11 Natural Remedies for IBS [Backed by Science]

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder that affects the digestive system. Signs and symptoms of IBS include cramping, abdominal pain, stool irregularities, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea or constipation

Living with IBS can be frustrating — the side effects on your everyday life are significant.

IBS can be caused by a vast number of factors, from genetics to chronic stress to antibiotics to SIBO and more.

It is possible to treat irritable bowel syndrome if the root causes are identified. Working with a functional medicine provider, you may be prescribed various treatments and medications to understand what works best for your condition. 

Keep in mind: Every person’s body and circumstances are different. No single treatment for IBS can reverse this condition for every patient. However, a targeted, active approach to addressing the root causes of your IBS can produce dramatic results.

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Let’s review the 11 best natural remedies for IBS, backed by scientific research.

1. Follow a specialized diet

The right IBS diet approach can substantially alleviate your IBS symptoms and improve your health. 

The first step to naturally treating IBS is to avoid foods that trigger your IBS symptoms. 70% of people with IBS stated that certain foods worsen their symptoms

There are 7 diets available that may reduce IBS symptoms:

  1. Low FODMAP diet
  2. Gluten-free diet
  3. Lactose-free diet
  4. High fiber diet
  5. Low fiber diet
  6. Elimination Diet
  7. Elemental diet

What is the best natural remedy for IBS? A low FODMAP diet is considered the best natural remedy for IBS. 

Avoid eating these foods high in FODMAPs:

  • Artichoke
  • Cauliflower
  • Fermented cabbage
  • Asparagus
  • Kidney beans
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Scallions
  • Soybeans
  • Cherries
  • Feijoa
  • Cranberry
  • Blackcurrant
  • Figs
  • Guava
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Mango
  • Honey
  • Malt syrup
  • Saccharin

Instead, fill your diet with low-FODMAP foods that are less likely to trigger IBS. 

Common low-FODMAP foods include:

A low FODMAP diet will include many of the fruits and vegetables in that list, but it’s important to keep in mind that quantity matters. You can make a lower-FODMAP food trigger your symptoms if you eat too much of it.

What are the benefits of an IBS diet? The benefits of the IBS diet include treatment of various gastrointestinal symptoms, reduced abdominal pain, distension, constipation, and diarrhea.

One study in 2021 found that the low FODMAP diet has highly positive effects on symptoms of all subtypes of IBS (IBS-C, IBS-D, and IBS-M). The low FODMAP diet has proved to be an effective therapeutic approach for decreasing abdominal symptoms.

These results are supported by other research. A low FODMAP diet considerably reduced the major symptoms of patients with IBS (especially for those with IBS-D) and improved their stool output.

A large study published in 2016 concluded that for those who follow a low-FODMAP diet, the odds of reduced stomach pain and bloating are 81% and 75% higher, respectively.

2. Try intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a popular dietary pattern based on timed fasting periods. It involves caloric restriction for up to several days a week (or every day), typically for 14-20 hours at a time. 

Caloric restriction leads to improved blood pressure and insulin sensitivity in humans.

Intermittent fasting can be a good remedy for IBS. 

One clinical study found that fasting individuals had significant improvements in 7 out of 8 IBS symptoms, including:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distention
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Quality of life

The efficiency of intermittent fasting will depend on the type and cause of IBS. Talk to your provider about what fasting method is right for you.

3. Exercise

Regular physical activity increases strength and cardiovascular fitness, leading to improvements in overall health and longevity. 

One study concluded that low-intensity activity can help relieve IBS symptoms. 

2011 research found that physically active patients with IBS experience less severe symptoms than physically inactive patients.

One of the best physical activities you can do for IBS is yoga. Yoga is a mind-body exercise, and many postures in yoga are a form of bodyweight training that uses your body weight for resistance.

One hour of yoga every day for 4 weeks significantly improves IBS symptoms, according to a 2018 systematic review of available evidence.

4. Reduce stress in your life

Chronic stress increases the hormone cortisol and can impact our digestive system. For that reason, managing stress and anxiety is essential to managing your IBS symptoms.

IBS is a stress-sensitive disorder, so treatment of IBS must focus on managing stress and stress-induced responses. Stressful life events can aggravate abdominal pain and abdominal distension in up to 30% of IBS patients.

There are numerous ways to reduce IBS-related stress. For example, try mindfulness meditation, proven to be the strongest predictor of gastrointestinal symptoms and quality of life improvement.

Yoga, as mentioned above, is also a great exercise to address your stress. In adults with major depression, an 8-week yoga intervention resulted in statistically significant reductions in depression severity.

Relaxation techniques and a low-stress lifestyle are keys to relieving IBS so you can get back to living.

5. Try biofeedback

Biofeedback is a mind-body therapy and complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) for IBS. It involves retraining the body to control specific responses. 

During biofeedback, individuals are connected to sensors that help monitor physiological processes like:

  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Skin sensations
  • Muscle contractions
  • Temperature

Several small studies have found that biofeedback may help alleviate IBS symptoms, improve mental distress, and minimize pain.

Early symptom detection through biofeedback allows people with IBS to intervene before their nervous system has a chance to adversely affect their GI function. 

Long-term studies suggest that 55%-82% of patients who undergo biofeedback therapy maintain symptom improvement, including more regular bowel movements.

6. Get acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of treatment that involves swiftly inserting hair-thin needles through a person’s skin at strategic points (nerve-rich areas) on the body to various depths.

According to a meta-analysis conducted in 2014, acupuncture has proved to exhibit significant control of IBS symptoms. 

Another study compared abdominal acupuncture to traditional Western medication. The result was that acupuncture was more effective as an IBS treatment because it reduced diarrhea, bloating, and stool abnormality.

7. Take probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria) beneficial to your digestive system. They support your gut microbiome and may help alleviate some of the root causes of IBS.

A healthy balance of gut bacteria is associated with several health benefits, such as:

  • Improved digestion
  • Boosted immune function
  • Prevention of bowel diseases
  • Alleviation of postmenopausal disorders
  • Reduced traveler’s diarrhea

Probiotics may also help with anxiety,  depression, blood cholesterol, and skin health.

You can increase the number of good microbes in your body through food, drinks, and supplements. 

For example, sourdough is the best option to improve your digestive system if you’re not ready to give up bread. The fermentation process minimizes the gluten content and increases the bioavailability of nutrients in the flour.

Fermented foods, like yogurt and buttermilk, contain a variety of beneficial microorganisms. Fermented drinks such as kombucha and kefir are also good dietary sources of probiotics.

Besides food, you can add probiotics to your diet through dietary supplements. Consult your doctor before starting a new supplement.

8. Try CBD 

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. In the United States, one kind of CBD is approved as a seizure medication. Cannabinoid receptors can be found throughout our bodies. 

Ingesting cannabis-derived products may help with digestive symptoms. 

A 2010 study found that cannabinoids hold anti-inflammatory qualities, which can make them good at treating functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS.

More recent research suggests that CBD may also have potential therapeutic benefits for those with IBS symptoms.

When searching for a quality CBD product, always check the CBD source for a detailed certificate of analysis (COA) from a reputable third-party lab. Pay attention to the potency, which varies quite a bit and can impact the benefits you can expect. 

One of our favorite brands of CBD is Ned. Use code “Prime15” for 15% off your order!

9. Increase your prebiotics/fiber intake

Prebiotics are the dietary fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. This allows your gut bacteria to produce nutrients for your colon cells, contributing to a better digestive system. 

You can find prebiotics in many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as:

Another effective way to control IBS comes from the intake of different fiber types, including via fiber supplements. Many physicians recommend that people with IBS increase their dietary fiber intake to 20-35 grams daily to regulate stools and lessen abdominal pain. 

These foods are rich in soluble fiber:

10. Get plenty of vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the essential vitamins to our digestive health.

According to a 2017 study, over 50% of patients with IBS have vitamin D deficiency.

To consume more vitamin D, spend 15-30 minutes in the sun each day and eat vitamin D-rich foods. You may also consider vitamin D3 supplements, especially if you live in an area that is frequently overcast.

Try these foods, which are naturally among the richest in vitamin D:

  • Salmon
  • Canned tuna
  • Shiitake mushrooms
  • Egg yolk
  • Sardines

The recommended daily amount of supplemental vitamin D3 is: 

  1. 400 international units (IU) for children up to 12 months
  2. 600 IU for people ages 1–70
  3. 800 IU for people over 70

We usually find that the above recommendations are not enough for most adolescents and adults to reach optimal vitamin D 25-OH levels of between 50-70 ng/mL. Most teens and adults must take closer to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily in order to reach those levels. 

It’s important to have your vitamin D 25-OH levels checked via a blood test by your healthcare provider, so you can learn exactly how much vitamin D you require to stay in that optimal range.

A few reported interactions with vitamin D may impact digestive disorders:

  • Taking stimulant laxatives for the long-term may impair vitamin D absorption
  • Use vitamin D cautiously if you are taking drugs processed by Cytochrome P-450 3A4 (CYP3A4) enzymes
  • Taking magnesium-containing antacids with vitamin D may increase the risk of high blood magnesium levels

11. Consider other herbal remedies & IBS supplements

Several herbs and home remedies can improve your overall digestive and gut health. 

If you are searching for herbal remedies, lifestyle changes, and over-the-counter treatments to naturally ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, remember that they aren’t one-size-fits-all. 

You’ll need to talk to your healthcare provider about what makes sense for your individual IBS triggers.

These natural remedies for IBS are supported by scientific evidence:


IBS isn’t a life sentence.

To cure IBS permanently, you must treat the root cause. 

Stop Googling and finally get to the root of your gut issues.

Our gut health group visits begin Sept 20, 2022. Don’t miss out — sign up today!


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