Natural health: I suffer from a mild form of IBS

"I suffer from a mild form of IBS which occasionally leads to embarrassing flatulence. What would you suggest?"
Natural health: I suffer from a mild form of IBS

Q1. I suffer from a mild form of IBS which occasionally leads to embarrassing flatulence. What would you suggest?

A. Flatulence, bloating, cramping are all common issues experienced by sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) along with constipation and diarrhoea. Chewing your food thoroughly is a basic but effective step – it is the larger particles of food that cause issues, as these are the ones that need to be further broken down by bacteria once they have left the stomach and small intestine.

There are certain foods that are more likely to trigger flatulence than others - especially broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, and legumes. These all take longer to break down due to their complex carbohydrate content and release carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, and methane gases as a by-product of being digested by the bacteria in the large intestine.Probiotic supplements and digestive enzymes can also help to reduce intestinal gas production.

It is important to mention that gas production can initially increase as the gut bacteria establishes balance in your intestines – so the flatulence may get worse before it gets better.

Activated charcoal also helps with gas and odours, as well as being useful to moderate the impact of foods known to cause intolerances or sensitivities. You can take it as a tablet or capsule after a meal or snack, or you can stir a teaspoon of activated charcoal powder into a glass (200ml) of water and drink it after each meal.

You may need to experiment with dietary adjustments, remedies and therapies until you find one that works for you. I would recommend that you take a look at the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), a dietary protocol that has been specifically formulated to help relieve symptoms and minimise the impact of intestinal disorders.

The SCD works on the basic principle that eliminating complex carbohydrates, refined sugars, and lactose for a significant length of time will starve out the harmful bacteria in our intestines. These bacteria thrive on complex carbohydrates (disaccharides and polysaccharides), and when their numbers increase, the gut wall becomes inflamed as a result of the byproducts of the bacteria population.

For more information, check out – a useful website for anybody suffering from IBS along with autoimmune disorders, leaky gut, diarrhoea, constipation, heartburn and reflux, and a number of other gastrointestinal issues.

Q2. My 13-year-old daughter has started to develop spots on her face. Is there a natural wash and cream she could use?

A. There are certainly some natural skincare methods worth trying with your daughter. It is also worth noting that skin issues are usually an internal issue, where dietary changes and supplements can be just as important as what goes on the skin.

A simple routine your daughter can follow each morning and night is to half fill a basin with warm water (you can also add one to two drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil), she will then need to soak a face cloth made from cotton or muslin in the water, gently wring it out, and lay the wet cloth on her skin leaving it to cover her face and gently pressing the entire area with her palms. The cloth is then rinsed in the basin and this method is repeated five to 10 times. For a deeper treatment, apply pure raw manuka honey as a facial mask and leave it there as long as possible before rinsing it off. This can be done once or twice weekly. Manuka honey has impressive antibacterial and healing properties.

Key foods in the treatment of spots and acne include seeds, such as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower, which all contain a number of essential nutrients for healing the skin including zinc, calcium and fatty acids, and leafy greens. The easiest way to consume these skin superfoods is to make a green smoothie.

Use 1 loosely packed cup of greens, 1-2 cups of water, 1 cup of fruit, and 1-2 tablespoons of seeds or tahini. When blended the fruit flavour completely masks that of the greens, the seeds give a creamy texture, and the maceration ensures that the nutrients from the leaves are highly bioavailable.

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