HealingJunction.com of Chicago: Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, and other alternative medical interventions treating
arthritis, Asthma, Chronic Fatique, Crohn's Disease, Diabetes, Headache, Hepatitis, Irritable Bowel, PMS and Sinusitis.

Irritable Bowel
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Natural Healing Tips

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a serious condition and must be actively managed and monitored. At Irritable Bowel Junction, we hope to complement, not replace, your current approach. Below we suggest general dietary, supplemental, and lifestyle approaches that can help you keep your IBS under control.

Note: The recommendations listed here are not a substitute for conventional care. To determine which herbs, vitamins, and supplements are optimal for your specific condition, you should speak with one of our licensed practitioners. Click here for a free, confidential phone consultation.

Vitamins and Supplements
Dietary Principles
Lifestyle Guidelines
Body Movement and Exercise
Mind-Body Connection


Chinese herbs address IBS symptoms with formulas that have stood the test of time, thousands of years in fact. These herbs have consistently been found effective in improving the symptoms of IBS sufferers.

However, which combination of herbs is right for you depends on the specific nature of your IBS. Please sign up for a free, confidential phone consultation with one of our licensed practitioners to determine which herbs and other approaches are best for you.


Vitamins & Supplements

Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil can be very beneficial for IBS. It can relieve symptoms and even help keep the syndrome at bay. It must be take in an enteric-coated pill so that it releases in the colon.

Vitamin B complex:
The B vitamins are necessary for muscle tone in the digestive tract. They also help in keeping down stress levels, promote absorption of foods, and help break down fats and carbohydrates.

Aloe Vera:
Aloe is very healing to the gastrointestinal system. It clears out excess mucous on the intestinal walls and prevents allergic reaction to foods.

Flaxseed or Evening Primrose oil:
These oils are high in EFAs (essential fatty acids). EFAs help prevent inflammation and protect the intestinal lining. Use enteric coated capsules.

Vitamin B 12:
Essential for proper digestion. Take in a sublingual form (under the tongue).

Charcoal Tablets:
Use only when you are having an episode and only take for a few days to relieve symptoms. Charcoal absorbs nutrients. Do not take it along with other medications.

Vitamin C (buffered)
2-3 grams daily

1-2 pills between meals PABA 1000 mg 3 times daily for acute phase

Chamomile Tea:
One cup 3x daily


Diet & Nutrition

Here we will make available pertinent news and information on IBS. We will also offer general guidelines on diet, exercise, lifestyle, and other important issues. If you have any news or information you would like to share with us, please send it to us via email or the comments box on the questionnaire page.

Diet is one of the most important aspects of staying healthy. The idea that what we eat is not important to our well being is one of the greatest failings of western medicine. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine said, "Food is medicine, medicine is food." We must eat to live, but many of us act like we live to eat. If you have not paid attention to your diet then the time has come.

We would like to share some basic eating principles. These are basic guidelines and should be followed up with a consultation with a physician or nutritionist knowledgeable with an optimal IBS diet.

Things to consider:

  • Eat a bland diet when you are having symptoms.
  • Try juicing or blending vegetables or non-acid fruits.
  • Eat steamed vegetables versus raw ones. Make sure you get adequate calories.
  • You can also try a short (1-3 day) fast. An alkaline (i.e. grape juice) juice fast is recommended
  • Chew your food very well. Try to eat in a peaceful way. Don't overeat or eat in a hurry or upset.
  • Don't eat before going to bed. If you must eat keep it light and easily digestible food.
  • Check to see if you have food allergies. You can do this with the food elimination diet or through a blood test.

In an acute phase for the first 1-3 weeks consider a breakfast of whole brown rice cereal or a raw grated apple or applesauce or baked apples. For lunch try vegetable soup from celery, parsley, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, carrot, potatoes or other vegetables you know you can tolerate. Try steamed carrots and squash, rice or millet or barley or potato. Dinner: same as lunch

As you start to see improvement, for breakfast try oatmeal or a soft boiled egg. For lunch and dinner you can add peaches, apricots, watermelon, grapefruit, grapes, ripe bananas, green beans, waxed beans, lettuce, cucumber, green onion, parsley, celery, garlic, lentils, potato broth, cooked carrots, okra, steamed and mashed parsnips, squash, pumpkin, figs and flax seed tea, steamed zucchini and squash, papaya, grated raw apple, applesauce. Also, foods high in the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids: vegetable, nut, seed oils, cold water fish, evening primrose oil, black currant oil, flaxseed oil can be introduced.

Things to avoid:

  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol, caffeine sugar, dairy products, animal fats, fried foods, margarine, spicy food, citrus products, junk food, processed foods and wheat products.
  • Also avoid wheat, corn and dairy, peanuts, meat, sugar and sweet food, refined and processed foods, corn, soybeans, most legumes, coffee, caffeine, oranges, alcohol, hot sauces, fatty foods, rich foods, salty foods.
  • Try to be careful with food combinations: especially avoid starch, sugar, protein combinations (i.e. cheesecake). Avoid eating too many types of foods at one time. Stick to one type of starch per meal.

Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is used to determine foods that may cause problems for you. You will avoid foods that you feel you may be allergic to, you crave constantly or eat repeatedly (start with some common reactive ones like dairy, wheat, eggs, gluten, tomatoes, peanuts, corn, citrus, refined sugars, coffee, tea, food additives, alcohol, and any foods you eat more than three times a week ). Eliminate these foods completely for two weeks, and don't cheat. This could be difficult, as withdrawal symptoms have been known to affect people. Take buffered Vitamin C (2000-3000 mgs a day), B-6, drink lots of water, and possibly use a mild laxative to ease the symptoms.

Reintroduce one food at a time after two weeks or so at breakfast with a big helping of the food you are checking. If you are reintroducing a food like cheese don't to it with pizza, because it also has wheat and corn oil. If you eat the food you are testing and find that you get gassy, bloated, tired, headaches, depressed, sweats, joint pains, or itching then you are probably allergic to that food. If nothing happens try another large helping at lunch. If you have no immediate reactions that day stop eating that food for four days and then go on with the second food.

You may actually feel better from a food when you eat it, as you are going through withdrawals. Try to be aware if you are merely reacting to the reintroduction of that food while going through withdrawals or whether you are having an allergic reaction. Getting the help of our nutritionist or a practitioner knowledgeable with allergy-free diets is essential.

Take periodic short fasts that allow the body to rest. The idea of cleansing the liver by not eating for short periods is a very old and effective treatment. Many people fast for 1-3 days with each change of the seasons You could try a one-day liquid fast (water, herbal teas, or vegetable broths and see how you like it. You could also fast one day a week. Try not to eat before you go to sleep. Giving the liver 10-12 hours to clear itself is very beneficial (breakfast means, literally, the break of a fast).

Remember, these are only dietary suggestions. They are not intended to offer any kind of cures, merely ideas on how to have a healthy diet. Once again, getting the help of a professional or reading one of the books on nutrition on our recommended reading page can be quite helpful.


Lifestyle Guidelines

  • Have adequate and balanced nutrition.
  • Take the appropriate vitamins and minerals.
  • Check your thyroid function.
  • Check for food allergies.
  • Avoid toxic chemicals such as paint, pesticides, herbicides, fuels or solvents.
  • Avoid excessive fat, high proteins, low fiber and fried foods.
  • Check for candida overgrowth and bowel toxicity.
  • Check your home and job for exposure to potentially toxic substances. Check for gas leaks chemicals that might be harmful water. There are things you may not think are toxic, check.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing, nothing tight around the waist
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Don't eat before going to bed

Get plenty of rest. If stress is part of your life, as it is for everyone, find simple ways to defuse it. Take a walk in nature, meditate, help someone with his or her problems, work in a garden or just take some deep breaths. You must explore and find what works for you. The idea is to turn down the inner dialogue that we all have going on in our minds, take a step back and enjoy this life. If you are in a situation that seems unsolvable, then you might want to get counseling. Very often we stay in relationships, jobs, homes, or any number of situations that are toxic to us. It's easier said than done to change things, so start with small steps.


Body Movement and Exercise

Life is movement. Without it we atrophy. Sometimes exercise is difficult to do if we can't breathe or are in pain or any number of reasons. Yet we need to move to stay well.

Historically in Chinese medicine, exercise is one of the branches studied and offered in approaches to disease. Yoga and Tai Chi are well known aspects of this application. These are wonderful techniques that can help improve our stamina, increase flexibility, and boost the immune system. They also have been shown to help calm the mind and reduce stress. There are many books and tapes on Yoga and Tai Chi that can help get you started.

Our suggestion is that you find some way to bring movement into your life. If it is currently difficult to do any exercise, start very slowly. Even if it is only five minutes a day. If you find any of your symptoms increasing, do less, but do something.


Mind-Body Connection


The famous Chinese physician, Huang Ti (2500 BC) wrote in the The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, which some consider the oldest medical text, "If you truly want to heal the body you must heal the spirit first." This means that we must look in our hearts if we want to make our transformation complete.

If you do not have severe symptoms, you are lucky. But this could be an obstacle, too. Because you don't necessarily feel badly, there might not be much motivation to treat your condition seriously. That would be a mistake.

Whether you have a severe condition or no symptoms at all, you have an opportunity to change the course of your illness. There is no "magic bullet", no herb, no drug or anything that can completely cure it. Many of us have been taught that our bodies are machines that can be fixed with the incision of a knife or the ingestion of a pill, using a mechanistic approach that usually ignores the mind-body connection. Western medicine has come up with miraculous interventions that have helped many. But, as you know, it has not come up with a satisfactory treatment for every condition.

Spirituality and healing

A positive mental attitude can only aid the healing process. It might mean going to church and praying or taking a walk in the woods or helping another person. What is it that makes you feel connected?

We all struggle to obtain things even if it is as basic as paying the rent or putting food on the table. Developing a spiritual life is as important as exercise or diet. If we go through life angry, fearful, jealous, or bitter it will affect us physically. If we already have a condition that is life threatening, we are doing even more damage.

Creating harmony is essential in healing. So how do we develop spirituality? It's not easy. It takes commitment to work on the negative patterns that have been part of our lives.

We must try to embrace love and reject fear. Most of our lives are built around fear. The fear of losing what we have, our homes, our jobs, our lives. Our fear ends up controlling us, blocking out the love we have for others and ourselves. If we find methods that help us lose that fear, we only stand to gain.

Since this fear is borne of our mind, calming practices such as prayer, Yoga, meditation, or Tai Chi can help us tame the habitual patterns that control us. Most of us have an inner dialogue that we carry on with ourselves, often worrying about things that we can't even control.

What we are trying to do with these calming practices is turn that dialogue down and in time gain some control over it. For you, it might be gardening or cooking, but whatever it is, the idea is to truly relax and curtail the negative patterns that stress us out and actually make us sick.

Explore. Look for the things that you know relax you and give you peace. Help others who are suffering. Go out in nature, when possible given your condition. Remember, life is short.



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arthritis, Asthma, Chronic Fatique, Crohn's Disease, Diabetes, Headache, Hepatitis, Irritable Bowel, PMS and Sinusitis.
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