By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
It can be very frustrating to deal with chronic digestive problems. Furthermore, conventional medicine is of little use. Fortunately, soft tissue therapy in conjunction with lifestyle changes can alleviate the symptoms and improve quality of life.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, previously known as is a condition affecting the digestive system. Estimates suggest that up to one in four Americans have it and more than one in ten Britons. It is twice as common in females as in males.
The signs and symptoms
The symptoms of IBS are usually not as severe as more severe intestinal conditions such as Chron’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Still, the symptoms accompanying IBS can dramatically interfere with people’s quality of life. People can feel embarrassed by the symptoms and suffer in silence, which makes it even more difficult to uncover, diagnose and treat the symptoms, which include: abdominal cramping and/or pain, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhoea, flatulence, mucus in stools.
The severity of symptoms varies across individuals and is significantly influenced by dietary and lifestyle choices. Stress, lack of sleep, rushed eating, overeating, eating ‘foods’ that don’t belong in a human body can all worsen IBS.
The causes and pathology
The consensus in the medical field seems to be that the exact cause is ‘unknown’. This seems rather uninformed as even a superficial look at the tenets of natural hygiene would reveal what ‘causes’ IBS. In simple terms, it boils down to putting types, amounts or combinations of items through the human digestive system that either don’t belong there or exceed its capacity.
Firstly, anatomically, humans are frugivorous animals, which means that their physiology is adapted to a diet consisting almost exclusively of fresh fruit (all botanical fruits), greens and nuts. Justifying this statement is beyond the scope of this article but will be addressed in the future. Secondly, even if one adheres to the aforementioned foods, the bowels can still be irritated if these foods are overeaten, or eaten in the wrong proportions or combinations. So, in simple terms, this kind of abuse of the digestive system, which is rampant across the world, ‘causes’ IBS.
There are other contributing factors as well. These include stress, intestinal bacterial overgrowth, use of drugs and antibiotics, use of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, dysbiosis, and active infections. Increased gut permeability, regardless of its causes is also strongly associated with IBS.
When it comes to stress, it is debatable whether this is a cause or merely a trigger worsening the symptoms. No one is immune from experiencing stress, but not everyone suffers from IBS.
Clearly, the healing and reversal of the condition would involve the elimination of all items outside of the mentioned foods, plus the reduction if not the elimination of other contributing factors. Initially, the types and quantities of fruit, greens and nuts may need to be optimised to deliver optimal healing potential with minimum digestive stress. Additional, lifestyle changes may also be required initially to promote deep healing. These may include more time for rest, forms of fasting, and stress-reduction practices such as prayer, meditation, and exercise.
Alternative theories, propose three more explanations as to the causes of the condition:
How soft tissue therapy can be used to treat this condition
Abdominal massage can be very effective in normalising the function of the intestines. It can help to reduce bloating or eliminate constipation. Usually, this would involve gentle circular warming massage over the intestines followed by circular friction-like clock-wise motions along the path of the colon.
It can be very beneficial to teach the client or person close to them on how to perform this simple abdominal massage. This would allow them to self-treat in emergency cases and continue the recovery on days, when not seeing the therapist.
The use of acupressure can help to stimulate the colon. The presence of abdominal trigger points can also be a perpetuating factor for IBS. By correctly identifying these with palpation and precise communication with the client and then resolving them with neuromuscular techniques can ease off IBS symptoms and pave the way for healing.
Traditional Swedish massage focusing on relaxation can also be very helpful in lessening the severity of IBS. The application of heat packs or hot stones can also be beneficial as it helps to relax the muscles and dissipate stress.
Other advice or support you should consider
As already mentioned, dietary choices are both the cause and the path to healing IBS. Eliminating aggravating items such as processed, hot and spicy, greasy, oily foods, animal products, grains, refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, tobacco will provide the foundation for healing IBS. Relying primarily on raw food with a minimum (or perhaps none at the initial healing stage) of greens and nuts (better nut butters) will provide the energy and re-building material for new, healthier intestines.
Stress-reduction practices such as mindfulness, meditation, prayer, or psychotherapy are beneficial for eliminating the likelihood of triggering an IBS worsening period.
Deep breathing has a profoundly calming effect and contributes to better digestion and assimilation of nutrients. This makes it an essential practice for people suffering from IBS.
Probiotics may also be a helpful supplement to one’s diet in case the person is unwilling to apply the dietary changes outlined above in full.