Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder that involves abdominal pain and discomfort along with abnormal bowel habits of constipation, diarrhea, or an alternation between the two. Symptoms outside the digestive tract are also common in IBS. An estimated 15 to 20 percent of people are affected by IBS, though only a small proportion of them see a gastroenterologist for the condition. That said, half of all gastroenterologist outpatient visits are for IBS, and it is also one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions diagnosed by general practitioners. IBS is more common among women, with a female/male ratio of about 2:1.
IBS treatment is based on addressing individual symptoms, but because of the range of symptoms involved in IBS, pharmacological treatment is not always effective. Dietary changes and supplements can be very helpful for people with IBS. Certain psychological treatments have also been found to benefit IBS patients, including cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation therapy, stress management, and gut-directed hypnotherapy.
In a recent study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, gut-directed hypnotherapy was evaluated by utilizing hypnotherapy in the hospital and psychology private practice settings as opposed to specialized hypnotherapy centers in order to more closely reflect a widely available treatment option. The study found that gut-directed hypnotherapy, which is based on muscular and mental relaxation, and general hypnotic suggestions used to either focus on symptoms or distract from them, resulted in a significant reduction in IBS symptoms, especially sensory symptoms like pain and bloating.
When comparing the response rate to hypnotherapy against the response rate of other new IBS drugs on the market, the researchers stated, “hypnotherapy seems to be at least as effective and without any known side effects.”
Sure, good digestion has a lot to do with what you put on your plate. But it’s also about making sure your body has the tools it needs to break down your food and support healthy elimination. That’s why natural digestive care expert Brenda Watson developed the H.O.P.E. Formula. In addition to a sensible diet and regular exercise, this 4-part daily nutritional program is the key to improving digestion and living healthier every day.
High Fiber. Studies show that people who eat at least 25-35 grams of fiber every day are less likely to suffer from constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. Fiber adds bulk to the stool, helps absorb toxins in the intestines and ‘sweeps’ the colon free of waste and debris. A high-fiber diet has also been linked to weight loss, lower cholesterol and heart health. Sources: fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans & legumes; fiber supplements.
Omega Oils. Fish-derived Omega oils such as Omega-3 EPA and DHA help nourish and support the cells of the colon to promote optimal digestive health. They also help to soothe and lubricate the bowel to ease elimination and promote regularity. In addition, research links these beneficial oils to improved heart and brain function, as well as healthy skin and joints. Sources: Smaller, cold-water fish; some leafy green vegetables; Omega oil supplements.
Probiotics. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract that work to crowd out disease-causing microorganisms that can contribute to poor health. Experts agree that daily supplementation with a high-potency, multi-strain probiotic formula can help support a balanced intestinal environment, improve digestion and promote bowel regularity. Sources: Fermented foods such as yogurt & kefir; probiotic supplements.
Enzymes. Digestive enzymes are found in raw foods and help the body break down the food you eat and absorb needed nutrients. Because cooking and processing can destroy the natural enzymes in food, daily supplementation is essential. Plant-based enzyme formulas provide the greatest benefit, as they are effective over a broader range of pH levels in the body. Sources: Raw whole foods; digestive enzyme supplements.