A number of alternative approaches can help to control lBS.
To promote a sense of well-being, therapists recommend soaking three or four times a week in a bath with rose oil added to the water. To treat diarrhea, they advocate inhaling two drops of rosemary oil and then two drops of black pepper oil. Their remedy for constipation is to inhale two or three drops of marjoram oil.
Cascara sagrada, or buckthorn, may promote normal digestive function, especially during a bout of constipation. It is available in capsules and tablets. Care is needed to avoid an overdose, which can cause diarrhea. Other herbs that are said to promote normal digestion are chamomile and pau d’arco, which can be taken as pills, extracts, or teas.
Some people find this approach beneficial in dealing with the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, as well as for stress reduction.
Diet is crucial in controlling lBS. Nutritionists suggest keeping a diary to identify foods that may trigger symptoms. During a flare up, a bland diet that eliminates fatty or spicy foods may help. Some naturopathic nutritionists recommend charcoal tablets to alleviate gas. After symptoms subside, a low-fat, high-fiber diet is prescribed. Drinking three glasses of unsweetened black currant juice a day is said to help regulate bowel function. To minimize gas and bloating, such foods as beans, cabbage, and onions should be avoided.
Yoga and Meditation
These and other relaxation techniques can help counter the stress that often precipitates lBS.
Self care emphasizes a lifestyle of moderation. Abstain from alcohol and caffeine, or use these substances only occasionally and in small amounts. Exercise regularly, and make sure you get enough sleep. Strive to manage stress; if you find this difficult, try the alternative therapies described above. Or experiment with progressive relaxation exercises, in which you alternately contract and relax muscle groups, starting with the toes and working upward; whenever stress mounts, take 10 to 15 minutes to go through this routine. During a flare-up, alleviate pain and cramping with a heating pad, hot water bottle, or warm bath.