Focus On Natural Support

Sometimes A Little Support Is All The Body Needs

Herbs/ Essential Oils

Traditionally, since ancient times, herbs have been used as medicine.  Some people call herbal medicine, botanical medicine, or herbalism. The use of herbs has been used to treat illnesses and imbalances in every part of the world.  At this time, the United States does not have medical licenses for those practicing herbal medicine.  However, over the counter medicine in the form of teas, tablets, extracts, and oils – when used appropriately – can provide valuable support to the body. Herbs used traditionally for IBS symptoms are: rhubarb, barley, tangerine peel, cardamom, licorice, aloe vera, turmeric, ginger, artichoke, St. John’s wort, bitter candytuft, peppermint, Chinese peony, and Psyllium.[1][2]  Herbs work best when they are used in combination. Five is the most that should be mixed.  At this time there is not much research that has been performed to determine the effectiveness of herbs on IBS symptoms.  Peppermint essential oil has shown the most promise in research.[3][4] Enteric coated peppermint oil was well tolerated and showed significant benefit to IBS symptoms. The amount tested was 187 – 225 mg three times daily, between meals.

Herbal teas often help reduce stress and are a delicious way to get some plant support for the body.  Try different mixtures to see what you like and what works for you.

Use herbs in food.  Eat your medicine.

Grow your own! Start a garden and make your own cup of peppermint tea. You control the quality and freshness of the plant medicine you are taking. Herbs are hardy, very forgiving, and easy to grow.

Be aware that herbal therapies can interact with other drugs and can be dangerous for pregnant, nursing mothers, and children. All herbal therapies should be avoided 14 days before surgery.

Look for teas and herbs that are from reputable brands and are not faded, discolored, and stored in bulk jars.

Try to find organic and wild-crafted herbs for medicinal use.

Check in with your health care professional if conditions become worse or new symptoms appear.                          

Prebiotics And Probiotics

Our gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to millions of bacteria.  Beneficial bacteria help us by metabolizing food and producing needed nutrients.  Some act as a line of defense against overgrowth and overpopulation of harmful bacteria. Some are essential to the immune system and greatly affect our ability to ward off disease. Harmful bacteria break down food particles and create byproducts that make us feel bloated, gassy, and full.  Scientists have not determined what dictates the type of bacteria we have in our gut, but many of us have thrown off the balance between good and bad flora.  Studies have shown that supplementing with probiotics can help reestablish good bacterial colonies, in turn this helps with IBS symptoms.[5] The microbiota most studied and added as probiotics so far are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. You can find these bacteria in supplements and fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut. Studies showing benefit to IBS symtpoms tested a dose of 109 units daily. Changing your internal flora can take a little time.  Give it a couple of weeks.  Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another.  After a few weeks, if there has been no change, try a different formulation or seek professional advice.  Always be aware of any negative changes and realize that probiotics are living bacteria.  Those with immune disorders, serious infection, or being treated for cancer should not use probiotics.[6]  Discontinue immediately and seek the help of a health care professional if symptoms become worse.

Prebiotics are food to the good bacteria (probiotics) and help to establish and sustain their colonies. So far, research has shown limited success for the use of prebiotics, but I will continue to watch for future research and update information.

Dietary Supplements

Nutrition is most effective when we get everything from the food we eat.  Sometimes supplements can help boost the body’s healing process.  The following is a list of supplements to start with, but a certified nutritionist or health care provider can help you determine what else you might be need.[7]

Artichoke Leaf Extract
Supports the liver and aids in the digestion of fats. Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Digestive Enzymes
Makes food digestion and absorption easier to help your gut heal.
Helps to heal the lining of the small intestine.
Licorice Root Extract
Supports healing of the mucosal lining of the gut.
Aids the digestion of fatty acids, repairs the mucosal lining of the gut, and supports the GI tract.
Powerful antioxidant that supports the immune system.
Vitamin A (Retinol)
When balanced with Vitamin D, this vitamin supports immunity and is beneficial to the lining of the stomach. Also helps with absorption of dietary minerals.
Zinc Carnosin
May support gut lining and mucosa.

Some others are: [8]

Vitamin B-6
Recommended daily allowance is 1.3 to 1.7 mg/day. Also found in avocado, banana, beans, nuts, meat, poultry, and whole grains.
Vitamin C
Especially good for constipation. Take buffered (mix of vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium), or as an effervescent powder (mix of vitamin C and magnesium carbonate). Take on an empty stomach with lots of water.
Vitamin D
May inhibit inflammatory markers.



Rahimi, R., & Abdollahi, M. (2012). Herbal medicines for the management of irritable bowel syndrome: a comprehensive review. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 18(7), 589-DOI: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i7.589.


Heizer, W., Southern, S., & McGovern, S. (2009). The role of diet in symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in adults: A Narrative Review. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(7), 1204-1214. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2009.04.012.


Chey, W., Kurlander, J., & Eswaran, S. (2015). Irritable bowel syndrome: a clinical review. American Medical Association, 313(9), 949-958. DOI:10.1001/jama.2015.0954.


Maukonen, J., & Saarela, M. (2015). Human gut microbiota: does diet matter? The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 74(1), 23-36. doi:



Sanfilippo, D. (2012). Practical Paleo a customized approach to health and whole-foods lifestyle. Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt.


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