The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) include one or more of the following: alternating diarrhea and constipation, intestinal gas, bloating and cramping, abdominal pain, painful bowel movements, mucous discharge, and undigested food in the stool. Despite all these distressing symptoms, people with IBS have normal intestines, so far as any medical examination can show. Thus the condition belongs to a category of diseases that physicians call functional. This term means that while the function of the bowel seems to have gone awry, no injury or disturbance of its structure can be discovered.
The cause of IBS remains unknown, although stress is thought to play a role.
One homeopathic remedy, Asafoetida, has been evaluated as a potential treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. In this 14-week, double-blind trial, about 100 people with irritable bowel syndrome received Asafoetida D3 or placebo.1 The results indicated that participants taking the homeopathic remedy improved to a greater extent than those taking placebo.
In classical homeopathy, there are many possible homeopathic treatments for irritable bowel syndrome, to be chosen based on various specific details of the person seeking treatment.
The classic symptom picture of Asafoetida, the remedy tested in the double-blind study described above, includes constipation alternating with profuse, offensive, watery diarrhea, abdominal distention with much flatulence, and the sensation of a lump in the throat that is relieved by swallowing and belching. Symptoms are worse after eating, from sitting, at night, and on the left side, but relieved by pressure and by motion in the open air.
The remedy Colocynthis may be suggested when abdominal pain is described as cutting or cramping, often coming in waves, and relieved by firm pressure or by doubling over. Pain is increased by eating or drinking, as well as by the emotions of anger or indignation. Pain often reaches its peak just prior to diarrhea.
Homeopathic Lycopodium may be recommended when symptoms include band-like pain around the waist, severe flatulence and bloating, and frequent heartburn.