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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common gastrointestinal disorder, estimated to be present in about 11-15% of the global population (Lovell 2012; Mearin 2012; Mayer 2008; NDDIC 2012; Mayo Clinic 2011). Typical IBS symptoms include chronic abdominal pain, bloating, and varying bouts of diarrhea and constipation. The condition is generally associated with a reduced quality of life (Mayer 2008). IBS is a functional disorder, and as such has not been consistently linked to tissue damage or other biological markers that can be tested clinically (Mayer 2008; Torpy 2011). It is thought to be largely underdiagnosed (Trinkley 2011; Mearin 2012; Lee 2012; Mayer 2008).

IBS should not be confused with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are characterized by inflammatory lesions in the intestines (Duigenan 2012).

Many are unaware that multiple factors may cause or exacerbate IBS symptoms. For example, stress, anxiety, depression, food sensitivities, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and hormonal fluctuations are all associated with IBS (Greenwood-Van Meerveld 2001; Reddymasu 2010; Yakoob 2011; Sachdeva 2011; Atkinson 2004).

Treatment of psychological conditions in IBS patients is especially important because irritable bowel symptoms often persist despite drug therapy if these issues are not addressed (Lydiard 1999, 2001; Asahina 2006; Chang 2011; Mayer 2001; Ford 2009; Zijdenbos 2009; Hayee 2007).

This protocol will discuss the causes of and risk factors for IBS along with its diagnosis and conventional treatment; emerging drug strategies will be examined as well. The important role of dietary and lifestyle modification will be reviewed, and data on scientifically studied natural compounds that may alleviate IBS symptoms will also be presented.