DIGESTIVE DISORDERS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Everything will go wrong with irritability. Likewise, in the case of ‘irritable bowel syndrome’, nutritious food taken with care goes in vain without proper digestion and absorption due to irritable spastic reluctant bowels.
Good digestion starts from the mastication of food in the mouth. After proper mastication, food reaches the stomach where it is soaked in acids to get split up for absorption. From there, the nutrients and water are absorbed from food as it moves all the way through the small intestines, large intestines, rectum and anus to finally get expelled. Food particles are moved and mixed with digestive juices with swaying contractions of the intestines. Autonomic nervous system under the control of brain regulates this bowel motility. The orderly, regulated digestive process and movement of food through the digestive tract is essential for the proper sequences of the digestion and absorption.
In this hurried world, people gulp the food instead of chewing and masticating it before swallowing. There is deviation in the first process itself. Also, people give importance to taste rather than quality. Further, they take s large, heavy meal for good health.
The long-coiled, roller-coaster intestines can become an irritant like short temper. Irritable bowels often go on strike and throw everything (undigested foods) out of the abdomen with pain, restlessness, weakness, etc. Usually, one feels rejuvenated after good food. But irritable bowel syndrome sufferers become restless and uncomfortable immediately after food. The irritable bowel syndrome is one of the commonest conditions people suffer from and live with ending in a hopeless dejected state.
Irritable bowel syndrome (spastic colon/spastic colitis) is a multifaceted functional disorder of intestines which often reflect in digestion, absorption and motility of food particles in the intestines. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms rather than a disease.
Incidences – IBS seems to be present all over the world and more commonly in developed countries where people work overtime. It seems to affect 15-20 per cent of the population. The higher incidences are often noted between the age group of 20 to 40 and more in females. If anyone has intensified fear / feeling of sadness / irritability / loss of interest / loss of appetite / loss of sleep / fatigue / restlessness / feeling of hopelessness or worthlessness / thoughts of suicide or death, then they are more at risk to have IBS.
Causes – Even after extensive research, doctors could not identify any cause, infection, inflammation, particular allergy, obstruction, biochemical changes or structural changes in IBS patients. So, treatment for a particular patient may vary from doctor to doctor. In correlating the sufferings and incidences, the suspected triggers are:
- Psychological – Worrying, anxiety, fear, constant brooding, too much mental work, inadequate sleep, tension, being emotional can play havoc with the bowels. Attending interviews and social events with much anticipation can also precipitate the complaint.
- Food – Low Fibre food, highly processed or refined food, spicy food with more chillies and sauces can trigger IBS. Chemically treated water, chemically processed foods/vegetables, lactose intolerances and mal-absorption can also provoke IBS.
- Irregular food habits
- Sedentary habits, lack of exercise and drinking alcohol
- Environmental- Unfamiliar environment leading to tension
- Medications – Drugs often used for diarrhoea, pain, psychological conditions (anti-depressants) and neurological conditions can trigger IBS. The long-term use of laxatives and antacids can also trigger IBS
Initially, patients, in spite of looking robust, suffer from a variety of symptoms which begin immediately after bed coffee or breakfast. Since IBS is a syndrome, it will be present with some collective symptoms which may differ from one person to another. Some will have only one or two symptoms, some others may have a group of symptoms and some others have almost the entire symptoms.
- Altered bowel movements, either diarrhoea (mostly) or constipation
- Rumbling of abdomen with pain which often urges for passing stool
- Pain and urge starts especially after eating and more in the mornings.
- Pain will be more especially in the lower abdomen like cramps
- Relief from pain/rumbling abdomen got temporarily on passing stool
- Frequent urge with unsatisfied incomplete evacuations
- Bloating of abdomen with gas and burning eructations
- Passing ribbon like stools with slimy mucous
- Indigestion and diarrhoea immediately after eating
- Being restless; giddiness, tremors and palpitations can occur
- Fear of food with dyspepsia, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weight loss occurs in due course
Diagnosis – Nowadays, doctors exclude other diseases (appendix, gall stones, pancreatic stones, worms, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, intestinal obstruction or intusseption, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, cancer, etc.) by considering age factor, health status, family history, lifestyle and with investigations like stool examination / routine blood tests / hormonal analysis / ultra sound scan / colonoscopy / Sigmoidoscopy. Finally, if every report seems to be normal, then they tend to place one under the clause of IBS.
Complications – In spite of repeated or constant suffering, no serious complication endangers life. Anyway, loss of weight and stamina can be seen in extreme cases with a feeling of dejection.
- Get accustomed to emotions
- Take timely balanced diet (if need be, consult nutrition expert)
- Drink plenty of water
- Take smaller meals at frequent intervals
- Take high fibre diet with less fat
- Do regular exercise
- Stress, tension, depression, disappointment, envy
- Smoking, drinking alcohol and tobacco chewing
- Food containing heavy spices, chillies, pepper and sausages
- Heavy protein diet like meat, beans, etc.
- Heavy fatty meal or snacks (fried items, cheese, ice cream, chocolates, etc.)
- Milk products and sweets with high sugar
- Over processed or cooked foods
- Aerated drinks, coffee and tea
- Drugs like NSAIDs / pain killers
- Chemical laxatives or purgatives to clean stomach
General Treatment In this stressful life, doctors/patients are baffled about IBS. In spite of extensive research, the uncertain symptom presentation of IBS has made its cure difficult for the medical world. Many of the patients keep on to a number of doctors/drugs to find a cure for IBS. Constant suffering with IBS signifies that treatment is not effective. Often, the chemical tablets also make the irritable bowel more irritable.
Allopathy works usually against disease or disease agent (bacteria or virus or fungus). Since no disease or cause can be found in this, a management type of treatment is given according to symptoms.
- Anti-cholinergic / Anti spasmodic agents – to reduce the pain and spasm
- Anti-diarrhoeal – to stop loose stools
- Anti-flatulent – for controlling gas formation
- Anti-depressant, tranquilisers – for calming the mind and to induce sleep.
- Supplements – vitamins, minerals and enzymes (Lipozyme) to enhance digestion
- Antibiotics / anti-viral / fungicide – for controlling infection
- They also provide stress management counselling, psychotherapy with reassurance. Meditation, yoga and food habits training are also advised.
In Homeopathy, patients are treated rather than the diseases or syndromes or its effects. Homeopathy treats the patient as a whole (mental and physical state) on symptoms’ similarity. So, in Homeopathy, the prescription differs from person to person, each patient is treated individually for the set of symptom presentation. Homeopathy clears harbored indigestion and provides health by enhancing digestion and absorption.
Also, in Homeopathy, the medicines are not given just for arresting the diarrhea or releasing constipation, but given for regaining normal rhythmic peristaltic movement. Giving paramount importance to patient’s feelings, precipitating factors, aggravating factors and ameliorating factors, the selected Homeopathy medicine will calm down the intestines and make them function normally. Altogether, Homeopathy can give cure or better relief from IBS without any side-effects.
Homeopathic medicines commonly used in cases of IBS are Abies N, Acid Nit, Aconite, Aethusa, Aloes, Arg nit, Ars alb, Asafoetida, Baptisia, Borax, Capsicum, Carboveg, Causticum, Chamomilla, Chinchona, Colocynth, Hamemelis, Ficus.R, Ignatia, Ipecac, Kali Bich, Lycopodium, Merc sol, Mer cor, Nat carb, Nux Vom, Phosphorus, Podophyllum, Pulsatilla, Rhus tox, Sulphur, Thrombidium, etc. These Medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.
Dr. S. Chidambaranathan, BHMS, MD
24 E. New Mahalipatti Road
Tel: +91-452-233-8833 | +91-984-319-1011
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(Disclaimer: The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)