The most common of all intestinal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome may affect as many as one in the three people in the Western world at some time. The condition tends to be recurrent, although symptoms can subside for long periods between attacks. Orthodox medicine offers no certain cure, but there are many natural ways of managing and easing symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) consists of a number of related symptoms, including intermittent abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements. The disorder is caused by a disturbance in the normal muscle movements of the wall of the large intestine. This creates problems in the way food moves through the digestive tract, which leads to diarrhea or constipation and/or pain from intestinal muscle spasms. The nerves in the intestinal wall may also overreact to painful stimuli, such as distension. IBS affects twice as many females as males. In some cases the disorder results from too much or too little stomach acid or inadequate digestive enzymes.
This condition occurs less frequently in those who follow a diet that is high in fiber. Therefore, a valuable preventive measure is to consume natural, unprocessed foods, including a high proportion of vegetables and fruits. Regular moderate exercise seems to help regulate intestinal muscle action, and those who are physically active may be less susceptible to IBS. Dealing effectively with the stress in your life is a further key to preventing the disorder. If you smoke, get help to stop or at least cut down. Smoking stimulates the release of epinephrine, a neuro-transmitter that can interfere with the regular contraction of the intestines.
Peppermint can help relax the muscle of intestinal wall. It is especially good for soothing abdominal pain that is accompanied by flatulence. Drink it as a tea (one or two cups daily), add fresh leaves to salads or cooked dishes, or take oil filled capsules (one capsules three times a day, between meals). Cinnamon and ginger may help relieve abdominal pain and expel wind. Add a good pinch of one of these powdered spices to a warm drink made with slippery elm, or add grated fresh ginger to a cup of tea.