- Jean Jordan
Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Can Natural Treatments Help?
Updated: May 11
This story of irritable bowel syndrome or IBS starts with a meat pie - one of those small cocktail pies. This pie showed its true nature within a few hours after our golf game and an afternoon at the 19th hole.
Later that evening I had the worst case of food poisoning ever. Unrelenting vomiting continued for two days and nothing to eat for over a week. Interestingly, this imposed food fast left me feeling really good and energetic, strange?
The Embarrassing Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
There are many health conditions and diseases that can make life difficult however, few can be as difficult or challenging and darn right embarrassing as irritable bowel syndrome. In this article I relate one such embarrassing symptom of IBS.
Can you imagine being at the office, in a meeting, or a houseboat party when you get that sense of urgency - that doesn't want to wait! Or we all have flatulence (mostly sneaky) from time to time. But what if you weren't sure if you'd pass wind, noisy or smelly but determined to come out - or the possibility of passing faeces, loose diarrhoea?
· The stress,
· The aloneness and
· Daily fear of doing the normal human activity of eating and defecation?
As this article will only be describing one of the myriad of IBS symptoms you can find more information about symptoms medical treatments here.
Aftermath of Food Poisoning could have been Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Now returning to a few months after the mini meat pie incident at the golf club. Imagine going on an overseas holiday, that's what I did flying from Australia to the UK, then travelling around England. I planned to show my New Zealand husband my homeland, and to introduce him to my family.
But the meat pie had left a legacy. Have you been on an overseas flight, nibbling only on cheese and crackers? If I'd eaten a meal on that plane within five minutes my abdomen would have become pregnant - I'd get strange looks, being a woman over 50 and looking six months pregnant!
Continual Abdominal Bloating After Eating
This recurring expansion of my abdomen that happened after eating was so uncomfortable and really tiring I just wanted to lie down. In fact this is what I did intermittently throughout our holiday. As one does have to eat!
There was no solution except time after eating for my abdomen to decrease and return to normal it and self induced burps made little difference, for what I thought was a bad case of bloating. No over the counter medication helped to any degree, just time.
Brain - Gut Connection of our Digestive System
What I didn't know then I've since learnt from postgraduate pain management studies and the research I do on a daily basis for this self-care website. This painful distension is not unusual and has the challenging name of abdominophrenic dysynergia that can be part of the brain-gut connection involved with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
Did I Have Abdominophrenic Dyssynergia? Maybe?
The diagrams below show the difference between bloating which is experienced by many people with IBS and the more severe abdominophrenic dyssynergia where the diaphragm contracts, as you can see in the diagram on the right. The diaphragm appears to move down forcing the distension of the stomach.
Diagrams from Update on Abdominophrenic Dyssynergia and its Treatments 8/6/2021
The story above is my own experience of food poisoning followed some time later with a challenging extension. It does illustrate one of the possible causes of irritable bowel syndrome, a result of an infection and possible hypersensitivity of the gut lining.
The causes of IBS can be very difficult to identify and even the diagnosis of IBS can be difficult. As for myself I didn't go to the doctor and over time I was less reactive to food. But I was helped during this time by a particular favourite dress that I virtually wore out both on holiday and when I returned home. This grey and white long loose fitting dress -that allowed my belly to expand - was my go to garment for a few months until this strong reaction to eating food seemed to disappear.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article some of the symptoms of IBS can be very difficult to live a normal life. As a consequent of my extending abdomen I certainly didn't eat out for about six months!
An Open Placebo Treatment that Helped IBS Suffers
I came across this open label placebo research on IBS treatment where patients were given a sugar pill. Despite the people taking part in the study knowing they were taking a placebo, they still showed an improvement in their symptoms, which didn't happen in the control group. As Dr. Ted J. Kaptchuk stated
"IBS is an illness that is defined by "self observation" such as feelings of pain, nausea or fatigue"
The symptoms one suffers from IBS are very real but not measurable such as cholesterol levels or blood pressure. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why a resolution of irritable bowel syndrome can be very difficult for people to find. Here is some research and description of the variety of treatments that are available for IBS that you might find interesting.
Self-Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
As this illness has symptoms that we can observe as Kaptchuk says above it does leave them open to a self-management approach to irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. According to Bordoni & Morabito there is an interplay between breathing and the way the intestines function so we can understand the importance of breathing for irritable bowel syndrome. Perhaps this will produce new promising treatments for IBS.
Pelvic Pain or IBS Self-help Relief
The video shown here is an example of belly breathing, one of the self-help techniques that I use for pelvic pain that can also be of benefit for irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive issues. I hope later this year to have a fully descriptive downloadable self-help treatments on this website. So watch this space.
Free self-help pain relief resources on this website
Until that time do watch the above video several times. Put your hands, resting on your belly and just allow yourself to slowly fill or should I say breathe in and out as you can see the rise and fall of her abdomen. This action switches our body into parasympathetic mode, our rest and digest mode, so it's a calming action for your whole body. The most important thing is don't try to do this just allow it to happen.
Belly Breathing to Relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome
With practice you will find this gentle belly breathing very calming and peaceful. When you have the technique sorted, listen to the latter part of the video where you can also include letting go (exhaling) an emotion so you can also bring in an emotional release, if needed.
How to Release and Let Go of Negative Thoughts
Just identify a negative emotion, the one that's uppermost in your mind and when you exhale that big beautiful breaths just put that emotion into it and let it go!
This video shows you some other ways that I work with my clients and now I also meet you online, so if you're interested click here to book a talk with Jean.
This article on irritable bowel syndrome is a small part of the difficulties and challenges that people undergo with this condition. If you'd like to know more about chronic pain please sign up to receive my latest articles.
NOTE: Any time you develop a pain ALWAYS get it checked by a doctor.
Bordoni B, Morabito B. Symptomatology Correlations Between the Diaphragm and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Cureus. 2018 Jul 23;10(7):e3036. doi: 10.7759/cureus.3036. PMID: 30258735; PMCID: PMC6153095.
Kaptchuk TJ, Friedlander E, Kelley JM, Sanchez MN, Kokkotou E, Singer JP, Kowalczykowski M, Miller FG, Kirsch I, Lembo AJ. Placebos without deception: a randomized controlled trial in irritable bowel syndrome. PLoS One. 2010 Dec 22;5(12):e15591. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015591. PMID: 21203519; PMCID: PMC3008733.
Rome Association Website for Disorders of Gut-Brain Interaction
Discussion on abdominophreni dyssynergia
Want to find simple effective ways to reduce your IBS symptoms without increasing your stress and overwhelm? This is where I can help! Ideas can be found in the articles on my website. You can sign-up to regular updates or spend time using some of the collection of self-help techniques. After over 20 years of having my own pain clinics pain I started Natural Pain Solutions online business to reach more people, rather than one person at a time. Therefore when I completed my postgraduate pain management studies I wanted to spread the word about holistic self-help techniques that people can use at home. Learn more about me here.