Digestive issues, IBS, Chron’s Disease, they can all play havoc with your digestion and your life. In part i of this post, Healing IBS Naturally, I broke down all the reasons behind what causes IBS and digestive problems, and the most common problems around these causes. Here I’ll take the next step in this process and help you find the remedies for healing your IBS with natural supplements, & changes to your lifestyle and diet that help. Including my own gut healing smoothie recipe!
Although much of the process of living with IBS and digestive issues is learning what your triggers are and what causes your flare ups. Then working to minimise them by making changes to your lifestyle and daily routine. There are also some additional, & natural, ways for you to help your digestive system heal, reduce inflammation, and improve the health of your gut. These steps include natural plant supplements, and the types of foods you eat.
Natural Supplements for Healing IBS & Digestive Issues
There is no one cure all for every person. As I’ve mentioned before every one of us is different in our genetic make up and how our bodies react and respond to different substances. So what works for one person may not have the exact same effect on you. Having said that there are many natural remedies and supplements for healing IBS that work to help you relieve and reduce various symptoms that are related to IBS and digestive discomfort. Try each, depending on your personal symptoms and needs, and see which give you the best results.
Peppermint is a very common and well know digestive aid. It can be taken in both a tea and oil capsule form, but personally I prefer the capsules as they are easy to carry around with you for whenever the need may arise.
Peppermint oil is the oil derived from the peppermint plant, making it stronger in concentration than simple peppermint leaves, and therefore more fast acting.
Peppermint is anti inflammatory and antibacterial as well as anti spasmodic. This means that among its many benefits it works to have a relaxing effect on your stomach muscles, soothing your digestive tract (and whole body). It will act as a mild anaesthetic on your stomach wall to soothe feelings of sickness and nausea. It will also work to reduce inflammation throughout your whole digestive system.
Peppermint oil will also relieve any bloating and gas you may suffer from.
Another well known herb that can help relieve sickness and nausea is Ginger. Most commonly used as a spice in the kitchen this humble but powerful root can also be wonderful to use in healing IBS symptoms.
A slice of raw ginger in hot water (with a teaspoon of raw honey if you need a bit of sweetness) can be drunk as a tea, or add a wedge to your juice/smoothie. You can also take in capsule form if you prefer.
Ginger is heating and a natural stimulant. It increases your circulation which can help you to relieve cramps, including stomach cramps and griping pains that often come with IBS (and makes you sweat too, which can assist your body in eliminating any toxins in your system). It is a Carminative, which means it’s one of the herbs that is full of volatile oils. These oils work to stimulate your digestive system and relax your stomach, supporting your digestion as well as helping to prevent gas in your digestive tract.
Griping pains and muscle spasms that are common in a lot of digestive issues. This is usually a sign that your body is trying to move something through your digestive tract, this can be gas faecal matter, or a spasm where your stomach muscles are over-contracting. (one of the problems with IBS is that your small and large intestine struggle to contract as they should)
Another simple garden herb, fennel is an excellent stomach and intestinal remedy, and gentle enough to be used in treating colic in children.
It is the fennel seeds that contain the this plants healing properties. Once dried they can be used in teas, and drunk three times a day before meals. Or taken in tincture or tablet form, again you are best to take these before meals as a preventative measure.
It works to relieve flatulence, as well as stimulating your digestion and appetite. Taken before a meal it will guard against you developing any colic like symptoms as you eat.
Turmeric is a natural supplement, another root in fact, that has many properties. You can use it to treat a multitude of health issues, and as a spice in cooking. But in this instance it is its anti inflammatory and pain relieving nature that is most beneficial.
Not only does it help you with indigestion, and reduce inflammation throughout your whole digestive tract, it works to reduce your symptoms of abdominal discomfort, as well as improving your bowel movements, and by reducing inflammation it will also relieve your pain too.
There is new research that shows the curcumin in turmeric can be used to tread diarrhoea and abdominal cramps. Both of which are often symptoms of IBS.
To take turmeric you can add it to your cooking, or make turmeric lattes if you enjoy the taste. But I find the best way of getting a high enough dose is taking turmeric curcumin capsules.
Meadowsweet is another very gentle plant that can be used to treat all ages, and one of the all round best herbs for all digestive issues.
Once dried you can take meadowsweet as a tea or make into a tincture to take as needed. It will work to protect and soothe the mucous membranes of your digestive tract, as well as reducing excess acidity that can cause heartburn and gastritis. As well as relieve nausea which can be a symptom of these conditions and of IBS.
Meadowsweet will gently work to treat diarrhoea in adults and children alike. It also contains asprin-like chemicals which, as an additional benefit will allow you to reduce symptoms of pain and discomfort
6.Pre/Pro – Biotics
Changes in your diet, cutting out foods for a long period of time, crash dieting, and repeated damage to the lining of your stomach – all can have an adverse effect on the bacteria in your stomach and digestive system. As well as damaging the balance of your microbiome and gut flora.
A high percentage of IBS sufferers experience an overgrown of bad bacteria in their small intestines which can lead to many unpleasant symptoms. But it is still unknown whether these changes are the result of IBS or one of the causes.
Either way, managing your gut flora is an important step to managing your symptoms, healing your gut, and decreasing inflammation and sensitivity.
To do this we want to increase the number of good bacteria in your digestive system, heal any tears in your stomach lining (leaky gut), and reduce the number of harmful streptococcus, E.coli and Clostridium bacteria. Taking a probiotic with your food each meal is a good way to do this.
Probiotics work by inhibiting the growth of disease causing bacteria, as well as enhancing your immune system and it’s barrier function.
Specific to your IBS symptoms it also helps you to reduce inflammation in your digestive system, as well as reduce gas production and your guts sensitivity to gas buildup by balancing the gut flora.
However, not all probiotics are the same. You want. To go for a probiotic that doesn’t have any streptococcus bacteria, as this is what you are trying to reduce. You also want to choose a probiotic with at least a ‘6 billion’ dose.
NB. Other ways to help heal your gut include eating gut healing foods to heal leaky gut and subsequent inflammation.
Diarrhoea or Constipation
When it comes to IBS and bowel movements people tend to fall in one camp or the other (c- dominant or d- dominant). You can be either side of the scale but neither is a pleasant experience to deal with day-in-day-out.
There are plant remedies to deal with each of these problems too:
For constipation stress is often a factor. If you find that you are one of those people and feels very tense on a regular basis, and likes to be in control of everything that is a good indicator that your body is ‘holding on’ to things it shouldn’t – that can include your stool!
Stress relieving activity is a good place to start. As well as making sure you are staying hydrated throughout the day & eating a lot of fiber.
Rhubarb, liquorice, figs and dates are all good foods to eat to help gently relieve constipation.
You can also try taking a supplement or drinking a tea of the following combination of plants:
Rhubarb root, Dandelion, Cascara Sagrada, and Boldo.
Take this tea before bed.
Diarrhoea is often your bodies way of trying to eliminate toxins from the system and is not necessarily a bad thing, nor should it be suppressed. But over a long period of time is not good for you or your digestive system.
To control the process you can use a number of herbs to help tone the lining of your intestines.
Meadowsweet and Lady’s Mantle sweetened with honey can be take regularly by adults and children.
If you have a particularly bad attack you can make a tea to drink once an hour with:
American Cranesbill, Bayberry, Meadowsweet, and Oak bark.
But this is NOT to be used on a regular basis.
Diet & Lifestyle for Healing IBS & Digestive Issues
Although I’m sure many of you will have already seen doctors for help with your digestive issues, and had numerous suggestions on how to change your diet and lifestyle already. It’s always worth quickly covering these points again just in case!
The obvious ones being for you to:
– Find out what foods trigger your digestive issues and avoid any of these foods.
– As mentioned before, make sure you are drinking lots of water.
– Exercise regularly, even if it’s just waking for an hour a day.
– Make sure you are getting enough sleep.
– Eat plenty of high finer foods.
Meditation may seem a bit left field, you may be wondering what on earth I’m thinking. But meditation is a wonderful way to help you learn to centre and balance your body. Not to mention reducing stress.
All of the things we face each day can have a huge impact on your body and your stomach and digestion. Your gut if full of nerve endings, not just bacteria. If you are stressed or overwhelmed, exhausted, sad. These all have an effect on your digestive system.
Including just 10-20 minutes of meditation a day to your daily routine can hugely improve your health and your bodies ability to manage stress and other situations.
Mindfulness is another practice that is also good to use. The principal of mindfulness is to be in the moment, neither thinking of the past or worrying about your future, but noticing and appreciating your now.
Using this way of thinking and being is not only another tool for managing stress, but it can also help you to be more in tune with your body and notice how each food you eat is affecting you. As well as finding more joy and happiness in your day to day, therefore improving your quality of life.
This will not only make you a happier person, but subsequently have a positive effect on your body, health and in turn your digestive issues. Because your body responds positively or negatively to how you think and feel!
As well as Healing IBS with Natural Supplements, eliminating the foods that trigger your symptoms, & the other initial points I talked through you should also look at other elements of your diet.
Experiment with removing high-gas foods such as carbonated drinks, alcohol, caffeine, raw fruit, and vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. Removing gluten if you suffer from a lot of diarrhoea symptoms may be beneficial for you. You can also look at trying a low FODMAP diet – removing certain carbohydrates such as fructose and lactose from your diet.
If you want to read more on foods you should avoid check out this post here : 12 Foods to Avoid with IBS
None of these are a permanent way of eating though! The point is to remove a few items at a time to find what in your diet is causing your symptoms. Eliminate for a 2-3 month period. Then to slowly start reintroducing them one at a time.
This way your digestive system can get used to certain trigger foods and you aren’t permanently damaging your gut flora or loosing any of the bacteria that you need to digest your foods!
In general you want to be eating lots of leafy greens, vegetables and fruits. Removing dairy products, fried foods, refined and over processed foods, and eating fresh ingredients. Opt for dairy free mills and yogurt. Limit your nut and fatty food intake, as these foods can be problematic for IBS sufferers. Limit sugary foods and sweets, and experiment to find what works best for you!
Gut healing smoothie recipe
As well as healing IBS with natural supplements this smoothie is an easy and delicious way to start your day and add lots of gut healing ingredients into your diet.
It include lots of leafy greens, chia seeds, and antioxidents that your gut will thank you for.
Click HERE for the full recipe.
I hope you find all these remedies useful. I have kept things general as without seeing each person on an individual basis it is impossible to give specific suggestions. But all of these remedies will work for the majority of IBS & digestive issues and help you on your healing journey.
As always, if you have any questions please get in touch or pop a response in the comments below.