IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME ( IBS ) and its homeopathic treatment
Homoeopathy today is a rapidly growing system and is being practiced all over the world. Its strength lies in its evident effectiveness as it takes a holistic approach towards the sick individual through promotion of inner balance at mental , emotional , spiritual and physical levels. When IBS is concerned there are many effective medicines are available in Homoeopathy, but the selection depends upon the individuality of the patient , considering the mental and physical symptoms.
Functional gastrointestinal disorders are extremely common. They are defined as disorders of gut function in the absence of structural pathology. Irritable bowel syndrome( IBS ) is a functional bowel disorder in which abdominal pain is associated with defaecation or a change in bowel habit with features of disordered defaecation and distension.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term.
Approximately 20 % of the general population fulfill diagnostic criteria for IBS , but only 10 % of these consult their doctors because of gastrointestinal symptoms. Young women are most often affected.
Even though signs and symptoms are uncomfortable, IBS — unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease — doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.
Only a small number of people with irritable bowel syndrome have severe signs and symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress. Others will need medication and counseling.
It’s not known exactly what causes irritable bowel syndrome, but a variety of factors play a role. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal, causing gas, bloating and diarrhea. Or the opposite may occur, with weak intestinal contractions slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools.
Abnormalities in your gastrointestinal nervous system also may play a role, causing you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This overreaction can cause pain, diarrhea or constipation.
Triggers vary from person to person
Stimuli that don’t bother other people can trigger symptoms in people with IBS — but not all people with the condition react to the same stimuli. Common triggers include:
Foods. The role of food allergy or intolerance in irritable bowel syndrome is not yet clearly understood, but many people have more severe symptoms when they eat certain things. A wide range of foods has been implicated — chocolate, spices, fats, fruits, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, milk, carbonated beverages and alcohol to name a few.
Stress. Most people with IBS find that their signs and symptoms are worse or more frequent during periods of increased stress, such as finals week or the first weeks on a new job. But while stress may aggravate symptoms, it doesn’t cause them.
Hormones. Because women are twice as likely to have IBS, researchers believe that hormonal changes play a role in this condition. Many women find that signs and symptoms are worse during or around their menstrual periods.
Abnormal visceral proportion. IBS is associated with increased sensitivity to intestinal distension by inflation of balloons in the ileum, colon and rectum, a consequence of altered CNS processing of visceral sensation.
Other illnesses. Sometimes another illness, such as an acute episode of infectious diarrhea (gastroenteritis) or too many bacteria in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth), can trigger IBS.
The signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can vary widely from person to person and often resemble those of other diseases. Among the most common are:
Abdominal pain or cramping
A bloated feeling
Diarrhea or constipation — sometimes alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea
Mucus in the stool
For most people, IBS is a chronic condition, although there will likely be times when the signs and symptoms are worse and times when they improve or even disappear completely.
Many people have occasional signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, but you’re more likely to have IBS if you:
Are young. IBS tends to occur in people under age 45.
Are female. Overall, about twice as many women as men have the condition.
Have a family history of IBS. Studies suggest that people who have a family member with IBS may be at increased risk of the condition.
Have a mental health problem. Anxiety, depression, a personality disorder and a history of childhood sexual abuse are risk factors. For women, domestic abuse may be a risk factor as well.
The influence of family history on IBS risk may be related to genes, shared factors in a family’s environment or both.
Diarrhea and constipation, both signs of irritable bowel syndrome, can aggravate hemorrhoids. In addition, if you avoid certain foods, you may not get enough of the nutrients you need, leading to malnourishment.
But the condition’s impact on your overall quality of life may be the most significant complication. These effects of IBS may cause you to feel you’re not living life to the fullest, leading to discouragement or depression.
Investigations are normal. A positive diagnosis can confidently be made in patients under the age of 40 years without resort to complicated tests. Full blood count, ESR and sigmoidoscopy are usually done routinely, but barium enema or colonoscopy should only be undertaken in older patients to exclude colorectal cancer. Those who present atypically require investigations to exclude organic gastrointestinal disease. Diarrhea predominant patients justify investigation to exclude microscopic colitis, lactose intolerance, bile acid malabsorption, coeliac disease and thyrotoxicosis. All patients who give a history of rectal bleeding should undergo colonoscopy or barium enema to exclude colonic cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.
Well selected Homoeopathic remedies are clinically found to be very effective for the management of IBS. Some of the important remedies are given below-
ARGENTUM NITRICUM —Argentum nitricum is one of the best remedies for Irritable bowel syndrome with emotional excitement and great desire for sweets. The patient is usually nervous and starts getting diarrhea whenever he undergoes any mental exertion or has any important engagement coming up. Diarrhoea after any emotions with flatulence. The stool is watery, noisy, flatulent, green like chopped spinach with shreddy mucus and enormous distension of abdomen. Belching accompanies with distension of the stomach. Argentum nitricum is best adapted to withered up and dried constitutions , especially when associated with unusual or long continued mental exertion. Argentum nitricum person is very nervous and impulsive in nature, extremely hurried in whatever he does. Physical symptoms of anxiety are also very marked such as trembling of hands and feet , palpitations , shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting, dryness of mouth, stammering, excessive sweating etc.
NUX VOMICA —Nux vomica is another excellent remedy for Irritable bowel syndrome and it is suited to zealous persons inclined to get angry and excited or of a spiteful, malicious disposition. The main feature is frequent ineffectual desire or passing of stool with abdominal pain.There is a feeling of frequent ineffectual urging. The abdominal pain is relieved after stool for the time being. The abdominal pain and urge for stool returns after stool expulsion.Diarrhoea after debauch , worse morning. Foods like spicy foods, coffee, alcoholics drinks worsen this condition.There is weight and pressure in stomach , soon after eating. The stomach is bloated with pressure as of a stone.
ALOEO SOCOTRINA —Aloes is another effective remedy for Irritable bowel syndrome and it is best adapted to weary people, the aged and phlegmatic , old beer drinkers.There is an urge to stool soon after eating or drinking anything. There is a feeling of weakness and loss of power of anal sphincter. The person feels a sense of insecurity in rectum. The stool is loose mixed with jelly like mucus and may be accompanied by passage of a large quantity of gas. The patient feels pain in the abdomen before and during stool, which is relieved after stool.
ALUMINA —Alumina is suited to psoric persons, who always depends upon artificial food. Alumina is best for Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. Hard, dry , knotty stools remain in rectum for many days without any desire. The stool is passed with great difficulty , even it is soft. There is great straining for stool. Evacuation preceded by painful urging long before stool and then straining at stool. Potatoes disagree for Alumina persons.
CARBO VEGETABLIS —Carbo veg is best adapted to atonic conditions where there is lack of reaction. Carbo veg is best for Irritable bowel syndrome with bloated abdomen. The abdomen is greatly distened, especially in the upper part , worse when lying down. The simplest food distress and worsen this condition.The passage of gas or belching gives little relief.The digestion is slow, food putrifies before it digests. There is burning in stomach with acidity. There is frequent cadaverous smelling stools followed by burning.Cramping pain in abdomen is present due flatulence, forcing patient to bend double.
LYCOPODIUM CLAVATUM–Lycopodium is best for Irritable bowel syndrome with weak digestion with much bloating . Eating ever so little creates fullness. Immediately after a meal , the abdomen feels distended and bloated. Sour belching. Belching rise only to pharynx. Indigestion due to foods like cabbages, beans etc. The patient experiences constant sensation of fermentation in the stomach.Ineffectual urging for stools. The stools are hard at times and require much straining , at times patient has diarrhea. There is much pressure and tightness in the abdomen.The patient always prefer hot foods and drinks. They have a special craving for sweets. Mentally Lycopodium patients are timid and they have no self confidence.
COLOCYNTHIS —Colocynthis is best for Irritable bowel syndrome having cramping pain with stool. It is prescribed when cramping pains making the person bend double, or need to lie down and press on the abdomen. Cramps may be felt in the area of pubic bone. Pain is likely to be worse just before the diarrhea passes, and after eating fruits or drinking water. Another feature is that all problems tend to be aggravated by emotions, especially if indignation or anger has been felt but not expressed. Back pain, leg pain, and gall bladder problems are also seen when this remedy is indicated.
CHINA–China is another best remedy for Irritable bowel syndrome when whole abdomen is bloated. Much flatulent colic, better bending double. Flatulence, belching of bitter fluid or regurgitation of food gives no relief, worse eating fruit. Walking may give relief to the bloating abdomen.
ASAFOEITIDA —Asafoeitida is best for Irritable bowel syndrome with a feeling of constriction in all directions, the intestine and esophagus seem to be moving in wrong direction. The person may have a feeling that a bubble is stuck in the throat or that a lump is moving up from the stomach . The abdomen feels inflated, but the person finds it hard to pass gas in either direction to get relief. Constipation brings on gripping pains. Diarrhoea may be explosive, and the person may even regurgitate food in small amounts.Moreover the person may exhibit a strong emotional or hysterical element this remedy is needed.
PULSATILLA NIG.–Pulsatilla is suited to mild, emotional and tearful persons. Pulsatilla is considered an excellent remedy for Irritable bowel syndrome with complete absence of thirst. Stomach disordered by fatty foods, milk, or milk products and the stomach feels heavy. The taste of mouth remains bitter. Belchings, taste of food remains a long time after ices, fruits, and pastry. There is heaviness in stomach as if some weight is present, more in the morning. The stool is sometimes constipated and sometimes loose. No two stools resemble each other. Every time the stool passes the character changes. Generally the patient likes to be in the open air.
ANTIMONIUM CRUDUM — Antimonium crudum is best for Irritable bowel syndrome with alternate constipation and diarrhea. In Antimonium crudum the digestion is disordered easily. There is bloating after eating. There is constant belching , and the eructation tasting of the ingesta. Complaints are worse from taking acid things, sour wine, bread and alcoholic drinks. The stool is composed entirely of mucus. Gas is discharged along with stool.
GELSEMIUM —Gelsemium is best for Irritable bowel syndrome with mental excitement. Diarrhea , painless in nervous persons after sudden emotions as grief, fright, bad news, anticipation of an unusual ordeal. Stools cream colored, tea green.
LILIUM TIG. —Lilium tig is indicated when the person may make frequent unsuccessful efforts to move the bowels all day and have sudden diarrhea the following morning. The person experiences a feeling of lump in the rectum, worse when standing up is common .Constant desire to defecate from pressure in rectum.
NATRUM CARBONICUM —Natrum carb is another effective remedy for Irritable bowel syndrome. This remedy is often indicated mild people who have trouble in digesting and assimilating many foods and have to stay on restricted diets. Indigestion, heartburn and even ulcers may occur if offending foods are eaten.The person often intolerant of milk and drinking it or eating diary products can lead to flatulence and sputtery diarrhea with an empty feeling in stomach.The person may have craving for potatoes and for sweets and sometimes also milk , but has learned to avoid it.A person who needs this remedy makes an effort to be cheerful and considerate , but when feeling weak and sensitive wants to be alone to rest.
PHOSPHORUS–Phosphorus is prescribed where the patient complains of constipation alternating with diarrhea. Stools are offensive and there is much urging for stools when lying on the left side. There is marked weakness after stools. The person is highly sensitive for external impressions such as light, odors, touch, thunderstorms, etc. Phosphorus is suitable for excitable, and nervous individuals.The person prefers ice creams, or cold drinks.
SILICEA —Silicea is also considered a good remedy for Irritable bowel syndrome. There is loss of appetite and disgust for meat and warm food. There is a bloated feeling in abdomen. Colicky pain in the abdomen with constipation.Stool is hard and comes with great difficulty.On the other hand patient may develop diarrhea that has an offensive odor.
SULPHUR —Sulphur is one of the top remedies for Irritable bowel syndrome. There is frequent, unsuccessful desire for stools. Stools are hard, knotty and insufficient. Constipation alternates with diarrhea. Early morning diarrhea where the patient has to rush to pass stools. Heaviness in abdomen as of a lump. Abdomen is sore and sensitive to pressure. Sulphur is more suited to thin and weak individuals who are very sensitive to heat. Mentally suited to people who are nearly always irritated and depressed. They are very forgetful. They are either too busy or they are dare lazy and do not feel like doing work. Some of them may have a feeling that they are immensely wealthy when in reality the situation is opposite.
About the Author:
Dr. K S Gopi, BSc, BHMS, MD, Former Professor, Govt. Homoeopathic Medical College, Kozhikode, Kerala, India have got three decades of teaching and research experiences in the field of Homoeopathy. He has published many research papers in national and international journals. Chief consultant of Dr. Gopi’s multi-speciality homeopathy clinic.
Books published by him are : Encyclopedia of medicinal plants used in Homoeopathy 10 vols, Homoeopathy a complete family health guide, Easy Prescriber, Herbarium, A text book of Homoeopathic pharmacy, Diseases of skin with Homoeopathic management, Cosmetic medicines in Homoeopathy, Homoeopathy for Baby and child, Sports medicines in Homoeopathy, Cure kidney stones with Homoeopathy, Cure Dengue fever, Chikungunya and Malaria with Homoeopathy, Materia Medica 5 vols, Control hypertension without Medicines, Sexual life- problems and solutions, Mothertincture and low potency prescription.