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Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Ways Ayurveda Can Help!

Written and reviewed by
Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery (BAMS), MD - Alternate Medicine
Ayurvedic Doctor, Karnal  •  28years experience
Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Ways Ayurveda Can Help!

IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, also called irritable bowel, is a disorder that is striking many more people today than ever. It is basically a gastrointestinal motility disorder with no known cause. Not sure, if it has struck you too? Here are the common symptoms of this scourge. You have abdominal pain followed by severe bloating with abdominal cramps after eating. You also feel that your bowels are always full and you suffer from chronic diarrhea, constipation or a combination of both.

What is the treatment for IBS?

None or close to none, in allopathy. Doctors will give you medicines to manage symptoms and once the medicines are stopped, IBS strikes again. IBS is called ‘Grahani’ in Ayurveda which is the name given to the small intestine because of its property to store and metabolize food. In the small intestine, which sees a lot of agni or enzymatic activity, food is held for a long time till it is digested. But when agni is weak due to malfunctioning digestive enzymes, the small intestine releases food in an undigested form.

There are 4 different types of Grahani based on the type of dosha which is disturbed.

Ayurveda uses the principle of involvement of doshas to understand symptoms in different types of IBS and also provide a system of treatment specific to that particular dosha imbalance. Ayurvedic treatments encompass herbs, food and lifestyle changes.

  1. The concept of weak digestion or ‘Mand-agni ‘is also the key, as it leads to the accumulation of Ama , which causes IBS.
  2. When levels of ama are high, the doctor will treat it with fasting and by giving you digestives and carminatives. He will ask you to drink warm water.
  3. In constipation predominant IBS, the doctor will use digestives like chitrakadi vati and shankha vati to get rid of ama. He will also prescribe medicinal ghee preparations such as dashmuladi ghrita and thryushanadi ghrita.
  4. Emesis (vamana) is used to treat diarrhea-predominant IBS.
  5. The Ayurvedic treatment for dysentery predominant IBS is use of laxatives or virechana and use of herbs with spicy and sour tastes.
  6. Complex IBS is treated with the panchakarma, supported by digestives.
  7. Ayurveda relies a lot on buttermilk to treat IBS as it is digestive, astringent, and light to digest. It is usually given with herbs like asafetida, cumin, and rock-salt powder to control bowel movements. Buttermilk also contains a good amount of lactobacillus bacteria, which help to restore the normal flora of the GI tract.

Doctors will ask you to abstain from vata increasing foods like cabbage and beans, if you suffer from flatulence. Restriction of dairy and fruits like bananas may also be required. You will be asked to take a light diet and do away with cheese, non-veg and hard, cold foods. You will also be eating a lot of ginger, fennel and cumin that stimulate secretion of digestive enzymes for treating IBS. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Ayurveda.

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