How to Heal IBS Naturally, According to a Dietitian

How to Heal IBS Naturally

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Key Takeaways

  • IBS is a disorder of the gut-brain interaction and can be categorized based on bowel movements and digestive symptoms.
  • There are several ways of healing IBS naturally, including mindfulness meditation, peppermint oil, yoga, acupuncture, L-glutamine supplementation and fiber intake. 
  • It’s best to work with a healthcare professional like a registered dietitian when making dietary changes to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder that is estimated to affect up to 12% of people in the United States. It causes unpleasant digestive symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, distention, constipation, and diarrhea.

Many people wonder how to heal IBS naturally, but knowing whether natural treatments are safe and effective can be difficult.

In this article, we’ll review the scientific evidence for several different natural treatments for IBS and provide recommendations for how to incorporate these treatments into your IBS care plan.

Types of IBS

Before reviewing how to heal IBS naturally, it’s important to understand the nature of IBS. IBS is a disorder of the gut-brain interaction, meaning there is miscommunication between your gut and brain. This can cause your gut to become more sensitive, leading to abdominal pain and bloating in some people. It can also change how the muscles in your bowel function, leading to diarrhea, constipation or both.

There are three types of IBS which are based on how your bowel movements are affected. It’s important to know what type of IBS you have, as treatments may differ depending on which type you have.

  1. Constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C). IBS-C is defined as having more than a quarter of your stools as hard and lumpy, and fewer than a quarter of your stools being loose or watery on days when you have at least one abnormal bowel movement.
  2. 2. Diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D). IBS-D is defined as having more than a quarter of your stools being loose and watery and fewer than a quarter of your stools being hard and lumpy on days when you have at least one abnormal bowel movement.
  3. 3. IBS with Mixed Bowel Habits (IBS-M). IBS-M is defined as having more than a quarter of your stools being loose and watery and more than a quarter of your stools being hard and lumpy on days when you have at least one abnormal bowel movement.

Healing IBS Naturally

There are several evidence-based ways to heal IBS naturally. They include practicing mindfulness, taking peppermint oil capsules, practicing yoga or gentle movement, acupuncture, L-glutamine supplementation, and eating enough fiber.

Get a Specialized Treatment Plan

Everyone with IBS is different, so getting specialized and individualized treatment plans is important. 

Many of the treatments for IBS involve changes to your diet. Since changing or restricting your diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies if not done correctly, it’s best to work with a registered dietitian if you’re making dietary changes. 

A Nourish dietitian can help ensure you’re meeting your nutrient needs while effectively managing your IBS symptoms. If you’re interested in taking the next step in your IBS journey, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian 

Practice Mindfulness

Since IBS is a disorder of the gut-brain interaction, treatments that calm the connection between the gut and the brain can be an important first step in learning how to heal IBS naturally.

One such treatment is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness involves being aware of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and surroundings in the present moment. It also involves paying attention to your thoughts and emotions without judgment.

A meta-analysis examining mindfulness meditation's effects on IBS symptoms found that people who practiced mindfulness meditation experienced significantly less pain and a significantly higher quality of life.

If you’re new to mindfulness meditation, set aside some time to practice. Sitting still, observing the present moment without judgment. If judgments arise, make note of them and let them pass. As your mind wanders, practice recognizing that and gently bringing it back to the present moment. Remember, the goal of mindfulness is not to quiet the mind but to be aware of the present.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil can be used for healing IBS naturally due to its antispasmodic effects. The menthol in peppermint oil helps the muscles in the bowels relax, which can relieve cramps, bloating and gas.

A meta-analysis including 12 randomized trials and 835 patients found that peppermint oil was an effective treatment for IBS symptoms, especially abdominal pain. 

If you’re interested in trying peppermint oil for your IBS, start with one capsule taken three times a day until your symptoms improve. If you don’t notice an improvement in symptoms, you can increase to two capsules taken three times per day. Do not take peppermint oil for longer than two weeks unless your doctor prescribes it.

Practice Yoga or Gentle Movement

Yoga is a mind-body practice that may be beneficial for healing IBS naturally. A review article looking at the effectiveness of yoga as a treatment for IBS found that yoga was more effective than treatment with medications and equally as effective as dietary treatments and moderate-intensity walking for improving IBS symptoms, mental health and quality of life. 

While the quality of evidence was low due to how the studies were designed, yoga is a safe and accessible option for IBS treatment.

See if Acupuncture Helps

If other methods of healing IBS naturally have not worked for you, you may want to consider acupuncture. Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points in your body.

A meta-analysis of eight randomized controlled trials found that there was no significant difference in IBS symptoms compared to sham acupuncture (when the needles were not inserted into the skin). However, the study also found that acupuncture was more effective than Western medicine at improving IBS symptoms. 

While more studies need to be done, using acupuncture alongside Western medicine could be an effective treatment for IBS, especially if other symptom management options have not worked.

Consider L-Glutamine

L-glutamine is an important amino acid because it can be used to make other molecules, including immune system cells. It also promotes the growth of cells in the intestine and controls the “leakiness” of the gut walls. 

It’s thought that increased leakiness of the gut wall could be due to reduced levels of L-glutamine. Since increased gut leakiness is thought to be a risk factor for developing IBS, treatments that reduce the leakiness of the gut could improve IBS symptoms.

A study of 50 people with IBS found that L-glutamine supplementation while following the low FODMAP diet resulted in better improvements in IBS symptoms compared to the low FODMAP diet with whey protein supplementation. In other words, the people taking the L-glutamine supplement experienced better symptom relief than the people taking a whey protein supplement while following the low FODMAP diet.

If you’re following the low FODMAP diet and are still experiencing IBS symptoms, adding L-glutamine to your treatment plan could help reduce your symptoms.

Make Sure You’re Eating Enough Fiber

One of the best ways of healing IBS naturally is ensuring you’re getting enough fiber in your diet. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant foods that is not absorbed or digested in the small intestine. 

Fiber can be categorized based on whether it dissolves in water. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel. It is found in the flesh of fruits and vegetables and in fiber supplements like psyllium husk. In contrast, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It is found in wheat bran, whole grains and the skins of fruits and vegetables.

In 2021, the American College of Gastroenterology released guidelines on the management of IBS. They made a strong recommendation for the use of soluble fiber for the treatment and improvement of IBS symptoms. Insoluble fiber was not recommended as a treatment for IBS because it can worsen bloating and abdominal pain.

If you want to increase your intake of soluble fiber, try including more of the following foods in your diet:

  • Oat bran.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Dry beans and peas.
  • Rice bran.
  • Barley.
  • Citrus fruits.
  • Strawberries.
  • Apple (flesh only).
  • Psyllium husk.

If you’re struggling to include enough soluble fiber in your diet, or if you’re interested in using a fiber supplement to treat your IBS, get in touch with a Nourish registered dietitian. Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling and accepts the most popular insurance carriers. 

Ask Your Provider About Other Supplements

There are many different supplements available for IBS. Some are based on high-quality evidence, while others do not have enough research to ensure they work as promised.

If you’re interested in taking supplements for IBS management, it’s best to speak with your doctor or dietitian before starting. Your healthcare provider can help determine whether a supplement is safe and effective for you.


Many treatment options are available if you’ve been wondering how to heal IBS naturally. IBS can be treated effectively using mind-body practices like yoga and mindfulness meditation, supplements like peppermint oil and dietary changes like increasing your soluble fiber intake.

Managing IBS With a Dietitian

Diet is an important part of IBS management, but managing it on your own can feel overwhelming. Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling and accepts the most popular insurance carriers. If you have IBS and are interested in learning about your treatment options, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you reverse IBS?

IBS is a chronic condition and is not considered to be reversible or curable. However, many people with IBS are able to effectively manage their symptoms using a variety of dietary, lifestyle and medical treatments. 

Some effective treatments for IBS include the low FODMAP diet, mind-body practices like yoga and mindfulness meditation, peppermint oil capsules, and increasing your soluble fiber intake.

What foods trigger IBS?

Foods high in FODMAPs can trigger IBS symptoms. FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that are not completely digested or absorbed in your gut. When the undigested FODMAPs pass into the large intestine, they are fermented by your gut bacteria. This produces gas, which can be painful for people with IBS and an extra-sensitive gut. If you’re in the middle of an IBS flareup, avoiding foods high in FODMAPs may help ease your symptoms.

What’s the fastest way to get rid of IBS?

Abdominal pain is one of the most common symptoms of IBS. Applying gentle heat in the form of a heat pack or hot water bottle for 15 to 20 minutes can help relax your abdominal muscles, which may help relieve pain quickly.

Another way to relieve your IBS symptoms is to be mindful of your diet. Try to eat smaller meals to avoid stretching your abdomen too much. You may also find it helpful to avoid foods that can trigger IBS symptoms, such as high FODMAP foods, fatty foods, spicy foods, and alcohol.


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