Irritable bowel syndrome can be treated by avoiding certain foods, by taking medications, and by making lifestyle changes. Home remedies from your kitchen are another way to treat IBS symptoms.
Home Remedies From the Cupboard
Oat bran. Increasing fiber is a cure for almost every intestinal ill, and oat bran is especially good for IBS because it's mild and usually colon-friendly. So use some every day: a bowl of oatmeal, oat bran bread, oatmeal cookies. But don't expect immediate results. It may take up to a month to get any IBS relief.
Home Remedies from the Sink
Water. Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day is important, especially if you have diarrhea or are increasing your fiber intake.
Home Remedies From the Fridge
Cabbage. Juice of the cabbage soothes the symptoms of intestinal ills. To turn this veggie into juice, simply wash and put through a juicer or blender. If these are not available to you, cook the cabbage in a very small amount of water -- just enough to keep it from scorching or burning -- until very mushy. Then pulverize with a fork or mixer.
Carrots. These little gems help prevent the symptoms of IBS as well as regulate diarrhea and constipation. Eat them raw, by themselves or in salads, or eat them cooked -- steamed and tossed with a little melted butter and brown sugar for a sweet treat. You can put raw carrots through the juicer, too. Since they're not a juicy veggie to begin with, add a little pure apricot nectar when you make carrot juice. Any way you eat a carrot is fine, just don't overcook them so much that you boil out all the goodness.
Lettuce. You can eat it raw to relieve symptoms of IBS, but it's especially helpful if lightly steamed. And when you're picking out your lettuce, go for the darker varieties. The darker the color, the more nutrients it contains.
Pears. Fresh, ripe, sweet pears are a nutritious fruit that also helps relieve the symptoms of IBS. Buy them when they're still hard and let them ripen at room temperature for a few days. Pure pear juice and dried pears are also helpful in treating this intestinal woe.
Yogurt. Yogurt with active cultures will supply your digestive tract with the helpful kind of bacteria, which can ease IBS symptoms. You can also try mixing 1 cup yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon psyllium husks (or psyllium bulk you can buy in any pharmacy) and eating the mixture one hour after meals.
Home Remedies From the Spice Rack
Fennel seeds. These can relieve the intestinal spasms associated with IBS. They may also aid in the elimination of fats from the digestive system, inhibiting the over-production of mucus in the intestine, which is a symptom of the ailment. Steep the seeds into a tea by adding 1/2 teaspoon fennel to 1 cup boiling water. Or add them to veggies such as carrots or cabbage, both of which soothe IBS symptoms. You can also sprinkle the seeds on salads or roast them and snack on them after a meal to reduce the symptoms of IBS and freshen your breath. To roast, spritz a baking sheet with olive oil, then cover with fennel seeds. Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes.
Flaxseed. Make a tea using 1 teaspoon flaxseed per cup of water, and drink at bedtime for relief of symptoms.
Peppermint. Several studies have shown that peppermint can reduce IBS symptoms, particularly when cramping and diarrhea are major problems. These studies have primarily involved capsules of peppermint essential oil (0.2 mL menthol) and have found that 1 capsule taken with each meal offers the best results. Steeped into a nice, relaxing tea, dried peppermint can relieve intestinal spasms. Use 1 heaping teaspoon dried peppermint, and steep in 1 cup boiling water for ten minutes. Peppermint can exacerbate heartburn, but there are no other side effects.
Irritable bowel syndrome need not be a condition that prevents you from leading a normal life. If you learn to manage IBS and try these home remedies, you can remain both pain-free and carefree.
For more remedies for problems "down there", try the following links:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- To learn practical ways to treat diarrhea, read Home Remedies for Diarrhea.
- Home Remedies for Upset Stomach provides tips on relieving sour stomach.
- If you'd like advice on treating bladder control problems, read Home Remedies for Incontinence.
David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.