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5 Warning Signs You Have IBS

5 Warning Signs You Have IBS

This article highlights the cause of IBS, 5 warning signs that you have it, and how you can manage and even prevent its symptoms using natural remedies.

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a gastrointestinal disorder affecting the large intestine, resulting in symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. IBS affects approximately 10-15% of adults, making it one of the most common GI conditions. Although not life-threatening, the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable if they’re not treated.

IBS is characterized by abnormal bowel movements: There are three types:

  1. IBS with constipation (IBS-C)
  2. IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D)
  3. IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M)

What Causes IBS?

While the exact cause of IBS isn’t known, certain factors appear to play a role. They include:

Early Life Stress. Stressful events, especially in childhood, tend to trigger symptoms of IBS.

Intestinal Contractions. Layers of muscles line the intestines, and they contract as they move food through the digestive tract. Stronger or longer contractions can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Having weak intestinal contractions can slow down food passage and contribute to hard and dry stools.

Nervous System Abnormalities. When your abdomen stretches (e.g., from gas), abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive system may cause you to feel greater discomfort. A lack of coordination between the brain and the intestines can cause your body to overreact to normal changes in digestion, resulting in pain, diarrhea, or constipation.

Microbe Changes in the Gut. Changes in bacteria, fungi and viruses, which normally reside in the intestines and play an important role in health. There is evidence that the microbes in people with IBS differ from those in healthy individuals.

Serious Infection. The symptoms of IBS can develop after a severe case of diarrhea (gastroenteritis) caused by bacteria or viruses. They may also be caused by an excess of bacteria in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth).

According to the Mayo Clinic, certain individuals may be predisposed to developing IBS. It’s more common in women, those under the age of 50, and those with a family history of IBS. Having a history of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse may also be a risk factor.

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5 Warning Signs You Have IBS

Regardless of the source, there are 5 symptoms that characterize IBS. They are summarized and explained below.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Related: How Healthy is Your Poop?

People who occasionally experience one or more of these symptoms do not necessarily have IBS. A diagnosis of IBS requires three months of symptoms of abdominal discomfort and a change in stool frequency or form in the previous six months. Your healthcare provider can help you make a determination based on the symptoms you report.

Preventing IBS Symptoms

Although it may not be possible to prevent developing IBS, you can take steps to prevent its symptoms from occurring or worsening. Depending on the individual, certain factors can aggravate the gastrointestinal system and trigger symptoms. Identifying and avoiding these triggers can reduce the impact of IBS on your quality of life.

Certain Foods

True food allergies rarely cause IBS. However, many people with IBS experience worse symptoms after eating or drinking certain foods or beverages, such as wheat and dairy products.

If you suffer from IBS constipation, drinking plenty of water, increasing your fiber intake, and eating sorbitol-rich foods like plums and prune juice can reduce the risk of diet-related attacks. Sprinkling ground flaxseed on yogurt, cooked vegetables, and salads can also help control constipation.

If you have issues with IBS diarrhea, reduce your intake of insoluble fiber, carbonated drinks, and food and beverages with alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, fructose, or sorbitol. You should also avoid: fried foods, large meals, ‘gassy’ foods like beans, wheat germ, and Brussels sprouts. If you are lactose and/or gluten intolerant, avoid dairy and wheat products.

Focus instead on moderate amounts of soluble fiber and eating smaller portions during mealtimes.

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Stress and Anxiety

IBS sufferers usually experience worse or more frequent symptoms during times of increased stress. Eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise and sufficient sleep, and indulging in relaxing activities can help keep stress-induced symptoms under control.

When you know what can trigger your IBS symptoms  you can make a plan to avoid them in the future. Therefore, you can keep constipation, diarrhea, belly pain, and bloating at a minimum.

Natural Remedies for IBS

Natural remedies can be effective in treating IBS – and you can easily and affordably get them from your local supermarket, health food store, or even your own backyard.

Probiotics
5 Warning Signs You Have IBS- probiotics

Individuals with sensitive digestive systems should ensure that the balance in their intestines is maintained. Probiotics can restore a balance in your gut that has been upset by stress, antibiotics, and poor eating habits. The result is a healthier gut, less abdominal discomfort, and better bowel function.

Peppermint

Peppermint (Mentha piperita L) is popular for its stomach settling properties and can be taken either as tea or capsule. Peppermint tea bags are available at the supermarkets and natural health food stores. Alternatively, you can crush a handful of fresh mint leaves into a cup of boiling water for a homemade tea. Try adding slices of lemon for a cleansing boost.

Ginger

5 Warning Signs You Have IBS - Ginger TeaGinger (Zingiber officinale) is similar to peppermint in that it has antispasmodic effects that can soothe your GI system. Most supermarkets sell ginger infusion tea bags, but you can also use a ginger root to brew your own. Grate half a teaspoon into a cup, add boiling water, and leave for 10 minutes. Then strain out the ginger pieces and enjoy!

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is becoming increasingly popular as a remedy for IBS symptoms due to its fermented properties. Mix apple cider vinegar with water and honey or add a few drops to herbal tea or fruit juice.

Psyllium Powder

According to a review published in Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, psyllium supplementation can help treat diarrhea and constipation associated with IBS. Psyllium powder helps move your bowels if you’re constipated. When you have diarrhea, the powder gives you something to form a bowel movement around. To consume, mix one teaspoon of psyllium powder into your morning cereal or a glass of water.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has often been used to provide relief from constipation due to IBS. Inserting thin needles into acupuncture points along body pathways called meridians can bring energy flow into proper balance and get the bowels moving again.

Behavioral Therapy

If stress makes your IBS symptoms worse, behavioral therapy can help you learn to control your emotional response to difficult situations. Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and relaxation therapy are all great choices. If you feel comfortable, you can also talk to family and close friends about your IBS and enlist their support in managing stress.


When you’re living with IBS, an integrated approach that combines multiple therapies often works best. By identifying which symptoms are giving you the most trouble, avoiding known triggers, and using natural remedies that work for you, you can prevent IBS from impacting your quality of life.

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12 Comments

  • Pamela Posted September 13, 2022 10:05 AM

    This article was extremely helpful. I come from a long line of family with bad “ stomach/ gut” issues. Both my son and I have moderately severe IBS. We are using a product called IBgard that has been a life saver. It is a proprietary peppermint out suspension that is time released in the gut. When taken as instructed, it has helped to stop a flare and when taken as maintenance therapy, will keep IBS in check. I tried natural peppermint oil and tea, ginger te, etc, but they cannot compare. The only drawback is that it is expensive. I have resigned myself to the price and feel it is well worth the trade off. I did speak to a pharmacist and he said that the generic version would not provide the same results: he was right. I hope this can help at least one other person out there!

    • The Lost Herbs Posted September 20, 2022 6:16 AM

      Hi Pamela,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us! We are happy to hear the article was helpful!

      Many blessings and good health!

  • Penny Gallagher Posted September 13, 2022 12:01 PM

    Slippery elm, never fails

  • Ruth Jarvis Posted September 13, 2022 5:40 PM

    Thank you for this article and your advice. I just want to warn people to be careful- not about you or about this advice, but I was mis-diagnosed with IBS. Turned out that I had severe gastro reflux which was occurring overnight. After medication for 7 months, I can now eat a greater variety of food although I’m not “right” yet. Some of the things that may help IBS, eg peppermint and ginger, actually make GERD worse.
    I love your articles and thank you for writing them and I wish you well in all your endeavors.

    • Rohini Mcmillan Posted September 14, 2022 6:41 AM

      I have a question about your GERD, did your symptoms include diarrhea? Which med were you prescribed and is it helping you?

      • Rohini Posted September 15, 2022 12:46 PM

        @RUTH JARVIS, please see my note above..8 Comments

        PAMELA POSTED SEPTEMBER 13, 2022 10:05 AM
        This article was extremely helpful. I come from a long line of family with bad “ stomach/ gut” issues. Both my son and I have moderately severe IBS. We are using a product called IBgard that has been a life saver. It is a proprietary peppermint out suspension that is time released in the gut. When taken as instructed, it has helped to stop a flare and when taken as maintenance therapy, will keep IBS in check. I tried natural peppermint oil and tea, ginger te, etc, but they cannot compare. The only drawback is that it is expensive. I have resigned myself to the price and feel it is well worth the trade off. I did speak to a pharmacist and he said that the generic version would not provide the same results: he was right. I hope this can help at least one other person out there!

        Reply

        PENNY GALLAGHER POSTED SEPTEMBER 13, 2022 12:01 PM
        Slippery elm, never fails

        Reply

        RUTH JARVIS POSTED SEPTEMBER 13, 2022 5:40 PM
        Thank you for this article and your advice. I just want to warn people to be careful- not about you or about this advice, but I was mis-diagnosed with IBS. Turned out that I had severe gastro reflux which was occurring overnight. After medication for 7 months, I can now eat a greater variety of food although I’m not “right” yet. Some of the things that may help IBS, eg peppermint and ginger, actually make GERD worse.
        I love your articles and thank you for writing them and I wish you well in all your endeavors.

        Reply

        ROHINI MCMILLAN POSTED SEPTEMBER 14, 2022 6:41 AM
        I have a question about your GERD, did your symptoms include diarrhea? Which med were you prescribed and is it helping you?

    • The Lost Herbs Posted September 20, 2022 6:20 AM

      Hi Jarvis,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with us! We are happy to hear that you eventually received the correct diagnosis and that you’re feeling a little better now.

      Many blessings and good health!

  • Ingrida Posted September 13, 2022 6:26 PM

    I have suffered with I B S for over 20 years. It started with a severe bout of gastroenteritis where I lost a great deal of weight. I was advised that I should eat , but not what to begin with. I have learnt over time what my gut can tolerate. My diet at the moment is quite boring but I know now what I can eat. I can now tolerate milk in coffee but not cereal I need to eat fruit but need to be careful as to how much I eat on a daily basis
    I can tolerate lots of vegetables but when it comes to bread I eat polish sourdough bread with no preservatives or additives as these affec my gut. So I avoid anything with additives of any kind and live with my condition as best I can. I hope this is of help to some of you as I have had to find out for myself the hard way

    • mygcosmetics.ca Posted September 18, 2022 11:49 AM

      I have read cereal can be a problem because the grain is stored in silos and can develop mold. Which also explains why whole grains in breads can also be problematic. Grains can be hard on the gut, of even healthy people. Rice is the least allergenic of the grains. I toast sourdough bread and add garlic powder. Also heat breaks down gluten making it easier to digest.
      I Hope this helps.

  • mygcosmetics.ca Posted September 15, 2022 12:41 AM

    I had IBS years ago.  A real nightmare.  Systemic.  Brain fog.  Eventually I used hydrogen peroxide. And lots of probiotics.  Cost me my job of twenty four years.
     Hindsight being twenty twenty I should’ve stuck with garlic.  I found odorless garlic pills taken daily really helped alot.  Unfortunately I stopped taking garlic and tried just about everything else.  Big mistake.  Culminating in a last ditch effort with hydrogen peroxide.  Which is dangerous.
     Basically what I found out is IBS, IBD and IBC are all the same, a candida yeast overgrowth, unchecked by the normal bowel bacteria.  When you take broad spectrum antibiotics like I did alot of good bacteria is also killed off and candida moves in, it develops a spike and penetrates the bowel wall, leading to leaky gut syndrome.  And it gets into the body, this would be a natural course of events if you died and decomposed.
     Garlic kills candida and feeds the good guys and it’s safe.  So I avoided sugar and yeast type foods and took probiotics. I also cut back on milk since it is mucus forming causing constipation (IBC).  
      Also your skin becomes dry, not as oily and you are prone to getting psoriasis (which is a bug as per Edgar Casey The Sleeping Prophet.” a yeast like organism”).  Do not share towels/clothing with family members that have psoriasis.  
      For people with psoriasis…I try not to eat sugars or yeast like foods (bread) and I do eat vegetables containing sulforaphane.  Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage and kohlrabi.  The trick is to cut up the vegetables at least twenty minutes before you lightly cook them.  And steaming is probably the best cooking method.
     Wish I knew then, what I know now.  Good luck, you can beat IBS.  I did.
     ps Still working on psoriasis, it’s under control. Will keep you posted.
     Paying it forward.

    • The Lost Herbs Posted September 15, 2022 10:07 AM

      Hi mygcosmetics.ca,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us.
      We are happy to hear that you are feeling better now.

      Aloe Vera, ACV, Honey Turmeric, Oregon Grape, Capsaicin, Tea Tree Oil, Oats are good for psoriasis.
      You can also try this bath:
      https://thelostherbs.com/diy-skin-soothing-chickweed-and-vinegar-bath-for-rashes/

      Sending you all the strength you need for the road ahead.

      • mygcosmetics.ca Posted September 15, 2022 11:42 AM

        Thank-you for your kind words and making so much useful information readily available.
        I recently found a huge mushroom on my property and was delighted to find it in your book. It’s a White Hedgehog. So I will be trying some with the recipe you provide in your awesome “The Foragers Guide to Wild Foods”.

        ps I’ll be sure to shake out any spores onto the ground where I pick it, so it can propagate in the future.

        pss Regarding sulforaphane, I forgot to mention the twenty minutes gives the plant time to make the sulforaphane and the more you cook it the less there will be of this antimicrobial chemical available.
        Thanks again and good health to all.

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