What is IBS or spastic colon?
Let’s look at Irritable Bowel Syndrome from the perspective of a person who is also experiencing stress or anxiety. Because (in 99% of cases) people who are calm and where their life is just nice, don’t tend to suffer from the symptoms of IBS!
Doctors and scientists have been researching IBS and inflammatory bowel diseases for many years and still there is no cure for IBS, however, more importantly, there is still no known cause and no known recognisable actual disease – all that can be found are symptoms! That is why so many people ask what is IBS? And so few doctors can give a clear explanation.
Therefore, I’d like you to consider that irritable bowel syndrome is perhaps, primarily symptom of stress (or anxiety) – a painful, uncomfortable and frustrating one, however, no different from heart burn, a tight chest or feeling “sick through worry.”
Does embarrassment compound the IBS condition?
For a person experiencing and researching what is IBS? There are a few key aspects that fuel their concerns:
- What is wrong with my bowel?
- What food should I eat / not eat
- What if there is really something major wrong with my stomach?
- What if I get caught short
- Having to visit the bathroom before going out
- What if I pass wind or my belly makes loud noises in public
- What if there are no toilets where I am going
Because the person experiencing IBS has a range of symptoms that potentially could be quite embarrassing (as well as uncomfortable) such as, bloating, diarrhea and excessive wind, the effects of the condition seems to operate at two levels, firstly in the bowel, then, secondarily in the mind as they spin stories around about all the things that could go wrong that might embarrass them!
The fear of not making it to a toilet in time or having an accident can have a huge effect on the persons life – from not wearing light coloured clothes, through to not flying or going any place where there may be restricted access to a rest room. In our experience the effect of IBS on how we think can have a huge impact on how we live our lives.
When IBS first comes on, it is common for the person to associate it’s cause to a certain food – curries, spices, vegetable, beer etc. And some foods do seem to agitate the bowel when the condition is active, however, the main thing that is agitating the bowel is the mind, with all of its stresses and anxious worries. Calm people just don’t get IBS, happy people just don’t get IBS, unstressed individuals just don’t get IBS.
Perhaps it is just a normal stress response?
We hear stories about a person uncontrollably soiling themselves under extreme fear situations like being held at gun point – so may be, it is natural for us to have a more loose bowel constitution if we have stress in our lives? Of course, our internal organs can’t really tell the difference between the fear generated by a mugger trying to fleece us or the fear generated by the corporation we work for trying to fleece us (fear of losing our job / position / status / pay rise etc.)
In the wild when a lion attacks a zebra, the zebra will often defecate towards the face of the lion (as they tend to attack from behind) as it begins to run away, and this is thought to have two functions, firstly to make the zebra lighter so it can run faster and secondly to distract the predator. Like the zebra we are mammals too and seem to function in the same way, unlike zebras we feel uncomfortable defecating in public, however, underneath it all nature is just nature, we are just wired up that way.
The link between the mind, the stomach and the bowel have long been know to be very intricate and very complex. At one level the debate rages about which came first the brain or the stomach and the leading researchers seem to think that the stomach came first and it had it’s own simplistic brain (which it still retains and is a player in ibs) and then we grew a brain so we could become even better at finding and catching food. This knowledge allows us to shed more light on the anomalies that we experience and why the stomach seems to do what it wants to do, regardless of what we (conscious brain) wants it to do!
Symptoms of IBS
When we explore ‘what is IBS?’ further, we see that women seem to experience IBS more than men and in our experience women seem to become anxious and then get IBS, whereas, men seem to get stressed and then develop IBS, either way the typical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:
- Stomach pain or cramps
- Diarrhoea, constipation or bouts of both
- Feeling stressed, anxious or trapped (emotionally)
- Feeling bloated
- Excessive flatulence
- Needing to use the bathroom at very short notice
- Feelings of nausea
- Tension in neck and shoulders
- Feeling very tired
- Having a mind that won’t stop thinking
- Feeling uncomfortable travelling and going to new places
It seems that when we get anxious, nervous or stressed more acid forms in our stomach and some of this makes it’s way into our bowel (which is more of an alkaline environment). In response the bowel releases fluids to bring down the pH and this extra fluid, along with the agitation of the bowel wall from feelings of stress via the autonomic nervous system, give rise to the loosing of the contents of our bowel and the escape or excessive gas. It is all supposed to happen (from an animal point of view) however, when we are stressed or anxious we are unknowingly kicking off a natural response within ourselves.
What is IBS Treatment? How do I overcome IBS?
When you take the Calmness in Mind Self-Awareness Program we teach you how to remove IBS at the source, which is taking the appropriate action to change your responses to stress and anxiety. Our bodies respond to what we hold in mind, our organs agitate when we worry – you could say that we worry ourselves sick. Now, in the case of IBS, this is more about stress, which is a more grownup version of anxiety, with stress we are not usually doubting our capabilities (like in anxiety), we are doubting resources like time and money and we are thinking about all the things that might get in the way.
This product teaches you how to get control over your body through quietening your mind, changing certain behaviours and not letting people / events hook your emotional attention. It is a logical and sensible way of keeping your body calm even when faced with all of the challenges we face in the 21st century – work, relationships, money, families, etc.
It doesn’t just help you to understand what is IBS, it also helps you to overcome IBS – and gives you new ways to free yourself from yourself (self-consciousness, low self-esteem, low self-worth, doubt, regret and guilt). Learn to use your mind the right way – and unstress your internal organs.