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Chiropractic Care and IBS

help-and-support-signpostAs Chiropractors, we’re known for treating things like headaches, back pain, or sciatica, but what about digestive issues?  Chiropractic care can be useful in treating temperamental tummies.

Have you ever heard of the gut- brain connection? Think of it this way. As we all know, the brain is at the helm of the body’s nervous system. The spine emerges from the brain and 36 sets of nerves branch out from the spine going to different muscles and organs of the body, including the esophagus, stomach, and large and small intestine. Therefore, a misalignment of the spine can directly affect digestive health. Chiropractic adjustments can restore balance to a stressed digestive system.

IBS is one of those acronyms we keep hearing more and more often these days. It’s in the news, in magazines, and a topic on afternoon TV shows like Dr. Oz.  But WHAT is it? IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and it’s a functional disorder of the large intestine. IBS affects 10- 15 % of the population worldwide, 2 out of 3 sufferers are women, and it’s the most common gastrointestinal complaint. There is no one single cause for IBS and the root of the syndrome is still unknown.  For a long time, IBS was treated as a psychosomatic illness and patients had to learn to live with the disease. As any IBS sufferer will tell you, living with the syndrome can mean avoiding certain foods, living with bloat and gas, and always knowing where the nearest bathroom is. A 2016 article in The Atlantic in which the author was writing about her personal experience with IBS, she stated: “It seems that my whole life is dominated by my bowel to the extent that some days I’m afraid to leave the house”.


  • Abdominal pain
  • Altered bowel function, constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Flatulence
  • Nausea
  • Bowel urgency
  • Anxiety
  • Depression


If you’ve received a diagnosis of IBS, the good news is there are steps you can take in order to mitigate symptoms and better control the disease. Many people find it very helpful to keep a detailed food journal. It may seem tedious, but journaling can help you see connections between the foods you eat and gastrointestinal symptoms. Research studies have shown a link between food intolerances and IBS. Common instigators are coffee, alcohol, hot spices, fatty foods, and high carbohydrate foods. Eliminating problem foods from the diet can drastically improve symptoms.

Stress can also be a factor for IBS sufferers. Stress, mental or physical, is known to increase intestinal motility (muscular contractions of the intestines) in animal and human test subjects.  According to a University of North Carolina research article, when rats are exposed to stressful events, researchers see abnormal motility patterns. In essence, as a defense mechanism, the stomach delays emptying and the intestines speed up elimination. Therefore, therapies that work to mitigate stress can markedly reduce symptom frequency and severity. Counseling, hypnosis, meditation, biofeedback, and chiropractic care can be useful for treating IBS.

We’d love to see you at our clinic in SW Portland for headaches, back pain, and sciatica. And, we’d also love to see you for gastrointestinal issues. Chiropractic adjustments can greatly enhance an integrative approach to treating IBS.

By: Jodi Franken, NC

McGovern, A. (2016). What It’s Like to Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The Atlantic. Retrieved from:

Murray, M. & Pizzorno, J. (2012). The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. New York, NY. Atria.

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