There are so many supplements marketed for IBS. It can be hard to know what to trust and what to avoid.
In this article I am going to go over the supplements I advise clients to use for their IBS. These supplements have all been proven by science to work!
Table of Contents
How To Take Supplements
Although it can be tempting to just take all of them, please do not!
Supplements need to be taken 1 at a time. It is important to do this with IBS supplements to avoid ending up on multiple products without knowing which ones are helping and which are not.
If you just take lots of supplements at once, you will have no idea what has or has not worked. This will lead you to waste time and money.
With IBS supplements, it is also important to take the stated dose on the packet. This is based on the dose which has been proven to work in research.
Peppermint Oil Capsules
Peppermint oil capsules are a great natural supplement which will help you with your IBS.
Taking these capsules have been proven to help overall IBS symptoms and IBS stomach pain (1).
Although other forms of peppermint are unlikely to do you harm, they have not been proven to work. This is why it is important to take the capsules.
WARNING: peppermint is a known trigger for acid reflux so please avoid these if you suffer with this.
Whilst nausea isn’t considered a common symptom of IBS, it is often an issue for sufferers (2).
Ginger is a great natural remedy that has been scientifically proven to help nausea (3).
Psyllium husk is a fibre supplement which can help IBS without flaring symptoms.
Psyllium is a non-fermenting type of fibre which adds bulk to the stools. This means it can help with both constipation and diarrhoea.
- 1 teaspoon = 3 g of fibre.
You can add the husk to any fluid such as yoghurt at breakfast or a smoothie.
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid. You may be pleased to know that glutamine supplements have recently been proven to help with IBS-diarrhoea type.
The research shows that glutamine helps people who have post-infective IBS diarrhoea (4). It is thought that glutamine does this by targeting gut permeability.
Probiotics are a supplement which I am sure you have heard of. You may even have tried them!
Probiotics are live bacteria which we eat for a health benefit. We know that people who have IBS have different levels of gut bacteria in comparison to those who do not have the condition.
There are multiple studies showing the benefits of probiotics in IBS. Please make sure you are careful to use the ones which have been specifically shown to improve symptoms.
We know that randomly taking probiotics will not work. Their effect is ‘strain specific’ so it is important that you take one which has been scientifically proven to work in IBS.
Digestive Enzymes For IBS
Part of IBS can be related to food intolerances caused by enzyme insufficiency. This means your body does not make enough enzymes to break down certain foods.
You may find digestive enzymes can be helpful for your IBS in the following circumstances;
- Intolerance to lactose
- To change regular milk into low FODMAP milk
- Intolerances to galacto-oligosaccharides (a type of FODMAP)
I do not recommend that you trial mixed type enzyme as these have been proven not to work.
There are several natural supplements now available to help your IBS. Each one has been scientifically proven to help your symptoms.
Just be careful to pick the ones that match your problem.
What supplements have you tried? Comment below.
Kirsten Jackson is a UK registered Consultant Gastroenterology Dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She has undergone many qualifications to get where she is today, including a UK BSc Honours Degree in Dietetics and Post-Graduate Certificate in Advanced Dietetics. In addition to this, she has FODMAP Training from Kings College London University. Kirsten set up The Food Treatment Clinic in 2015 after first experiencing digestive problems herself. She felt that the NHS was unable to provide the support individuals needed and went on to specialise in this area before opening a bespoke IBS service. Kirsten also participates in charity work as an Expert Advisor for the IBS Network. In addition, she can be seen in publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Telegraph discussing IBS as an Official Media Spokesperson to the IBS Network.