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Natural Remedies for IBS

IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is a problem for an estimated 20% of Americans. IBS comes in different presentations, depending on whether the symptoms are Constipation (IBS-C), Diarrhea (IBS-D), or both, which are termed “Mixed” (IBS-M). All cause pain, but the herb kratom — according to one doctor interviewed — is only truly helpful for the IBS-D.

Kratom, an herbal remedy from the jungles of Southeast Asia, by its nature is slightly constipative. It slows digestive progress somewhat, the degree of which depends on the diet and other health habits of the consumer, such as their physical activity, stress levels, and water consumption.

For those who suffer from IBS-D, kratom provides anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain relief, while slowing the overly-rapid movement of food through the digestive tract. It is a perfect marriage of an unpleasant condition, meeting a useful herbal remedy that cancels out the unpleasant syndrome to a great degree, say those who have overcome IBS-D and some related bowel conditions.

This blog is not intended as medical advice, but rather it is a “user’s guide” to self-management of one’s own digestive system. IBS, if suspected, needs to be diagnosed and treated early, to prevent the occurrence of worse problems, such as colon cancer.

That being said, my general impressions are that the conventional medical profession has tried to turn the occasional diarrhea and/or constipation into a disease. This diagnosis tends to cause most people to mentally turn the responsibility for all their treatment over to their doctor, who then prescribes drugs.

I am not a doctor, but — to me — diarrhea is usually a response to pathogens in my food or from eating something to which my body is allergic or sensitive. It has a cause and is not some mysterious genetic curse passed down to me to make my life miserable. It is simply a problem for me to solve with a little educated detective work.

Here Are Two Questions To Ask When Self-Managing IBS-D:
•Where could I have picked up this germ or food irritant that is causing my body to forcibly try to eliminate it?
•What can I do NOW to stop it and what can I do in the future to prevent a return of this unpleasant event?

Now that I know about kratom, using kratom would make sense to me as an herb that will help my body to slow digestion, fight pain, and the inflammatory process — all at the same time.

For IBS-C, constipation, a simple inexpensive medically-approved remedy is the consumption of sufficient Magnesium Citrate supplements to keep one regular. For me, the dose is 1600 mg per day, but each of us must find our own need by experimentation. Most of us are deficient in this important mineral. If you take more than you need, your bowel will let you know with loose stools.

It is difficult for me to imagine having an ongoing problem like either IBS-D or IBS-C and running to the doctor for drugs (with obnoxious side-effects) to deal with it. For me, learning how to eat for health and good digestion, has solved this problem.

This is not to say that some people, for whatever reason, don’t have chronic diarrhea. Obviously, some do. I am only suggesting that in my 60+ years of life experience, I have found that if something good or bad happens to me, there is usually something I did to cause it. Therefore, there is something I can do to prevent it in the future.

Taking Responsibility for Our Health Is Empowering

The approach of the pharmaceutical-trained and focused mainstream medical professionals is to effectively dis-empower the non-professionals (that’s you and me) and blame our genetics for as much as possible that happens to our health.

There is another, much simpler and less costly explanation, usually. It is something under our control, such as: what we choose to eat.

But no…most of what we hear from MDs is that “as long as you eat from all the four basic food groups or “My Plate“, it doesn’t much matter about the specifics.”

In my experience, this is not true. “The Devil is in the details,” as they say. This type of sloppy recommending doesn’t take into account those who are allergic or sensitive to dairy, or have gluten intolerance, or a thousand other individual sensitivities.

The general message seems to be constructed to please the dairy farmers, wheat growers, and cattlemen’s associations.

“Eat whatever you want — and, if it causes a problem — we’ve got a drug to kinda-sorta make it all better.”

When I used to eat loosely, like this, I had digestive problems, on and off. This consisted of occasionally going a day without eliminating waste and occasionally having too-rapid elimination. Rather than running to the doctor because I already had insurance and felt I might as well use it, I looked for natural ways to correct the problem. What did I eat that might have caused this slowdown (or cascade)?

From my wide reading of credible sources, I knew that it’s not healthy to leave fecal matter in contact with our lower intestine any longer than necessary.

When the issue was diarrhea, it was often plainly evident that it was caused by something I had eaten in the last 24 hours — or perhaps I had “pigged out” on some rich snack food that my system wasn’t used to. Either way, this isn’t rocket-science, folks!

Some of our dietary choices are so ingrained that we don’t even remember where we learned them. They may be favorite dishes we ate as a child. We may not have noticed or paid attention to the fact that, every time we ate these family favorites, within two days we had digestive upsets, which an MD might be tempted to diagnose as IBS-D or C. But, is it?

My Naturopathic Doctors work under the principles that
•1) Our body knows how to fix itself;
•2) It wants to fix itself; and
•3) our body is imbued with a divine intelligence so it can fix itself, if given the necessary raw materials

After all, our body knew how to build itself from a one-celled organism into a fetus and eventually, into a trillion-celled, highly complex, intelligent creature, without much help from the medical profession, in most cases.

Problems arise in our development and throughout our lives, due to a lack of known nutritional resources that are in short supply in the modern diet, largely a result of how our agriculture has been streamlined to produce more food, quicker, and with less effort.

We can only imagine the problems that Genetically Modified food crops are causing now and will cause over long-term use.

Likewise, there is not a lot of research being done to discover the dangers that eating foods sprayed with toxic pesticides, herbicides and anti-fungals. Why not? It might be embarrassing, cause liability lawsuits, and hurt the sales of our commercial farmers’ crops.

In a few words, our food has been engineered to produce profits for the farmers and food processors. It hasn’t been designed to make us healthier.

There are some foods, I believe, that we have no business eating. Dairy foods, mostly based on cows’ milk, are one of them. My Korean best friend in high-school and some black friends have told me about the diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms they get from eating foods that contain milk as an ingredient.

And yet, we see promotional literature from the American Dietetic Association and other such groups that feature smiling healthy black children drinking milk. So, we may tend to think, “If others like me can enjoy these delicious foods, why can’t I?”

Alcohol is viewed as a trigger food for IBS. It may be irritating by itself to some individuals. It could also be a cause for relaxing our learned avoidance of foods that we know give us problems. In my own experience, the latter explanation is one that makes the most sense.

The Impact of Stress on IBS

Stress is a fact of modern life. We are rushed in many ways and it is easy for this to affect our digestion. We can, however, manage stress — and we really should for our own protection.

Yoga, meditation, aerobic exercise, and the use of the herb kratom, as well as ashwagandha and kava, are all excellent methods that many people are now using to successfully manage stress.

We need to learn techniques for directing our thoughts in ways that help us attain our goals in life. To let our unruly mind cause unwise food choices is a big source of problems, contributing to IBS, I believe. Binge eating of comfort foods when we’re depressed is a common example.

Kratom, while helping to stem the flow of diarrhea, can also give us a perspective that helps us make better choices , rather than habitually grabbing unhealthy snacks or alcohol as ways to cope with our stress or other mental problems.

Overcoming our IBS, for most of us, is simply a matter of accepting the responsibility for our personal health and making dietary and lifestyle changes, where necessary.

Milk and Dairy Allergies

Author Paul Kemp writes often on subjects of natural health and herbal remedies. He has learned to prefer promoting his own health naturally, by watching the sad outcomes of friends and family who turned their health care over to doctors and surgeons.

Learn more about kratom from the American Kratom Association