What Is IBS?

We’ve all been there — the discomfort and inconvenience of an upset stomach can really put a damper on the day. From a questionable meal to a turbulent journey, our digestive system can be easily disrupted.

This vital system plays a crucial role in our overall health, but when it’s not functioning as it should, it can leave us with unpleasant symptoms. Unfortunately, there are several conditions that can interfere with our gastrointestinal tract, but the good news is that there are also ways to alleviate the discomfort and support our digestive health. 

Let’s take a deep dive into how the digestive tract works, how irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) impacts digestion and ways you can help support your digestion naturally. 

What Does the Digestive Tract Do?

The digestive tract is the system within the body responsible for taking the food you eat and breaking it down into components that can be absorbed into the body. It is also responsible for extracting water and minerals from what you drink and incorporating it into the body. 

When your digestive tract operates to the best of its abilities, it can extract nutrients from your food to better fuel your body. 

How Does Digestion Work?

The complete process of digestion takes hours. The whole process begins from the second you take your first bite. Chewing is a form of physical digestion, and an enzyme found in the saliva known as amylase goes to work breaking down carbohydrates. 

Once you swallow, the rhythmic contraction of smooth muscle helps to push the chewed food into the stomach. The stomach produces stomach acid and many digestive enzymes that help continue food breakdown. 

The slow churning and movement of muscles in the stomach also help to further break down food through physical means. After sitting in the stomach, what was once your meal has turned into nutrient-dense mush. 

The stomach then empties into the beginning of the small intestine, known as the jejunum. At the beginning of the small intestines, more digestive enzymes released by the pancreas and liver help the chemical breakdown of macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fats into their component parts. 

It is also in the intestines where most nutrients are absorbed into the body. The small intestines are lined with finger-like projections that increase their surface area to improve digestion. 

As the digested material is moved through the small intestines through the action of smooth muscular contraction known as peristalsis, the material makes contact with the walls of the intestines, where nutrients are taken out and absorbed through the intestinal lining. 

The journey through the small intestines takes quite a bit of time as the material needs to travel many feet through the small intestines. After the small intestines, what is left is pushed into the colon. The colon, also called the large intestines, has a couple of functions. 

One of the most important is that it helps to absorb some of the excess water in what is left. Another function is that it helps to further the breakdown of indigestible molecules by the body itself, thanks to the bacteria that inhabit the colon. These bacteria in the gut are beneficial and help the body to digest food more effectively. 

After the colon, the digested material enters the rectum, where it remains until you have a bowel movement. This complete process takes many hours, and by the end of it, your body has obtained enough energy and nutrients to sustain the cells within your body. 

What Is IBS?

IBS, better known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), is a chronic functional disorder of the digestive tract. Unlike other gastrointestinal disorders like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease and Gastroenteritis, IBS is not typically associated with digestive tract inflammation. 

The exact cause of IBS varies from person to person, and below is a closer look at everything you should know about IBS, including common symptoms, types, causes and treatments. 

What Are the Symptoms of IBS?

IBS is something that affects a large number of people. Currently, it is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of the adult U.S. population suffers from IBS. It is also more common in women than men. 

Some general symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, colon spasms, bloating, stomach cramping, excessive flatulence and an overall decline in quality of life. 

Living with IBS can be incredibly challenging, as the seemingly small symptoms can have a significant impact on your daily life. Dealing with constant abdominal pain and discomfort can make it difficult to stay focused and present throughout the day. 

Left unaddressed, these symptoms can escalate and seriously affect your mental and emotional wellbeing. It’s important to acknowledge the impact of IBS and take proactive steps to manage its symptoms. 

What Are the Types of IBS?

The symptoms of IBS also depend on the specific type of IBS you are dealing with. There are three main types of IBS which include:

  • IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant)
  • IBS-C (constipation-predominant)
  • IBS-M (mixed)

As the descriptions allude, the types of IBS are differentiated based on the specific changes to your stool. 

IBS-C is characterized by changes in bowel habits that back up the GI tract. With IBS-C, people are likely to experience less frequent bowel movements that are more difficult to pass. Constipation is also likely to be a contributing factor to abdominal discomfort and a feeling of bloat. 

IBS-D is characterized by more frequent bowel habits that are loose and watery when passed. IBS-D can make bowel movements more frequent but can also cause you more urgency to pass, which can significantly impact your day if you can’t be too far from a toilet at any given time. Secondly, IBS-D causes your body to lose more water than normal during bowel movements. If you don’t drink more water to counteract this, it could contribute to dehydration. 

IBS-M is less common than the other types of IBS and is characterized by alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea. IBS-M can be extremely difficult to manage since treating either constipation or diarrhea could be futile if you start experiencing the other when trying to treat what you are currently experiencing. 

What Are The Causes of IBS?

IBS is a condition that doesn’t have one specific cause, and the exact cause varies from one case of IBS to the next. Family history, food sensitivities or intolerance and recent gastrointestinal infection may all increase the likelihood of developing IBS but are not definitive causes of IBS. 

Some of the most common causes of IBS include a spastic colon, bacterial overgrowth, consuming foods you can’t digest, excessive fermentation in the colon, infection and a faulty brain-gut connection. 

How Is IBS Treated?

Over-the-counter medications like laxatives, antispasmodics and peppermint oil may relieve symptoms, but even after this, some people need more help. If IBS symptoms persist after at-home solutions or cause considerable disruption to your day-to-day, you may get a prescription. 

A healthcare provider may prescribe antidepressants or antispasmodics to help with IBS due to motility issues, and in cases of post-infectious IBS, antibiotics or probiotics may help. They may also ask for a blood test to check for anemia and any other deficiencies that may be present. 

You should see a healthcare provider if you experience rectal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, unexplained vomiting and long-lasting and consistent abdominal pain. A medical evaluation from a gastroenterologist can help rule out any other GI condition, such as colon cancer, which can be life-threatening. 

Natural Ways To Support Digestion

IBS is a chronic condition with no definitive cure, but there are several ways you can support healthy digestion through natural and at-home means and attain some level of relief when IBS strikes. 

Let’s explore a few fantastic methods to support your digestion, which can be a complementary way of managing IBS and its symptoms. 

Supplements To Help Ease Discomfort

One of the most significant aspects of IBS that impacts your quality of life is the abdominal discomfort, excessive gas and digestive spasm associated with IBS. Addressing these symptoms is imperative to getting your life back on track, and JSHealth’s IBS Relief + does just that with an ingredient shown to help soothe the GI tract, peppermint oil. 

Peppermint oil is naturally occurring and contains a molecule known as menthol, which is known for its calming and analgesic properties. Menthol is commonly used in topical discomfort relief but can also have these same properties within your digestive tract. 

A meta-analysis that looked at many clinical trials found that peppermint oil had a significant impact on short-term relief from IBS symptoms. While by no means a long-term fix for IBS, these supplements could provide you with some relief to get through your day when IBS strikes. 

Another naturally derived supplement that may provide some relief to bloating is the JSHealth Detox + Debloat Formula. This formulation contains many naturally derived ingredients that are commonly utilized in homeopathic practices to help support digestion and alleviate things like bloating. 

Supplements To Support Digestion

Easing symptoms is one aspect of managing IBS through complementary means. Still, it is also important to support overall digestion to make your digestive tract more resilient and support its overall health. 

Probiotic + from JSHealth is a great way to support the microbiome of bacteria that inhabit your bowels. These microbes tend to live in harmony with the body, but an imbalance of certain bacteria can cause problems. Probiotic + contains a blend of many lactobacillus bacteria and bifidobacterium that are associated with a healthy gut microbiome. 

Another fantastic supplement is the Skin + Digestion Formula which contains a blend of natural ingredients like turmeric with minerals and vitamins that aim to support both the integumentary and digestive systems. Nutrients like Vitamin B5, Vitamin C and zinc play important roles in digestion and metabolism, and this specially formulated dietary supplement contains just that. 

Get Psychological Support

IBS is a chronic, incurable condition that can significantly impact your mental health. Having a poor outlook and being in a generally negative headspace can exacerbate the symptoms of IBS and contribute to a less-than-stellar quality of life. 

Many complementary treatments from mental health professionals can help you manage chronic conditions. These treatment options include psychological therapy, behavioral therapy and even hypnotherapy. 

These treatments can be invaluable to those with IBS to get into a better headspace and help them to make positive lifestyle changes like positive dietary changes that may help to reduce the occurrence of IBS flare-ups. 

Avoid Triggers and Food Sensitivities

One of the leading causes of IBS is that people eat foods their body is intolerant or sensitive to. Things like gluten intolerance and lactose intolerance make it more difficult for foods containing these molecules to break down in the GI tract, which can contribute to IBS. 

Taking the time to make a food journal to find out which foods exacerbate IBS can help you lessen the bouts of IBS. 

Follow the Low FODMAP Diet

FODMAP is an acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These molecules are found in many foods, and certain individuals may find that they have increased bouts of bloating and other symptoms of IBS after consuming them. 

The low-FODMAP diet aims to reduce the amount of FODMAPS you consume by limiting the foods that contain the highest concentration.


In summary, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a functional disorder of the bowel that can cause a number of GI symptoms, including bloating, excessive gas, abdominal pain and changes in stool, which can all negatively impact your quality of life. 

IBS treatment and its exact cause are different for each case but typically involve a multidisciplinary approach that utilizes both medical treatment and changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits. 

If you are looking for ways to support your digestion, look at the supplement offerings from JSHealth. You can't go wrong with probiotics, IBS relief supplements, and dietary supplements tailored to support your metabolism. 


Your Digestive System & How it Works | NIH.gov | National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome | American College of Gastroenterology.

Peppermint oil for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis | NCIB

An approach to the care of patients with irritable bowel syndrome | NCBI