How does turmeric help Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Turmeric is a spice that’s primarily grown in India - the deep yellow colour we associate with curry comes from turmeric. It’s been used in cooking and as a medicine in India for over 5,000 years, and here in the Western world, we’re only just cottoning on. Its active ingredient is a compound called curcumin, which has scientifically proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
We’ve discussed the benefits of these anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in previous posts, and how they help manage diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. We’ve also touched on the benefits turmeric has on chronic inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. But what about non-inflammatory bowel conditions such as IBS, can it help with that? Well, let’s first discuss what IBS is, and how its managed…
What is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a common condition of the digestive system. It causes bloating and cramps and regular periods of either diarrhoea or constipation. It’s a long-term condition suffered by hundreds of thousands or people. In fact, it’s thought that one in five people will suffer at some point in their life, it usually develops at around 20 to 30 years old. It’s exacerbated by stress and certain trigger foods and can even be lifelong. The exact cause is still unknown but studies are emerging and it’s thought to be caused by problems digesting food and sensitivity in the nerves of the gut.
Its management is often down to the sufferer, as once anything else more sinister has been ruled out, then there isn’t much doctors can do. Sufferers are advised to avoid their trigger foods and minimise stress, eat plenty of fibre, stay within the alcohol guidelines and take regular exercise. Which is pretty much what we’re all told to do anyway!
Occasionally anti-spasmodic drugs are prescribed to help prevent cramps but as the symptoms are often periodic, managing IBS with these drugs is tricky. Plus, some of these drugs are expensive and cause side effects in some patients.