Especially if you are a female between puberty and early to mid-adulthood, and these symptoms have persisted for some time, it’s likely that you have what’s known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS (also known as irritable colon, mucous colitis, spastic colon, spastic colitis, and nervous stomach).
IBS is a particularly difficult disease for traditional medicine, because there aren’t any abnormalities in the structure of the colon itself, so test results come back normal. IBS is the most common cause of referrals to gastroenterologists in the US, but there is very limited data for the efficacy of any particular pharmaceutical.
However, naturopathic medicine offers a number of treatment options. I take my time with my patients in order to discover the most likely root cause for his or her symptoms. Some patients may have food intolerances contributing to their symptoms. Others may have significant dysbiosis (overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in the colon). Some may have candida (overgrowth of fungal organisms in the gut). Some may have overgrowth in the small intestine (SIBO). Some may simply not have enough fiber and water in their diets. Some women may have a hormonal imbalance – these patients find that their IBS symptoms significantly worsen around the time of menses. There is almost always some component of emotional stress in the case — more than 80% of the serotonin receptors in the body are found in the gut, which may partially explain the correlation between IBS and depressive symptoms.
Sometimes symptoms that suggest IBS require further testing, and sometimes a diagnosis can be made clinically and treatment can begin immediately.
The bottom line – the cause and the symptoms vary depending on the patient. Your best treatment will be specific to you!