Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Symptoms and Natural Treatment

Do you have stomach pain, cramping, bloating, gas, constipation or other digestive problems? Is it worse when you are stressed? Having trouble deciding what to eat? Maybe you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Find out more about what IBS is and what you can do to relieve or prevent symptoms.

Read more

Magnesium – Better for Depression than Prescription Drugs

Do you have enough magnesium in your diet? Magnesium has been shown to help muscle cramps, as well as constipation, kidney stones, osteoporosis, insomnia, fibromyalgia and asthma, and recent studies have shown that magnesium can be very effective as a treatment for depression and possibly PTSD, ADHD and stress or anxiety. What can you do to make sure you have enough magnesium in your daily diet?  Continue reading

Constipation: Natural Solutions to Healthy Elimination

stomach-pain-doctorAre you spending a long time in the bathroom waiting for relief? Do you suffer from abdominal pain, cramping, constipation, and difficulty emptying your bowels? You may have chronic constipation and need to look at changing your life. Find out what causes constipation and what you can do to prevent it or treat it immediately and naturally.  Continue reading

Herbal Remedies During Pregnancy

Pregnant women have a wide variety of symptoms that are uncomfortable prior to and during childbirth, including nausea, fatigue, vomiting, constipation, etc. Are there natural treatments, life-style changes, exercises, and herbal remedies that can alleviate these symptom? Which treatments are safest for the unborn child? Are there herbs that are unsafe and should be avoided? What does the latest research tell us about herbal remedies and diet during pregnancy? Continue reading

Irritable Bowel Syndrome: How It Can Affect Your Life


Irritable Bowel SyndromeWhat is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that affects the large intestine or colon. It causes abdominal pain, diarrhea and changes in your bowel movement. The U.S. National Library of Medicine states,

  “About 1 in 6 people in the U.S. have symptoms of IBS. It is the most common intestinal problem that causes patients to be referred to a bowel specialist (gastroenterologist).” 

IBS is usually not extremely serious and doesn’t cause permanent damage to your large intestine. The symptoms of the disorder can be controlled by either medication or changes in your diet such as eating more fibrous food. A small percentage of people can experience more severe symptoms that may be crippling to their everyday lives. The disorder affects more women than men, possibly due to the hormonal changes women go through. Many are diagnosed with the disorder before the age of 35 and have a relative with irritable bowel syndrome.  Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition. For some people, the condition may worsen with time and for others, the condition completely disappears.


Man stomach acheSymptoms
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the most common signs and symptoms of the irritable bowel syndrome are as follows:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • A feeling of fullness
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Changes in bowel movement patterns

These symptoms vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Often times, symptoms may decrease with a bowel movement. IBS may cause you to experience a loss of appetite.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome StatisticsCause(s) of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not known. Some documented risk factors of the condition include being young, being female and having a family member with IBS. People of all ages can be diagnosed with the disorder. It can arise after a person has experienced an infection of the intestine. With irritable bowel syndrome, food is forced into your intestine either more quickly than normal or slower than normal. The result of food moving more quickly into the intestine is diarrhea and the result from food moving more slowly into the intestine is constipation or dry and hard stool.

Tests and Diagnosis
What is EGD?Currently, there are no tests to accurately diagnose irritable bowel syndrome. Your doctor may perform a full physical exam as well as complete a medical history. Most of the time, diagnosis is the result of the process of elimination of other diseases. IBS has a tendency to mimic other diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or colon cancer.  Mayo Clinic provides a list and description of tests that may be taken to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome in the following:

  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD or upper endoscopy) or Colonoscopy.  In some cases, your doctor may perform these diagnostic tests, in which a small, flexible tube is used to examine the stomach or the entire length of the colon.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan. CT scans produce cross-sectional X-ray images of internal organs. CT scans of your abdomen and pelvis may help your doctor rule out other causes of your symptoms.
  • Lactose intolerance tests. Lactase is an enzyme you need to digest the sugar (lactose) found in dairy products. If you don’t produce this enzyme, you may have problems similar to those caused by irritable bowel syndrome, including abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea. To find out if this is the cause of your symptoms, you doctor may order a breath test to ask you to exclude milk and milk products from your diet for several weeks.
  • Blood tests. Celiac disease (non-tropical sprue) is sensitivity to wheat protein that also may cause signs and symptoms like those of irritable bowel syndrome. Blood may help rule out that disorder.

Foods that Trigger IBS

Foods That Trigger Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome can usually be treated by managing the symptoms of the condition. Some lifestyle changes/treatment options are as follows:

  • Eating more fibrous foods to reduce the occurrence of constipation. Foods with fiber include whole grain bread and pastas, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Eating smaller meals will make it easier for your intestinal system to digest your food faster and make you feel better.
  • Avoiding foods that may exacerbate your symptoms such as alcohol, caffeinated drinks and dairy products.
  • Avoiding stress may relieve the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Taking medication(s) specially prescribed for irritable bowel syndrome. The medications include but are not limited to the following: alosetron for diarrhea and lubiprostone for constipation.

Alternative Treatments
Hypnotherapy Session womanPeople look towards alternative medicine when traditional modern medicine may not be effective inrelieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine provides a list of treatments to aide with symptoms of the disorder, including the following:

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal remedies
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Probiotics
  • Reflexology
  • Relaxation Therapies
  • Yoga


About Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)  – International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD)

Aragon G, Graham DB, Borum M, Doman DB (Jan 2010). Probiotic therapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y) 6 (1): 39–44 PubMed

Brenner DM, Moeller MJ, Chey WD, Schoenfeld PS (April 2009). The utility of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Am. J. Gastroenterol. 104 (4): 1033–49  PubMed

Ducrotté P (Nov 2007). Irritable bowel syndrome: current treatment options. Presse Med. 36 (11 Pt 2): 1619–26 PubMed

Gaylord SA, Palsson OS, Garland EL, et al. Mindfulness training reduces the severity of irritable bowel syndrome in women: results of a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2011; 106(9):1678–1688. PubMed

Grundmann O, Yoon SL (Jan 14, 2014),Complementary and alternative medicines in irritable bowel syndrome: An integrative view. World J Gastroenterol 20(2): 346–362 PubMed

Irritable Bowel Syndrome – U.S. National Library of Medicine 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Definitions – Mayo Clinic 

Irritable bowel syndrome. (September 2007)  The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), NIH Publication No. 07-693. pdf

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Complementary Health (NCCAM) –  National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practices

Lindfors P, Unge P, Arvidsson P, Nyhlin H, Björnsson E, Abrahamsson H, Simrén M. (2012)  Effects of gut-directed hypnotherapy on IBS in different clinical settings- results from two randomized, controlled studies Am J Gastroenterol. 2012; 107(2):276-85

Lindfors P, Unge P, Nyhlin H, Ljótsson B, Björnsson E, Abrahamsson H, Simrén (2012)  M. Long-term effects of hypnotherapy in patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome Scand J Gastroenterol. 2012;47(4):414-20

Lindfors P, Ljótsson B, Björnsson E, Abrahamsson H, Simrén M. (2012) Patient satisfaction after gut-directed hypnotherapy in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2012. Oct 5. PubMed

Manheimer E, Cheng K, Wieland LS, Min LS, Shen X, Berman BM, Lao L (2012). Acupuncture for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 5(5) PubMed

Nikfar S, Rahimi R, Rahimi F, Derakhshani S, Abdollahi M (December 2008). Efficacy of probiotics in irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Dis. Colon Rectum 51 (12): 1775–80 PubMed

Shen YH, Nahas R (Feb 2009). Complementary and alternative medicine for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Can Fam Physician   55 (2): 143–8. PubMed

Wilkins T, Pepitone C, Alex B, Schade RR (Sep 1, 2012). “Diagnosis and management of IBS in adults.”  American family physician 86 (5): 419–26. PubMed


Hang Pham, MBHA Health EducatorThis article is written by Hang Pham. Hang Pham is a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance Health and Wellness Educator. Hang Pham was born in Hoc Mon, Vietnam. She came to America in 1994, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2011. Hang graduated from Seaside High School with diploma and received her AA in General Studies from Monterey Peninsula College in 2011. She received her BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in 2012. In addition to working as a volunteer staff with the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, she currently works as a Clerical Aid in the Human Resources Department of Salinas City Hall.

The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Can Aloe Vera Prevent and Treat Skin Cancer?

The latest  buzz is that aloe vera can help prevent and treat skin cancer. Is this true or rumor? What does research say about aloe vera?

Benefits of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera can be traced back to ancient Egyptian times. The leaves contain a clear gel that can be used as an ointment and the green part of the leaf can be used to create a juice or a dried product that can be ingested orally.  Throughout history, it has been used topically to heal wounds, soothe skin conditions, and to aid in constipation when ingested orally as a laxative.  Aloe vera has also been ingested for a variety of other conditions including diabetes symptoms, asthma, epilepsy, and osteoarthritis.  It’s been used as a cream to heal and relieve osteoarthritis pain, burns, sunburns, and psoriasis and can be found in over-the-counter skin products.  But what does scientific research say about aloe vera?

sunburn man

Multiple studies have been conducted, primarily with mice, on the effects of aloe vera on healing the skin such as a study by V. Thamlikitkul  and others, published in the 1991 Siriraj Hosp Gazzette,  showing that aloe vera is effective as an ointment in relieving and soothing pain and inflammation.

Reuter and other researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial compared the anti-inflammatory effect of 97.5% pure aloe vera gel to 1% hydrocortisone and a placebo gel. They concluded that the if the aloe vera gel, was applied under an occlusive bandage for 2 days following UV exposure, it significantly reduced inflammation compared to placebo gel or 1% hydrocortisone in placebo gel, but was less effective than 1% hydrocortisone cream. The authors suggest that aloe vera gel might be useful for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions.

Aloe Vera
Choonhakarn and others conducted a randomized, double-blind clinical trial evaluated the effectiveness of a prepared 70% aloe vera gel for the treatment of oral lichen planus infections compared to the base gel alone and reported a significant improvement of symptoms in the aloe vera group.

A few studies have been conducted on the effects of aloe vera and cancer. Many studies have been used with human skin cells in a laboratory or mice,  such as the 2007 study led by M. Saini, “Anti-tumor activity of Aloe vera against DMBA/croton oil-induced skin papillomagenesis in Swiss albino mice,”  from the Journal of Environmental Pathology Toxology and Oncology.  This study showed that aloe vera might be helpful in reducing or treating cancer in mice but the researchers concluded that more studies are needed.

Researcher Popadic,  and others, from the University of Belgrade School of Medicine found that Aloe vera and its constituents inhibit the process of skin cell production that accompanies skin cancer in a laboratory study. The researchers tested Aloe-emodin, (a part of Aloe), with human skin cells – keratinocytes – after being treated with radiation. Once radiated, keratinocytes will typically develop in the form skin tumors.  The researchers found that the Aloe-emodin was significantly beneficial in stopping the progression of tumor formation after radiation by the sun. Further research is needed.  No clinical research using human beings has been conducted.Blood Test

Chen, and other researchers from the China Medical University found anticancer effect was greater with Emodin, as compared with Aloe-emodin and Rhein. But Aloe-emodin was observed having stronger cell repair abilities with the cells that hadn’t  yet become cancerous. The researchers found that Aloe Emodin and Rhein stopped tumor progression and caused cancer cell death.

There is early evidence that oral aloe vera may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. Further research is needed in this area to clarify whether it is aloe itself or other factors that may cause this benefit.  One study conducted in Italy in 2009, tested 240 patients using aloe vera with chemotherapy for people for lung cancer, bowel cancer, or stomach cancer. researchHalf the patients took liquid aloe vera three times a day in combination with standard chemotherapy treatment. In this study the cancer was controlled or shrank for a time in 67% of patients who had the combined aloe and chemotherapy treatment and in 50% of patients who had chemotherapy alone. Researchers said that patients using aloe vera had a better quality of life and that they had fewer chemotherapy side effects such as numb fingers and fatigue.  More research is needed under more controlled settings.

Aloe Vera

Does ingesting aloe vera have negative side effects?  No studies have shown negative effects of using aloe vera on the skin.   However, aloe vera, when digested, has a laxative effect and is effective for relieving constipation, but it can be the cause of diarrhea.

Some countries approve of injecting aloe vera. Injecting aloe vera is illegal in the USA an UK and can have serious side effects.

Aloe Vera Extract

A two-year National Toxicology Program (NTP) study on oral ingestion of non-decolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in male and female rats, based on tumors of the large intestine.   According to the NTP, from what is known, they cannot predict that these findings are relevant to humans. The researchers concluded that more research and information is needed, including to determine how individuals use different types of aloe vera products, and the potential risks to humans.

Research Woman

Although aloe vera appears to be a promising alternative treatment for a variety of ailments, researchers agree that more controlled studies are needed to determine its effectiveness, both as a topical ointment or when ingested. The majority of research has been with skin cells and with laboratory animals, and therefore, researchers cannot accurately predict its effectiveness on human beings.


Chen YY, Chiang SY, Lin JG, Yang JS, Ma YS, Liao CL, Lai TY, Tang NY, Chung JG. Emodin, aloe-emodin and rhein induced DNA damage and inhibited DNA repair gene expression in SCC-4 human tongue cancer cells. Anticancer Res. 2010 Mar;30(3):945-51.

Choonhakarn C, Busaracome P, Sripanidkulchai B, Sarakarn P. The efficacy of aloe vera gel in the treatment of oral lichen planus: a randomized controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2008;158(3):573-77.

Popadic D, Savic E, Ramic Z, Djordjevic V, Trajkovic V, Medenica L, Popadic S. Aloe-emodin inhibits proliferation of adult human keratinocytes in vitro. J Cosmet Sci. 2012 Sep-Oct;63(5):297-302.

Reuter J, Jocher A, Stump J, Grossjohann B, Franke G, Schempp CM. Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test. Skin Pharmacol Physiol.2008;21(2):106-10.

Saini M, Goyal PK, Chaudhary G. Anti-tumor activity of Aloe vera against DMBA/croton oil-induced skin papillomagenesis in Swiss albino mice. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2010;29(2):127-35.

Thamlikitkul V, Bunyapraphatsara N, Riewpaiboon W, Theerapong S, Chantrakul C, Thanaveerasuwan T. Clinical trial of aloe vera Linn. for treatment of minor burns. Siriraj Hosp Gaz.1991;43(5):313-316.

This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at  Images used in this article are free public domain from or

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.