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IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder affecting the large intestine and is a collection of symptoms related to unpredictable bowel habits with the following criteria needed in order to make a diagnosis:

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The prevalence of IBS in North America ranges from 10-15%. Approximately 30 million people in North America meet the diagnostic criteria for IBS. Constipation type IBS is more prevalent in females than males. (read pubmed article here)


It is important to understand that the diagnosis of IBS does not point to the cause of IBS. Often people are diagnosed with IBS based on a particular symptom picture of abdominal pain associated with alterations in bowel habits (constipation, diarrhea, alternating between constipation and diarrhea or a sense of incomplete evacuation of stool.)

With IBS accounting for approximately 30% of all gut complaints in primary care, this syndrome can be frustrating for patients because it is difficult to diagnose and treat. Naturopathic doctors work with patients in an effort to get to the underlying imbalances that may be contributing to the symptoms of IBS. These imbalances may include candida, food sensitivities , parasitic infections, low stomach acid and in particular, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO that is thought to account for up to 78% of all IBS cases. Other underlying causes of IBS can be due to frequent antibiotic use, either past or current or history of gastroenteritis or Travellers’ diarrhea.


Naturopathic doctors investigate the underlying causes of IBS through a thorough medical history and lab testing including:


Treatment of IBS involves a personalized treatment approach. There are many potential causes of IBS symptoms ranging from upper GI to lower GI problems. Our Naturopathic Doctors will investigate the underlying causes of your IBS symptoms. A detailed medical history, physical examination and laboratory testing is utilized to determine options for treatment.

Upper gastrointestinal symptoms such as heartburn, GERD, excessive burping and feeling of fullness right after a meal may be due to delayed gastric emptying (read pubmed article here) low or high stomach acid levels, lack of bile production, gallbladder dysfunctions, presence of H Pylori bacteria and possible small intestinal bacterialovergrowth or SIBO.

Treatments may include botanicals to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, the use of digestive enzymes, the use of digestive bitters or HCL supplementation to optimized stomach acid levels, gallbladder support using herbals, lecithin and bile acids and treatment of any bacterial infections.

Lower gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, loose stools, alternating constipation with loose stools, gas, bloating, abdominal pain also may have many different causes. Some potential causes include difficulties with the migrating motor complex with loss of interstitial cells of Cajal in the myenteric plexus (read pubmed article here) difficulties with oligo-, di-, and monosaccharide digestions (high FODMAP foods), fermentation of foods in the digestive tract by an overgrowth of bacteria (SIBO ) or yeast , and lack of probiotics

Treatment may include prokinetics, neuromodulators, appropriate fiber supplements, implementation of a diet specific to the condition (FODMAP, SCD, PALEO, GAPS), the use of appropriate probiotics and treatment of overgrowth of bacteria (SIBO) or yeast.

If you or someone you know has symptoms of IBS and you would like to discuss testing to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms, schedule an appointment today with one of our highly trained naturopathic doctors.

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