Irritable bowel syndrome affects over 10% of Americans, with symptoms ranging from slight nuisance to severely problematic. Medications offer temporary relief, but that’s just it –temporary. Not to mention some don’t respond well to medicines, or the side effects that end up being worse than the IBS symptoms themselves.
There are integrative approaches to reducing IBS symptoms, which Michelle Dossett, MD, PhD, MPH, a contributor to Harvard’s Health blog outlines, including stress reduction, supplements, and special diets, like the low FODMAP diet.
Stress is one of the leading causes of IBS aggravation; Dossett points to several clinical trials demonstrating medication and mindfulness-based interventions as two of the most effective anti-stress techniques. She suggests practicing daily for best results. Dossett also says gut-directed hypnotherapy (popular in Europe), cognitive behavioral therapy, and yoga could also curb symptoms.
Low FODMAP diets have been proven to reduce abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and other stomach sensitivities related to IBS. For people with diarrhea-predominant IBS, Dossett recommends reducing intake of gluten, too.
Supplements are one of the better answers to constipation-predominant IBS. Probiotics and peppermint oil are two supplements that are particularly effective, Dossett says.For more in-depth information on integrative approaches for IBS, check out the rest of Dossett’s work on Harvard’s Health blog.