Managing IBS Symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS has symptoms which are often uncomfortable, painful and inconvenient; they are not however, life-threatening and can be managed by addressing the diet. Adhering to a few simple rules can greatly enhance the quality of life for sufferers.


  • Only drink warm or hot drinks - avoid chilled
  • If your motions tend to be hard and pelleted, increase your water and other fluid intake
  • Avoid coffee and strong tea - both are stimulants and increase bowel activity
  • Some herb teas and infusions are of particular use; peppermint, chamomile and fennel all have anti-spasmodic activity, as does Aloe Vera Inner Leaf.


Good digestion of food is very important in reducing bowel gas production; chew food very well and eat small meals. If digestion is weak, then digestive enzymes can be useful.


Keep food preparation simple; steam, boil, poach, bake. Avoid fry-ups, or the use of large amounts of fat and oil. Avoid frozen, chilled or cold foods, stick to warm or hot.

Choice of Foods

Eat: Salad vegetables, meat, fish, most root vegetables and most whole grains. Wheat and Rye may cause bloating and discomfort, so try omitting them for a week to see if it makes a difference. Eat: moderate amounts of the cabbage family (broccoli and cabbage) and few apples which can cause discomfort and bloating.

Avoid completely: very gassy foods; Baked Beans, all pulses (peas, beans), Jerusalem Artichokes and possibly swedes and cauliflower.

Practical Help

If suffering with a bout of irritable bowel, Epsom Salt Baths can be a wonderful help. Take half a kilo of Epsom Salts and place into the bath. Fill the bath as warm as you can manage and place a cold flannel over your head. Soak for 20 minutes. The magnesium sulphate in Epsom Salts relaxes the abdomen. Magnesium Spray rubbed into the abdomen is also extremely helpful during an attack. A hot water bottle is an obvious choice, but can help enormously to relax the abdomen.

Further dietary help for Managing IBS Symptoms

It is a good idea to consult a naturopathic nutritionist/colon hydrotherapist for more in-depth personalised information as IBS comes in 4 guises, each of which requires specific treatment. The 4 types of IBS are: IBS-C (Constipation), IBS-D (Diarrhoea), IBSA (Alternating) and IBSPV (Post Viral).