Study: Physical exercise is a safe, natural, and effective way to remedy IBS symptoms

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(Natural News) Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disease that has no known cause, albeit being very common. It causes pain or discomfort in the stomach and disrupts bowel habits, which are often troublesome for patients and affect their quality of life. While conventional drugs are available for treating IBS symptoms, most — if not all — are ineffective and unsafe. Fortunately, a natural remedy for IBS symptoms exists, and it isn’t something you haven’t heard before: physical exercise.

A study at Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden found that exercise is a safe, natural, and effective way to treat IBS symptoms. People with IBS who exercise more experience improvements both in digestive function and self-esteem.

The study followed a group of 102 IBS patients who received individual advice on how they could start being more physically active. The participants were tasked to perform 20-60 minutes of moderate to hard exercise three to five times per week, for 12 weeks. Some participants just started an exercise routine by cycling or walking, while others increased their physical activity. The results of the 12-week increase in physical activity showed clinically significant improvements in the IBS symptoms of more than four in ten participants.

After an average of over five years after the first study was conducted, the long-term effects of increased physical activity on IBS symptoms were also evaluated through continued testing, questionnaires, and in-depth interviews. The results showed that many IBS patients who exercised experienced a more stable intestinal function, better control and increased ability to improve their situation. This is also applicable to people with diarrhea-dominated IBS, contrary to the findings of earlier studies that suggested that physical activity increases intestinal motility.


While increasing physical activity is important, it is also important to consider the patient’s background and experiences when providing advice on physical activity. The types and scope of exercise should depend on the individual’s symptoms and interests.

“Setting priorities and reserving time for one’s own well-being and one’s own physical health can provide an improved self-image, but it’s important that the exercise be designed so that the patient can handle it,” said Elisabet Johannesson, the author of the study.

Other natural remedies for IBS symptoms

A review of studies published in the British Journal of Pharmacology shares other natural and effective ways to relieve the symptoms of IBS.

  • Eating foods rich in probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir. Consuming probiotic-rich foods can relieve abdominal pain and other symptoms of IBS better than placebo, according to the review.
  • Taking prebiotics: Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that feed the good bacteria in the gut. While there are not many studies on how well they actually relieve IBS symptoms, there is no harm in consuming foods rich in prebiotics, since they can be found in healthy foods such as garlic, onions, bananas, and raw asparagus.
  • Consuming fiber: The review found that consuming different types of fiber, such as psyllium, wheat bran, and calcium polycarbophil, improves some cases of IBS. You can get fiber from foods such as beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you can’t get all your fiber from food, you can take a regular supplement.
  • Trying peppermint oil: Peppermint oil was also found to have some potential in treating IBS symptoms. This herbal remedy is a natural anti-spasmodic which may help relieve pain.
  • Reducing stress: Stress appears to worsen IBS symptoms, so finding ways to relieve stress, such as yoga, exercise, and meditation, may help.

You can also avoid triggering the symptoms of IBS by avoiding certain foods, such as fried foods, meat and dairy, processed baked goods, coffee and alcohol, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners, and non-soluble fiber foods.

Read more news stories and studies on natural remedies for IBS by going to

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