Digestive Disorders > IBS

IBS: which home remedies really help?

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

Your stomach is grumbling and hurting, and nothing really helps—irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be nerve-wracking and also cost a lot of money. Pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, homeopaths - they all promise improvement with natural remedies. But which home remedies really help with irritable bowel syndrome?

Symptoms of IBS

Their treatment options are as varied and individual as the symptoms of IBS. The symptoms can occur individually, but they can also all occur simultaneously. The most common are

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pains, including cramps
  • Feeling of fullness, bloating
  • Flatulence

Caution

Alternative therapy for irritable bowel symptoms should only be started when a doctor confirms the diagnosis of IBS and has ruled out other serious bowel diseases with similar symptoms (e.g. Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis). Our app, developed by digestive health specialists, has a specific IBS program.


Development of IBS

Scientists are currently still tracking down the causes of IBS. Formerly known as nervous bowel, we now know that there is much more than psychological stress behind the symptoms. Many factors cause the complex formation of an irritable bowel and therefore also offer very different starting points to attack with the treatment. Studies show that the intestinal barrier in irritable bowel patients is often disturbed (leaky gut). This makes pathogens easier to penetrate and causes symptoms.


Keep in mind

All natural home remedies only improve the symptom, but not the trigger. So they are purely symptomatic


Home remedies in the fridge

The best home remedies for IBS are often found in the kitchen. The most successful form of nutrition is the low-FODMAP diet.

In principle, the first thing to do is to reduce irritation and bloating, for example, by avoiding the following food and drink:

  • Spicy foods
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Beans, cabbage and lentils
  • Fructose-rich foods
  • Wheat products
  • Nicotine
  • and Coffee

Tip: Watch yourself and your eating habits and also keep a food diary. What did you eat and how did you feel afterwards? This is how you can discover the foods that do not sit well with you. At the same time, you will also find out which home remedies can help you individually. An app can also help here, such as our CARA CARE app.


Herbal home remedies

With the power of nine medicinal herbs, the plant mixture Iberogast (STW-5) acts quickly and effectively against stomach and intestinal complaints. Iberogast is also available in drops in drugstores without a prescription. The medicinal plants contained in them work in combination to:

  • Relax the intestinal muscles and the nerve network of the intestinal wall
  • Balance gastric acid production
  • Protect the mucous membrane
  • Inhibit intestinal inflammation

Exercise

Exercise is an underrated home remedy. A walk after a meal is a good thing. Gentle exercise is not only essential for general well-being, but it also stimulates digestive activity. If you just sit in front of your desk all day, you will often have to deal with stool problems, bloating, and stomach pain. You don’t have to do an hour of continuous running every day—even short but regular exercise promotes bowel movement and should therefore become an integral part of your everyday life. Try out some of these:

*   Walking after a meal
*   Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
*   Riding a bike instead of taking a car or the subway
*   Swimming
*   Yoga or Pilates
*   Light jogging

Helpful relaxation techniques

Stress and worries are often a punch to the gut. Especially with IBS, we have to pay special attention to our mental health and relax after stressful days. So be nice to yourself—your gut will thank you. IBS patients can benefit from the following:


Keep in mind

Gut-directed hypnosis (hypnotherapy) has recently been embraced by people suffering from IBS. Especially with psychological problems, the therapy often has a positive effect on the subconscious. It can help to keep up positive thinking despite irritable bowel symptoms.


Build a healthy intestinal flora with home remedies

Living microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria (also known as probiotics) are important for healthy intestinal flora. Probiotic supplements are available in yogurts, among other things. The problem is: When ingested via the gastrointestinal tract, their effects are often not sufficient. Bifidobacteria, lactobacilli, and saccharomyces (which are also found in the healthy intestinal flora and are the most famous probiotic strains) help better when consumed in capsule form. The microorganisms then settle on the intestinal wall like a protective layer, sealing off the damaged sections.

Warmth for irritable bowel symptoms

When our stomachs act up, we usually reach for the right thing: warmth. It not only soothes the gastrointestinal tract, but also has a relaxing effect on the muscles and our mind. No matter whether it’s in the form of a hot water bottle, a grain pillow, or a hot bath.

What home remedies help with diarrhea?

Stay away from cola and pretzels. With diarrhea, we lose not only water but also important electrolytes through the liquid stool. In addition to the irritating carbonic acid, cola contains a lot of sugar (glucose), which binds water in the intestine and can thus cause diarrhea—and pretzels only provide us with a small part of the important electrolytes.

Instead, you could use electrolyte solutions from the pharmacy. In addition to conventional table salt (sodium chloride), they contain other electrolytes such as sodium citrate, potassium chloride, and the right amount of glucose. Electrolyte solutions can also be easily made from home remedies according to WHO recommendations.

  • 1 liter of uncarbonated mineral water
  • 3/4 teaspoons of cooking salt
  • 4 teaspoons of sugar or honey
  • 1 cup of orange juice or 2 bananas (contains potassium)

Important! Stay away from experiments with laxatives or constipating agents. Except in an emergency (e.g. traveler's diarrhea), this medication should only be prescribed by a doctor.


What remedies help with constipation?

Rule number 1: Drink a lot of water. This usually prevents constipation from occurring. For this purpose, at least 1.5 to 2 liters should be distributed over the day.

A balanced diet and gentle exercise are no less important. Dried plum juice, dried figs, and seedless grapes and watermelon, for example, contain a lot of fiber. Their ability to promote intestinal activity has been proven in studies.

A spoonful of high-quality olive or linseed oil before breakfast takes some getting used to but is effective. Because it stimulates bowel activity and also makes the stool more slippery.

Take care: Just because something is plant-based does not automatically mean it is gentle. Special care should be taken when using the proven home remedy castor oil for constipation, as its effects can be drastically and quickly overdosed. In obstetrics, it is even used to promote labor.

What home remedies are there for gas and abdominal pain?

Herbal teas work well and are still commonly used home remedies. They soothe the gastrointestinal tract and have a warm, relaxing effect on the intestinal muscles. In addition, they are cheap and available almost everywhere. Mixtures made of the following have proven to be particularly effective for this

  • Fennel
  • Caraway
  • Anis
  • Lemon balm

Peppermint and caraway oil are also available in combination in capsule form. They have a deflating and antispasmodic effect.

Healing earth as an alternative remedy

The light yellow powder made of clay or loess is now a true all-round household remedy. It can be applied externally to the skin or consumed in water—and healing earth is also used for IBS. On the one hand, it is supposed to bind toxins, bacteria and acid ingested with food. It also contains electrolytes and trace elements such as zinc, thereby neutralizing acid production in the gastrointestinal tract. However, these effects have not yet been scientifically proven in clinical studies.

Okoubaka and other globules for IBS

Like most alternative remedies, the effectiveness of Okoubaka globules has not yet been scientifically confirmed. However, some patients report an improvement in their symptoms and general condition after taking them. They contain extracts of the dried bark of a West African jungle tree (Okoubaka aubrevillei) and are said to activate the body's self-healing powers. In addition to Okoubaka, the following globules are also used for irritable bowel complaints:

  • Nux vomica (for all types of bowel problems)
  • Arsenicum album (for diarrhea with nausea and vomiting)
  • Argentum nitricum (for diarrhea and vomiting in stressful situations)
  • Asa foetida (for severe flatulence)
  • Lycopodium (for flatulence with stomach cramps)

Cell salts for IBS

Another popular means of homeopathy is treatment with Schuessler’s cell salts. In the form of tablets, you can melt them in your mouth or let them dissolve in hot water. With IBS, this so-called gastrointestinal treatment promises improvement. It consists of:

  • Cell Salt No. 4 potassium chloratum
  • Cell Salt No. 8 sodium chloratum
  • Cell Salt No. 10 sodium sulfuricum
  • Cell Salt No. 23 sodium bicarbonicum

Bach flowers for IBS

Treatment with Bach flower remedies is supposed to tackle the psychological causes of IBS. Irritable bowel patients should primarily be helped by Bach flower No. 3 Beech as well as No. 26 Rock Rose. But here, too, there is no scientific evidence of the effectiveness of these remedies.

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Dr. med. Andre Sommer

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

I’m André, a medical doctor from Berlin. Together with a team of medical doctors, nutritionists and data scientists we empower people to understand digestive issues with our app Cara.

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