Stress & IBS Helped By Homeopathy
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As the most common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder worldwide, which is suffered by one in five people in the UK, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a major health issue particularly for women: 60% to 65% of sufferers are female. There is little known about this syndrome, although it is commonly acknowledged that stress plays a big part in it. The most successful strategy for dealing with it seems to be cutting out trigger foods, many of which turn out to be fermentable foods, which lead to the invention of the FODMAP diet (list of fermentable foods to avoid). But it is also acknowledged that besides food, and cases where it comes on after a GI infection, emotions are a very common cause – both anxiety and depression. And certainly, this seems to be the case for the patient, whose story I relate below.
IBS Symptoms & Mainstream Medications
In case you are one of that 70 % who does not go to the doctor with their symptoms, here’s a list of typical IBS symptoms. You may not experience all of them, because people suffer different collections of symptoms from the list below:
- constipation, diarrhoea, or alternation of the two
- abnormal bowel function in terms of urgency, mucus, or feeling of incomplete defecation
- mild to severe abdominal pain
- bloating, distention, gurgling and wind
Mainstream medications range from anti-spasmodic and anti-depressant medicines to address pain, laxatives to address constipation, and anti-motility medicines to address diarrhoea. These medications, from a homeopath’s point of view, though they remove the symptoms, do not address the source of the problem, which is often mental/emotional, nor the physical weakness, which often originates in the liver.
A Case of IBS
When Anna first came to me, she wanted help with her IBS, which had troubled her for six years. She would get severe cramps in her abdomen, with bloating, loud gurgling, and diarrhoea, which was accompanied by sharp rectal pain. These symptoms were triggered by eating red meat, bread, apples, onions, and rich or spicy food.
The Underlying Emotional Cause
The process of homeopathy involves looking deeper than just the presenting symptoms and the most immediate triggers. And when I dug a little deeper into Anna’s story, I discovered that her IBS had started as a result of a very stressful relationship with her neighbour. He had taken enormous advantage of her generosity, and then unjustly blamed her for an outcome he didn’t like, which was his fault, not hers. She was prone to guilt anyway, so she found this very difficult to handle. And this tendency to give, and to allow others to take too much, was not a one-off. She had a history of allowing herself to be used by boyfriends, including the current one, who was clingy, controlling, bullying and aggressive. She had made a number of attempts to end the relationship but was never able to see it through. She also had a bullying boss, with whom she had to be careful what she said. This inability to stand up for herself and her needs was driven by an overriding need to please others and to avoid hurting them, at all costs. And it seemed an interesting coincidence to me, that when suffering an IBS attack, she was doubled over with pain i.e. unable to stand upright!
By nature, she was a perfectionist and talked about having to control the chaos. She also confessed to being “a bag of nerves”: she was afraid of the dark, of dirt, of being in the house on her own; and was terrified of death “to the point of ridiculousness”, where she would become overwhelmed with panic at the thought of her, or her Mum, dying. And by her own admission, she had not cried for years and was used to swallowing her anger for fear of being hit by her boyfriend. All in all, her self, her needs, and her emotions had been suppressed, both by her and others, for years. Not surprisingly, she felt “a bit depressed”, frustrated and bitter about everything.
The Homeopathic Prescription and It’s Effect on the IBS
I prescribed her Carcinosin for the emotional root of the IBS, which I saw as the suppression. This, for me, was the heart of the case, from which all else stemmed. I also gave her China Officianalis to target the IBS at the physical level. Of the many digestive remedies, this one was the best fit for her specific IBS symptoms. I also put her on the FODMAP diet, (which removes all fermenting foods) to allow her digestive system a rest from the physical triggers, while she waited for her system to start the process of healing in response to the remedies.
A month later, her IBS was markedly better. She had had only two episodes all month, instead of daily ones. However, it was unclear to me at this stage, whether this was due to the diet or the remedies, or both. After three months, the IBS had gone almost completely, despite her abandoning the FODMAP diet over Christmas, and even eating some of the foods, which previously would have triggered an attack. After four months she was completely clear of the IBS symptoms, and off the diet.
The Effect on The Emotional Level
On the emotional level, after the first month, she felt stronger, calmer and more optimistic. She also noticed that she was being less perfectionist, citing the fact that she had gone to work in odd socks one day! By the end of the third month, she ended the relationship with her boyfriend and gave him a deadline for moving out. She also dealt with his pleas and ploys to stay attached, with remarkable firmness, given how she used to be. In addition, she established better boundaries with her neighbour, who was still using her as a gofer. Even her family remarked on how much more relaxed she was. As for her fears, they were receding noticeably: she was much less afraid of the dark, and was able to sleep with the lights off (instead of on), and get out of bed at night to investigate a noise (previously impossible); she was OK being on her own at home; and she also felt more relaxed about the idea of dying.
By the last session, five months down the line, she was busy rearranging and redecorating her flat. She reported feeling “much happier”, saying she had learned that she really needed to look after herself, and realised that her priorities had been wrong in trying to please everybody.
The Importance of Individualisation in Homeopathy
From a homeopath’s point of view, IBS can have many different causes, physical and/or emotional. These causes, together with the specific physical symptoms the person experiences, and who they are as a person, indicate different homeopathic remedies. This is what homeopaths mean when they say the treatment is ‘individualised’. It is not a process of one medicine fitting the diagnosis, as in mainstream medicine. A remedy that works for one person’s symptoms, may not work for another person’s. In Anna’s case, Carcinosin and China Officinalis were the remedies that best fit her IBS symptoms, their underlying cause, and her as a person. And in Anna’s words “5 months later, I no longer suffer from IBS. I’m feeling 100%, not only physically but emotionally”.
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A free 20 minute call for you to find out how homeopathy could help you,
and what to expect from working with me.