Unexpected flare ups are a fact of life for those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You’ll be eating ‘normally’, busy but not overdoing it and getting enough sleep when surprise! you react to something. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell what set you off in the first place so you can stop doing it. As tough as this is, we can still find ways to calm IBS flare ups while seeking to correct the underlying issues that cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the first place. Without further ado here are 3 simple and quick natural remedies for getting through the cramps, pain, bloating and general misery, so you can get back to your life.
Peppermint tea and peppermint oil extract
Does anyone remember Viscount biscuits? or have I just aged myself terribly with that statement? Anyway, mint for digestive disorders has been a thing long before they smothered it in chocolate, sugar and wheat.
5 great things peppermint does naturally
It supports digestion.
It calms symptoms of IBS including gas, bloating, nausea and abdominal pain.
It aids concentration and focus.
It supports your immune system.
Peppermint also works as a pain reliever.
When I have a flare up, which for me means extreme fatigue, cramping, bloating, lethargy, nausea and an upset stomach, I will always reach for the peppermint first. Why? Because it works.
Peppermint contains menthol which has a soothing effect, reducing the spasms in the gut. And according to this study on the impact of peppermint oil on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it’s also antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, immunomodulating, and anaesthetic. Whilst being enormously helpful for the gut, it’s also calming and refreshing when drunk as a tea.
Studies have also shown no real difference between taking Peppermint oil capsules and the usual muscle relaxants treatments. So if there’s a natural option I’ll always go for that first.
Peppermint oil capsules work wonders for IBS flare ups too (although can cause belching). A tick in the plus column for peppermint oil capsules over tablets is the enteric coating, meaning they are ‘gastro-resistant’. This enables them to get past stomach acid and into the gut where they’ll do the most good. Studies have also confirmed that regular use can significantly reduce abdominal pain and provide overall relief. I’ve yet to find a version that doesn’t contain gelatine. This is a problem for vegetarians but if that’s ok for you, Lindens is a good brand and good value for money.
Tea as a quick natural remedy
As yet there aren’t any clinical trials of peppermint as a tea. The ones conducted on the leaf are limited compared to the oil. However, I have found it helps a lot. Under the circumstances, I’ll try anything that may calm symptoms and make life a little easier. Peppermint tea is overall very soothing and a great alternative to caffeine after dinner.
So if you really “Vant a Viscount” (really? nobody?) and you can stand the wheat, you can enjoy your after-dinner indulgence in the knowledge that your digestion won’t actually mind too much. Except for maybe the sugar, or the chocolate but we can’t be perfect all of the time, right?
If peppermint doesn’t work for you there’s always ginger, it does more than dilute your whiskey. Ayurvedic medicine has used ginger for centuries to soothe digestive disorders. And though there aren’t that many scientific studies behind it, it’s known to calm nausea and pain common with IBS flare ups, promote movement in the gut and for its anti-inflammatory properties. Grated or powdered ginger as a tea is a good natural anti-spasmodic and can be enormously helpful in getting your gut to ‘let go’ of the constant cramping. Although it’s another one that removes gas from the intestines so beware more of the inevitable belching. So far, I think that may just be our lot in life.
5 good reasons to enjoy the Ginger
Ginger can also bring relief from Functional Dyspepsia. This is not altogether surprising as there is some overlap between FD and IBS.
Ginger before meals can make your digestive transit time faster. Perfect for Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers, who need to make sure food doesn’t hang around fermenting in the gut.
It burns fat.
Ginger is also recommended for motion sickness, dizziness and vomiting and is used to combat chemotherapy-related nausea.
If you don’t have time to grate your own ginger (who does?), Ginger tea works well for IBS flare ups too. Some brands are stronger than others though. I’ve just discovered this one, it’s amazing and very gingery. Which is what you want from a ginger tea. It also contains Turmeric, which is another highly recommended anti-inflammatory for the whole body. I’ve also found this one to be very effective and quite refreshing if you’re more of a lemon and ginger type person. Each to there own.
Dry body brushing to calm IBS flare ups
You don’t have to consume anything for this one to help. Dry brushing your skin with a natural fibre brush improves blood flow and circulation, wakes you up and re-oxygenates the body. You can use it to exfoliate dead skin but it’s also a quick natural remedy for IBS flare ups. Although not so easy if you’re out and about.
Try rubbing your stomach in gentle circular motions to loosen the cramping muscles. It can work as a pain reliever for IBS without resorting to pill-popping. Some opt for a boar bristle brush like this one, used most often for the No ‘Poo Method (despite the unfortunate name, it’s about ditching your shampoo for natural alternatives such as water and not caring what you look like). For dry brushing though, I use one by Eco Tools. It’s made from bamboo, sustainable and bunny friendly. Once you get past the weirdness it actually works quite well to calm and soothe a crazy spasming gut and invigorate your body.
IBS is difficult to treat. Research on the brain/gut connection has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years but it’s been a long time coming. The cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Functional Dyspepsia and other gut-related disorders is still largely unknown. Until we find out more, we can at least try natural remedies to ease symptoms of a flare up when nothing else will do.
What works for some won’t necessarily work for others. I’m not a doctor or a dietician and you should always seek help from a medical professional. As a fellow sufferer of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, these are the natural remedies I’ve found most helpful as a quick fix for IBS flare ups. Hopefully, they can improve your quality of life too.
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