As HCht practitioners we treat a lot of patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Up to 20 percent of the population suffers from it. The so-called irritable stomach, also known as functional dyspepsia, is even more common.
Both phenomena pose great challenges for practitioners – especially since the symptoms can merge. Functional complaints are like complicated puzzles and always require individual treatment. Important but elusive pieces of the puzzle are physical stress and psychological stress.
Even when no organic problems are found in diagnosis, the suffering of those affected is often enormous – especially if their complaints are not taken seriously. Irritable bowel syndrome is not an imaginary disease. Studies have shown that the patient has the smallest inflammation in the intestinal mucosa and the wall of the organ is more permeable. In addition, the intestines move irregularly.
If you have irritable bowel or stomach irritation, communication between your head and stomach is likely to get mixed up. The so-called abdominal brain, a network of nerve cells in the intestinal wall, controls digestion independently. Information flows in both directions via messenger substances, immune cells and the nerve fibers of the intestinal-brain axis.
“Mental stress and strain activate the intestinal activity via the abdominal brain, trigger cramps, flatulence, diarrhea and constipation. The complaints in turn increase inner tension and affect mood negatively.
Studies have shown that hypnosis can break the cycle. “The patient learns to positively influence his bowel function through suggestions and inner images. For example, by imagining the bowel as a calm flow. Or let warmth and light flow into your stomach through your hands. This may sound like hocus pocus but it’s not. Visualizing is actually sending neurological signals to the affected area. Like little work orders to rectify problems, your mind acts in conjunction with your body to create wellness.
Anyone who already has experience with relaxation procedures will usually feel an improvement quickly when focussing on creating wellness in your body, but not everyone responds to hypnosis. If there is no success after four weeks, a change of strategy, for example; cognitive behavioral therapy, should be tried.
Medicines can complement the therapy, but only relieve the symptoms and usually have to be taken consistently for several weeks. In the clinic we discuss with each patient individually which treatment is best for them. Many natural remedies for indigestion are available. In the case of short-term complaints, there is nothing wrong with self-medication. But longer-lasting symptoms must always be clarified by a health practitioner.
Understanding that IBS is not a serious or life-threatening condition may help relieve anxiety and stress, which contribute to the problem. Stress reduction, use of behavioral therapy, physical therapy, biofeedback, relaxation or pain management techniques can help relieve the symptoms of IBS in some individuals. Use of a diary may help identify certain foods or other factors that cause symptoms.
Surgery is not indicated for IBS. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms. Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and improved sleep habits may be helpful.
Dietary changes can also be helpful in some patients. Several different types of food substances seem to contribute to symptoms in patients with IBS. These foods are often referred to by the acronym FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) and include complex sugars such as lactose, fructose, galactose, sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol. A low FODMAP diet may be beneficial in some people with IBS.
Gluten intolerance often also contribute to symptoms in patients with IBS, even if they do not have celiac disease.
Gas-producing foods such as beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and onions may contribute to bloating and discomfort in people with IBS.
Dietary fiber can play either a positive or negative role in IBS. Soluble fiber such as that found in citrus fruits, flaxseeds and legumes may help soften stool and lessen the severity of cramps. Insoluble fiber found in cellulose, cereals and bran can absorb water and lessen diarrhea. In some people, too much fiber can increase bloating and cause discomfort.
Probiotics or “good bacteria” may also improve the symptoms of IBS and can be used to supplement other dietary changes. Probiotics come in different forms and it may take some trial and error to find one that works best.
Relief of IBS symptoms is often a slow process. It may take six months or more for definite improvement to be appreciated. Patience is very important in dealing with this problem. The tendency for the intestine to respond to stress will always be present. With attention to proper diet the symptoms of IBS can be greatly improved or eliminated.
Herbal combination preparations are also helpful and can have an anti-spasmodic, anti-gas and anti-inflammatory effect. Agents with artichoke or bitter substances stimulate the production of digestive juices, which help to break down food and lighten the load for the digestive system.
Regular cleansing with a Holistic colon Hydrotherapy session or medicated enemas can help with IBS.
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