Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is well-treated using naturopathic medicine.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition characterized by constipation, diarrhea, gas and bloating and abdominal cramping.

The cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unknown. Nervous or hormonal dysfunction is believed to cause alterations in digestive tract muscle contractions, either stronger and longer resulting in diarrhea, or less commonly, weaker and shorter resulting in constipation. In our experience, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is often caused by food intolerance.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause malnourishment, aggravate hemorrhoids and impair your quality of life.

Seek professional healthcare if you experience persistent irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)-like symptoms, as these may also be caused by more serious health conditions (e.g., colon cancer, ulcerative colitis).

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Possible symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Gas (flatulence)
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation  (sometimes alternating)
  • Mucous in stool

Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, the goals of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) treatment are to identify and address triggers of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); reduce discomfort and frequency of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) episodes; manage associated health conditions and side effects of conventional treatments; and eliminate recurrence.

Conventional treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may include a variety of medications, including fiber supplements, anti-diarrheal, anticholinergic and antidepressant medications. These treatments may have short- or long-term side effects.

For this reason, you may choose to try natural treatment to possibly avoid use of conventional medications, or together with conventional medications in order to decrease dosages of conventional medications required to manage your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.

Naturopathic treatment of any chronic health concern must be recognized as a process that involves:

  • Identifying specific treatment goals
  • Development by your naturopathic doctor, of a thorough understanding of all factors affecting your health, including physical, psychological, emotional and lifestyle factors
  • Development of a comprehensive treatment plan
  • Implementation and maintenance of that plan through periodic monitoring and adjustment

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, a typical approach to treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be to:

  • Identify and address underlying factors in your lifestyle  (e.g., poor stress management, alcohol intake, smoking) that may be contributing to your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms
  • Identify and remove specific food triggers causing your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) using a supervised food elimination and challenge protocol or laboratory testing
  • Normalize bowel function by increasing “good” bacteria populations using nutritional supplements; and using botanical (herbal) medicines

Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:

Treatments provided by naturopathic doctors are covered by most extended healthcare plans.


Irritable bowel syndrome [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2010 Jan 23]. Available from: