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How I Try To Manage My IBS Symptoms The Natural Way

After being diagnosed with IBS, I had a feeling of relief, because finally, after many years of not knowing what was wrong with me, I could do something to help myself, also by gaining the right knowledge.

My doctor referred me to a dietician specialized in helping people with IBS, but while I was waiting for my appointment, I started to research this disorder. Not surprisingly, I came across a lot of sites promoting several over-the-counter drugs to assist with diarrhea and constipation and all sort of other medications for IBS.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for doctors and medicines, and when I have headaches, I do pop in a couple of pills to feel better, but if possible, I prefer to look at natural ways to heal myself.

These are some of the things I personally do, to help reduce my IBS symptoms (the natural way):

Follow a modified low FODMAP diet

Initially, I followed a very strict low FODMAP diet for a few weeks, but eventually I was able to successfully reintroduce some of my favorite high FODMAP food, even if in small quantities. Nowadays, my diet is around 80% low FODMAP, but I have some high FODMAP food, almost every day. This is very important, as high FODMAP food contain prebiotics, which are necessarily to maintain a healthy gut.1

Exercise regularly

I usually do at least 45 minutes of moderate exercise, a few times per week, and this assist with improving my general well-being and reduce my stress level. Physical activity also helps things moving in the bowel department, which is important for those suffering from constipation.2

In a 2011 study, it was shown that a moderately increased physical activity is effective in improving IBS symptoms and that exercise should be used as a treatment for IBS.3

Relieve stress

Stress does not only affect high blood pressure, heart problems and weight gain, in addition to those conditions, there is evidence that psychological stress has an impact on our intestines and can cause flares-up. For this reason, a treatment to improve IBS, should also consider ways to manage stress.4

Personally, I realized that many of my symptoms were triggered by stress, so I started to look at what I could do to relieve some of the stress and anxiety I was feeling.

In appearance, I am a very calm person, even in stressful situations, but I guess my mental stress grew steadily inside of me, probably through the course of many years.

There are other things I regularly do, in addition to a moderate physical activity, to help reduce stress in my daily life:

Meditation and relaxation

When I wake up in the morning, I listen to positive thinking guided meditation and this sets me in the right direction for the day; and at night time I choose a relaxing one to help me fall asleep. On YouTube I find all sorts of meditations and relaxation music, which lasts from a few minutes to a few hours. I have noticed that even 10-15 minutes per day of meditation gives me a sense of inside peace and calm.

Plan my time

I am very much a person that goes with the flow, so planning and scheduling does not come naturally to me, but I know without a doubt that when I plan and set goals for the day or even better, for the week, I finish most of the tasks I had planned to accomplish and as a result, I feel more relaxed. If I don’t get around to organize my time properly or things come up at the last minute and my schedule is all over the place, I feel anxious and stressed, which ends up triggering my IBS symptoms.


I love the smell of my pure essential oils. I have a diffuser on my bedside table and every night I put a few drops of bergamot, which has calming effect or a few drops of peppermint which promotes digestive health together with lemon essential oil, which is also good for digestion. Several studies have demonstrated that peppermint oil, ingested in enteric-coated capsules, can help treat many of those nasty IBS symptoms, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.5

Essential oils have a lot of benefits, but should be used with the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist.

There are other natural ways to reduce your stress and by consequence improve your IBS symptoms, like for example gut-directed hypnotherapy, mindfulness exercises and cognitive behavioral therapy.6

Whatever therapies and remedies we are interested in pursuing, I believe it is important to remember that we should seek the support of a specialised health practitioner, who can guide us through the best tailored approach to increase the chances of improving our symptoms.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Halmos EP, Christophersen CT, Bird AR, Shepherd SJ, Gibson PR, Muir JG. Diets that differ in their FODMAP content alter the colonic luminal microenvironment. Gut. Published July 12, 2014. Accessed December 15, 2017.
  2. DerSarkissian C, ed. Exercise to Ease Constipation. WebMD. Published April 30, 2017. Accessed December 15, 2017.
  3. Johannesson E, Simrén M, Strid H, Bajor A, Sadik R. Physical activity improves symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. The American journal of gastroenterology. Published May 2011. Accessed December 15, 2017.
  4. Qin H-Y, Cheng C-W, Tang X-D, Bian Z-X. Impact of psychological stress on irritable bowel syndrome. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG. Published October 21, 2014. Accessed December 14, 2017.
  5. Ehrlich SD. Peppermint. University of Maryland Medical Center. Published January 1, 2017. Accessed December 15, 2017.
  6. Asare F, Störsrud S, Simrén M. Meditation over medication for irritable bowel syndrome? On exercise and alternative treatments for irritable bowel syndrome. Current gastroenterology reports. Published August 2012. Accessed December 15, 2017.


  • blevinsae
    9 months ago

    Hi, I to have all the same type of symptoms with constipation , I have tried researching the Fodmap diet and I have gone gluten free , or trying to lol, which seems to help but I’m having trouble with things to eat that are low fodmap and gf any suggestions? I am a big dummy when it comes to nutrition and that type of stuff even after researching lol any help would be appreciated thanks , Angie

  • Larah Brook author
    9 months ago

    Hi Angie, thanks for reaching out. First I would like to say that it’s important to get a proper diagnosis before starting any diet. Personally I was diagnosed by my doctor more than 6 years ago, after a series of tests to eliminate the possibility of other medical issues with similar symptoms and after that he referred me to a dietitian who told me that the low FODMAP diet was the recommended diet. When I went through the elimination phase I noticed a big improvement.
    Also I think it’s worth mentioning that as IBS sufferers, we are trying to avoid the fructans in wheat products (short chain carbohydrates) not the gluten, which is a protein, unless you have been diagnosed celiac or you are gluten intolerant. The best recommendation I was given when I started this diet was to download the Monash Low FODMAP app for smartphones, where you can find all the food that have been tested so far, as well as products that have been certified low FODMAP. Another useful app is the FODMAP Friendly app. All the best for now, I hope you feel better soon. Larah

  • tmholland moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi @blevinsae,

    I am also a big dummy when it comes to nutrition ;-). Just based on my personal experience, gluten free and FODMAP approaches are good ways to begin the search for the best diet for you, but honestly it took A LOT of trial and error on my part before I found something that stabilized me a bit. I have also had to make changes to that diet on more than a few occasions. IBS is a difficult thing to manage, just stick with it and keep doing what your doing; trying. Hopefully, you will find some relief. -Todd, Team

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