Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

5 Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects an estimated 20 to 30 percent of the U.S. population. Although women are two times more likely than men to seek treatment for IBS, it is thought that men and women are affected in equal numbers. It is the most common reason for a referral to a gastroenterologist. IBS is characterized by a malfunction in the digestive tract.

There are really five main fundamental causes of IBS.

The modern-day, fast-food diet is definitely one of them. Refined foods that are hard to digest contribute to many symptoms of poor digestion. Second, poor stress-coping mechanisms trigger nervous system reactions that contribute to IBS. Unresolved emotional traumas can have this negative effect as well. Third, chronic infections of the digestive tract with fungi, parasites, and bacteria can be causative factors. Fourth, poorly functioning digestive organs contribute to IBS symptoms. These include dysbiosis, where there is a deficiency of the good bacteria that are involved with digestion and detoxification. The fifth cause, and the least common, of irritable bowel syndrome, is a structural abnormality of some type. Spinal misalignments, for example, impair nerve flow to the digestive tract, which contributes to digestive problems.


Symptoms of IBS can include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation, and/or diarrhea. It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for IBS, as each individual’s symptoms and underlying causes can differ.

If you suspect you may have IBS, it is important to seek medical advice to rule out other underlying conditions. Once diagnosed with IBS, it is possible to treat the condition and alleviate symptoms through a variety of integrative medicine approaches.


As mentioned earlier, a diet high in refined and processed foods can contribute to IBS symptoms. It is important to consume whole, unprocessed foods rich in fiber and nutrients to support healthy digestion. In some cases, avoiding certain trigger foods, such as dairy or gluten, can help reduce symptoms.


Stress is a common trigger for IBS symptoms. Incorporating stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation, can help reduce symptoms and improve overall well-being.


The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in digestive health. Supporting the gut microbiome with probiotics and prebiotics can help balance the good bacteria in the gut, improving digestion and reducing symptoms.


Toxins and environmental pollutants can negatively impact digestive health. Supporting the body’s natural detoxification processes through proper hydration, exercise, and supplementation can help reduce symptoms of IBS.


As mentioned earlier, structural abnormalities, such as spinal misalignments, can contribute to IBS symptoms. Working with a chiropractor or other structural integrative practitioner can help address these issues and improve nerve flow to the digestive tract.

IBS is a common condition affecting many individuals. However, with a proper diagnosis and integrative medicine approach, it is possible to treat and alleviate symptoms. By addressing the root causes of IBS through diet, stress management, gut microbiome support, detoxification, and structural integration, individuals can experience relief from their symptoms and improve their overall digestive health.