The Top 11 Supplements I Recommend to IBS Patients

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common set of digestive symptoms — such as bloating, diarrhea, or constipation — that may occur due to a variety of causes like food allergens (often lactose and gluten), inflammation, or chronic stress.

Millions of Americans have IBS, affecting twice as many women as men. Patients visit our Denver office all the time with digestive health problems, looking for solutions that will resolve the problem at its root.

For many of my patients, conventional IBS medications don’t always work. Even when they do work, the medications they take can cause undesirable side effects. 

And that’s why I’ve done the research, both reviewing scientific precedent and walking through this with my own patients, to learn what less invasive methods can effectively treat IBS. Stress reduction, dietary changes, and supplements all show a lot of promise for a more natural treatment of IBS.

The best supplements for IBS depend on the underlying cause of your gastrointestinal symptoms. When patients visit our office, we take a full medical history and recommend a panel of testing to understand the root cause of what’s going on. 

Keep in mind that simply picking supplements from a list without knowing the cause of your IBS symptoms is unlikely to be as effective as working with a provider. If you’re in Colorado, we’d love to help you figure out the best options for you! If you’re outside of the state, search for a functional healthcare provider in your area.

Visit the PrimeHealth store for medical-grade, third-party-tested, evidence-based supplements.

1. Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may help maintain a healthy gut. Probiotics can balance your gut microbiome, boosting your immune system and reducing symptoms of IBS like stomach pain, gas, and irregular bowel movements.

A 2022 scientific review concluded, “Probiotics [are] beneficial in IBS patients by slowing down the transit time of the colon, reducing the average number of bowel movements per day, improving stool consistency, overall symptoms, and above all, the quality of life in these patients.”

Provider Note: I rarely recommend probiotics as one of the first supplements a patient should take for IBS. It can often cause worsening symptoms — more bloating is the most common one for my patients. If you’re just starting out on your IBS healing journey, try other supplements first and wait on probiotics until you notice some symptoms improve.

Healthy bacteria species include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Actinobacteria, Faecalibacterium, and certain Streptococci.

These good bacteria can be found in supplement form, or you can add probiotics to your diet. The following foods contain beneficial bacteria:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sour cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Aged cheese
  • Buttermilk
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Natto

Probiotics are good for IBS if the root cause of your symptoms has to do with an imbalance in your gut bacteria. In almost every case, it does.

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2. Fiber

Soluble fiber supplements, such as the most common fiber supplement psyllium husk, may improve bowel movement regularity and other IBS symptoms. Fiber aids in constipation by softening stool and in diarrhea by absorbing excess water. This is especially true for specific fibers known as prebiotics, which healthy bacteria use to fuel their growth.

It’s important to gradually increase fiber intake, to avoid gas and bloating.

Fiber supplementation is a safe and effective method of relieving IBS symptoms. It’s ideal for IBS caused by irregular water absorption in your intestines. If you’re not able to significantly increase your daily fiber intake by adjusting your diet, fiber supplements can be a great option!

Common dietary sources of fiber include:

3. Magnesium

Magnesium acts as a safe, natural laxative that helps alleviate constipation. This supplement relaxes the large and small intestine muscles, leading to easier bowel movements.

Magnesium supplements are ideal for IBS-C (constipation-predominant IBS) due to intestine muscle dysfunction. If you experience frequent diarrhea, this probably isn’t a supplement for you.

Caution: High doses of magnesium may lead to diarrhea. Talk to a healthcare professional about the ideal dosage.

4. Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil has antispasmodic properties, meaning it relaxes the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). This essential oil reduces IBS symptoms, such as stomach pain and abnormal bowel movements.

You can rub this essential oil on your stomach to relieve IBS symptoms, or you can find peppermint oil supplements with a special enteric coating to relieve IBS without causing heartburn.

It’s not a great idea to consume peppermint oil straight, so invest in some empty capsules or mix it with something else (like an herbal tea). High-quality essential oils are potent, so it’s best to use caution when consuming them.

Overall, peppermint oil is a great IBS treatment option if the root cause of your symptoms is gut motility dysfunction or muscle spasms.

5. Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes, including lactase and hemicellulase, are supplements that help break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. These enzymes facilitate digestion and nutrient absorption.

People with IBS may take enzyme supplements to reduce IBS symptoms, especially if the root cause of their symptoms is difficulty digesting certain foods. 

Lact-Aid, an over-the-counter digestive enzyme, is a go-to for many people with lactose intolerance to help them digest small amounts of lactose. More complex digestive enzyme supplements are often needed for people with multiple food sensitivities, which are common in IBS.

6. Flaxseed

Also called linseed, flaxseed is rich in fiber and fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and regulate bowel regularity. Flaxseed supplements are safe and effective for both primary types of IBS — diarrhea-predominant and constipation-predominant.

Recent studies have shown that flaxseed may significantly “relieve constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating” in IBS-C patients, compared to placebo.

Ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil may be recommended to ease IBS symptoms. Flaxseed is particularly effective when inflammation or bowel irregularity (frequent diarrhea or constipation) is your primary symptom.

7. Ginger

Native to Southeast Asia, ginger is a widespread spice and supplement common in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. It is also one of the most widely used herbal medicines by IBS patients.

Ginger helps reduce nausea and vomiting, which are sometimes symptoms of IBS. Its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties may alleviate abdominal pain and bloating.

People with IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant IBS) should consider taking ginger to relieve bloating, intestinal sensitivity, and nausea symptoms while lowering inflammation.

8. Guar Gum

Guar gum is a soluble, non-gelling fiber that helps regulate bowel movements and improve stool consistency. Like other fiber-related supplements, it has been shown to help in both IBS-C and IBS-D.

This supplement absorbs excess water in the gut, making guar gum especially helpful for people with IBS symptoms like irregular bowel movements and water absorption problems.

9. Slippery Elm

Also called Ulmus rubra, slippery elm is an herbal supplement that may treat IBS, especially constipation-predominant symptoms.

Slippery elm coats and soothes the mucous membranes of your GI tract, relieving upset stomach, gut inflammation, and bowel irregularity.

10. Vitamin E

Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pro-immune properties that play a role in the overall health of your digestive tract.

If the root cause of your IBS is gut inflammation, vitamin E is a great, all-natural, anti-inflammatory that may soothe your gut problems. 

It’s possible to overdose on vitamin E supplements, so follow your provider’s recommendations for dosage and get as much vitamin E as you can from your diet. Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds, broccoli, avocado, mango, and several fibrous veggies.

11. L-Glutamine

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. Because glutamine metabolism isn’t always consistent, it’s often used in supplement form for a variety of reasons.

When added to a low-FODMAP diet, glutamine improves the severity of IBS when compared to placebo. It may also be helpful when used on its own, but since low-FODMAP is one of the best ways to eat to relieve IBS symptoms, it’s a good idea to try them together.

You can also get more glutamine from foods like beef, poultry, pork, raw spinach, cabbage, and raw parsley. Milk products, like regular milk, cottage cheese, and yogurt also contain glutamine, but these may also trigger your IBS, so I would recommend avoiding them until you have done an elimination diet.


How does coffee affect irritable bowel syndrome?

Coffee contains caffeine, which can negatively impact irritable bowel syndrome. Coffee and other caffeine-containing products — such as soda, chocolate, and tea — increase your odds of IBS, particularly the diarrhea-predominant type of IBS.

Can CBT help treat IBS?

Yes, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may help with IBS due to the gut-brain axis. CBT helps you regulate your emotions and stress levels before, during, and after IBS flare-ups. Research into CBT for IBS has shown clear benefits, despite its low availability to patients.

Does the Saccharomyces boulardii supplement cause constipation?

A Saccharomyces boulardii supplement helps treat IBS symptoms like diarrhea, but high doses may lead to gas and constipation. This probiotic supplement helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome, particularly during antibiotic treatment.

Are there any over-the-counter supplements that can alleviate IBS symptoms?

Fiber, probiotics, peppermint oil, and magnesium are great over-the-counter supplements that can help alleviate IBS symptoms. These common dietary supplements help with various root causes of IBS, so check with your doctor about your unique situation. In general, these are all fairly safe and unlikely to cause side effects if you follow the dosage recommendations.

What is the best thing to take for IBS?

There isn’t one best supplement to take for IBS, as there are many potential underlying causes and symptoms that need to be addressed. Functional labs, such as an advanced gut and microbiome analysis, can help to direct specific protocols and supplements.

However, fiber is generally helpful in most cases because it can alleviate both diarrhea and constipation. Magnesium and digestive enzymes can also help with other IBS symptoms. Avoiding stress and food sensitivities are other great ways to prevent IBS.

Is there a natural way to get rid of IBS?

Avoiding or reducing chronic stress is a great IBS preventative, as well as regular exercise and changing your diet to avoid fermentable carbohydrates (low-FODMAP diet). Natural supplements such as fiber, probiotics, ginger, and flaxseed may also naturally get rid of IBS.

Reverse Your IBS Permanently 

Find a healthcare provider or dietitian who is informed on identifying and treating your IBS at the root cause. Supplements should be part of a holistic treatment plan for any disease, including IBS.

At PrimeHealth clinic in Colorado, our friendly team of health experts — led by Dr. Soyona Rafatjah — will help you permanently reverse your IBS symptoms through a combination of dietary supplements, lifestyle changes, and medications when necessary.


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