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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterised by chronic abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel motions such as constipation, diarrhea, or both. The exact causes of IBS are still not fully understood, but it is believed that dysbiosis, an imbalance in the gut microbiome may play a crucial role in its development.

What is dysbiosis?

Dysbiosis refers to an imbalance in the composition of the gut microbiome, typically seeing an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria and/or a low level of beneficial bacteria. The gut microbiome plays a critical role in maintaining gut health.

What causes dysbiosis?

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of dysbiosis, including:

  • Antibiotic use. Antibiotic can disrupt the balance of the microbiome as they can eradicate both harmful and beneficial bacteria in the gut.

  • Poor diet: A diet high in processed foods, sugar and alcohol and low levels of fruit, vegetables and fibre.

  • Stress

  • Infections/parasites

What is the connection between IBS and dysbiosis?

Several studies have found that patients with IBS have an altered gut microbiome compared to healthy individuals. They have a lower diversity of gut bacteria, with a decrease in beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus species and an increase in pathogenic bacteria. This dysbiosis can lead to the production of metabolites such as histamine, LPS, methane and sulphur, which can drive inflammation and lead to symptoms such as changeable bowel motions, bloating, gas, and abdominal pain.

Furthermore, dysbiosis can also affect the gut-brain axis, the complex communication network between the gut and the brain. The gut microbiome plays a key role in producing the neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA, which play a crucial role in regulating our mood. Due to this dysbiosis can disrupt this communication, leading to changes in mood and worsening of IBS symptoms.

How can I treat my IBS?

Treatment for IBS typically involves a variety of therapeutic factors often involving dietary modifications, herbal and nutritional supplements and strain-specific probiotics, however it is important to note that the development of dysbiosis can be complex and may involve multiple factors. Working with a practitioner is recommended to be able to develop targeted and individual therapies. Your practitioner may also suggest additional comprehensive gut testing such as a stool test of SIBO breath test to determine the specific underlying drivers of your IBS.

Jess is a degree qualified Naturopath who specialises in treating digestive conditions such as IBS, SIBO and IBD. Jess see's patients face to face and online. To book your consultation with Jess click HERE


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