Naturally Treating IBS

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Digestive Health
Last Reviewed 03/28/2014

Naturally Treating IBS

Each year in America, patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) make more than 2 million visits to the doctor. The knee-jerk reaction of most physicians is to whip out prescriptions for anti-diarrheals, antispasmodics, and even antidepressants. However, there are a number of safe, natural and effective treatments for IBS.

Treating IBS with Supplements

One of my top supplement recommendations for IBS is glutamine. The most prevalent amino acid in the body, glutamine is renowned for its healing properties in the gut. It aids in the production of enterocytes—cells that line the intestinal tract and play a key role in controlling the absorption of nutrients and prohibiting improperly digested proteins from entering the bloodstream. Glutamine is an inexpensive and easy way to protect your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and bolster overall digestive health. 

Chronic stress and anxiety can also exacerbate symptoms of IBS, and that’s where another amino acid—gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—comes in. GABA binds to receptor sites in the brain, blocking “excitatory” neurotransmitters and keeping you on an even keel. 

In addition to these amino acids, I also recommend probiotics for treating IBS. Clinical studies show that probiotic supplements help normalize the bacterial makeup of the intestinal tract, alleviating bloating, constipation, diarrhea and other GI disturbances that often accompany this disorder.

Diet Dos and Don'ts When Treating IBS

Diet can certainly affect the severity of IBS. Try eliminating common trigger foods one at a time to see if your symptoms improve. The usual suspects include caffeine, alcohol, sugar substitutes, dairy products, corn, citrus foods, eggs and peanuts.

You should also incorporate more fiber (at least 30 g) into your daily diet. Eating more vegetables, legumes and fruits is a good start, but adding a fiber supplement and/or ¼-cup freshly ground flaxseed may also be prudent in treating IBS. Also, cut back on excess sugars and starches. They’re a favorite food of the bacteria that reside in the gut, which is why they cause gas and bloating.

Dosages, Recommendations and Resources

Suggested doses are glutamine, 2–3 g daily; and GABA, 750 mg 1–3 times per day as needed. Because amino acids are best absorbed on an empty stomach, you should take them 30 minutes before or two hours after meals. Look for glutamine, GABA, probiotics, fiber supplements and flaxseed in your local health-food store or online, or call (800) 810-6655 to order the products we use at the Whitaker Wellness Institute.  

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever used any of these natural therapies for treating IBS?

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