Irritable Bowel Syndrome — What It Is and How Turmeric Can Help
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS for short, is a chronic disorder affecting the gastrointestinal tract. IBS can develop in people of all ages, but is typically more likely to occur in women than in men. People who have IBS often feel like they have limited control of their lives — not only because of pain and discomfort but because they are forced to stay near a bathroom. (vii.175)
Although the exact cause of IBS is unknown, genetics, diet, stress, and immune system response are all thought to be involved. It is diagnosed by at least three days a month of symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea or constipation, and bloating for three months or more. It can have a debilitating impact on quality of life, especially in those suffering from anxiety or depression. To add insult to injury, the distress due to IBS itself can make symptoms worse. (vii.175)
How Can Turmeric Help with IBS?
Turmeric has been used in traditional medicines to reduce the symptoms of IBS. Research shows that turmeric protects against inflammation and ulcers in the stomach and intestines caused by alcohol, certain medications, and stress. (vii.51, 175)
In a randomized clinical trial involving over 200 patients with IBS, turmeric significantly reduced the number of flare-ups and severity of symptoms. Doses in this 8 week study were 72 mg or 144 mg of turmeric supplements daily. Significant symptom improvement was noted for both dosages (compared to before the study began). (vii.175)
IBS and IBD — Aren't They the Same?
Actually, no. Although there are similarities between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), they are not the same. Symptoms of both involve abdominal pain and bowel movement changes, and both IBS and IBD involve the immune system and can be triggered or worsened by stress.
On the other hand, IBS does not involve bowel structural abnormalities. IBS also doesn't cause permanent intestinal harm and won't lead to colorectal cancer. People who have IBS are considered at higher risk factor for developing IBD, however. (vii.163, 176)
If you do develop IBD, chances are turmeric may be able to reduce the inflammation associated with symptoms. Studies indicate that turmeric and its compounds can help regulate the overactive immune system response that produces the inflammation found in IBD. (vii.35, 159)
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