Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a mystery. Cause and cure remain elusive. Some people complain of diarrhea, while others suffer from constipation or an alternating cycle of both. Other symptoms can include bloating and abdominal pain. Your doctor should rule out celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder brought on by exposure to wheat, barley, and rye, before making a diagnosis of IBS.
Thank you so much for writing about IBS and coconut macaroon cookies. They work! I suffered from chronic diarrhea for years and have been healed for the last two years.
We’re always pleased to hear about success with home remedies. Donald Agar wrote us nearly ten years ago to report that two Archway coconut macaroon cookies a day banished the chronic diarrhea he suffered as a consequence of Crohn’s disease. We have heard from other readers that coconut helps combat diarrhea. You can read stories from people who have tried it at www.peoplespharmacy.com. Not everyone who suffers from IBS benefits from coconut macaroons, however.
I couldn’t find Archway coconut macaroon cookies at the supermarket, so I made my own. Presto! I am normal. It is still a miracle to me. I wonder if it isn’t something in the coconut that is the key. After all, cookie ingredients are about the same, commercial or homemade. I ate two a day for a week. Just a couple a week is not enough for me. It is hard to believe there is some relief for this awful condition.
We think there is something about coconut that may provide relief for some people. One reader also had trouble locating Archway brand cookies and reported, “I just started eating some shredded coconut. The symptoms went away after the first day.”
I’ve heard that taking enteric-coated peppermint oil can help IBS. My worst symptoms are stomach cramps and flatulence, which make me reluctant to eat out or travel. Some of my friendships have suffered. What does enteric mean, and why would peppermint oil help?
Irritable bowel syndrome can produce symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, cycles of constipation and diarrhea, urgency of stools, and bloating. Enteric-coated peppermint oil has been shown to relieve symptoms of IBS. One study showed that this preparation reduced bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, frequency of bowel movements, and stomach noises.1 A German investigator reviewed 16 clinical trials in which enteric-coated peppermint oil was used to treat symptoms of IBS. Two-thirds of the placebo-controlled trials indicated that peppermint oil eased symptoms twice as well as a placebo.2 Peppermint in the stomach could make heartburn worse, which is why enteric-coated pills are essential. This special coating, by definition, doesn’t dissolve until it gets to the small intestine. There, peppermint oil eases spasms and relieves symptoms with relatively few side effects. Some people have reported heartburn and rectal burning, however. One brand-name product, Pepogest, can be bought online.
Is there a home remedy to ease the discomfort of IBS? I currently use Nexium daily and drink a lot of water, but I am always uncomfortable. I’m at my wit’s end. HELP!
Research from Germany suggests you may want to try enteric-coated peppermint oil. There were some side effects: Peppermint oil can cause heart-burn and rectal burning. But overall it seemed the enteric-coated capsules improved quality of life for people with IBS.
My teenage daughter has been taking antibiotics to treat her acne for years, but she’s also had terrible gastrointestinal problems (stomachaches and diarrhea) for much of that time. I didn’t think of a connection until recently, but now I wonder if the antibiotics might be responsible. She has taken Prilosec per her doctor’s recommendation, but it really hasn’t helped. Is there anything else that might help her overcome these symptoms? Her dermatologist says if she stops the minocycline she is taking her acne will come back badly, and I hate for her to have to deal with that at the start of the school year.
It is possible that years of antibiotic treatment have altered the ecology of your daughter’s digestive tract and contributed to her pain and diarrhea. Antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as bad ones. Repopulating the digestive tract with good bacteria can sometimes help reverse that problem. Such probiotic bacteria may be found in yogurt with active live cultures or in capsules such as Culturelle, Enzymatic Therapy, or Florastor.
Are there any natural treatments for IBS? I think they should call it cranky colon or irritable intestine or something alliterative, but I’ve had it for several years and it seems that there is little to be done for it. I have occasionally had rectal spasms so intense I pass out. Doctors don’t have anything to offer. Do you know of anything I could try?
One study showed that a probiotic product containing Bifidobacterium infantis was significantly better than a placebo for constipation and diarrhea associated with IBS. A Procter & Gamble product called Bifantis was used in the research.
My husband and I travel by car each year to Arizona for the winter and return home in spring. The trip is difficult because I have IBS and often hold up our fellow travelers so I can get to a bathroom. At present I take Imodium, but that only works after a bout of diarrhea. Is there anything I could take to make our trip less stressful? It does not feel good to drive through the mountains with no rest stations on the horizon when my stomach is “erupting.”
We don’t have any magic bullets to offer you, but we have heard from several readers that a probiotic product called Digestive Advantage Irritable Bowel Syndrome was helpful. It contains live strains of Lactobacillus bacteria. Here is what one reader had to say: “For years I have suffered with nausea and gastritis. Antacids and other stomach medicines did not help. Then my doctor told me his daughter has the same problem. A product called Digestive Advantage Irritable Bowel Syndrome helps her. It costs under ten dollars at most drugstores. This product works fast, and I have been totally well for months.”
Having read a few of your articles on the benefits of curry powder, I would like to add that it helps irritable bowel syndrome. After having suffered with IBS pain for several years, I looked into possible natural remedies and found that naturopaths recommend curry for certain intestinal problems. Since using curry in my food once a day, I have been pain free. The bloating is still there, but it doesn’t hurt. If I don’t sprinkle curry powder on my food for a few days, the pain returns.
Curry powder contains turmeric, a yellow spice that has anti-inflammatory properties. Others have told us that it eases their arthritis pain and psoriasis symptoms as well. We hadn’t heard that it might relieve symptoms of IBS.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic