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By: Dr. Sushma Shah - Naturopathic Doctor

Irritable Bowel Syndrome


For treatment options explore our Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment Centre.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that occurs in men and women, with a predominance for women. Irritable bowel syndrome occurs when the muscles in your intestines contract faster or slower than normal due to various factors such as inflammation in the bowels, lack of certain key nutrients, food sensitivities and intolerances, food allergies,lack of healthy gut flora, overgrowth of certain bacteria and stress.

This irregular contraction can cause a host of symptoms which are coined under " irritable bowel syndrome" - such as pain in the abdomen, cramping, bloating and stitching pain due to flatulence after eating or at random times during the day, sudden bouts of diarrhoea, and constipation.


  1. Spastic colon IBS: you experience constipation, diarrhoea, or both, and you often have pain after eating.

  2. Painless diarrhoea IBS involves the sudden onset of diarrhoea during or after meals, or upon waking. Between 10 and 20 percent of the population has IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) at some time in their life. The syndrome often starts in adolescents or young adults. It affects three times as many women as men and is often associated with stress.


  • Cramping pain in your lower abdomen
  • Bloating and gas / flatulence
  • Changes in your bowel habits
  • Diarrhoea or constipation, or both alternately
  • Immediate need to move your bowels when you wake up or during or after meals
  • Relief of pain after bowel movements
  • Feeling of incomplete emptying after bowel movements
  • Mucus in your stool


The underlying cause remains unknown apparently, but the syndrome has no relation to actual disease, and it does not lead to other diseases. From my clinical experience as a naturopathic doctor, I have found stress, food sensitivities / allergies and lifestyle definitely play a huge role in worsening the symptoms and can actually cause irritable bowel syndrome. Hence natural/ naturopathic treatments have been extremely effective in treating and reversing symptoms of irritable bowel disease.


Conventionally accepted medical approaches of assessment for this condition may include abdominal examination to check for signs of pain. If you are female, you may also have a pelvic examination. Your healthcare provider may want to conduct an ultrasound, take X rays or samples of your blood and urine, and / or utilize a sigmoidoscope - a flexible instrument inserted into the rectum - to examine your lower colon. Most times your doctor may recommend various antispasmodic medication and other prescription medications to treat irritable bowel syndrome.


The naturopathic approach to treating irritable bowel syndrome includes identifying what the root cause of the problem is using various testing methods such as comprehensive stool testing to rule out bacterial overgrowth in the intestines and parasites or yeast overgrowth, as well, specific blood testing such as food allergies / food sensitivities testing, after a comprehensive intake of your health symptoms.

At our naturopathic clinic in Toronto, during your initial one hour one-on-one consult with our Naturopathic Doctor, Sushma Shah, you will undergo a comprehensive symptom intake in detail, and at the end of the visit, you will be required to do some blood and urine testing based on the assessment. Her naturopathic assessment and treatment for irritable bowel syndrome is oriented toward determining what is impeding your body's ability to function normally. She will determine which assessment tools will be most helpful in establishing a natural treatment strategy specific to your health needs.

Sushma Shah, Naturopathic Doctor may order some additional specialized testing, if need be in order to get all the necessary physiological information and to get a more complete picture of your symptoms - to address the root cause of your symptoms and then treat the disease and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome naturally.

Following this initial naturopathic visit, our naturopath may recommend some dietary and lifestyles changes to start treating the underlying symptoms as well, get relief from your symptoms. Quite often our patients notice 70 - 90% of relief following the initial naturopathic visit and natural treatment suggestions * based on their specific symptoms!

You will be required to come in for your secondary visit, in which she (our naturopathic doctor) will be doing a full physical check up, including a breast exam (for females), a traditional Chinese medicine tongue and pulse diagnosis, body fat analysis and blood glucose testing. Following this naturopathic appointment, she will be giving you an INDIVIDUAL TREATMENT PLAN that is specific to the symptoms you have may include naturopathic / natural supplements for irritable bowel syndrome, as well lifestyle and dietary changes and any other natural therapies that will be effective in treating you irritable bowel syndrome symptoms naturally.


Here are some simple suggestions that may be beneficial and helpful when you have an irritable bowel syndrome flare up. However, talk you our naturopathic doctor before changing any routines, diets or supplements to treat irritable bowel syndrome. As well, the suggestions are not intended to heal or treat your symptoms.

  • Try to avoid any stressful situations or foods that have triggered IBS in the past.

  • Monthly hormonal changes and some drugs can affect your condition - try to keep a log of your symptoms and correlate them with your monthly cycles - for females.

  • Establishing regular bowel habits can be helpful - If you suffer from severe constipation, plenty of fiber from oat bran, flax seeds with kefir / yogurt and hydrating the body may be beneficial.

  • Try to identify foods that may be affecting your symptoms as well and avoid them for the time being. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about testing you for food allergies and intolerances.

Irritable bowel disease (IBS) has many underlying causes that can often be successfully treated with alternative natural therapies. Stress reduction techniques through acupuncture, biofeedback, hypnosis, or counselling may be very beneficial to help deal with stress.

Please ask your doctor or naturopath before starting on any supplements. Its is better to first identify the cause and then treat it with the right natural remedies / natural therapies, even though those mentioned above have minimal side effects.

The information on this article is the property of Toronto Naturopath - SUSHMA SHAH, and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease. To schedule an appointment, for any questions, or concerns, please contact us at 416 913 4325 (HEAL) or email us at

* DISCLAIMER: Individuals results may vary from client to client, and results / stories are not intended to promote services or products and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any diseases.

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