Ayurveda and Gut Health: Strategies for IBS Relief Health topics

Ayurveda and Gut Health: Strategies for IBS Relief

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Navigating the complexities of this condition can be an ongoing challenge. Characterized by unpredictable digestive distress, ranging from abdominal pain to diarrhoea or constipation, IBS significantly impacts daily life quality.

Why is managing IBS difficult?

The conventional approach to treating IBS typically involves a combination of medication and dietary modifications. While these methods can provide temporary relief from symptoms, they often fall short of addressing the underlying causes of IBS. Medication can sometimes come with unwanted side effects. Additionally, generic dietary restrictions, while helpful for some may not fully resolve symptoms for everyone. As a result, many individuals find themselves trapped in a cycle of symptom management without experiencing lasting improvement in their condition.

What is the Ayurvedic Perspective on IBS?

The Ayurvedic approach to treating irritable bowel syndrome offers a holistic solution to managing this debilitating condition. By focusing on the root cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms, Ayurveda can help provide long-lasting relief for those suffering from IBS. With its emphasis on personalized diet plans, stress reduction techniques, and natural remedies, Ayurveda offers a safe and effective alternative to traditional treatments.

The Role of Agni and Ama

In Ayurveda, poor digestion, stress and unhealthy eating habits are known to cause a disturbance in the digestive fire or Agni. Agni is responsible for breaking down our food and converting this into nutrients for absorption. When Agni is weak, food is not digested properly, leading to the formation of Ama or toxins in the body. These toxins, or Ama, can accumulate in the intestines, causing inflammation and leading to the development of IBS symptoms.

Concept of Grahani

IBS is often referred to as Grahani in Ayurveda. The term Grahani is derived from the Sanskrit word "grah," which means to hold or retain. Grahani refers to the small intestine and its role in the digestive process, which is responsible for holding and retaining food until it is fully digested. It is also responsible for absorbing nutrients from the food and eliminating waste products from the body. When the function of Grahani is impaired, it can lead to digestive issues such as IBS.

Dosha Involvement

Weak Agni, poor digestion, stress, and unhealthy eating habits further contribute to an imbalance in the Doshas. As Vata governs the movement in the body and the elimination of waste, IBS is considered to be a Vata disorder. When Vata is imbalanced, it can combine with Pitta or Kapha causing irregular and excessive movement in the intestines, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation or diarrhoea.

  • Constipation dominant IBS (Vataja)
  • Diarrhoea dominant IBS (Pittaja)
  • Dysentery dominant IBS (Kaphaja)
  • A combination of all 3 (TriDoshic)

To manage Grahani disorders, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of restoring balance to the doshas, strengthening Agni and reducing Ama.

How can Ayurveda help manage IBS?

Strengthening Agni

As Agni (digestive fire) plays a vital role in the root cause, the first step is to strengthen Agni which also helps in removing undigested toxins from the Gut, providing immediate relief in the symptoms. Agni can be strengthened by adopting a light and easy-to-digest diet, fasting for a short period, and using specific herbs.

Identifying and removing causative factors:

"Nidana Parivarjana" is a fundamental principle in Ayurveda that translates to "avoidance of causative factors" or "elimination of etiological factors." Keep a diary to understand and be mindful of what triggers your symptoms. If you are aware of what foods trigger your IBS, then avoid these specific foods for a while.

Dietary Recommendations

To manage IBS effectively, dietary modifications play a crucial role: Gradually introduce dietary changes and maintain a food diary to identify triggers.

  • Avoid spicy, fried, and fatty foods which make your large intestine go into spasms and thus cause diarrhoea.
  • Ensure meals are balanced and rich in nutrients.
  • Follow a low-FODMAP diet, avoiding high-FODMAP foods and incorporating low-FODMAP alternatives. Read more about FODMAP diets here.
  • Include soluble fiber sources such as oats, barley, fruits, and vegetables while limiting the intake of insoluble fiber. Read more about different fibers here. 
  • Avoid trigger foods like gas-producing items, fatty foods, caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners.
  • Opt for smaller, more frequent meals and stay hydrated.
  • Practice mindful eating habits, chewing food thoroughly and experimenting with cooking methods.

Reducing Stress

Stress is known to aggravate the symptoms of IBS, therefore making small changes to lifestyle and reducing stress can also be effective in managing IBS. Here are some suggestions:

  • Regular exercise: Exercise can help improve digestion and reduce stress, both of which can help manage IBS symptoms.
  • Yoga and meditation: Yoga and meditation are effective stress reduction techniques that can help manage IBS symptoms. Yoga postures that focus on the abdomen, such as the seated forward bend pose, can be particularly helpful for improving digestion.
  • Abdominal massage: Abdominal massage can help improve digestion and reduce inflammation in the intestines. An Ayurvedic practitioner can teach an individual how to perform self-massage techniques at home.
  • Adequate sleep: Getting adequate sleep is important for overall health and can help reduce stress and manage IBS symptoms.
  • Mindful eating: Eating in a calm and relaxed environment, without distractions, can help improve digestion and reduce stress.
  • Regular mealtimes: Eating at regular mealtimes can help regulate digestion and reduce stress on the digestive system.
  • Avoiding triggers: Identifying and avoiding triggers, such as certain foods or stressful situations, can help manage IBS symptoms.

Natural Remedies:

Natural remedies can be effective in managing IBS symptoms.

  • Aloe vera: Aloe vera has natural anti-inflammatory and laxative properties that can help manage IBS symptoms. Drinking aloe vera juice can help soothe and heal the gut.
  • Liquorice root: liquorice root can help reduce inflammation in the intestines and soothe the gut lining. It can also help improve digestion and reduce stress.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile is a calming herb that can help reduce stress and anxiety, both of which can exacerbate IBS symptoms. It can also help relax the muscles in the intestines and reduce spasms.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint oil can help relax the muscles in the intestines and reduce spasms and pain. It can also help reduce bloating and gas.
  • Ginger soothes most IBS symptoms, introducing a ginger tea after eating can help reduce spasms and aid digestion.

Ayurvedic Herbal Allies:

Here are some of the Ayurvedic herbs I use widely in my clinic to treat IBS:

Bilwa, Musta, Kutaja, Turmeric and Guduchi are very beneficial in all types of IBS. I generally make a personalised blend using these based on the symptoms and severity.

Digestive Allies to strengthen Agni: Agnimantha, Hinguwastak, Trikatu, Panchatiktam

Gut Health:

For Constipation dominant IBS: Triphala, Haritaki, AvipattikaraSenna PlusTriCleanse can be beneficial.

For Diarrhoea dominant IBS: Psyllium Husk, Dashamula, Dadimastak churnam, Kutaja, and Bilwa can support.

However, as with any herbal remedy, individual responses may vary, it's crucial to use these supplements and remedies under the guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.

Seeking Professional advice

IBS can be a complex condition due to its changing nature. The above recommendations are guidelines only and may not be suitable for everyone. If you are struggling with IBS symptoms and conventional treatments have not provided relief, it may be time to explore the Ayurvedic approach. By understanding the underlying Doshic imbalances, the state of your Agni and Ama an Ayurvedic Practitioner can identify the root cause and tailor a treatment plan including dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and herbal remedies, avoiding any potential interactions with other health interventions. Ongoing monitoring and support can bring relief and long-term digestive harmony, essential for effectively managing IBS.

Book a Consultation:

To treat the root cause its always best to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner. At Triveda we offer personalized consultations and health plans tailored to individual needs. By working with experienced Ayurvedic practitioners, you can receive guidance and support in managing your IBS symptoms effectively.

You can book an online consultation with us or visit us at our Ayurvedic Clinic.

To book a consultation, you can email us at appointments@triveda.co.uk or call us on 07775 627183. You can also reach us through our website contact form 

Related products

Let's stay in touch

Be the first to hear about exclusive offers, new launches, expert advice and all things Ayurveda.

Follow us on instagram

Contact us to make a booking

Fill out the short form below and we'll get back to you within 24 hours. If your request is more urgent then please call us on (+44) 7775 627183.

Save 10%

Open a FREE Account today and save 10% when buying any 3 or more products from our Herbal Capsule Range.