Natural Treatments for IBS  by Dr. Pamela Langenderfer

Irritable bowel syndrome (commonly known as "IBS") affects millions of people on a daily basis.  The symptoms of IBS may include constipation, bloating, abdominal cramping, gas or diarrhea. While medications can provide immediate relief, the results are usually temporary and do not treat the underlying causes of the digestive problem.

The goal of naturopathic and chinese medicine is to restore  function of the gut and promote healing.  The proper functioning of your digestive system has an a lot to do with what you put in your mouth, what happens to it before it reaches the large intestine, and whether you have the appropriate balance of bacteria in your large intestine. The following are some suggestions on how you can support your body's normal bowel function and bacterial balance in a safe and natural way.

 Identify food sensitivities.  Many people have food sensitivities (also known as intolerances) not true food allergies.  Food sensitivities cause chronic low grade inflammation that can build up over a period of time to create symptoms.  Symptoms can range from skin rashes, headaches, mood swings to constipation, diarrhea, bloating and other IBS symptoms.  Most of the time taking out the most common food sensitivities such as dairy, sugar and grains for one month can provide relief of IBS symptoms.  Reintroducing the foods one at a time will help to narrow down which one is causing specific symptoms.  There are also some lab companies that special in blood testing for food sensitivities.
Acupuncture.   Acupuncture helps to bring balance back into the body.  From a chinese medicine perspective IBS is a disorder of the liver and spleen meridians. These meridians can become out of balance from overwork, stress, worry, or overeating.  Weekly acupuncture treatments can help to correct this imbalance along with diet changes and herbs.
Probiotics.  Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. They are also called "friendly bacteria" or "good bacteria."  Probiotics naturally occur in fermented foods and traditionally this was how most people consumed them.  Now days you can take a supplement that contains these beneficial bacteria or consume fermented foods.  Probiotics are beneficial for a variety of health conditions including IBS, constipation, and diarrhea.  They can also help atopic dermatitis and  prevent colds and flus.
Digestive enzymes.  If you are 35 or older, consider taking supplemental digestive enzymes. Since aging tends to diminish our digestive enzymes, taking  them as a supplement helps the body break down foods into compounds that make nutrients easier to digest.

Dr. Pamela Langenderfer is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist.  She is the co owner of Lakeside Holistic Health, PLLC with locations in Coeur d’ Alene and Liberty Lake, WA.  She can be reached at (208)758-0568 or visit our website at for more information.