Irritable bowel syndrome is a painful and frustrating disorder of the intestines that is very difficult to treat. It causes cramps, gassiness, bloating, and alterations in bowel habits and is called a functional disorder because there is no visible sign of the disease when the colon is examined. Although irritable bowel syndrome causes a great amount of pain and distress, there is not any damage actually occurring in the intestines. The symptoms range from mild to severe and depend upon the person. Some people may experience diarrhea, while others may have constipation, and still others may experience both. This disorder is caused by hyperactivity of the intestine, with individuals having irritable bowel syndrome to be more reactive to stressors and diet than usual. Researchers also believe that irritable bowel syndrome can also be caused by emotional problems or significant amounts of stress. Although everyone experiences queasiness as a response to everyday stress or certain foods, those with irritable bowel syndrome have and exaggerated response.
Irritable bowel syndrome is very common, being one of the most frequent problems seen by family physicians. Because so many people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, the disorder results in significant socioeconomic costs along with a reduction in quality of life for many individuals. A person suffering from irritable bowel syndrome will have abdominal cramps and pain, sometimes severe and disabling. The person's bowel movements will be irregular and range between diarrhea and constipation. Other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include abdominal bloating, passing of gas, nausea, lack of appetite, heartburn, belching, disrupted sleep, fatigue, anxiousness, and depression. A person diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome will have the continued presence of the above symptoms for at least three months and all other intestinal conditions including Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, inflammatory conditions of the stomach or pancreas, ulcers, infectious disease, or gastroesophogeal reflux disease will have been ruled out.
There have been a few natural alternatives to the over-the-counter drugs that are prescribed by doctors. These include enteric-coated peppermint oil and clown's mustard, which both have significant amounts of scientific research behind them and have been demonstrated to benefit individuals with irritable bowel syndrome. Clown's mustard, also called wild candytuft or bitter candytuft, is a white-flowering plant from Spain. However, it is also grown in Britain, France, and the United States. Its key components are glycosides and flavonoids that have specific actions on the gastrointestinal tract. There has been a great deal of impressive research on clown's mustard, in conjunction with other herbs, which has proven great success on those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal diseases. Studies have proven that clown's mustard can reduce symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhea. Clown's mustard can also help those who suffer from symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome as a result of long time medications for cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases that have caused erosion of the stomach lining and ulcers. Reglan, which is often prescribed by physicians to reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, is not only an effective medication, but it also has numerous side effects. These side effects include fatigue, anxiety, agitation, jitteriness, insomnia, yellowing of the skin or eyes, changes in vision, hallucinations, and seizures. Because of its serious side effects Reglan can not be taken for a period longer than twelve weeks. When comparing Reglan to clown's mustard, both give the same improvement to symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. However, side effects occur much more frequently with those that take Reglan verses those that take Clown's mustard and Clown's mustard has no limit on the duration of use.
Peppermint oil has also been shown to relax the intestinal muscle. People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome in Great Britain are currently being prescribed peppermint oil by physicians, where it has been used as a digestive aid to soothe upset stomach for many generations. Recent research has proven that peppermint oil shows significant effects on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. These good results caused additional studies of peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome. Because straight peppermint oil is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream from the stomach, studies have concluded that enteric-coated capsules of peppermint oil deliver the benefit directly to the intestines, rather than to the stomach. An enteric-coated peppermint capsule that contains rosemary and thyme is extremely effective in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome because all three oils are classified as volatile oils, which are derivatives of plants that impart taste and aroma, The combination of these three oils can provide a great deal of relief to irritable bowel syndrome related pain.
Both clown's mustard and enteric-coated peppermint oil can be taken together, but depending on the symptoms, people with irritable bowel syndrome may want to start with one supplement and then add the other one if it is needed. Both of these formulas are available at health food stores, natural product supermarkets, pharmacies, and from health professionals. Most sales personnel and health professionals that are knowledgeable about medications can direct consumers to the most effective products. When purchasing peppermint oil, be sure it is enteric coated, so that the oil is prevented from being absorbed in the stomach. The enteric coating on the capsule will deliver the peppermint oil directly through the stomach to the small intestine and eventually to the colon, where it can give the maximum benefits. To treat an irritable colon, 0.6 ml per day of enteric-coated peppermint oil is recommended by the German Commission E. This product can also be purchased in capsules. Sometimes, the enteric-coated peppermint oil can cause a burning sensation in the rectum when moving bowels. If this occurs, a simple reduction in the dosage will cure this. Those individuals who must refrain from alcohol should not take clown's mustard in an herbal tincture, which could possibly contain alcohol.
Along with the above natural alternatives, irritable bowel syndrome patients have some other options to help themselves feel better. Because food allergies or food intolerances may be associated with irritable bowel syndrome, determining which foods cause episodes of irritable bowel syndrome and eliminating them from your diet can be very helpful. Reducing saturated fat, limiting calories, and increasing fiber can also be helpful in preventing symptoms that occur after a meal. Since stress also stimulates the intestinal hyperactivity, relaxation training, listening to therapeutic audiotapes, hypnosis, counseling, or biofeedback may help to reduce some of the irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Peppermint Oil and other natural supplements are available at your friendly internet vitamin store.
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