Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine (colon). It's a common disorder, characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits without any identifiable cause. IBS is not dangerous, and it doesn't cause permanent damage, but it can be uncomfortable and affect daily life. 

Causes of IBS:

The exact cause of IBS is not known. It is called a functional disorder of colon (large intestine) because there is no sign of disease when the colon is examined. Certain factors tend to play a role in IBS which are as follows:

  • Muscle contractions in the intestine
  • Nervous system abnormalities
  • Inflammation in the intestines
  • Severe infections
  • Changes in gut microbiota (dysbiosis)

1. Problems with motility of intestinal muscles: The muscles in layers of intestines contract to move food through the gastrointestinal tract. It is suggested that in IBS either these contractions are stronger, or these are weak. Stronger contractions cause diarrhoea and weak contractions lead to constipation with dry, hard stool.

2. Hypersensitivity of nerves: As per several studies, it has been found that the nerves in digestive tract may be hypersensitive which may affect bowel function and lead to more than normal discomfort from gas. In some cases, problems with nerve communication between brain and colon is what gives rise to IBS symptoms.

3. Imbalance or changes in gut microbes (Dysbiosis): Micro-organisms in the gut number about 100,000 trillion, Bacteria, fungi, viruses, protists that normally inhabit gut are in some specific composition that varies from person to person. When the balance between these microbes is disturbed or there occur changes in the normal gut microbes, it can give rise to IBS.

4. Infections: In some persons, IBS may arise after food poisoning or gastroenteritis.

5. Post-Infectious IBS (PI-IBS): After a bacterial infection, ongoing low-grade inflammation in the gut can persist. This chronic inflammation can alter gut function and contribute to IBS symptoms.

Trigger or Risk Factors for IBS:

Though IBS may affect anyone, but certain factors increase the potential risk of having IBS. The abnormal function of the colon is always present in people with IBS, but a trigger worsens the symptoms. The most likely culprits that may increase IBS symptoms are:

1. Stress and anxiety: Having psychological health problems: Depression, anxiety are also linked to IBS. In many cases of IBS, it is seen that there occurs worsening of IBS symptoms during high stress or anxiety levels though not caused by stress. Stress and anxiety make gastric system hyperactive via an effect on the nerves. 

2. Bacterial infection: Factors such as post-infectious changes, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and gut microbiota imbalance (dysbiosis) can all contribute to the development and persistence of IBS symptoms. 

3. Being a woman: IBS is more common in females as compared to males. Researchers relate hormone changes during menstrual cycle with this complaint because symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits often become more pronounced before and during menstruation.

4. Age: No doubt IBS can affect persons of any age group, but it has been observed that persons less than 40-50 yrs are at a higher risk.

5. Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes can trigger or worsen IBS symptoms. Hormones can affect the motility of the gastrointestinal tract, altering the speed at which food moves through the intestines. Hormonal fluctuations can impact the communication between the gut and the brain, affecting gut function and sensitivity, and also may influence levels of inflammation in the gut, which can contribute to IBS symptoms.

6. Diet: Many people report that symptoms appear after consuming a certain food product. These food products do not cause, but trigger IBS symptoms. Some common examples are milk, dairy products, wheat, beans, citrus fruits, etc.

7. Certain medications: Regular use of certain medicines, like pain-relievers, anti-depressants and antibiotics are known to increase risk of IBS.

8. Excessive alcohol consumption

9. Family history of IBS: IBS runs in families as certain genes play a role in causing IBS.

Types of IBS:

  • IBS with diarrhoea (IBS – D): In this type, a person experiences loose watery stool.
  • IBS with constipation (IBS– C): Hard stool occurs in this type.
  • IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS –M): Diarrhoea and constipation alternate
  • IBS unsub-typed (IBS – U): This type is allotted to persons who do not fit in any above types

Symptoms of IBS:

The symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain or stomach cramps
  • Bloating and gas
  • Diarrhoea, constipation, or alternating between the two
  • sometimes mucus in the stool


It does not have any specific test. Diagnosis is based on symptoms and medical history and exclusion of other conditions through tests like stool tests, blood tests, and colonoscopy.

Differential Diagnosis:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastritis are two common digestive disorders that can cause abdominal pain and discomfort and therefore need to be differentiated. However, they affect different parts of the digestive system and have different causes.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Functional disorder of the intestines that causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Exact cause is unknown, but it's thought to be related to abnormal muscle contractions in the gut, nerve sensitivity in the gut, and stress.
  • Doesn't cause permanent damage to your digestive system.
  • Diagnosed based on symptoms, not a specific test.
  • Treated with dietary changes, stress management, and medication.


  • Inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach.
  • Caused by infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), certain medications, alcohol use, autoimmune conditions, and bile reflux.
  • May cause upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and heartburn.
  • Diagnosed with a blood test, stool test, endoscopy, or upper GI series.
  • Treated with medication to reduce stomach acid, antibiotics to kill H. pylori infection, and avoiding substances that irritate the stomach.

Here's a table summarizing the key differences between IBS and gastritis:


  • Dietary changes (e.g., avoiding trigger foods and including probiotics)
  • Stress management techniques (e.g., therapy, yoga, relaxation exercises)
  • Medication (to manage symptoms)

Homeopathic Remedies for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome):

IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress. Painful bloating, cramping and constipation can make daily life difficult. A temporary stomach upset after over-eating or over-drinking can be ignored, but a change in bowel habits could be indicative of a medical condition, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), that needs attention. Homeopathy has a proven track record in helping alleviate chronic symptoms. 

Homeopathic medicines for IBS help treat the symptoms of IBS, reducing their severity with time. Just for reference, in 2005, a study at Bristol Homoeopathic Hospital showed over 70% of patients with chronic diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome, reported positive health changes following treatment. More than 6,500 patients took part in the six-year study with problems such as arthritis, eczema, asthma, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, depression and chronic fatigue.

The most prominent homeopathic medicines used symptomatically for IBS, gastritis and other digestive tract issues include Lycopodium, Nux-vomica, China, Arsenic, Aloe, Bryonia, Alumina, Colocynth, Kali-phos, Argentum-nitricum, Podophyllum, Asafoetida, Sulphur, etc. Some of them are described in detail here:

1. Lycopodium-clavatum

This remedy is well-suited to people with IBS & food intolerances, especially onions, oysters, cabbage and beans. It is an important medicine to deal with excessive gas, fullness and bloating in IBS cases. The abdomen feels full and distended soon after eating anything even in small quantity. Gas and bloating is most marked in lower abdomen. Worsening of complaint may occur in evening hours especially between 4 pm to 8 pm, and complaints are relieved from passing wind. The inflamed digestive tract struggles to get enough nutrition from food, so there can be loss of weight. The appetite is very changeable and can go from being ravenous to very full after a few mouthfuls. Alteration between diarrhea and constipation is yet another indicator to use this remedy.

2. Nux-vomica

It is a top remedy for IBS. This remedy suits people who burn the candle at both ends, working hard and playing harder. Eventually, this stressful lifestyle takes its toll and the digestive system suffers. There are severe stomach cramps and acid reflux that are aggravated by mental exertion. Hiccough, belching, fullness and indigestion are worse after coffee, spicy foods and smoking. There can also be a lot of nausea and feelings of being seasick. The prominent symptom calling for its use is frequent ineffectual urge to pass stool. There is passage of a small quantity of stool or poop very frequently. There is constant urge to pass stool. Inspite of passing stool a number of times, there is dissatisfaction as if bowels are still not completely empty popularly known as a ‘never get done feeling’.

Abdomen pain lessens for a very short time after stool, but it renews soon after stool expulsion, along with an urge to pass stool again. When some peculiar food like spicy food, coffee, and alcoholic drinks worsens the condition, then Nux Vomica is the best choice. The worsening of condition after anger spells is also an important marker for using Nux Vomica.

3. China-officinalis

Characteristic symptom is extreme bloating of abdomen just after eating anything. There is stomach acidity with a great deal of bloating & bitter or sour belching. The appetite swings from being ravenous to being completely off food, with a feeling of fullness after eating a small amount. Fruit and milk aggravate, and the pains are pressing or sore. Digestion in general is very slow.

4. Arsenicum-album

Stomach cramps that are worse after taking cold. This remedy suits people who always feel chilly. These people may have an upset stomach from eating cold food or ice cream, which aggravates. There is a great deal of diarrhoea that can come on after drinking whilst moving around makes everything worse. Taking regular sips of a warm drink and lying down to rest bring relief.

5. Colocynthis

Colocynth is a top medicine to relieve terrible stomach cramps in IBS cases, that are better for doubling up or bending forward or putting pressure over abdomen and may be worse from anger or indignation. The pains are short, sharp & pinching and aggravated after eating, especially fruit. Eating or drinking even in the smallest quantity leads to cramping. Heat & pressure give some relief to the pains which can extend to the lower back or into the buttocks. Loose stools may be present, which are watery, yellow and frothy and attended with the passage of gas.

6. Argentum-nitricum

Argentum-nitricum is a remedy for diarrhoea and anxiety in IBS. It will best treat IBS with marked diarrhea in people with chronic anxiety, especially anticipatory anxiety. Anticipatory anxiety means anxiety arising from overthinking about events that are to take place in the future. Other than this, they may have anxiety every time they have to appear in public, crowds or in public meetings. The anxiety results in diarrhea with frequent stools. Such persons are impatient by nature and do everything in haste. In this remedy there is a lot of wind, with very loud and forceful belching or flatulence. There is nausea and indigestion associated with nerves or anxiety, especially when anticipating a stressful event like a job interview or exam.

7. Sulphur

Stomach cramps aggravated by touch, with burning pains worse in the morning and at night. Appetite is usually increased, especially around 11am with an ‘all-gone’ sensation. The stomach feels very heavy straight after eating.

8. Aloe-socotrina

It is an acute remedy and can be used to manage an acute episode of loose motions, where the stool may be accompanied by passage of a large quantity of gas. The key indication to use it is an urge to pass stool soon after eating/drinking anything. There is urgency to pass stool, the person needs to literally rush to the toilet. It may be felt that stool will also pass along with the gas if not rushed to the toilet. Sometimes mucus may be expelled along with stool. Pain in the abdomen before and during stool occurs. The abdominal pain vanishes after passing stool. Aloe helps in regularizing the intestinal movements since they are at an increased pace in patients with IBS.

9. Bryonia-alba

A useful remedy in IBS for constipation with dry, hard, large stool and a bloated abdomen. The stool is excessively dry as if burnt. Stool is passed with much difficulty. Burning in anus on passing stool may be observed. Headache from constipation is another indication for using Bryonia Alba. Condition is aggravated after eating bread and generally the thirst is increased. The stomach may feel so heavy that it is like a stone is sitting there. Belching relieves the pain and tastes of undigested food. Tight clothing and walking about also worsen the condition.

10. Carbo-veg

The remedy is well-suited to older people or those suffering from general fatigue with stomach pains that are burning, sore or pressing. There are cramps which feel like the stomach is being contracted with a lot of bloating after eating. Butter, fats & rich foods can cause belching, heartburn and indigestion with weakness or faintness.

11. Natrum-muriaticum

Indigestion after too much starchy food with sour belching & terrible hiccough. There are painful stomach cramps, aggravated by touch. Strong emotions such as grief or brooding on the past disagreeable issues can aggravate the condition.

12. Kali-phosphoricum

It is an important remedy for IBS when constant stress affects gut health and always worsens the gastric problems. It is very clearly understood till date that stress plays a major role in making IBS symptoms worse, and controlling stress will automatically bring down intensity of gastric symptoms. So, it is the most widely used remedy for stress-related gastric issues. Persons who are under a constant stressful state, always sad, worried, depressed or anxious, are ideal subjects to use this medicine. Most common complaints they face are loose stool and gas in abdomen. The stool may have a foul smell and exhaustion attends loose stool. It can also be used in biochemic form along with a constitutional remedy.

For acute problems you could try self-prescribing but for long term chronic problems like IBS you should consult a professional homeopath.

Healthy ways to Manage IBS:

Apart from Homeopathy, certain lifestyle changes might help you recover faster. Some of these are:

1. Take small meals at a time and increase water intake.

2. Diet changes: Avoid taking certain food items might help. If constipated, take more fiber diet like fruits, vegetables, nuts. Using probiotic food (probiotic food refers to food that contains good friendly bacteria for e.g. yoghurt) can improve symptoms.

3. Avoid smoking and alcohol 

5. Take proper sleep, manage stress and exercise regularly.

Using appropriate medicines at the right time might save you from unnecessary hospital visits, chaos and a long-term illness. Timely intervention might help you save your time, energy and money. Self-diagnosis and self-medication are never recommended. Visit your Homeopathic physician before taking any medicines. For online consultation or any related queries consult our expert homeopathic doctors and book an appointment with us.

Disclaimer: The author disclaims all liability for any loss or risk, personal or otherwise incurred as a consequence of use of any material in this article. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.