Irritable bowel syndrome lives up to its name

Do you sometimes experience bad bloating or gas? What about constipation, diarrhea, backache or fatigue?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) could present any of these symptoms.

As its name indicates, this gastro-intestinal disorder can be irritating, annoying and at times embarrassing. It’s also very common — especially in women. Research indicates that up to 15 per cent of the population has experienced it.

Essentially a functional (motile) disorder of the large intestine, IBS is an ailment of exclusion. That means there’s no definitive diagnostic test, so one must rule out other GI issues before diagnosing IBS.

Often, IBS related to common food allergies and sensitivities, so dietary consultations play a big role in dealing with IBS. Wheat, sugar, lactose, citrus, peanuts, soy and other allergenic foods can contribute to or exacerbate symptoms.

Your naturopathic doctor can do blood tests to check for the presence of IgG antibodies that indicate food sensitivities. (These antibodies are related to gas and bloating symptoms rather than the anaphylactic symptoms that occur when IgE antibodies are created after consuming certain foods.)

Adding more dietary fibre by eating steamed vegetables, fruit, brown rice, quinoa, etc., is also beneficial. You might also try probiotic capsules to help regulate your gut’s good bacteria, and enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules to relax your intestines.

Stress also plays a significant role in how the intestinal tract operates; studies have shown that actual irritation within the digestive system occurs during times of anxiety or tension. Cognitive behavioural therapy (a form of psychological treatment that essentially reframes thought processes to reduce stress) can therefore also be beneficial for IBS sufferers. Stress-reducing activities such as exercise, yoga and meditation are also helpful.

IBS isn’t the most debilitating disorder out there, but it certainly can “cramp” your style. Why not see a naturopathic doctor and get some relief?


Dr. Erika Kneeland is a Naturopathic physician and owner of Braidwood Naturopathic Clinic in Courtenay. For appointments, call 250-334-0655 or visit

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