Ibs over the counter

First ever over-the-counter solution for irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), once relatively unknown, is a disorder that has become increasingly more pervasive in today’s society. In fact, it is estimated 1 out of 5 people are currently diagnosed with the disorder, 75 percent of whom are women. IBS is characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, and altered bowel habit (chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation or both in fluctuation).
The condition is truly life altering for some and the distressing symptoms include bloating, cramping, gas, mucus in stool, urgency, diarrhea and/or constipation. It can be quite uncomfortable and has been characteristically difficult to treat because the disorder manifests itself by presenting the sufferer with alternating symptoms. IBS is exacerbated by stress and menstruation, leaving women who are afflicted with the disease suffering relentlessly.
Over 55% of IBS sufferers need daily relief and 67% of those with IBS are not satisfied with current medications. Until recently, the only over the counter options available to treat this condition has been Immodium for diarrhea or Metamucil for constipation.
To fulfill the increasing need among patients and doctors for a viable treatment, the pharmaceutical industry then responded with two drugs, Zelnorm and Lotronex. These drugs have been met with controversy because they have actually resulted in patient deaths. This has left patients seeking treatment with nowhere to turn for relief, until now.
Digestive Advantage(tm) IBS is a medical food for the dietary management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, safely and effectively. It is formulated to manage the full range of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. The power behind Digestive Advantage(tm) IBS is a patented blend of lactobacillus cultures with an amino acid that normalizes the flora the gut and aids digestion of dairy, fruits, meats, and carbohydrates.
Digestive Advantage IBS is the first of its kind because it helps to relieve both ends of the IBS spectrum: Diarrhea and Constipation. The product has provided patients with a real solution to the condition and 92% of those who are using the product have responded miraculously.
Digestive Advantage IBS is a chewable tablet taken once per day and provides 24-hour relief. The product is available at 9 of the 10 largest drug store chains in the US including Walgreens, Rite-Aid, CVS and Eckerd and on line at Drugstore.com, CVS.com and numerous other drug and food chains with a price point of $10.99.

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People with IBS can usually manage symptoms by making adjustments to their lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet can lessen the symptoms. Some people find that following the diet recommended by Canada’s Food Guide to be helpful. Dietary fibre (such as whole-grain breads and cereals, beans, fruits, and vegetables) prevents stools from drying out too much and helps to keep things moving regularly in the colon. Switching to a high-fibre diet might cause bloating and gas at first, but this usually goes away in a few weeks and can be reduced by making a gradual change to the amount of fibre consumed. It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, to prevent or reduce constipation. Other people find that avoiding certain food triggers can lessen their symptoms. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can also help reduce cramping and diarrhea.

Since stress can bring on symptoms of IBS, stress management is an important way to deal with this condition. Exercise and some kind of relaxation training (such as meditation) are often recommended. Your doctor might also suggest talking with a counsellor to learn how to cope better. If you experience other symptoms such as anxiety, talk to your doctor on how to manage your condition.

Medication for IBS is aimed at treating symptoms. Medications are available to slow down the movement of food through the digestive system and to control diarrhea. Laxatives are sometimes helpful for problem constipation, but people should not depend on them for regular bowel movements. Antidiarrhea medications (e.g., loperamide*) may be helpful for people who have mostly diarrhea as a symptom. Many other medications are available and your doctor can discuss them with you.

Probiotics are bacteria that normally live in your intestines and found in certain foods, so they are considered “good” bacteria. Some studies suggest that IBS may be due to an imbalance or disruption of the normal “good” bacteria that’s present in the intestines. Probiotics may help the symptoms experienced by people with IBS by restoring this balance. However, further research into the use of probiotics in IBS needs to be done.

*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Irritable-Bowel-Syndrome

6 Natural and Nonprescription Remedies for IBS

Prescription medications can come with potential side effects and may not work as well as advertised. In any case, natural remedies can be helpful. In fact, they may be all you need to control your IBS symptoms for long-term relief.

“Some natural and over-the-counter remedies can completely put some IBS patients in remission,” says Brenda Powell, MD, who practices at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine.

Here are six natural ways to find relief from IBS pain.

1. A healthy diet First off, “eat the healthiest, cleanest plant-based diet as you can,” says Dr. Powell. Pile on the produce as well as whole grains, such as oats, quinoa, wild and black rice, and eliminate foods high in sugar, artificial sweeteners, saturated and trans fat, such as fatty meats, ready-made cookies, frozen pizza, margarine and microwave popcorn. If that doesn’t help reduce or stop your IBS symptoms, try eliminating dairy products too and see how that affects you. Keeping a food diary to help you spot patterns. “I have some patients who just follow these dietary recommendations and feel great,” Powell says. A healthier diet alone may do the trick, and because you’re not restricting healthy options, it’s a regimen you can follow for life.

2. Probiotic supplements to enhance your microbiome If you’re still having symptoms after cleaning up your plate, consider adding a probiotic supplement. “Probiotics can be helpful for IBS-C and IBS-D,” Powell says. A probiotic supplement can help correct the abnormalities of the microbiome that can lead to IBS symptoms. “We’re trying to crowd the gut with good bacteria, which will hopefully improve bowel function,” Powell says.

She recommends a probiotic supplement with a combination of lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, with 10 different strains between the two (check the label). Make sure the supplement has a minimum of 10 billion colony forming units per capsule and look for a supplement that is enteric coated, which helps ensure the capsules will survive the trip to your small intestine. Otherwise, stomach acid can kill off the good bacteria before they get there, negating their effectiveness.

3. Psyllium powder for added fiber If your IBS symptoms persist after you clean up your diet and take a probiotic supplement for a few days, try taking psyllium powder, which is soluble fiber and the active ingredient in the fiber supplement Metamucil. “There is a moderate quality of evidence for psyllium for overall symptoms relief,” says Kara Gross Margolis, MD, a spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association. According to a study publihsed in September 2017 in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, psyllium supplements can help manage all three types of IBS. Stir a teaspoon of psyllium powder into your morning oatmeal or into a glass of water, and down the hatch. Whatever form of IBS you have, psyllium may help. “If you’re constipated, psyllium powder helps move your bowels. If you have diarrhea, psyllium powder gives you something to form a bowel movement around,” Powell says.

4. L-glutamine to aid in the function of intestinal tissue IBS can cause the lining of your small intestine to break down, creating tiny openings that digestive by-products, called lipopolysaccharides, can slip through and enter your body. These uninvited guests can ignite the immune system, causing a generalized inflammatory reaction and symptoms such as achiness and fatigue. If your IBS makes you feel tired or achy, L-glutamine may be another over-the-counter supplement to try. It’s an amino acid, sold as a powder, found in food and supplements. An eight-week study published in Gut of 106 adults with IBS-D found that those who took oral glutamine supplements safely reduced all major IBS-related symptoms. “L-glutamine can help the lining of your gut heal to correct the permeability issue,” Powell says. “I recommend taking two teaspoons at once, once a day.”

5. Acupuncture to treat chronic pain If constipation is your main IBS symptom, you may want to take a stab at acupuncture. “Acupuncture is really good for constipation and getting the bowels moving again,” Powell says. The ancient Chinese medicine technique of inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points to balance the body’s energy or life force, also called qi (pronounced “chi”), is based on the principle that qi flows through pathways called meridians. “Inserting needles into acupuncture points along meridians is thought to bring energy flow back into proper balance,” says Anne Mok, an acupuncturist and the co-owner of Cornerstone Healing in New York City. With IBS-C, acupuncture can help calm down the autonomic nervous system, which helps regulate your GI tract.

Acupuncture may even be helpful if you have IBS-D. A study published in June 2016 in Medicine found that electroacupuncture, a form that applies a mild pulsating current to acupuncture needles, was equivalent to loperamide in reducing stool frequency in patients with IBS-D. Loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium, can provide temporary diarrhea relief so you can go about your day, but it’s not a long-term fix.

6. Deep breathing for stress relief Reducing stress with breathing exercises may also help calm down the gut nerves that are misfiring. A study published in February 2013 in Ailment Pharmacological Therapy involving 69 patients with IBS found that those who practiced deep breathing and other relaxation techniques for five weeks had fewer IBS symptoms than those who didn’t. “I recommend 5-5-5 to my patients,” Powell says. That is, “smell the roses” by inhaling through your nose for a count of five. Hold that breath for five counts, then exhale through your mouth for a count of five or longer, as if you are blowing out candles on your birthday cake. “This breathing technique is very calming to the autonomic nervous system, which can help with IBS,” Powell says. Best of all, it’s portable. “You can do it anywhere, such as when you’re waiting in your car at a stoplight.”

7 Natural Remedies for IBS That May Work for You

Treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be tough. It’s characterized by abdominal pain and either constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of both, but its symptoms are different for every person who suffers from it. So, then, is what works to provide relief.

Medications are available to ease the symptoms of IBS, but some patients feel better trying natural remedies instead of (or in addition to) conventional drugs. The problem is, says Yuri Saito-Loftus, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, there’s not nearly as much scientific research on these “treatments” to show how well they really work.

“There’s usually not a big pharmaceutical company with billions of dollars to sponsor a randomized clinical trial for these alternative remedies,” says Dr. Saito-Loftus. “A lot of what we rely on to make recommendations to our patients are the rare cases when either the government or a large supplement company has enough interest to fund a study.”

A new review does provide some hope for people who get no benefit, or have bad side effects, from traditional IBS medicines: Writing in the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers noted that several alternative therapies do seem to be effective at relieving symptoms.

We asked Dr. Saito-Loftus (whose research is referenced in the review) for her thoughts on these and other natural remedies. Here’s her advice—including some words of caution—about what’s worked for her patients.


These live bacteria—found in supplements or in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir—fared well in the newly published review: The authors noted several randomized clinical trials that suggested probiotic consumption can relieve abdominal pain and other IBS symptoms better than placebo.

But the news isn’t all great. “I’ve met patients who swear that they make all the difference in the world, and others that don’t feel they make much of an impact at all in their symptoms,” says Dr. Saito-Loftus. “One problem is that there are so many brands and formulations, chances are what you pick up in the store is not the same product that performed well in clinical trials.”

Dr. Saito-Loftus is also cautious about recommending probiotics to IBS patients because they do alter the amount and ratio of natural gut bacteria—which, in some cases, could do more harm than good. Her advice? Talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits, and decide together whether to give probiotics a try.

RELATED: 9 Probiotic Foods That Aren’t Yogurt


Only a few studies have been done on prebiotics—nondigestable carbohydrates that feed the good bacteria in your gut—with conflicting results, the new review notes. (The same goes for synbiotics, which are combination products that contain both pre- and probiotics.)

There’s not enough evidence to say how well they really relieve IBS symptoms, says Dr. Saito-Loftus. But there’s little harm—besides the price tag of the supplement—if patients want to try them, she adds. Prebiotics are also in healthy foods like garlic, onions, bananas, and raw asparagus, as well, and eating them can be a win-win.

“With prebiotics, patients aren’t consuming live bacteria, so I like that it’s more of an indirect way of trying to manipulate your microflora,” she says. “They’re certainly reasonable to try, but there’s not a lot of background to form conclusions either way.”


Getting more fiber, either through food or supplements, does seem to improve some cases of IBS, says Dr. Saito-Loftus. The new review cites several studies on different types of fiber—including psyllium, wheat bran, and calcium polycarbophil—that had promising results in earlier studies.

“I definitely am a big advocate of at least trying fiber as a remedy, particularly for my patients with constipation-predominant IBS,” says Dr. Saito-Loftus. She’s a bit more cautious for those who have a lot of bloating, gassiness, or diarrhea, since fiber can make these symptoms worse.

Foods high in fiber—such as beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—are typically low-calorie and full of vitamins and other nutrients, so Dr. Saito-Loftus recommends incorporating them into your diet if you can. But if getting all your fiber from food is too difficult, taking a regular supplement can help make up for what’s missing.

“I do caution my patients that fiber doesn’t work for everybody,” she says. “But if you find that after transitioning to a high-fiber diet that you aren’t feeling better, at least you can say you tried.”

RELATED: 3 Ways to Get More Fiber

Peppermint oil

Of all the herbal remedies studied in the new review, peppermint oil seemed to have the most promising results, with clinical trials dating back to 1972.

“It’s something I recommend to patients particularly with a lot of IBS-related pain,” says Dr. Saito-Loftus. “Peppermint oil is thought to be a natural anti-spasmodic, and it seems to be beneficial—maybe not for constipation or diarrhea, but specifically for those who do have a lot of pain.”


Dr. Saito-Loftus also recommends Iberogast (also known as STW-5), a trademarked liquid formula made of nine different plant extracts—including peppermint—to patients with IBS-related pain. It seems to work particularly well for people who have pain around mealtime, she adds.

In the new review, the authors note that Iberogast also seems to have anti-spasmodic qualities, although it’s unknown which ingredient (or ingredients) are most responsible.

Digestive enzymes

These supplements weren’t included in the review, but Dr. Saito-Loftus says that they may be helpful, particularly for people with diarrhea-predominant IBS. “It may simply be that there’s no data on them, but I can tell you that a lot of my patients come to me already taking them,” she says.

Dr. Saito-Loftus says the risk of trying these is low, and the potential benefits—anecdotally, at least—are high. “I’ve had patients who swear by them, and others who have not,” she says. “It comes down to reading the bottle and considering the price and making the decision whether it’s worth it to give them a try.”

RELATED: 18 Reasons Why Your Stomach Hurts

Stress-reduction strategies

While stress relief may not come in a bottle (and was not discussed in the new review), Dr. Saito-Loftus says it’s one of the most important natural remedies to consider when dealing with IBS.

“I think sometimes stress worsens symptoms and sometimes symptoms worsen stress, but the combination of the two is very important,” she says. “You can’t always modify your stressors, but you can modify your response to that stress—and I think working on that is so important.”

She encourages patients to explore different options for stress reduction and find what works best for them. “For some people it’s yoga, exercise, or meditation,” she says. “And sometimes it’s simply a matter of mindfulness and reflection, and making a conscious effort to try not to worsen the stress that’s already there.”

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that is characterized by ongoing digestive symptoms.

It can greatly lower your quality of life, and in severe cases, can even prevent sufferers from leaving their home.

This article looks at the proven natural ways to get on top of your IBS and reduce your symptoms.

What is IBS?

IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal condition.

Common symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, bloating, excess wind and stomach pain.

There are no adequate medical tests that can diagnose IBS.

A person’s symptoms and also the absence of other medical conditions are used to diagnose the condition.

How To Calm An IBS Flare Up

IBS flare ups can last from a few hours to several days.

There are many ways to quickly get on top of symptoms.

Implementing these strategies, plus letting time run its course, are the most effective ways to calm an IBS flare up.

Return To A Strict Low FODMAP Diet

The low FODMAP diet is a two-phase diet, and a scientifically-proven therapy to manage IBS (1).

The first phase of the diet involves removing foods that are rich in specific sugars (FODMAPs) that are likely culprits for IBS symptoms.

Once symptom control is achieved, each group of FODMAPs are re-introduced one at a time to identify which are responsible for that individual’s symptoms.

Many consider the initial strict version of the low FODMAP diet their safe diet.

It is a good idea to return to this baseline diet during a flare to let your symptoms pass.

Take Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is an effective remedy that can drastically improve IBS symptoms (2).

It is thought to work by relaxing the muscles found in the stomach and digestive tract, which can then speed up or slow down the motility of the GI tract (3, 4).

This results in relief from symptoms such as nausea, bloating, flatulence and altered bowel habits.

Use A Hot Water Bottle

Heat therapy can offer quick relief from painful IBS symptoms by relaxing the muscles in the GI tract.

Do Things That Will Help You Feel More Relaxed

IBS sufferers tend to have an extremely sensitive gut that responds more easily to stress.

Trying strategies that make you feel more relaxed can reduce the sensitivity of the gut and help overcome your IBS symptoms faster.

Some relaxation methods include mindfulness meditation, yoga or even a gentle walk if you’re feeling up to it.

Treat Your Symptoms With Appropriate Supplements Or Medication

The most popular herbal supplement that also has scientific backing, is called Iberogast (5).

It contains a mixture of herbs that can assist abdominal pain, flatulence and altered bowel habits.

There may also be some over the counter medication that can help IBS symptoms.

It is best to discuss your needs with a pharmacist.

Summary: There are a number of strategies that could be used to calm an IBS flare up. Symptoms will also pass with time.

How To Cure IBS Naturally

There is no “cure” for IBS at the moment, however over the long term the symptoms can be managed effectively with a number of strategies.

Try The Low FODMAP Diet From Start To Finish

Continuing on from above, the low FODMAP diet contains two main phases.

The first phase reduces all high FODMAP foods to confirm a reaction to FODMAPs.

Then the second phase involves testing each FODMAP group one at a time to identify which groups you have been reacting to and at what level.

This second phase of the diet is arguably the most important part of the diet as it enables you to learn what your individual tolerance level is to different FODMAPs, and reintroduce some of your favourite foods as well.

Reduce Your Intake Of Known Gut Irritants

There are several known non-FODMAP triggers of digestive problems. These include:

  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • fatty foods and
  • spicy foods

Removing these triggers from your diet can be an another way to effectively manage IBS in the long term.

More Or Less Fiber May Help

The evidence for the best type and amount of fiber in the diet is conflicting.

Some people are certain that a high fiber diet helps their symptoms, whereas others find a low fiber diet is more effective.

The type of fiber supplement that has the most research completed on it is psyllium husk (6).

Psyllium husk is a soluble fiber, meaning that it dissolves in water.

It soaks up water like a sponge to add bulk to loose stools, but also softens hard stools to help them pass easier.


The FAILSAFE diet is an alternative diet therapy that can be considered when the low FODMAP diet doesn’t provide good symptom relief.

It’s another type of elimination diet that aims to identify a sensitivity to particular natural food chemicals and artificial food additives.

Similar to the low FODMAP diet, there are two main phases that involve an elimination phase to confirm a reaction, followed by a reintroduction process.

Manage Your Stress And Anxiety

As mentioned earlier, people with IBS have an overly sensitive gut with unpredictable digestive symptoms.

This unpredictability is highly stressful and anxiety-provoking.

Yet, this stress and anxiety can make digestive symptoms worse.

It can be seen as an unpleasant feedback loop.

For this reason, practicing ways to manage stress and anxiety helps to keep on top of IBS symptoms in the long term.

Mindfulness meditation can be useful, as can yoga or some moderate exercise.

Psychological Therapies For IBS

Continuing on from above, the gut and the mind are strongly linked.

If the mind is calm, then gut symptoms improve.

Thus, it makes sense that psychological therapies play an important role in keeping IBS symptoms to a minimum.

Psychological therapies include cognitive behavioural therapy and gut-direct hypnotherapy .

Try A Probiotic Supplement

Probiotic supplements are a promising additional treatment option for those with IBS (7).

The term ‘probiotics’ refers to beneficial bacteria that we consume specifically for health benefits.

However, probiotic supplements are not created equal.

They vary in the strains they contain and the amounts.

A comprehensive review on the best probiotics for IBS can be found here.

Try Peppermint Oil And Other Herbal Remedies

As mentioned earlier, ingesting peppermint oil and herbal remedies such as Iberogast are effective ways to manage a flare in IBS symptoms.

However, they may also be effective in managing IBS symptoms long term when taken regularly as a precaution.

Summary: To date, there is no cure for IBS. However, it can be managed over the long term with a number of diet and lifestyle strategies.

Effective IBS Treatment Is Achievable

While science is yet to uncover a cure for IBS, there are a number of short term and long term strategies that are effective.

IBS treatment starts with diet and lifestyle – minimising triggers, identifying food intolerance, and managing stress and anxiety.

There are also a number of additional strategies that can be used to manage IBS over the long term including a change in fiber intake, probiotics, and herbal remedies.

A key to achieving relief for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the understanding that IBS is a complex motility (motor) and sensory disorder. It may have physical and stress-related dimensions.

A strong partnership between a knowledgeable patient and an empathetic, knowledgeable health care provider can produce significant improvement and control over symptoms for individuals with IBS.

The first line of treatment for IBS includes general measures such as:

  • establishing an effective patient-physician relationship,
  • obtaining education about IBS, and
  • implementing lifestyle changes, which may be associated with symptoms.

Lifestyle changes

The term “lifestyle” refers to things in your life you have control over. For example, evaluate any dietary or stress-related factors that may be related to symptoms and discuss these with a health care provider. If certain foods set off or worsen symptoms, reduce or avoid them. If the abdominal discomfort or pain occurs after eating, it may be helpful to eat smaller and more frequent meals.

Increased stress may result in the onset or worsening of IBS symptoms and associated non-bowel symptoms such as fatigue or low energy. Proper rest and exercise can help reduce stress levels and positively influence IBS.

Remember that having IBS is also a stress and learning more about the disorder, communicating effectively with your health care provider, and taking more of a role in your self-care can reduce that stress.


If lifestyle changes do not completely relieve IBS symptoms, a number of medications may be helpful:

  • Antispasmodics have limited benefit for treating IBS but may relieve abdominal pain or discomfort in some persons, particularly if the symptoms occur soon after eating.
  • Anti-diarrheal agents can be effective in preventing and relieving symptoms of diarrhea but may not be as helpful for the pain.
  • Laxatives can help treat symptoms of constipation but not necessarily the pain and should be used under the supervision of a physician.
  • Anti-anxiety medications can be helpful for some people with IBS, particularly those with psychological distress.

Some individuals with more mild-moderate symptoms will only require medications now and then. For example, an anti-diarrheal or antispasmodic may be taken by a person with diarrhea-predominant IBS before leaving home or eating a meal. Individuals with constipation may benefit from bulking agents (provided they relieve and don’t worsen symptoms) or laxatives on occasion.

There are also effective medications available that relieve the pain and improve the changes in bowel habit. These may need to be taken on a more long-term basis, such as low-dose antidepressant agents or the relatively newer medications.

A thorough evaluation by a physician is an important step toward selecting the treatment that is most appropriate for your individual circumstances. Regardless of the treatment therapy, always discuss it thoroughly with your doctor so you are familiar with the therapy or method, are aware of alternatives, understand the risks as well as benefits, and know what to do if side effects occur or symptoms return.

Individuals who have not responded to lifestyle changes and careful use of medications should consider being evaluated by a physician who specializes in functional GI and motility or stress-related GI disorders. More complex medication regimens and specialized screening can reveal specific conditions which may respond to treatment.

Probiotics and Antibiotics

The digestive tract contains trillions of bacteria. Research is currently showing that the composition of these bacteria may affect various aspects of health and disease. There is some evidence that certain probiotics may help improve IBS symptoms. Learn more about probiotics for IBS.

There is also a potential role for some “bad” bacteria residing in the gut to be associated with IBS symptoms in some people. Recent clinical trials have shown that antibiotics, which reduce or alter the bacteria in the gut, may relieve the symptoms of IBS. Learn more about antibiotics for IBS.


Psychological and behavioral therapies may be indicated and effective in certain individuals. Examples include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which allows the individual to regain personal skills as well as mental techniques to better manage the symptoms
  • Hypnosis, to reduce painful discomfort
  • Relaxation training for general body relaxation
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy to address stressful responses to interactions with others.

Behavioral therapy or skilled counseling may help with selfunderstanding and with identifying personal traits or problems that can be dealt with. Talking to a professional allows discussions of personal matters without fear of recrimination or blame (which is what can happen when talking to family, friends, or colleagues) and often helps to mutually develop a program for change.

Learn more about psychological treatments used to treat IBS.

Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM)

The effectiveness of CAM therapies such as Chinese herbal therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, mindfulness meditation, and yoga are being evaluated in IBS patients. Acupuncture studies have demonstrated that a positive provider-patient interaction during acupuncture treatment sessions is associated with a beneficial effect in IBS.

Learn more about CAM treatments for IBS.

Did this article help you? Please support IFFGD with a small tax-deductible donation.

Adapted from IFFGD Publication #101 revised and updated by Douglas A. Drossman, MD, Drossman Gastroenterology PLLC, Chapel Hill, NC.

Foods to Choose if You Have Mixed Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Although irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause a great deal of anxiety and misery, most people can control their symptoms with diet, prescribed medications, and stress management. Children with a functional GI disorder, such as IBS, do have frequent symptoms; but it is important to know that the GI tract does not become damaged. The goal of nutritional intervention is symptom management.

What foods can trigger irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms?

Different people can have different triggers for their IBS symptoms. Things that may make the symptoms of IBS worse include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products
  • Drinks with caffeine such as coffee, teas, or soda
  • Sweets
  • Fatty foods
  • Fructose syrup-containing foods and drinks
  • Sorbitol (sweetener usually found in sugar free gum)
  • Certain medicines
  • Emotional events and stress
  • Smoking

What foods should I eat if I have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Even though there is no cure for IBS, the symptoms can be reduced with the proper diet. Recording your current diet in a journal can help you find foods that trigger your IBS symptoms. Be sure to discuss the results of your journal with your doctor. He or she may recommend a dietitian who can help make changes to your diet.

The best way to battle IBS is to change your diet. Avoid foods that seem to make you feel worse and find ways to deal with your stress. Fiber can be helpful because it improves the way the intestines work. It is important that you still maintain a balanced diet adequate in energy. If multiple foods or entire food groups are eliminated due to IBS symptoms for an extended period of time, alternative foods or nutritional supplementation may be needed. You may want to speak with a registered dietitian if you have questions or difficulty maintaining your intake.

Fiber may also decrease bloating, pain, and other symptoms of IBS. It does this by making the stools softer so that they can pass out of your body more easily. Soluble fiber found in foods such as dried beans and other legumes, oats, barley, and berries may help diarrhea by slowing down the passage of food from the stomach to the intestines and by giving stool form. Foods such as dairy products, carbonated beverages, raw fruits, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts may trigger bloating and gas. You may want to try a lactose-free diet to see if bloating and gas decrease, but be sure to still maintain an adequate calcium intake with fortified dairy alternatives such as almond, soy, or coconut milk. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and following a low-fat diet may also help with the symptoms of IBS.

What foods are high in fiber?

Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, and whole grain cereals. Eating foods from any of these groups will help add fiber to your diet. Try to incorporate some form of fiber with each meal. It is important to add fiber in your diet slowly to minimize bloating and gas that can be brought on by a sudden increase in fiber. These symptoms usually improve as your system gets used to the new amounts of fiber you are eating.

The following foods are examples of those that are excellent sources of fiber:

  • Barley
  • Black beans
  • Bran cereal
  • Brown rice
  • Dry fruits
  • Flaxseed meal
  • Fresh fruit with skins (may be better tolerated cooked or canned)
  • Fresh vegetables (may be better tolerated cooked)
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Navy beans
  • Nuts
  • Oats
  • Raisins
  • Soybeans
  • Split peas
  • Whole grains, including breads and cereals
  • Yams

What are some other sources of fiber?

Besides eating fiber-rich food, to increase fiber intake you can also take bulk-forming supplements such as:

As you increase fiber in your diet, it is also important to drink more liquids (water and decaffeinated beverages). Aim for 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. Physical activity, as well as probiotics, like the healthy bacteria found in yogurt or in probiotic supplements, may help decrease symptoms of IBS. Exercising can also help relieve the symptoms associated with IBS.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also commonly known as IBS, can cause symptoms such as painful cramps, bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea, and even constipation. For some people, the impact of IBS on daily living can be extensive and can negatively affect quality of life. But there are things that you can do to treat IBS naturally. And since it’s a chronic condition, it’s a good idea to learn some methods for keeping it in check and managing the symptoms.

There is no cure for IBS, but knowing what your triggers are, and how to avoid them, can greatly reduce your symptoms. Read below for some ideas on how to manage your IBS symptoms without medication.


Working out can help keep your digestive system working properly. It’s also a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, two big contributors to IBS symptoms. Exercising can be as easy as taking a short walk around your neighborhood. The key here is consistency, so aim for a 30-minutes, 4-5 times per week.


What you eat when you have IBS can make a huge difference. Many people find that certain foods will cause them more problems, so try to avoid these when you can:

  • Dairy products
  • Spicy Foods
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine (including chocolate)
  • Alcohol
  • Soda
  • Fried Foods
  • Beans
  • Broccoli or cauliflower


How you eat may be just as important as what you’re eating. Eating more slowly helps prevent you from swallowing too much air, which can cause excessive gas. And opting for smaller meals throughout your day can help you avoid overloading the digestive system, which can cause cramping and diarrhea.


Stress can be a big contributor to IBS so learning effective ways to manage it can really help to alleviate symptoms. Exercise, as mentioned above can be a great stress reliever. You can also try practicing mindfulness, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress in many people. Talking with a friend or a counselor about stressful situations can also do wonders to help you calm your mind.


Probiotics are specific species and strains of bacteria that we eat which are thought to improve gut health. Its unknown exactly how these work, but by improving your “gut health”, you may also improve your IBS symptoms. Probiotics can be taken as supplements, and are also found in things like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and Kombucha.


Many people turn towards OTC laxatives to manage their IBS symptoms, but be careful – improper use of these products can sometimes make things worse. Always talk with your doctor about how to integrate them into your treatment plan before trying them on your own.

The most important thing you can do is to pay attention to your body and how you’re feeling. Notice how certain foods affect you and try your best to avoid them. Recognize when you’re feeling stressed out and find ways to calm your mind down. With a bit of practice, you’ll be on your way to fewer IBS symptoms, and a better ability to manage them.

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