Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can make the daily grind a pain. Symptoms are uncomfortable, making it hard to focus and do the things you love. There also isn’t a cure. While medicines can control the symptoms, if you want something natural, reach for turmeric. It might be just what your management plan needs.
What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
IBS is a chronic disorder of the large intestine. It affects 14 in 100 women and 9 in 100 men. And those aged between 35 and 50 are most likely to have the disease. Normally, intestinal muscles move along food, slowly taking out water until it forms solid stool. But if it happens too fast? Hello, diarrhea! And if it takes too long, constipation develops.
Symptoms are different for everyone, but common signs include abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation. It can be caused by lactose or gluten intolerance or nothing at all! And treatment also varies, depending on the person. Exercise, fiber, probiotics, and avoiding certain foods may help. If IBS is stress-induced, therapy and stress relief is a good idea.1
Turmeric: Indian Solid Gold
Turmeric’s benefits for IBS are from curcumin, its most active compound. Curcumin gives turmeric its distinctive bright yellow color. It has antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. This explains turmeric’s nickname, Indian solid gold. In IBS, turmeric has a multi-faceted approach. It fights various aspects and symptoms, leading to overall relief.
How Turmeric Treats Irritable Bowel Syndrome
1. Relieves Stomach Spasms
IBS may cause painful spasms when intestinal muscles contract violently. You can take anti-spasmodic drugs, but curcumin works just as well.2 A 2003 animal study found that it relaxes smooth muscle cells. Curcumin also decreases the frequency of muscle contractions, helping relieve painful spasms.3
2. Regulates Colon Transit
3. Manages Food Allergies
Food allergies and IBS have a strong link. There isn’t a direct relationship, but IBS patients tend to have more food allergies.6 Of course, avoidance is the best type of prevention. But need extra protection? Take turmeric, which regulates the immune response.7 This is ideal if you’re not positive what’s in the food you eat or if you just want to be safe.
4. Controls Enteric Nervous System
Turmeric acts on the enteric nervous system (ENS), which manages the gut. This is similar to the central nervous system, earning the nickname “brain in the gut.” Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is associated with IBS. If the ENS has serotonin problems, intestinal function declines. This leads to IBS and any unwanted symptoms.8
However, curcumin increases serotonin, which then acts on the ENS.9 It’s like a happy boost for your gut!
5. Relieves Anxiety And Depression
Living with IBS can be tough. About 30 to 40 percent of patients have depression or anxiety, making things far more worse.10 But turmeric can help. Remember, curcumin increases serotonin, just like anti-depressant drugs. This will significantly help the brain and emotional health.11
Curcumin even lowers the stress hormone cortisol.12 This is a game changer for stress, whether it’s the cause or a symptom.
Turmeric is generally safe for most people. Regardless, tell your doctor before enjoying tea or powdered spice. Too much can actually cause gastrointestinal problems13 – the last thing you need.
|↑1||Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Overview. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑2||Ammon, Hermann PT, and Martin A. Wahl. “Pharmacology of Curcuma longa.” Planta medica 57, no. 01 (1991): 1-7.|
|↑3||Itthipanichpong, Chandhanee, Nijsiri Ruangrungsi, Wandee Kemsri, and Anugool Sawasdipanich. “Antispasmodic effects of curcuminoids on isolated guinea-pig ileum and rat uterus.” Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand= Chotmaihet thangphaet 86 (2003): S299-309.|
|↑4||Chey, William Y., Hai Ou Jin, Mun Ho Lee, Sung Wu Sun, and Kae Yol Lee. “Colonic motility abnormality in patients with irritable bowel syndrome exhibiting abdominal pain and diarrhea.” The American journal of gastroenterology 96, no. 5 (2001): 1499.|
|↑5||Purwar, Brijesh, Abha Shrivastava, Neetu Arora, Anil Kumar, and Yogesh Saxena. “Effects of curcumin on the gastric emptying of albino rats.” (2012).|
|↑6||Hayes, Paula A., Marianne H. Fraher, and Eamonn MM Quigley. “Irritable bowel syndrome: the role of food in pathogenesis and management.” Gastroenterology & hepatology 10, no. 3 (2014): 164.|
|↑7||Kurup, Viswanath P., and Christy S. Barrios. “Immunomodulatory effects of curcumin in allergy.” Molecular nutrition & food research 52, no. 9 (2008): 1031-1039.|
|↑8||Wood, Jackie D. “Enteric nervous system, serotonin, and the irritable bowel syndrome.” Current opinion in gastroenterology 17, no. 1 (2001): 91-97.|
|↑9||Yu, Yingcong, Shujuan Wu, Jianxin Li, Renye Wang, Xupei Xie, Xuefeng Yu, Jianchun Pan, Ying Xu, and Liang Zheng. “The effect of curcumin on the brain-gut axis in rat model of irritable bowel syndrome: involvement of 5-HT-dependent signaling.” Metabolic brain disease 30, no. 1 (2015): 47-55.|
|↑10||Kabra, Neeraj, and Abhijit Nadkarni. “Prevalence of depression and anxiety in irritable bowel syndrome: A clinic based study from India.” Indian journal of Psychiatry 55, no. 1 (2013): 77.|
|↑11||Kulkarni, Shrinivas K., Mohit Kumar Bhutani, and Mahendra Bishnoi. “Antidepressant activity of curcumin: involvement of serotonin and dopamine system.” Psychopharmacology 201, no. 3 (2008): 435.|
|↑12||Xu, Ying, Baoshan Ku, Lu Tie, Haiyan Yao, Wengao Jiang, Xing Ma, and Xuejun Li. “Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB.” Brain research 1122, no. 1 (2006): 56-64.|
|↑13||Turmeric. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.|