Irritable bowel syndrome is a debilitating and distressing condition, which affects 10-20% of the population. IBS is characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel function such as constipation, diarrhea or alternating diarrhea and constipation. Some people have occasional symptoms, which can be aggravated by stress or food intolerances. Others experience crippling symptoms, and struggle to maintain their quality of life in the absence of any targeted, effective pharmaceutical treatments.
This disorder affects people of all ages and backgrounds, including children, although girls are predominantly affected. Severe IBS can dramatically limit freedom, through loss of control of bowel function and acute abdominal pain. These symptoms contribute to IBS being second only to the common cold as the most frequent cause of absenteeism from work and school.
Regardless of the significant impact on individuals and the population at large, there isn’t any clear established cause for IBS. Whilst medical investigations are important to eliminate the possibility of an over-lapping pathology such as parasites, candida, inflammatory bowel disease, cealiacs or Crohn’s disease, there’s absolutely no particular investigation that patients can test positive to be able to confirm a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. A diagnosis of IBS is more often a diagnosis of exclusion if its another gastrointestinal ailment, and it fits the symptom picture of IBS, then it’s IBS.
The present accepted criteria for diagnosing IBS is the Rome criteria (adopted in medical texts and from the American Gastroenterological Association). Their definition of IBS includes:
At least 12 weeks, which need not be consecutive, in the preceding 12 months of abdominal discomfort or pain that has two of three features:
– Relieved with defecation and/or
– Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool and/or
– Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool.
These symptoms support the diagnosis of IBS:
– Abnormal bowel movement frequency (more than three per day or less than three per week),
– Abnormal stool form (lumpy/hard or loose/water),
– Abnormal stool passage (straining, urgency, or feeling of incomplete evacuation),
– Mucous passed with stools,
– Abdominal bloating or distension.
There are few effective treatments for IBS. Pharmaceutical medications include anti-diarrheal agents and laxatives, some of which can be harmful if used repeatedly. Significant improvements can be made through dietary changes which can consequently reducing some cause factors for IBS. It’s also important to practice some stress reduction techniques such as breathing methods, and positive psychology, as there’s a direct connection between stress and an aggravation of IBS symptoms.
The most promising, long-lasting and negative free effects in the treatment of IBS were based on a large clinical trial conducted at an Australian university, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998.
These results demonstrated a 64-76% increase rate on all measures of IBS such as abdominal pain, distention and bowel habits. These outcomes were achieved at a double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial conducted by gastroenterologists and physicians. The remarkable positive results were achieved in the treatment group that received Chinese herbal treatments. The same formula can be purchased as pre-made capsules from select retailers, and it offers great hope for those struggling with IBS.