More than 1 in 10 people in the US suffer from IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
But in many cases, the diagnosis itself is more like BS. In truth, IBS is usually your doctor’s way of saying “you have digestive issues and we don’t know why”. And since they don’t know what’s causing it, they don’t have any real solutions for it.
I actually come from a household where almost everybody had IBS. So I’m very familiar with the symptoms, discomfort, and how it can drain you physically, emotionally and mentally.
I struggled needlessly with these digestive issues the first 25+ years of my life, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
There is a reason for your symptoms and once you uncover it, you can treat it and eliminate them.
So let’s look at the 2 most common causes of IBS and the 3 steps to treat IBS naturally.
What Causes IBS?
Research has shown that 50% of all IBS cases are actually undiagnosed SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
Your small intestine is where you absorb most of your nutrients and it should be relatively free of bacteria. When this microbial balance is disrupted, it wreaks havoc on your digestion, triggering the common IBS symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.
However, the telltale sign of SIBO is severe bloating. So if you wake up with a flat stomach and look nearly pregnant by dinnertime, there’s a good chance your IBS is actually SIBO.
This overgrowth of bacteria is often caused by eating a diet high in sugar, carbohydrates, or even fermented foods, which feed the bacteria.
It can also be caused by motility issues, meaning food isn’t moving through your digestive system properly, or because you’re low in digestive enzymes or stomach acid to break down your food.
This leaves it sitting in your small intestine, where it becomes a feeding frenzy for bacteria.
Since hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s also cause a slowdown in the digestive process, they can lead to SIBO as well. And interestingly, the reverse is also true where SIBO can lead to and worsen thyroid issues.
In my family’s case, our “IBS” was actually caused by undiagnosed food sensitivities. These are immune responses you have to specific foods.
However, unlike food allergies, they can take up to 72 hours to present and the symptoms are much less severe, so you might not immediately connect the dots between your IBS symptoms and the foods you’re eating.
In addition to digestive issues, these reactions can cause headaches, brain fog, joint pain, and skin issues like eczema and rashes.
The most common triggers are foods that are highly inflammatory, including gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and nightshades.
3 Steps to Treat IBS Naturally
Now that we know the 2 most common IBS causes to look out for, let’s tackle the 3 steps to treat IBS naturally.
1. Get Tested
You can test for SIBO using a simple breath test, and you can identify food sensitivities with a blood test or an elimination diet.
The blood test will check for antibodies to certain foods and an elimination diet will identify which inflammatory foods trigger a reaction by removing them from your diet and reintroducing them one at a time.
2. Remove the Offenders
If SIBO is an underlying cause of your IBS symptoms, you can kill off the overgrown bacteria with herbal supplements. In my clinic, we use a supplement called SIBOcide that attacks the pathogens without compromising the good bacteria in other areas of your GI tract.
You’ll also want to cut back on the sugar, carbohydrates, and starchy and fermented foods that feed the bacteria.
If you’re dealing with food sensitivities, you’ll remove the foods your body has an immune response to based on the results of your elimination diet or food sensitivity test.
3. Replace the Ingredients Needed for Proper Digestion
While you work on restoring a healthy gut, you may need a little extra support in breaking down and digesting your food.
This is especially helpful if you’re dealing with SIBO, so that your food isn’t left sitting in your gut undigested and feeding the overgrown bacteria.
I recommend a supplement called DigestXyme, which contains digestive enzymes, HCL (your primary stomach acid), and bile acids to ease your digestive burden and minimize your symptoms.
Like I said, I know how uncomfortable and embarrassing IBS symptoms can be, and just how big of a difference it makes to eliminate these symptoms for good.
If you’re ready to take the BS out of IBS and finally get relief, I’d love to work with you.
About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner.
He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.
Want to work with Dr. Osgood and the GrassRoots team? Become a patient in our West Lebanon, New Hampshire Functional Medicine clinic, or our Burlington, Vermont Functional Medicine clinic!