A Complete Guide to Ayurvedic treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
“I am a 32-year-old female and have had irregular bowel function since 2 years with the complaints of alternative constipation’s and diarrhoea every time along with abdominal pain, disturbed sleeplessness and fatigue.”- Lata M
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a very common reason for visits to primary care physicians or gastrointestinal specialists.
IBS can cause so many issues to people on a daily basis and can affect their quality of life immensely. Let us see what Ayurveda has to say about IBS and how its effects can be mitigated to give long-lasting relief.
According to studies, women are twice likely to get IBS as compared to men. There are few factors that can increase your chance of having IBS.
- In case any family member has IBS
- Stressful or difficult life events as these can trigger IBS symptoms
- Frequent or serious digestive tract infection
What Ayurveda has to say about IBS( Irritable Bowel Syndrome)?
The condition of IBS is known as “GRAHANI” in Ayurveda.
According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, the Agni (or digestive fire) is responsible for breaking down food into energy and nutrition. When digestion is complete, the food passes onto the next stage of digestion from the various digestive organs. If the person is not able to digest the food easily, then it implies that his/her digestion is weak or you can say the fire element “Agni” is weak.
This weak and improper digestion can lead to the accumulation of toxins (ama) and all the major symptoms of IBS can be a result of these toxins.
That’s why the first step in Ayurvedic Treatment of IBS is the treatment and reduction of Ama. This way body is detoxified and doshas are brought into balance.
It can be distinguished into four major types based on bowel habits:
Some of the major symptoms of IBS are that people with IBS face are:
- Experiencing Irregular Bowel habits such as alternating diarrhoea and constipation, improper digestion and undigested food particles passing in motion. Constant urge of motion immediately after meals.
- Pain in the abdominal area
- Distension or enlargement
- Bloating and Nausea
- A sensation of incomplete evacuation with an urge for motion
- Heartburn, Chest pain and dysphagia.
- Few other IBS symptoms can be faced which includes somatic and psychological symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, headache, anxiety, depression, and even urologic dysfunction and gynecologic symptoms.
The main causes of IBS / GRAHANI are:
- Poor diet and nutrition, like consumption of heavy fried food, overeating, consumption of food that is bad for your gut, consumption of too many fluids and cold food.
- Eating food at improper timing or skipping meals when hungry.
- Few underlying conditions such as an imbalance in the nervous system, abnormal gut motor and sensory activity etc.
- Accumulation of Toxins in tissues involved in the process of circulation.
- Any sort of physical and mental stress
- Reduces body immunity and internal strength
- Irregular and disrupted natural biological rhythm
Steps forAyurvedic Management of IBS
Ayurveda is a holistic and alternate way of treatment for IBS and helps mitigate the adverse symptoms in the most natural way possible. Here are few therapies can can help.
This process involves the regulation of the digestive fire. This is treated by reducing ama (undigested toxins) from the digestive tract. Ama can be reduced with the help of digestive herbs and other potent ayurvedic ingredients.
This is the process that involves correction and balancing out the Vata dosha
It is seen in many cases, the condition of IBS flares up when people experience any stressful event or are undergoing psychological issues in their life. This treatment involves relaxation and treatment of these underlying issues.
Shodhan is a process of detoxification or purification. It involves the conversion of any poisonous drug into beneficial, nonpoisonous/nontoxic elements.
Shamana revitalizes the body by treating imbalances and neutralizing any impurities that remain after detoxification. It is a healing treatment in Ayurveda. This therapy aims at rejuvenating and restoring the balance of the body after the process of detoxification takes place.
This involves the usage of ayurvedic formulations made from natural herbs and ingredients.
This process involves the process of maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a restricted diet, yoga, and meditation.
Panchakarma is an ayurvedic detox and this therapy includes enemas that can help cleanse the colon and can provide nourishment to the colon.
Panchakarma therapy for IBS might include
- Abhyanga (therapeutic massage with ayurvedic oils)
- Shirodhara (warm oil therapy on forehead)
- Chakra basti (warm oil treatment around the naval and associated marma points) to relax the digestive system
Ayurvedic tips that can help you in IBS
- Reduce the intake of fried foods, processed foods, meats, oil, dairy foods and other fatty foods. These food items can cause your colon to contract abruptly causing IBS symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal pain.
- Avoid spicy foods which makes your large intestines go into spasms and thus causing diarrhea.
- Taking more soluble fibers can help prevent diarrhea. This is readily available in sources such as beans, oatmeal, and some fruits such as apples, strawberries and grapes.
- Drink enough water as less water intake can obstruct the smooth flow of food in the tract. Avoid taking water while you eat. Taking water 1 hour before and after your meals will help considerably.
- Eat Yogurt or any kind of probiotic food.
- Eat aged rice, jowar, skimmed milk, buttermilk.
- Consuming vegetables like gourds, coriander leaves, lentils, grams soup.
- Fruits like wood apple, pomegranate, nutmeg.
- Certain herbs like black pepper, dried ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, clove, bay leaf, and fenugreek can help in IBS because of their healing properties. Herb called Kutaj can be used in various forms like kutajavleha, kutajarishta, kutajghan vati etc. Bilva is another powerful herb that can be used in a case of loose motions in IBS and can be taken as bilvavleha, Bilajil and bel juice can be prescribed.
- Don’t forget the important part played by sound sleep in your digestion and overall health.
- Buttermilk, sour gruel, and arishta should be taken as a post-meal drink.
Few Important Lifestyle Modifications recommended in IBS
- Increase dietary fiber intake
- Take probiotic foods like curd, kimchi etc.
- Key point is to Identify and remove food intolerances, As these can be different from individual to individual.
- Manage stress levels, both physical as well as psychological
- Focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle
- Learn to eat the right food and prepare to combine food properly which can give you maximum health benefits. In Ayurveda, it is recommended to eat according to the individual’s Prakriti. This simply means that you can follow a diet that is suitable for your body type and according to your Take cleaned ginger, Dried nutmeg mace and with cumin seeds make a mixture by grinding. You may add a very slight quantity of edible camphor too.
- Ginger soothes most of IBS symptoms. You can use it in your morning tea and other drinks.
- Peppermint oil can be very effective as it helps relax the muscles of the gut to improve motility (the passage of food through the gut).
- Aloe Vera is beneficial in the treatment of symptoms of diarrhea and constipation. The anti-inflammatory properties of Aloe Vera reduce inflammation in the gut and can pacify many of the symptoms of IBS.
Ayurvedic Formulations effective in IBS
Note: It is recommended to consult an Ayurveda Expert or Vaidya for individual analysis of symptoms.
For regulating the digestive fire (Deepana-Pachana):
- You can take Ashta churna
- Dipakyadi churna
- Hinguvachadi churna
For Indigestion, diarrhea, Pain in Abdomen and cramps(Apachi, Shoola and Atisara):
- Take Digestive Care Therapy (Combination of Amlant, Dizomap and Triphala)
- Mustakaranjadi kashaya
- Vilwadi gulika
- Dadimaastak churna
- Kalaskadi kwatha
For Constipation (Vibandh), you can take:
- Kaidaryadi kashaya
- Patupancakadi gulika
- Bhuktanjari gulika
For Acidity and heartburn (Amlodgara and Daha), you can take
- Mahatiktak kashaya
- Trantyadi kashaya
- Kalyanaka ghrita
For IBS-C (Constipation dominant)
- Herbal laxatives:containing anthraquinones, such as senna, cascara, rhubarb and frangula may stimulate bowel movements.
- Slippery elm: Can be used in powdered form and helps soothe heartburn and mild stomach discomfort. In addition to this, the herb may relieve constipation in people with IBS-C.
- Triphala:A natural detoxifier, it helps reduce constipation, abdominal pain and bloating.
For IBS-D ( Diarrhea dominant)
- Chamomile:can be taken in tea, or as a liquid or capsule. It can reduce spasms and soothes the gut.
- Berry leaf teas: These are made from blueberry, blackberry or raspberry. Full of tannins, these help in reducing inflammation. These teas may reduce symptoms of diarrhea also.
Important Yoga poses to mitigate IBS symptoms
These are some of the poses that you can try doing daily and these can help you give long term relief.
- Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
- Pavana-muktasana (Wind-relieving pose)
- Marjariasana (Cat pose)
- Adho-Mukha shavanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
- Ardha-matsyendra-asana (Sitting Half-Spinal twist)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
To Sum up
IBS has affected more people than we can imagine. The most prominent reasons being unhealthy lifestyle conditions and stress. Here we have discussed various tips, ayurvedic herbs, formulations and therapies that can help you immensely. These are natural and create no side effects of their own. We highly recommend consulting an expert Vaidya before starting your treatment of IBS.