Irritable Bowel Syndrome is defined as a functional disorder, meaning that under inspection usually through medical tests like a colonoscopy, nothing appears or looks to be wrong. Even though this is the case, the body still isn’t functioning as it should. While it is useful and often a relief for patients to know that there is nothing big and sinister going on, it still doesn’t provide any answers for why this level of imbalance is present.

  • For people who have IBS, they may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
  • Constipation, diarrhoea or maybe a combination of both
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Bloating and distension (the feeling of a band or something tight around your stomach)
  • Mucus or undigested foods in your movements
  • Excessive gas or flatulence
  • Urgency or pain associated with bowel movements

Many of Rebecca’s patients who are diagnosed with IBS are often told that it is just something that they need to ‘live with’. Her experience as a naturopath and nutritionist has shown that this isn’t the case! Rebecca has been able work with hundreds of IBS patients in helping them live an IBS-free life.

IBS – How a Naturopath can help

Rebecca has identified 5 key drivers behind the development of IBS.


The lingering effects of food poisoning or a sickness you picked up on a trip to Bali, Asia, Mexico or the Middle East may be one of the main drivers behind IBS. You may have also picked up another bug that has remained silent within your body for a long period of time and due to the stressors of life or a few bad food choices, this bug has started becoming more active.

There are many different types of bugs that can continue to live within your gut even after you have stopped with the vomiting and diarrhoea. This initial infection can create an imbalance in your microflora (the bugs that live withing your digestive system) and it can get progressively worse over time. For many people, they are able to recall a time of getting sick, where they have never been quite well since. Another thing that can lead to a persistent gut infection is the use of ‘Gastro stop’ type medications. While these drugs can seem useful in the short term, unfortunately the ways that they work is by paralyzing the bowel. As a result, the bug your body is trying to flush out ends up setting itself up within your gut and contributes to the development of IBS like symptoms.

Naturopaths are able to use specialised combinations of herbal medicines and nutrients to help kill this infection. The types you need will vary depending on the type of bug you have, where it is located and how long it has been living in your body for.

Food Intolerances

The foods we eat are made up of thousands of different chemicals that come into direct contact with our digestive tract and the bacteria that live there. If you are eating something that isn’t agreeing with your body or your digestive bacteria, your body may try to get rid of this as quickly as possible (e.g. you might notice cramping and diarrhoea). Sometimes though, the food that you are reacting to ‘stuns’ your body and this can lead to constipation and bloating. To add another layer of complexity, food intolerances can present as both immediate and/or delayed presentations. And sometimes, you might be having a reaction to something that is really healthy. Confusing right?

Rebecca will work with you to untangle the maze of potential food intolerances and to work out if they are in fact, an issue for you at all. Sometimes even though you are ‘reacting’ to foods, it is more to do with the balance of bacteria and the health of your digestive tract/system and not really an issue with the food you are eating at all. In her work as a digestive health naturopath, Rebecca has had lots of experience with this so she will guide you through it.

Poor diet (eg: lack of fibre)

This is different to food intolerances. IBS can be triggered by the consumption lots of ‘sometimes foods’ that have started to make their way into your version of normal eating. We might need to do a ‘clean up’ of the food you are putting into your body and the nutrient balance (or lack there of) that you are currently consuming. It’s also important to take into account how your body is processing this food. A little slip up here and there shouldn’t create too much bother if everything else is in balance. We will look at all of this as part of your treatment plan.


To a naturopath, your gut is often referred of as your second brain. Stress affects the ability of your digestive system to work well and a poorly functioning digestive system affects the way that we handle stress. This can often become a vicious cycle and unless it is treated, things just keep getting worse.

In some cases, the management of IBS has nothing to do with treating the gut (as such) and everything to do with managing your resilience and adaptablity to stress and the curved balls we get thrown.

Certain types of medications or response to medications.

There are a number of commonly consumed medications that can impact the way our digestive system functions. Antibiotics, contraceptives like the Pill, steroids, pain medications, cholesterol medications and others can alter the balance of our body. While you should never cease your prescribed medications without first having a conversation with your doctor, naturopathy can support your body to process these medications a little better so that the side effects aren’t as noticeable. Sometimes we need to repair you body after you have had a course of medication. Rebecca will work with you naturopathically and nutritionally to restore this balance.

In some instances, it is a combination of some or all of these. Learning which of these drivers are at play in your IBS picture and how to manage them can provide life-long relief from IBS. In your naturopathic consultation, Rebecca will work with you to identify how these drivers are affecting you specifically and come up with a plan that will help you eliminate the signs and symptoms of IBS.