Naturopathic Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Woman with upset stomachAccording to the American College of Gastroenterology, “Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists and one of the most common disorders seen by primary care physicians.” It eludes diagnosis in many cases because its various symptoms can come and go and physicians do not have specific tests to support this diagnosis.


The age of onset in IBS sufferers is typically 20-30 years old and it occurs 2-3 times more often in women than in men. With this functional bowel disorder, the patient’s small and large intestines do not function properly causing abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, excessive gas, constipation, and diarrhea. An IBS diagnosis is usually assigned when there is no other detectable cause of these symptoms.

Naturopathic Treatment

Because an exact cause or specific diagnostic test for IBS does not exist, effective treatment can be difficult. Rather than treating each individual symptom with medication, a naturopathic doctor will focus treatment on restoring the body’s digestive function by addressing the most probable root causes. They may also run functional diagnostic tests to clearly define the most probable cause. 

Nutrition – It is not possible to effectively treat digestive dysfunction without investigating the patient’s diet. Many treatment plans for IBS will begin with the investigation of possible food allergies or triggers. A naturopathic doctor will provide nutritional counseling and may prescribe nutritional supplements and specific dietary guidelines.

Probiotics – Introducing specific strains of live microorganisms, like those found in yogurt, help to neutralize harmful bacteria in the intestines and has been shown to successfully decrease abdominal pain, bloating and gas.

Chinese Herbs – A customized formula of Chinese herbs may be used to support the liver and spleen function.

Acupuncture – The benefit of acupuncture in treating IBS is two-fold. First, by focusing the treatment on improving the function of the spleen, stomach, large intestine, and small intestine, it removes dampness and heat from within the body and digestive tract. This process relieves IBS symptoms by effecting the energy within. Second, by strengthening the body’s stress adaptation system the IBS symptoms will decrease and will be less likely to recur.

Integrative Medicine

The naturopathic doctors at Southwest Integrative Medicine have successfully treated many patients who have suffered from IBS in Phoenix. As with other health problems, a holistic approach that examines the patient’s physical, mental and spiritual balance is most effective for restoring health and achieving optimal wellness. Enhance your quality of life with the benefit of integrative medicine.