Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is also known as irritable or spastic colon, and there is no real understanding of why it exists, although it seems to occur when the muscles that line the walls of the intestines and the colon, go into spasm. The muscles contract for no apparent reason, causing pain and diarrhea alternating with constipation. Other symptoms include a cramping pain in the abdomen, swelling, general malaise and lethargy, back pain, and often, excessive wind. Symptoms can subside and even disappear for long periods of time, but many sufferers continue to experience symptoms recurrently throughout their lives. It is a chronic, irritating, and uncomfortable condition, but it is not life-threatening and the symptoms can be reduced in many cases by proper treatment. It is estimated that about 30 percent of people in the West has suffered from IBS at some stage, and 13 percent of those do so regularly. IBS appears to be brought on and exacerbated by anxiety, stress, and nervous problems. Symptoms often appear worse during menstruation. Other causal factors include food intolerance. Orthodox medical treatment has been largely unsuccessful in the treatment of IBS. Antispasmodic drugs are often recommended but in many cases they are ineffective. The best way of controlling the condition is by reducing and learning to cope with stress, and by eating a diet that does not exacerbate the condition. Treatment Diet and Nutrition Research shows that eating more fiber, in the form of oats, dried beans, peas, fresh fruit and vegetables, can greatly reduce the symptoms of IBS, but improvement may take months rather than weeks. Also, bear in mind that wheat bran, often prescribed as the standard treatment for IBS, can actually make the condition worse for some sufferers. Eat plenty of natural, unsweetened live yogurt or take daily supplements of Lactobacillus acidophilus to boost the levels of healthy bacteria in the digestive system. Different food combinations can cause IBS symptoms in different individuals: keep a detailed record of everything you eat and drink, and of all bowel movements and their consistency. Consult a qualified practitioner/therapist for: Counseling and Hypnotherapy Both have been shown to be very effective in reducing the symptoms. Hypnotherapy has a particularly good record. Massage, Relaxation Techniques (Including Yoga, Meditation, and Biofeedback) All these therapies are beneficial. Herbal Medicine A soothing tea of camomile, peppermint, and fennel is recommended. Herbalists may prescribe cramp bark, golden seal, wild yam, and licorice. Aromatherapy Essential oils of peppermint or sassafras help relaxation and reduce painful spasms. Acupuncture This can be beneficial in helping to relieve IBS. Read out for herbal medicines. Check out herbal supplements and skin disorders Related Articles - irritable, bowel, syndrome, Email this Article to a Friend! Receive Articles like this one direct to your email box!Subscribe for free today!