Celiac disease is a malabsorption syndrome and chronic digestive disorder. The intestine is not able to absorb vital dietary nutrients from foods containing gliadin, an alcohol-soluble portion of gluten. This condition which is often hereditary means the sufferer has a serious intolerance to wheat (including durum, semolina and spelt), rye, oats, barley, and related grain hybrids such as tritaclae and kamut.

Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joint. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis which is characterised by joint degeneration and loss of cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis which is also an autoimmune disorder. In this case the body's immune system attacks its own cartilage and tissue surrounding the joints.

Some detoxification experts advocate fasting, while others do not. It is known that the components of any well-designed detox program will stimulate the body to cleanse itself, but people who are underweight, are undernourished, have weak hearts, have blood sugar issues or are ill should avoid fasting. Some studies have shown that restricting food intake can actually lead to bingeing.

Hemorrhoids are extremely common in industrialised countries and it is estimated that fifty percent of persons over fifty years of age have symptoms of hemorrhoidal disease. Although most people may begin to develop hemorrhoids in the twenties, the symptoms do not become evident normally until in ones thirties!

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) : natural treatment plan

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common disorders that doctors see. Irritable bowel syndrome is characterised by abdominal pain or cramping and changes in bowel function — including bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation — problems most people don't like to discuss.

Up to one in five American adults has irritable bowel syndrome. The disorder accounts for more than one out of every 10 doctor visits. For most people, signs and symptoms of irritable bowel disease are mild. Only a small percentage of people with irritable bowel syndrome have severe signs and symptoms. Fortunately, unlike more serious intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome doesn't cause inflammation or changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer. In many cases, you can control irritable bowel syndrome by managing your diet, lifestyle and stress.

Signs and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (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
  • Gas (flatulence)
  • Diarrhoea or constipation — people with IBS may also experience alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhoea
  • Mucus in the stool

Like many people, you may have only mild signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Sometimes these problems can be disabling, however. In some cases, you may have severe signs and symptoms. Because symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can be present with other diseases, it's best to discuss these symptoms with your doctor.

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.

How do I treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) naturally?

The good news is that dietary changes can really help to reduce symptoms in IBS sufferers. But firstly identifying triggers is very important when dealing with IBS. Triggers for IBS can range from gas or pressure on your intestines to certain foods, medications or emotions. For example:

  • Foods. Many people find that their signs and symptoms worsen when they eat certain foods. For instance, chocolate, milk and alcohol might cause constipation or diarrhoea. If you experience cramping and bloating mainly after eating dairy products, food with caffeine, or sugar-free gum or candies, the problem may not be irritable bowel syndrome. Instead, your body may not be able to tolerate the sugar (lactose) in dairy products, caffeine or the artificial sweetener sorbitol.
  • Stress. If you're like most people with IBS, you probably find that your signs and symptoms are worse or more frequent during stressful events, such as a change in your daily routine or family arguments.
  • Other illnesses. Sometimes another illness, such as an acute episode of infectious diarrhoea (gastroenteritis) can trigger IBS.

Whatever the exact cause of the IBS symptoms, be it past infection, hormones, stress, or flora imbalance, dietary changes can have a significant impact on the pain and discomfort experienced by so many people.

Diet for treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Minimise food triggers and imbalances

When constipation is the main symptom of IBS, researchers believe the condition is caused by too little fiber in the diet. It's recommended that people eat from 25-30 grams of fiber a day. Without fiber, there is little bulk to the stools, which makes it more difficult to have a bowel movement.

Sugar maldigestion is another possible dietary cause of IBS. Sugars are normally broken down by specific enzymes in the intestines and then absorbed. Some people, however, don’t produce some of these enzymes, so the sugars don’t get broken down properly. If these sugars wind up in the large intestine, the bacteria there will gobble them up and produce large amounts of gas as a result.

Lactose intolerance, the most common form of sugar maldigestion, occurs in people who can’t digest the lactose sugar found in milk.

Adverse food reactions may also contribute to irritable bowel syndrome. Some people experience a worsening of their symptoms after they eat certain foods. See our file on food intolerance for more information

Simple dietary changes can help to alleviate symptoms of IBS. Eating foods like vegetables, legumes, and whole grains that are rich in fiber or yogurt, which is rich in friendly bacteria, may reduce symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea, and bloating.

High-fat meals can over-stimulate the large intestine. This results in a need to rush to the bathroom right after eating, which can be very unpleasant and inconvenient. Avoiding high-fat meals and eating smaller meals can help prevent this annoying symptom of IBS.

Caffeine in the body is actually considered a type of laxative. Caffeine itself is irritating to the large intestine and can over-stimulate the muscles of the large intestine, leading to painful urgency and diarrhoea. It's recommended that patients with IBS limit their use of caffeine products such as soft drinks, chocolate, coffee, and black tea.

Foods that may help improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) include:

Whole grains can add substance and variety to many different meals. They're high in a number of different vitamins and minerals, as well as health-promoting fiber. The fiber found in whole grains has been shown to have very beneficial effects in people suffering from IBS. Whole grains can help to relieve the pressure and pain caused by constipation. They also help to feed the friendly bacteria to protect against gas and bloating. Refined grain products like white rice and white bread have been stripped of their vital nutrients and fiber, and are not much help for IBS patients. Replacing these over-processed products with some rich, whole grain foods can turn a fiber and nutrient deficient diet into a healthy one.

Increase fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, beta-carotene and many more. Fruits and vegetables also have plenty of fiber, which can help with the symptoms of IBS. Studies have shown that increasing fruit and vegetable fiber intake can significantly reduce abdominal pain and improve the overall sense of well-being.

Eat acidophilus yogurt. By eating yogurt, we are helping to replenish the supplies of beneficial bacteria in our own bodies. These bacteria may not only protect us from infections with harmful bacteria, they may also provide relief from some of the symptoms of IBS. IBS sufferers given foods with these bacteria report less painful bloating and gas than before. The best sources of the bacteria you need is in yogurts that contain live, active culture. It's important to look for yogurts that specifically say they contain live culture, as many types of yogurts are heat-treated to kill the bacteria before being sold. For people who either can't tolerate dairy or who choose not to eat dairy, a number of very tasty soy-based yogurts are currently available at many health food stores.

Increase fiber. Fiber adds bulk to the diet and helps stool move easily out of the body. This is especially helpful for people with constipation. In addition, fiber adds substance to the stool, which can help clear up diarrhoea. Friendly bacteria in the intestines love fiber and use it as a food source. A diet high in whole-foods fiber will also help the good bacteria to grow and protect us from the harmful bacteria. It is important for people with IBS to increase their intake of fiber slowly, or symptoms can get temporarily worse before getting better. It's also very important when increasing fiber to also increase your water intake so that stools remain soft and easy to pass. See our file on fibre for more information as to good sources.

Magnesium (200 mg two to three times per day) and B-complex (50 to 100 mg per day) with extra B5 (pantothenic acid; 100 mg per day) may help reduce the effects of stress.

Herbs to help treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

There are many herbs that are wonderful aids in treating the symptoms and causes of IBS, including chamomile, cramp bark, calendula, to name a few. An experienced herbalist will help you by preparing the correct herbs for your type of symptoms.

Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.

Some suggestions:

Enteric-coated peppermint oil: one to two capsules (0.2 ml peppermint oil per capsule) three times a day after meals

A tea of fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare) or ginger root (Zingiber officinale) taken after meals promotes good digestion

A tincture of equal parts of the following before meals (30 drops three times per day): valerian (Valeriana officinalis), passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), anise seed (Pimpinella anisum) extract, meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), wild yam (Dioscorea villosa), and milk thistle (Silybum marianum)

Lifestyle guidance to help treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Regular exercise, yoga, massage or meditation. These can all be effective ways to relieve stress. You can take classes in yoga and meditation or practice at home using books or tapes.

Progressive relaxation exercises. These help you relax muscles in your body, one by one. Start by tightening the muscles in your feet, then concentrate on slowly letting all of the tension go. Next, tighten and relax your calves. Continue until the muscles in your body, including those in your eyes and scalp, are completely relaxed.

Deep breathing. Most adults breathe from their chests. But you become calmer when you breathe from your diaphragm, the muscle that separates your chest from your abdomen. When you inhale, allow your belly to expand with air; when you exhale, your belly naturally contracts. Deep breathing can also help relax your abdominal muscles, which may lead to more-normal bowel activity.

Hypnosis. Hypnosis may reduce abdominal pain and bloating. A trained professional teaches you how to enter a relaxed state and then guides you as you imagine your intestinal muscles becoming smooth and calm.

Other techniques. Set aside at least 20 minutes a day for any activity you find relaxing — listening to music, reading, playing computer games or just soaking in a warm bath.

Eat at regular times. Don't skip meals, and try to eat about the same time each day to help regulate bowel function. If you have diarrhoea, you may find that eating small, frequent meals makes you feel better. But if you're constipated, eating larger amounts of high-fiber foods may help move food through your intestines.

Exercise regularly. Exercise helps relieve depression and stress, stimulates normal contractions of your intestines and can help you feel better about yourself. If you've been inactive, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you exercise.