Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS)

This is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, constipation, pain in the tummy (abdominal area), bloating, gas and diarrhoea. The bad news is that IBS is usually a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term.

The good news is that even though signs and symptoms are uncomfortable, often painful, IBS, unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease. And, it doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

Hopefully you are one of the majority of people who can control your symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress.

You may be one of the minority of people with IBS who has severe signs and symptoms. The exceptional few will need medication and counselling to cope.

Aloe Ferox offers a range of natural remedies for constipation and the other symptoms of IBS. The Bitters range is not recommended if you are experiencing diarrhoea, are pregnant or have colitis or Chron’s Disease. Always consult your GP or health professional.

Below we share some information on the causes, symptoms and triggers for IBS. 

Causes of IBS.

It’s not known exactly what causes irritable bowel syndrome, but a variety of factors play a role. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a co-ordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal, causing gas, bloating and diarrhoea. Or the problem opposite may occur, with weak intestinal contractions slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools.

Abnormalities in your gastrointestinal nervous system also may play a role, causing you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Some suffers describe the pain as ‘being like a knife’. When the signals between your brain and the intestines get mixed up, it can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This over-reaction can cause pain, diarrhoea or constipation.

Signs and symptoms.

The signs and symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can vary widely from person to person and often resemble those of other diseases. Among the most common are:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • A bloated feeling
  • Gas (often particularly foul smelling)
  • Diarrhoea – often very loose and unpredictable motions
  • Constipation
  • Sometimes alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhoea (which can feel like a roller coaster ride)
  • Mucus in the stool

For most people, IBS is a chronic condition. However there will probably be times when the signs and symptoms are worse. And conversely occasions when they improve or even disappear completely.

What starts IBS - or acts a trigger?

Triggers are as individual as people.

Stimuli that don’t bother other people can be reasons / triggers for symptoms of IBS — but not all people with the condition react to the same stimuli.

Common IBS triggers include food, stress, hormones or other illness.



The role of food allergy or intolerance in irritable bowel syndrome is not yet clearly understood, but many people have more severe symptoms when they eat certain things. A wide range of foods has been implicated — chocolate, spices, fats, fruits, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, milk, carbonated beverages and alcohol … the list goes on. 


Most people with IBS find that their signs and symptoms are worse or more frequent during periods of increased stress, such as examinations, work pressures or emotionally trying times. While stress may aggravate symptoms, it is argued that stress doesn’t cause them – so if you have a stressful period and your symptoms get out of control, try to reduce your stress and your IBS will settle down. 



Women are twice as likely to have IBS, therefore researchers believe that hormonal changes play a role in this condition. Many women find that signs and symptoms are worse during or around their menstrual periods. 

Other illnesses

Sometimes another illness, such as an acute episode of infectious diarrhoea (gastroenteritis) or too many bacteria in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth), can trigger IBS.

When to see a doctor when you are suffering from IBS.

While IBS is a surprisingly common problem, sufferers often delay seeking help from their GP or health professional. Why? Who can be certain, there are no doubt as many reasons as people you speak to. My opinion is that the fluctuation between constipation and loose stools you can chalk up to diet, stress and a number of other things – for a while – until they start to compromise you and affect your lifestyle.

However if you are experiencing a persistent change in your bowel habits, you really should speak to your doctor, even if you’re pretty sure it’s IBS.  If the signs and symptoms point to IBS – that’s not the worst news you might hear. Changes in your toilet habit can signal a more serious condition or disease. The earlier it’s diagnosed, the earlier it’s treated.

Symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain that progresses or occurs at night
  • Weight loss

Your doctor may be able to help you find ways to relieve symptoms as well as rule out colon conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. Your doctor can also help you avoid possible complications from problems such as chronic diarrhoea. 

Aloe Ferox offers a range of natural remedies for constipation and the other symptoms of IBS. The Bitters range is not recommended if you are experiencing diarrhoea. Always consult your GP or health professional.