What’s IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and how does nutritional therapy help?


IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is a term used to describe a group of digestive symptoms that have been experienced for at least 6 months, usually at least once a day for 3 months, where a more serious diagnosis has been ruled out. Typical symptoms include bloating, pain, wind, loose stools, constipation or a combination. It is important to check with your GP to rule out a serious health condition such as coeliac disease, IBD (irritable bowel disease such as colitis and Crohn’s), ovarian cancer and bowel cancer.


IBS is not a disease; it is a collection of symptoms with no obvious serious cause. However, in the world of nutritional therapy and functional medicine, we find there is usually a root cause or even a few! Root causes can include an imbalance of gut bacteria post-infection or following anti-biotics; parasites; long-term medicine use; long-term stress or trauma; low stomach acid or poor digestive function; gallbladder issues; hormone changes; SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and poor diet e.g. a diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, sweeteners, and a diet low in nutrients including fat; sub-clinical thyroid issues.


The good news is that Nutritional Therapy can be very effective at supporting IBS. I help you identify triggers and root causes and we support you with diet and lifestyle. Nutritional therapy is not magic. It is a collaborative process. It involves education, advice, behaviour-change support and coaching and therapeutic intervention. I teach you to tune into your body and how it responds to the foods you eat. We start with food but sometimes we might use some supplements to support your health goal. I rarely start with functional tests. I find we can do a lot with food and lifestyle. However, these tests can be insightful if we reach a block in your progress. Examples of functional tests (functional medicine) include a comprehensive stool analysis, SIBO test, adrenal stress test, hormone tests and nutritional tests such as iron/ferritin and B12. Lifestyle support is very important. You could have the best diet in the world but if you are extremely stressed or sleeping poorly or inactive, this will impact your progress greatly. I incorporate lifestyle medicine (lifestyle advice and support with changes) into your nutritional therapy, and I provide general guidance on this in your general resources. I also provide another optional layer of support for clients with IBS and anxiety -hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy can support numerous issues and is particularly suited to anxiety. Hypnotherapy can help calm the nervous system which can often be the missing piece in the puzzle when supporting IBS and other health issues. As a registered nutritional therapist and nutritionist practising in Cheltenham and online, I can support you with IBS. Please feel free to get in touch to find out more.