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An Ayurvedic Approach in Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Dr Pardeep Kumar Vashisth

Dr Pardeep Kumar Vashisth

  Gurgaon, Gurgaon     Jun 3, 2019

   6 min     


What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is also known as an irritable colon that affects the large intestine. It disrupts regular bowel movement and causes bloating and abdominal pain.

The most common symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome include abdominal pain, cramping, bloating in the abdomen, gas, as well as diarrhoea or constipation, and in some cases, the patient experiences both. 

Unfortunately, irritable bowel syndrome cannot just be cured; it is a long-term chronic illness, which the patient can manage using medication and implementing lifestyle changes, reducing stress and following a healthy diet.

If the symptoms are too severe, the patient is also given counselling. There is a myth that says that people with irritable bowel syndrome have a high risk of getting cancer. This is not true at all; IBS poses no colorectal cancer-risk; neither does it bring about changes in the bowel tissue.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of IBS?

The common signs and symptoms of IBS include:

  • Excess gas

  • Mucus in the stool

  • Abdominal pain, bloating or cramping that is typically relieved or partially relieved after a bowel movement

  • Constipation or diarrhoea

  • Nausea

  • Distension

  • A sensation of incomplete evacuation

What are the causes of IBS?

The actual cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is not known. However, the following factors play an essential role:

  • Inflammation in the intestines

  • Changes in bacteria in the gut

  • Muscle contractions in the intestine

  • Severe infection

  • Abnormalities in the nerves in your nervous system

Triggers That Can Bring IBS

IBS is a chronic condition, and the symptoms can be brought about by certain triggers. They are;

  • Food: It isn’t exactly understood how food allergy or intolerance brings about IBS. In very rare cases a proper food allergy can cause IBS, but it has been observed that when patients with IBS consume certain food or beverage such as where, citrus fruits, dairy products, milk, cabbage, beans, or fizzy drinks can bring out the symptoms’

  • Stress: It has been observed that mental stress often has an impact on the digestive system. But it is patients with IBS who experience extreme symptoms when they are subjected to increased periods of stress. Stress just makes the symptoms worse, and it does not cause them.

Diagnosis of IBS (Upasaya)

According to the Ayurveda, there are two different types of IBS (Vata and Pitta/Vata). Other states that there are four types or even six. 

  • Pitta or the diarrhoea type of IBS with the presence of thirst, hotness, diarrhoea, heartburn, irritability, inflammation, foul-smelling stool, anger, fever, sweating.

  • Vata or the constipation type of IBS with all Vata doshas such as constipation or alternation of diarrhoea and constipation, dryness of skin and mucous, bloating, fissures, bloating, a cold feeling thirst, anxiety, weight loss.
  • Tridoshic or complex type of IBS.

  • Kapha or dysentery type of IBS with symptoms including indigestion, foul-smelling belching, heaviness in the chest and abdomen, sluggish bowels and lethargy, nausea, mucus in the stools.

  • Tympanitis type of IBS with symptoms such as increased bowel movements, rumbling sound in the abdomen with undigested food particles.

  • Accrual type of IBS with signs of all three doshas.

Ayurvedic Therapy

For Vata type of IBS

The essential thing in Ayurveda medicine is to reduce stress. All means of reducing stress are useful, such as meditation, pranayama, aromatherapy, asana, colour therapy, gem therapy, and massage. Daily practice is essential in everyday life, such as regular eating and sleeping, and avoiding stressful situations. In general, a sattvic lifestyle is vital. Ayurveda has its advice on the way of life. Understanding the dosha participation is vital and unique and is a significant tool in treating IBS. In addition to managing stress and diet, herbs are also a part of the therapy. Tonic digestive agents such as shankha Vati and chitrakadi Vati are useful for destroying enterotoxins. Next, the preparation of drug can be carried out by medicinal ghee such as dashmuladi ghrita.

  • Triphala is one of the critical ingredients in the form of shita kashaya. At room temperature of 8 oz, you can take one tablespoon of Triphala and keep one night or one day untouched and eat without the powder on the bottom.

  • Nutmeg is an excellent remedy for cramping, malabsorption, and Vata-type diarrhoea.

  • In the case of distention and gas, the carminatives like asafoetida and ginger are good.

  • Ashwagandha can be used as a calm Vata and nervine tonic.

  • Sesame oil can be used as a massage oil or with food or enema. Massage of the stomach should be done for 5 minutes before soaking in hot water. You can also add ginger, clove, and cardamom to stimulate digestion from the digestive system.

  • One tablespoon of Hingwashtak churna with one tablespoon of ghee can be used twice per day to treat flatulence.

  • In case of anxiety, you can use shankh pushpin and jatamansi

Both Vata and Pitta related IBS.

Light food is recommended in order to cure Vata IBS. Foods including cheese, bread, red meats and foods that are hard, cold, raw, and dry should be avoided. Moreover, a lightfast, like eating only vegetable soup, hummingbirds, and some basmati rice, is also beneficial.

In Ayurveda, another essential thing is to manage the digestive system and mind. Since it includes both Vata and Pitta, it is necessary to achieve both. Hence, it is required to use the bitters to cool the rakta dhatu and anna vaha srota.

  • Aloe Vera is an ideal choice as it is moist and not very strong bitter and will not reduce the Vata. However, you need to be careful as the laxative effect of aloe vera and can cause you dryness

  • Red raspberries are considered to be an astringent herb which is an ideal herb for treating pitta diarrhoea

  • Gotu kola and shankhpushpi can be used to alleviate pitta emotions such as intensity and anger

  • In order to balance the pitta, Ayurveda suggests Guduchi, turmeric, and Shatavari

  • Marshmallow and liquorice are suitable for smelly gas and burning diarrhoea

Lifestyle changes

  • Identify and remove food intolerances

  • Increase your dietary fibres

  • Bring daily routine in life

  • Restore the healthy balance of bacteria in the GI tract

  • Be aware that IBS is not a life-threatening health problem

  • Mind-body therapy

  • Learn the right food you and how to prepare them when combining with other ingredients

If you or someone you know is going through something similar, then remember that you are not alone. There are people and help that you can reach out to help you cope with these challenges.

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Tags:  IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME,irritable bowel syndrome treatments,causes of ibs,symptoms of ibs,ayurveda treatment for ibs,ibs, ayurveda, vata dosha, pitta dosha, diarrhoea, constipation

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