By Dr. Mark Hyman

5 Ways to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome


IMAGINE HAVING A CONDITION with symptoms so severe that you can’t leave the house, yet your doctor calls it a “functional,” or “psychosomatic,” disease — meaning that it’s all in your head.

But it’s a very real problem for the 60 million people — that’s 20 percent of Americans — who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These people are plagued by uncomfortable and often disabling symptoms like bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and pain.

I have many patients with IBS, some of whom have suffered for decades without relief. Their previous doctors couldn’t find the cause of the illness, so they were told to just get more fiber or take Metamucil, or were prescribed sedatives, anti-spasm drugs, or antidepressants.

That is NOT the answer. Most of those treatments don’t work, because they don’t address the underlying causes of why your digestion is not working. Emerging research has helped identify the underlying causes. For over 15 years I have been successfully treating irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive conditions using a very simple methodology based on functional medicine that helps identify and remove the underlying causes and restores normal digestive function and health.

Today, I am going to share 5 steps you can follow to cure IBS. But first I want to tell you about a patient of mine …

Alexis and Her Lifelong Irritable Bowel

At age 45, Alexis had suffered from IBS for 33 years — almost all her life! Her major symptom was sudden, painful, cramping diarrhea. She was doing the best she could to prevent it. She didn’t consume dairy, didn’t drink or smoke, and took Citracel every day. Yet nothing helped.

She would go to the bathroom 4 to 5 times before she even left the house in the morning. And she couldn’t go out of the house at all without knowing where all the closest bathrooms would be in case she had what she called “s— attacks.” That wasn’t Alexis’ only problem … She also felt full and bloated after every meal, which starchy foods made worse.

She had taken many antibiotics over the years and had many yeast infections. An upper endoscopy or scope into her stomach had shown that she had gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach. She also had severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), with irregular periods, breast tenderness, sugar cravings, headaches, and agitation. She also had unusual symptoms like rectal itching (often a clue to yeast infections or food allergies). And she was tired all the time.

Alexis tried to eat healthy, but her diet was less than ideal. She had a bran muffin and coffee in the morning and a salad for lunch. But her “drug of choice” was sugar — in the form of cakes, ice cream, Jell-O, diet sodas, and other junk food. Not surprisingly, she was also about 20 pounds overweight.

To help Alexis, I simply identified and treated the UNDERLYING CAUSES of her digestive problems! To understand how I did that, you first have to understand a little bit about how the gut works.

These are the two main causes of IBS: Food allergies and overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.

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About the Author

Dr. Mark Hyman