Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a blanket term for a variety of diseases, causing discomfort in the gastro-intestinal tract. It’s a disorder in which the intestines don’t function properly, also commonly referred to as “functional bowel” or “spastic colon.” It is characterized by chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and alteration of bowel habits in the absence of any organic cause.
In Ayurveda there is no specific term to describe IBS but can correlate to the classical references of Grahani disease. According to Ayurveda IBS is caused due to improper digestion and stress in life and is categorized under Grahani, as Grahani resembles most of the IBS symptoms. Grahani is the seat of Agni and is called so because of holding up the food. Normally, it holds up the food (till it is digested) and releases it from the side after it is digested. But when it is deranged due to weak digestive fire it releases the ingested material even in unripe condition.
In other words, IBS occurs due to an imbalance in one or more of the 3 doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) due to poor nutrition, poor digestion and imbalance of the nervous system, accumulation of physical and mental stress and lack of immunity.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown. The most common theory is that IBS is a disorder of the interaction between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract (GI-Tract), although there may also be abnormalities in the gut flora or the immune system. This condition typically occurs in young adults, especially women. However, symptoms may wax and wane for life.
In Ayurvedic medicine, it is believed that there are three kinds of “doshas” that are attached to the body and they determine whether one is healthy or not. An imbalance in the “doshas” results in health problems, including IBS and other health conditions. Ayurvedic medicines are very useful in managing the symptoms of IBS.
1. For patients with IBS-C medicines like Kaidaryadi tablet, Ojus tablet, Arogya Vardhini, Shankh Vati, Sanjeevani Vati, Lashunadi Vati and Gandharva Haritaki are extremely useful.
2. For those with IBS-D medicines like Kalasakhadi qwath, Hinguvachadi churna, Kutaj Ghan Vati, Laghu Sutshekhar, Sunthi, Musta, Bilva Avaleha, Panchamrut Parpati, and Bilva are used.
3. Those having mainly indigestion, loss of appetite and abdominal bloating benefit with medicines like Pippalyasavam, Chiruvilwadi qwath tablet,Chitrakadi Vati, Aampachakadi Vati, and Panchakolasav.
4. Medicines containing Kuchila like Agnitundi Rasa and Vishtinduk Vati are useful in improving the overall functioning of the intestines. These also improve the communication between the brain and the intestinal tract, which is believed to be faulty in IBS.
5. Medicines like Brahmi, Jatamansi, Jayphal, Aswagandha and Sarpagandha are used to reduce stress.
6. Triphala capsules: Because of its high nutritional value, triphala uniquely cleanses and detoxifies at the deepest organic levels without depleting the body’s reserves.
7. Ginger (zingiber officinale): In India ginger has been used to aid digestion and treat upset stomach as well as nausea for more than 5000 yrs. This herb is also thought to reduce inflammation.
8. Amla (Indian gooseberry): Amla is the richest natural source of vitamin c. It prevents indigestion and controls acidity. It is one of the supplements used in hyperacidity and liver disorders.