Natural Tips to Help Relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine, causing a range of symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea. The very nature of this pesky condition means that your bowels can literally alternate from one to the other and back again, one day you have diarrhoea and the next few days you can’t poo at all. Often the bouts of diarrhoea are urgent and come without any warning at all, making it very difficult to confidently spend time away from home without knowing where the closest toilet is. This condition can result in someone becoming house-bound and developing anxiety. While there are various medications and therapies available to manage IBS, many people seek out natural remedies to help relieve their symptoms. In this blog, we will explore some natural suggestions such as clean eating, acupressure points, yoga poses, and even how to lie on your acupressure mat to help alleviate the symptoms of IBS and get you back to living a normal life.
Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome caused by what I eat?
Diet can play a crucial role in managing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Here are some dietary recommendations for people suffering from IBS:
- Avoid trigger foods: Identify the foods that trigger your symptoms and avoid them. For example if you consistently get diarrhoea from eating ice cream 🍦stop eating ice cream peeps! Common trigger foods include dairy products, high-fat foods, spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners.
- Increase fibre intake: Fibre can help regulate bowel movements and reduce symptoms of constipation and diarrhoea. However, it's important to gradually increase fibre intake and drink plenty of water to avoid worsening symptoms. Natural sources of fibre include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
- Eat smaller meals: Eating large meals can put additional stress on the digestive system and exacerbate symptoms of IBS. Eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day can help reduce stress on the digestive system and alleviate symptoms.
- Drink plenty of water: Dehydration can worsen symptoms of constipation and diarrhoea. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day to stay hydrated.
- Consider a low FODMAP diet: FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by the small intestine leading to the symptoms of IBS, including wheat, garlic, onions, and certain fruits and vegetables.
It's important to remember that everyone's experience with IBS is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another, so it can be a bit of a game of trial and error. Keeping a food diary can help you identify trigger foods and allows you to make changes to your diet accordingly. Whilst avoiding foods that trigger your symptoms is drastically important, once you are having an irritable bowel episode, it is good to have some tools up your sleeve to help with the symptoms.
Yoga Poses for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Relief
Yoga is a holistic practice that incorporates physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to promote overall health and well-being. Some yoga poses may help relieve the symptoms of IBS by reducing stress and tension in the body and promoting digestive function.
Here are some yoga poses that may help alleviate IBS symptoms:
- Child's Pose (Balasana): This pose involves sitting on the heels with the knees spread apart and the torso folded forward over the thighs. It is believed to help relieve abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation by promoting relaxation and stretching the spine and digestive organs. By bringing your chest as close to the mat as possible, while having your buttocks in the air, we create a reverse gravity scenario that allows gas to be eliminated much easier. Let the wind flow free 💨
- Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana): This pose involves alternating between arching and rounding the spine while on all fours. It is believed to help relieve abdominal pain and bloating by massaging the digestive organs and promoting circulation.
- Seated Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana): This pose involves sitting with the legs extended and twisting the torso to one side while holding onto the opposite knee. It is believed to help relieve constipation and promote digestive function by stretching the spine and massaging the digestive organs.
To practice these yoga poses, start by finding a quiet, comfortable space where you can move freely. Begin with gentle movements and gradually work up to deepening the stretches and holding them for longer, as you feel more comfortable. Remember to breathe deeply and listen to your body, avoiding any pose that causes pain or discomfort.
Acupressure Points for IBS Relief
Acupressure is an ancient healing technique that involves applying pressure to specific points on the body that are found along Traditional Chinese Medicine meridians. These meridians relate to specific organs and systems within our body. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine applying pressure to these acupressure points can help regulate the flow of energy (or qi) in the body, helping to bring balance back to the organs and help to alleviate symptoms, including the symptoms of IBS. Here are some acupressure points that may help relieve IBS symptoms:
- CV6: This point is located two finger widths below the navel and is believed to help regulate bowel function and relieve abdominal pain and bloating.
- CV12: This point is located on the midline of the abdomen, halfway between the navel and the bottom of the breastbone. It is believed to help relieve abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea.
- ST36: This point is located on the lower leg, four finger widths below the kneecap, on the outer side of the leg. It is believed to help regulate digestive function and alleviate symptoms such as diarrhoea and constipation.
To apply acupressure to these points, use your fingertips to apply firm pressure for 1-2 minutes, taking deep breaths and releasing tension in the body while you do it.
How to Use an Acupressure Mat for IBS Relief
Individually stimulating the above acupressure points can be quite effective in reducing the symptoms of IBS, but you can also lie on an Acupressure mat to cover many more points all at once. The major digestive meridians are in two different locations on the body. The small and large intestine meridians are on the arms, whereas the stomach meridian runs down the front of the body.
To stimulate the qi flow in the stomach meridian, which can assist in reducing abdominal pain and helping to eliminate flatulence, you can lie on the acupressure mat on your tummy. If you have a long mat, bring your toes together and allow your heels to fall away, this ensures that the whole stomach meridian can be in contact with the mat in one sitting. For more information on the long acupressure mat click here. To further enhance the amazing benefits of stimulating the stomach meridian, lie with the acupressure pillow under your tummy, the extra pressure from the pillow is very relieving for abdominal pain due to bloating. Once you have got yourself on your tummy relax and breathe deeply, this will allow your body to relax more completely. You will soon begin to feel the increased warmth where the acupressure spikes are in contact with your skin. This signifies the increased blood flow that is occurring in this area. Rest here for 15 minutes.
Stimulating your small and large intestine using the acupressure mat is a little more challenging, but worth the effort when it comes to treating your body for IBS. The large intestine runs down the thumb side of the arm, whilst the small intestine runs down the pinky side of the arm. To stimulate both the large and small intestines at the same time, you can wrap the mat around your arm, you can choose to leave the firm coconut inner inside the mat, or you can remove it. Rest here for 5 minutes and then swap sides, once again focusing on relaxing and breathing fully and easily.
In conclusion, being able to take control of your health by trying these natural remedies, such as watching what you eat, trying yoga poses, using acupressure, and using your acupressure mat can make the world of difference to the outcome of your Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and being able to get back to living a normal lifestyle. Please remember that IBS presents differently in different individuals so what works for one person may not work for another. It's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new treatment, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking medication.