What is IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a gastrointestinal disorder affecting bowel movements. This is a chronic medication condition which means it will be long lasting. IBS is different from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and is a much less severe condition than IBD. This condition can cause alternative bouts of diarrhea and constipation causing trouble with bowel habits. IBS affects quite a number of people and could impact the quality of life of the affected individuals. Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is seen more in women than men and generally occurs between late teens to early forties age.
What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS?
The exact cause of IBS is not known yet. Some of the most common factors that seem to be contribute towards IBS are
• Muscle contractions: As part of the normal digestive process, muscles in the intestine walls contract when food passes through the digestive tract. When the contraction becomes stronger and more frequent it causes gas, bloating or diarrhea. If the contraction becomes weaker, food passage through the digestive tract will be slower and can cause constipation and hard stools.
• Nervous system: Problems in the nerves of the digestive system can cause communication issues between the brain and the intestine. This will lead to abnormal reactions to normal processes in the intestine and overall digestive system.
• Inflammations, bacterial infections in the intestine can also lead to abnormal bowel movements and bowel habits.
Certain type of food items like beans, cabbage, wheat, milk and carbonated drinks seem to trigger IBS while anxiety and stress seem to aggravate IBS
IBS is classified under 4 types
1. IBS-D which is IBS with Diarrhea
2. IBS-C which is IBS with Constipation
3. IBS-M which is mixed IBS where there are alternate bouts of diarrhea and constipation
4. IBS-U which doesn’t fall into any of the other three types
Symptoms of IBS
Symptoms will vary based on the type of IBS. Some of the most common symptoms are
• Abdominal pain, cramps
• Bloating and gas
• Diarrhea, constipation, alternative bouts of both
• Hard stools, loose stools, mucus in stool
• Prominent bloated belly
• Weight loss, bleeding in the rectum are more serious signs which need proper medical care
There are no specific tests to diagnose IBS. Doctor will do a detailed physical examination, medical history and symptoms. Some tests like endoscopy may be done to check for inflammations in the intestine and blood/stool tests to check for infections, thyroid problems etc.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS treatment
Treatment is focused on alleviating the symptoms. Diet control will be advised by the doctor to restrict intake of items which could trigger complications. Medications would include fiber supplements and laxatives to help control constipation, anti-diarrheal medications like loperamide, anticholinergic medications like dicyclomine and also anti-depressants for people who suffer from depression due to IBS.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS treatment in Ayurveda
Ayurveda which is been practiced in India for more than 3000 years has detailed views about almost all of the ailments affecting people. Ayurveda considers IBS as ‘Grahani roga’ and is seen as a vata or vata pitta disorder. As per Ayurveda, healthy body is when three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha are in balance and so are the 7 dhatus or tissues namely plasma(rasa), blood(rakta), muscle(mamsa), fat (medas), Bone(asthi), Marrow (majja) and reproductive tissue (shukra). Disease occurs when there is an imbalance in the doshas and when doshas and tissues get vitiated.
In IBS, improper food combinations, irregular food habits, overeating, exertions immediately after eating, stress and all cause vata accumulation which then aggravated in the colon and also affects rasa and rakta dhatus. It then flows into the intestine and disturbs ‘agni’, the digestive fire. This causes diarrhea, constipation and gas. Pitta also gets vitiated due to disturbance of ‘agni’. If vata relocates into the mamsa(muscles), cramps will ensue.
IBS treatment in Ayurveda is based on pacifying the vata, pitta imbalances and in strengthening and rejuvenation of tissues/dhatus. Line of treatment includes Vamana(emesis), Virechana (induced purging) and various massages using medicated oil and herbs for rejuvenation. Treatment duration is typically between 14-21 days and the cost of IBS treatment in Ayurveda will be between 1,300 to 3,800 USD. Ayurveda treatments for IBS have a high success/satisfaction rates.