How can I gain control over irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Always discuss any of the below with your doctor before deciding what is best for you. 

  • Diet. Pay close attention to dietary triggers and excesses. People with diarrhea as the predominant symptom may find they are sensitive to lactose, too much fruit, and sorbitol, a type of sugar. 
  • Peppermint oil. Peppermint has been a mainstay of treating an upset stomach and may work in IBS by relaxing the smooth muscle lining the gut. A few capsules of peppermint oil may calm cramps. 
  • Probiotics. This strategy has been a very promising treatment. Foods and supplements containing live bacteria cultures of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium not only keep the natural gut flora in balance, but they may also reduce inflammation, a factor that might increase gut sensitivity. Look for yogurt containing live cultures, and fermented foods such as tempeh and Korean kimchi also contain probiotics. 
  • Mind-body techniques. The brain-gut connection makes IBS particularly amenable to mind-body therapies. In fact many patients who have IBS also suffer from depression and other psychiatric disorders. Psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and cognitive behavior therapy such as biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, and stress management can help settle the gut. 
  • Chinese herbs. A well-controlled study of standard and individualized Chinese herbal formulations offered symptom improvement to some patients with IBS. 
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture can influence gastric emptying and acid secretion to settle an active gut. 
  • Exercise. Nothing gets the gut moving like a good fast walk.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
1. Diet. Pay close attention to dietary triggers and excesses. People
   with diarrhea as the predominant symptom may find they are sensitive
   to lactose, too much fruit, and sorbitol, a type of sugar.

   Eating soluble fiber found in psyllium seed husks, whole grains, fruits, 
   and vegetables is good because it forms a gel in the gut that can
   slow gut movement and decrease pressure. Insoluble fiber can also
   slow the gut by retaining water by bulking up stool.

   If you have bloating or gas you may do better limiting beans and
   vegetables in the cabbage family. If you want to increase movement
   of the gut, try caffeinated coffee or dark chocolate. Take a pass on
   animal fats which tend to intensify gut sensations. Also try eating
   many small meals spread out over the day instead of 3 large ones.

2. Peppermint oil. Peppermint has been a mainstay of treating an
   upset stomach and may work in IBS by relaxing the smooth muscle
   lining the gut. A few capsules of peppermint oil may calm cramps.

3. Probiotics. This strategy has been a very promising treatment.
   Foods and supplements containing live bacteria cultures of
   Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium not only keep the natural gut flora in
   balance, but they may also reduce inflammation, a factor that might
   increase gut sensitivity. Look for yogurt containing live cultures, and
   fermented foods such as tempeh and Korean kimchi also contain
   probiotics.

4. Mind-body techniques. The brain-gut connection makes IBS
   particularly amenable to mind-body therapies. In fact many patients
   who have IBS also suffer from depression and other psychiatric
   disorders. Psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and cognitive behavior
   therapy such as biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation, and
   stress management can help settle the gut.

5. Chinese herbs. A well-controlled study of standard and individualized
   Chinese herbal formulations offered symptom improvement to some
   patients with IBS.

6. Acupuncture. Acupuncture can influence gastric emptying and acid
   secretion to settle an active gut.

7. Exercise. Nothing gets the gut moving like a good fast walk.
This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com

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g regular exercise and psychotherapy are all helpful in managing IBS in your daily life.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.