Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a gastroenterological condition that affects the digestive system. It’s usually a chronic condition, but the symptoms come and go in severity over time. It’s estimated that two in every ten people in the UK have IBS, to a varying degree.


What are the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

The symptoms of IBS vary from person to person and are often triggered by certain behaviours or by eating certain foods. The triggers can also be different between different individuals, so it can be hard to identify what triggers an IBS flare-up. For many, it’s a process of trial and error.

The main symptoms of IBS are:

  • Stomach pain or cramps, usually especially bad after eating and better after a bowel movement
  • Bloated stomach
  • Diarrhoea
  • Suddenly needing to go to the toilet with little warning
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence
  • Passing mucus from your bottom
  • Tiredness and a lack of energy
  • Nausea
  • Backache
  • Problems with urination, including needing to urinate often, sudden urges to urinate, and feeling like you cannot fully empty your bladder
  • Bowel incontinence

These symptoms usually last for longer periods of time. If they only persist for a day or so, it’s likely to be some other kind of stomach bug, but if they are recurring or stay for a long time, it’s wise to get it checked out with a GP.


What causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but there are a number of potential theories. These include: 

  • Food passing through the gut either too quickly or too slowly
  • Oversensitive nerves in the gut
  • Infection or trauma to the gut
  • Stress
  • Genetic predilection

Once symptoms present themselves, certain foods and eating habits, such as eating particularly spicy or rich foods, can cause IBS flare-ups. These periods of especially severe symptoms can last for days, weeks, or even months.


What treatment options are available for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

There is no exact cure for irritable bowel syndrome. Instead, doctors often recommend certain lifestyle changes to help manage and reduce the symptoms. These include:

  • Using fresh produce to cook
  • Keeping a diary of what you eat to track any triggering foods
  • Finding ways to relax
  • Getting plenty of exercise
  • Consuming probiotics regularly
  • Eating at regular times and not skipping meals
  • Avoiding fatty, spicy, or processed foods
  • Controlling intake of fresh fruit, tea, coffee, alcohol, and fizzy drinks

There are also specific actions to take to ward off specific symptoms. For example, for people with irritable bowel syndrome who struggle with bloating, cramps, and flatulence, the following techniques are recommended:

  • Eating oats, such as porridge
  • Eating up to one tablespoon of linseeds (whole or ground) a day
  • Avoiding foods that are hard to digest, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, beans, onions and dried fruit
  • Avoiding products containing a sweetener called sorbitol
  • Using helpful medicines, such as Buscopan or peppermint oil

To reduce the impact of diarrhoea, patients often try:

  • To cut down on foods that are high in fibre, such as brown bread and brown rice
  • Using medicines such as Imodium

How can medical cannabis help with Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

In the study, ‘Role of cannabis in digestive disorders’, from 2017, Hemant Goyal, Umesh Singla, Urvashi Gupta, and Elizabeth May state that ‘cannabis has been used for the treatment of GI disorders such as abdominal pain and diarrhea.’

It continues to state: ‘The endocannabinoid system (i.e. endogenous circulating cannabinoids) performs protective activities in the GI tract and presents a promising therapeutic target against various GI conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (especially Crohn’s disease), irritable bowel syndrome, and secretion and motility-related disorders. The present review sheds light on the role of cannabis in the gut, liver, and pancreas and also on other GI symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, anorexia, weight loss, and chronic abdominal pain.’

The researchers highlighted that cannabinoids can be useful in reducing symptoms such as “abdominal pain and diarrhoea”. These are some of the most difficult and painful IBS symptoms to manage, and so a reduction of these symptoms would dramatically improve the quality of life for patients with IBS.

The Medical Cannabis Clinics’ team is dedicated to raising awareness about how medical cannabis can help with gastroenterological conditions like irritable bowel syndrome. Your prescription can be tailored to suit your individual circumstances and needs, with ongoing support and adjustments made as necessary.

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, we offer personalised treatment plans and private care for patients through online video link consultations with our expert specialist doctors, who will guide you through the treatment options available from the clinic.

Appointments start from just £70. Book a private consultation today and one of our expert specialist doctors will be able to offer you targeted advice and treatment plans, unique to your needs and symptoms.

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