Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is becoming an increasingly common disorder. The main symptoms are abdominal pain, bloating, cramps and irregular bowel movements. Lack of movement in the colon, and sudden spasms there, are common features of IBS, leading to extremes of diarrhea and constipation.
A key link with IBS was recently found in the neurotransmitter Serotonin, of which 95% is found in the gastrointestinal tract, and only 5% in the brain. Cells in the lining of the bowels were found to act as transporters of serotonin out of the GI tract. People with IBS have reduced receptor activity, leading to abnormnally high GI tract serotonin levels and hyper-sensitive pain receptors there.
Past bacterial infections may also be a background factor for IBS, while gluten and other foods, female hormones, stress and emotional conflicts may all be irritants, and IBS often goes hand in hand with depression and anxiety.
How common is IBS? IBS is more common in women. In the UK about 13 per cent of women and 5 per cent of men have IBS.
We don't know what causes IBS.
Abnormalities in peristalsis can often be seen in close relatives of people with IBS, although without symptoms. This suggests a trigger sets off the condition in susceptible people. Nerve-signalling chemicals, particularly serotonin, appear to have an important role.
In general, first-time symptoms of IBS in a person over the age of 40 should be assessed by a doctor.
Scenar can be very helpful with many of these aspects of IBS, which is not surprising given its ability to relieve pain, relax muscles, and adjust the autonomic nervous system.