on intensity of symptoms. It is best to use high potencies after consulting a homeopathic physician.
Note One may take the above medicines for a month or two only in recommended potency and dose. To continue beyond that, or to increase potency or dose it is advised to consult a homeopathic practitioner.
Cause Behind IBS
The exact cause of IBS is not known, and doctors call it a functional disorder of colon (large intestine) because there is no sign of disease when the colon is examined. Certain factors tend to play a role in IBS as follows:
1. Problems with motility of intestinal muscles
The muscles in layers of intestines contract to move food through the gastrointestinal tract. It is suggested that in IBS either these contractions are stronger or these are weak. Stronger contractions cause diarrhea and weak contractions lead to constipation with dry, hard stool.
2. Hypersensitivity of nerves
As per several studies, it has been found that the nerves in digestive tract may be hypersensitive which may affect bowel function and lead to more than normal discomfort from gas. In some cases, problems with nerve communication between brain and colon is what gives rise to IBS symptoms.
3. Imbalance or changes in gut microbes: Micro-organisms in the gut number about 100,000 trillion, Bacteria, fungi, viruses, protists that normally inhabit gut are in some specific composition that varies from person to person. When the balance between these microbes is disturbed or there occur changes in the normal gut microbes, it can give rise to IBS.
5. In some persons, IBS may arise after food poisoning or gastroenteritis
Types Of IBS
IBS with diarrhea (IBS – D): In this type, a person experiences loose watery stool.
IBS with constipation (IBS– C): Hard stool occurs in this type.
IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS –M): Diarrhea and constipation alternate
IBS unsubtyped (IBS – U): This type is allotted to persons who do not fit in any above types
Symptoms Of IBS
The symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, alteration between diarrhea and constipation in some, stomach cramps, gas, bloating. Sometimes mucus passes with stool.
Trigger Factors For IBS
The potential for abnormal function of the colon is always present in people with IBS, but a trigger worsens the symptoms. The most likely culprits that may increase IBS symptoms seem to be emotional stress and diet.
1. Stress and anxiety: In many cases of IBS, it is seen that there occurs worsening of IBS symptoms during high stress or anxiety levels though not caused by stress. Stress and anxiety make gastric system hyperactive via an effect on the nerves.
2. Food: Many people report that symptoms appear after consuming a certain food product. These food products do not cause, but trigger IBS symptoms. Some common examples are milk, dairy products, wheat, beans, citrus fruits, etc.
Who Is At Risk Of IBS?
Though IBS may affect anyone but certain factors increase the risk
1. Being a woman: IBS is more common in females as compared to males. Researchers relate hormone changes during menstrual cycle with this complaint, but a firm evidence in its support is absent yet.
2. Age: No doubt IBS can affect persons of any age group, but it has been observed that persons less than 40 yrs-50 yrs are at a higher risk.
3. Family history of IBS: IBS runs in families as certain genes play a role in causing IBS.
4. Having psychological health problems: Depression, anxiety are also linked to IBS
5. Certain medications: Using some medicines, anti-depressants and antibiotics are known to increase risk of IBS.
Lifestyle Tips To Manage IBS
1. Take small meals at a time and increase water intake
2. Diet changes: Avoid taking certain food items including tea, coffee, soft drinks, spicy food, deep fried food. Limit intake of milk and cheese. If constipated, take more fiber diet like fruits, vegetables, nuts. Make a diary to note the foods that worsen your complaint and avoid them in future. Some recommend low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols)diet that restricts using certain class of carbohydrates, called fermentable short-chain carbohydrates that are difficult to digest (eg, beans, wheat).
3. Avoid smoking
4. Using probiotic food (probiotic food refers to food that contains good friendly bacteria for eg yoghurt) can improve symptoms.
5. Take proper sleep, manage stress and exercise regularly.