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Homeopathic Remedies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

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Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic problem with varying symptoms, including abdominal pain and bloating, alternating diarrhea and constipation, flatulence, back pain, and fatigue. The cause is not clearly understood; however, since no significant tissue changes in the bowel are evident on medical examination, some speculation indicates that allergies and emotional stress may contribute to this condition. Remedies listed here may help bring some relief in moderate situations. A constitutional remedy prescribed by an experienced professional is often the best approach to help the person’s system regain its balance.

For dosage information, please read the information at the end of this section. See also “Using Homeopathy With Professional Guidance” in What Is Homeopathy?

Argentum nitricum: Digestive upsets accompanied by nervousness and anxiety suggest the use of this remedy. Bloating, rumbling flatulence, nausea, and greenish diarrhea can be sudden and intense. Diarrhea may come on immediately after drinking water. Eating too much sweet or salty food (which the person often craves) may also lead to problems. A person who needs this remedy tends to be expressive, impulsive, and claustrophobic, and may have blood sugar problems.

Asafoetida: A feeling of constriction all along the digestive tract (especially if muscular contractions in the intestines and esophagus seem to be moving in the wrong direction) strongly indicates this remedy. The person may have a feeling that a bubble is stuck in the throat, or that a lump is moving up from the stomach. The abdomen feels inflated, but the person finds it hard to pass gas in either direction to get relief. Constipation brings on griping pains. Diarrhea can be explosive, and the person may even regurgitate food in small amounts.The person may exhibit a strong emotional or “hysterical” element when this remedy is needed.

Colocynthis: This remedy is indicated when cutting pains and cramping occur, making the person bend double or need to lie down and press on the abdomen. Cramps may be felt in the area of the pubic bone. Pain is likely to be worse just before the diarrhea passes, and after eating fruit or drinking water. Problems tend to be aggravated by emotions, especially if indignation or anger has been felt but not expressed. Back pain, leg pain, and gall bladder problems are sometimes seen when this remedy is needed.

Lilium tigrinum: When this remedy is indicated, the person may make frequent unsuccessful efforts to move the bowels all day and have sudden diarrhea the following morning. A feeling of a lump in the rectum, worse when standing up, is common. Hemorrhoids may develop. Constricting feelings are often felt in the chest. The person is likely to be worse from excitement and strong emotions, and may tend toward irritability or even rage.

Lycopodium: This remedy is often indicated for people with chronic digestive discomforts and bowel problems. Bloating and a feeling of fullness come on early in a meal or shortly after, and a large amount of gas is usually produced. Heartburn and stomach pain are common, and the person may feel better from rubbing the abdomen. Things are typically worse between four and eight p.m. Despite so many digestive troubles, the person can have a ravenous appetite, and may even get up in the middle of the night to eat. Problems with self-confidence, a worried facial expression, a craving for sweets, and a preference for warm drinks are other indications for Lycopodium.

Natrum carbonicum: This remedy is often indicated for mild people who have trouble digesting and assimilating many foods and have to stay on restricted diets. Indigestion, heartburn, and even ulcers may occur if offending foods are eaten. The person often is intolerant of milk, and drinking it or eating dairy products can lead to gas and sputtery diarrhea with an empty feeling in the stomach. The person may have cravings for potatoes and for sweets (and sometimes also milk, but has learned to avoid it). A person who needs this remedy usually makes an effort to be cheerful and considerate, but, when feeling weak and sensitive wants to be alone to rest.

Nux vomica: Abdominal pains and bowel problems accompanied by tension, constricting sensations, chilliness, and irritability can indicate a need for this remedy. Soreness in the muscles of the abdominal wall, as well as painful gas and cramps are common. Firm pressure on the abdomen brings some relief. When constipated, the person has an urge to move the bowels, but only small amounts come out. The person may experience a constant feeling of uneasiness in the rectum. After diarrhea has passed, the pain may be eased for a little while. A person who needs this remedy often craves strong spicy foods, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and other stimulants—and usually feels worse from having them.

Podophyllum: This remedy is indicated when abdominal pain and cramping with a gurgling, sinking, empty feeling are followed by watery, offensive-smelling diarrhea—alternating with constipation, or pasty yellow bowel movements containing mucus. Things tend to be worse in the very early morning, and the person may feel weak and faint or have a headache afterward. Rubbing the abdomen (especially on the right) may help relieve discomfort. A person who needs this remedy may also experience stiffness in the joints and muscles.

Sulphur: This remedy is often indicated when a sudden urge toward diarrhea wakes the person early in the morning (typically five a.m.) and makes them hurry to the bathroom. Diarrhea can come on several times a day. The person may, at other times, be constipated and have gas with an offensive and pervasive smell. Oozing around the rectum, as well as itching, burning, and red irritation may also be experienced. A person who needs this remedy may tend to have poor posture and back pain, and feel worse from standing up too long.

(See also Homeopathic Remedies for Allergies and Sensitivities.)

Homeopathy Dosage Directions

Select the remedy that most closely matches the symptoms. In conditions where self-treatment is appropriate, unless otherwise directed by a physician, a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, or 30C) should be used. In addition, instructions for use are usually printed on the label.

Many homeopathic physicians suggest that remedies be used as follows: Take one dose and wait for a response. If improvement is seen, continue to wait and let the remedy work. If improvement lags significantly or has clearly stopped, another dose may be taken. The frequency of dosage varies with the condition and the individual. Sometimes a dose may be required several times an hour; other times a dose may be indicated several times a day; and in some situations, one dose per day (or less) can be sufficient.

If no response is seen within a reasonable amount of time, select a different remedy.

For more information, including references, see What is Homeopathy? and Understanding Homeopathic Potencies.

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