Part 2: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? Kimsey to the rescue!

Woman with IBS holding stomach

Now that we’ve discussed how to tell if you’re suffering from IBS and what might be causing it, we’ll take a look at the risk factors leading to the illness and some of the best IBS treatment, both natural and conventional.


Risk factors:

The following are common risk factors associated with both the onset and aggravation of IBS:

  • Known food allergies or sensitivities
  • Frequent yeast infections
  • A white coated tongue (possible indication of dysbiosis)
  • Stress
  • Eating while working or driving
  • History of antibiotic use
  • History of steroid use
  • Frequent use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Tylenol or Motrin
  • Diet consisting of processed, refined, “white” carbohydrates, including pasta, white bread, pastries, muffins, candy, cookies, etc.
  • Diet consisting of processed “junk” food, such as soda, candy, and chips
  • Inadequate chewing of food


Laboratory Testing:

In addition to detailed diet and lifestyle assessments, a variety of tests may be used to determine the cause so that the best treatment for IBS can be issued:

  • Stool tests: these are often used as they reveal loads of information regarding flora balance, digestion, absorption, and inflammation. It’s a wonderful starting place.
  • Food allergy and sensitivity testing: IgG’s are a type of antibody often associated with food sensitivities. They differ from the notorious IgE antibodies, bind to mast cells, releasing histamine, and triggering an anaphylactic response. Both are useful for IBS.
  • Organic acid testing: this urine test provides a non-invasive view of how your metabolism is working. Organic acids are formed as byproducts of cellular metabolism, digestion of food, and by the metabolism of the gut microbes.
  • Elimination diet: this is a “home” test in which you eliminate several commonly offending foods for 2-3 weeks, then systematically reintroduce them to identify the trigger. This is often done in conjunction to food allergy and sensitivity!


Conventional Therapy

Conventional medicine will sometimes use the following when it comes to the best IBS treatment:

  • Eat more fiber: though they usually tell patients to obtain fiber from “whole grains”.
  • Antidiarrheals, including diphenoxylate (such as Lomotil) and loperamide (such as Imodium), which slow intestinal movements.
  • Bile / Acid binding agents, including cholestyramine (such as Questran), which prevent bile acids from stimulating the colon, slowing the passage of stools and relieving diarrhea.
  • Lubiprostone (Amitiza), which works by increasing the amount of fluid in your intestines, making it easier for stool to pass.
A variety of other medications may be used also depending on the type of IBS and the associated symptoms. 
Complimentary Therapies

The following complimentary therapies can help provide relief from IBS:

  • Colon hydrotherapy: often referred to as a “colonic,” many people experience significant relief from IBS. This can actually re-instill peristalsis by gently coaxing the colon to contract.
  • Chiropractic adjustments: as briefly mentioned above, serotonin imbalances in the gut can affect IBS. In addition, many IBS sufferers complain of low back pain, likely a result of pressure on the spine from the clogged colon. Chiropractic adjustments can help realign and restore the integrity of the nervous system, potentially providing IBS relief.
  • Acupuncture: this ancient form of medicine can provide relief for a number of ailments, including IBS. If the cause of your IBS is stress, this could be a very helpful form of therapy.
  • Stress reduction exercises: in today’s stressed out society, this is important for everyone. You can never eliminate stress; only change the way you respond to it. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and long walks (especially after meals) can all be therapeutic for IBS.
  • Exercise: exercise strengthens the abdominal wall, helps relax bowel muscles, and can stimulate peristalsis. Walking, swimming, or jogging are all acceptable forms of exercise.

Nutritional Therapies

As with any condition, identifying the underlying cause is the first step. From there, for the best IBS treatment, a variety of nutritional approaches using both food and supplements can be implemented:

  • Significantly reduce all grain intake, especially glutinous grains: the saccharide bonds and high glycemic index found in grains can be difficult for many people to tolerate, regardless of a sensitivity or intolerance. Fruit and vegetables by far provide more tolerable insoluble fiber for toning the bowels. In fact, a study published in the British Medical Journal found that bran, a piece of grain husk separated from flour after milling, aggravated IBS symptoms: “Interestingly, bran showed no clinically relevant benefit. Many patients seemed not to tolerate bran and the dropout rate was highest in this group” (BMJ, August 2009).
  • Include a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet daily: this will provide nutrients and fiber. Raw veggies may be difficult for some to tolerate. Cooking softens the fiber, making them more tolerable.
  • Add a fiber supplement: the best, most tolerable forms include those that use psyllium seeds, flaxseed, chia seeds, or hemp seed. All of these can also simply be sprinkled on salads or added to meals also.
  • Start by eliminating dairy and gluten: these are commonly offending foods that can easily be eliminated on your own. Dairy refers to all milk products, including milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, ice cream, and butter. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley, and sometimes oats.
  • Eliminate all processed foods and refined, white sugar and grains as they are inflammatory and binding.



In addition to dietary considerations, for the best treatment of IBS, the following supplements may be helpful:

  • Glutamine: this amino acid is used by cells of the GI tract as a fuel source and repair. A typical dose ranges from 4-8 grams daily for approximately 6-12 weeks
  • Probiotics: numerous research studies have proven the effectiveness of probiotics in IBS. They will help reinoculate the gut with beneficial flora. A multi-strain blend is best for IBS.
  • Fish oil: the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA found in fish oil inhibit the formation of inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes (basically, they help put out the fire caused by inflammation). A good starting dose is 1-2 grams of EPA and DHA combined.
  • Aloe vera: aloe is very soothing to the GI tract and can help gently stimulate a bowel movement. It also cools the inflammation.
  • Magnesium: this mineral is the “calming” mineral. For IBS, it can help soothe muscle spasms possibly contributing to the disorder. Try 400mg at night of either magnesium citrate or glycinate.

For the first part of Kimsey’s series on IBS, click here!


Digestive Wellness by Elizabeth Lipski
“Soluble or insoluble fibre in irritable bowel syndrome in primary care? Randomized placebo controlled trial” British Medical Journal, August 2009
“Irritable Bowel Syndrome result of low level inflammation of gut wall” German Research Foundation. August 2010
“The therapeutic effect of eliminating allergic foods according to food specific IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome” Department of Digestive Disease, Shandong Provincial Hospital, Jinan 250021, China.
“Lactose intolerance in patients with IBS from Northern India: a case-controlled study” Department of Gastroenterology, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India. 2007.

Kimsey Self Nature Remedies Wellness Consultant Kimsey Self Master Nutrition Therapist Kimsey is the founder and owner of Progressive Health and Wellness in Denver, Colorado.