IBS and nausea
The first thing to note about IBS is that the condition does not amount to a definitive set of symptoms that every sufferer will experience. Instead it can be described as a ‘syndrome’ meaning there are a whole heap of symptoms associated with it, of which people experience only a small selection. Sometimes this will include nausea but other times it will not.
If you feel nauseous it doesn’t mean you necessarily have IBS
If you don’t feel nauseous then it doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have IBS
It’s not a black and white issue.
The second thing to make clear is that there are more things that can cause IBS than there are symptoms. Lots of different things work together to mess up an individual’s digestion therefore, working out what’s causing your symptoms can be a big part of improving them.
Causes of nausea with IBS
So, how can having an irritable bowel make you feel sick?
If you have ruled out the obvious reasons for feeling sick such as pregnancy, the winter vomiting bug, or just having eaten all the cake left over from your child’s birthday party… then it’s time to look for clues.
Here are some of the possible causes:
- Low blood sugar
- Food intolerances
- Overfilling the stomach
- The liver struggling to cope with fatty, fried food
- The liver struggling to cope with rich, creamy food
- Constipation causing an overload on the liver
You’ll notice that quite a few of these things involve the liver, and this isn’t surprising when you realise that an upset liver is a key cause of nausea.
Nausea in the morning
If you feel sick when you wake up (and you are definitely not pregnant or suffering from a hangover) then it is often low blood sugar that is driving your system to despair.
It might not seem logical that just when you need to eat to push up your blood sugar levels, that’s the last thing you feel like doing. It’s a bit of a design flaw, don’t you think? However, when blood sugar falls too low your body starts to make use of its emergency stores of energy. Although this will allow you to continue without eating in the short run, as time goes by it’ll make you feel increasingly nauseous.
Have you experienced this? You get up feeling sick, manage a cup of coffee, get to work and finally muster the stomach for a chocolate bar or two about mid-morning?
Well, it probably comes as no surprise when I say there are better ways of coping.
What can I do?
- As soon as you can, slowly drink a small amount of warm water with a slice of lemon or ginger. Follow this with a sip of fruit juice however, make sure it’s the pure stuff rather than anything that has lots of added sugar and artificial sweeteners. This slips down easily on top of water and the natural sugars in it are easily absorbed which will help to bring up your blood sugars gently.
- Next up try a little mashed banana or stewed fruit with a dusting of cinnamon as this is very good for stabilising blood sugar levels. This will allow you to get off to work or tackle the morning chores without sickness interfering. Also, as your blood sugar rises your appetite should reappear too.
Before a bowel movement
Many people report feeling queasy before having a poo but there are two major variations here.
- Feeling queasy for a while and then feeling better after experiencing movement in the bowel.
Movement in the bowel stirs up waste in the large intestine before getting rid of it completely. The liver helps in this process by producing bile which enters the small intestine then triggers the muscular action that propels wastes through the large intestine and out. As previously noted, liver activity can cause nausea, especially if the liver is a little overladen which can be the case if digestion is weak or the bowel is slow to move. Therefore, the more regular and brisk your bowel functions are, the less likely this is to happen.
- Experiencing pain just before and during (and sometimes after) having a bowel movement to the point that it makes you feel quite weak and sickly.
This occurs when nerve endings in your large intestine react a little hysterically to the muscular contraction that ripples through the gut to shunt waste along. Also, sometimes it occurs when the muscles experience spasms rather than contracting and releasing as they should.
Nerve endings become over-sensitive if there is any inflammation in your gut and muscles spasms arise when there is insufficient magnesium in your system.
What can I do?
- You can calm inflammation with Silicol®gel, just take half an hour before meals in a large glass of water. This product contains silicic acid which is a compound of the mineral substance silicon and oxygen in a colloidal (highly dispersible) and hydrated form. It has the ability to bind to a variety of harmful and toxic substances, including pathogens, and can help reduce the symptoms of IBS.
- To support magnesium levels I’d recommend turning to a liquid supplement such as Floradix which is easily absorbed by the body. On top of this try to focus on including more magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as green vegetables and dried fruit.
If you feel sick after eating then it may just be that your stomach can’t cope with the amount of food you have put into it.
Here’s an interesting thing to note - if your digestion is poor then it will not break down foods efficiently. This means that not only will your body fail to benefit from the nutrients these foods contain, your body will continue to feel hungry too.
What can I do?
- Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly is a great way to ensure that your body benefits from the food you’re eating, plus it switches off the hunger message.
- Do you ever wonder if your legs are actually hollow, as you pile in large quantities of food and never seem satisfied? Try having one meal where you chew each mouthful at least twenty times, yes twenty, and see if you still feel as hungry afterwards.
Another easy way to overload your stomach is to drink with your meal so ban the drinks (even water) during and just after meals and see if your stomach feels more comfortable.
If the amount that you are putting in is fine, it may be that the content of the food you are eating that is the issue.
The liver finds it hard to plough its way through very fatty foods, foods full of cream, rich cheeses, or buttery sauces and pastries.
Imagine a dish that you have used to roast a particularly succulent piece of chicken. This is inches deep in grease so you fill the washing up bowl with hot water and empty the washing up liquid into it. Your digestive system does the same – heats up the small intestine as the fatty food enters, and pours bile from the liver to emulsify the fats. Without the bile you’d be as unable to break down the fats in food, just as you would be unable to cleanse the grease from your roasting dish without washing up liquid.
What can I do?
- To help here you could try using Digestisan tincture before meals, whilst gradually pruning away the fattiest foods in your diet.
- Also, consider cutting out common culprits for food intolerances such as dairy products, whilst swapping to the many dairy-free alternatives available, to see if you and your gut feel better.
Whilst many people may wish that their appetite was substantially less, it’s unnerving when you don’t fancy your food, especially if you feel sick at the same time. The problem with not eating is that it lowers your blood sugar levels and this makes you feel sick – I’m sure you can appreciate the viciousness of this circle.
If you have consistently been feeling sick for more than a week, it’s sensible to consult your doctor to see if there is an undiagnosed cause for the problem.
If you are stressed then this will also switch off your digestion and can either kill your appetite in or cause on-going hunger – it’s an individual thing.
What can I do?
- If you’ve been ill and you haven’t fancied your food for a while then taking Silicol®gel can soothe and ease your stomach so that you feel more able to face a meal. Start small and warm – don’t try to munch down a salad at this point. Warm food is easier to digest and something like a comforting vegetable soup will do you good. Another option is to try a baked sweet potato with a little olive or coconut oil and a sprinkle of Herbamare.
- Stress Relief Daytime contains a mix of Valerian and Hops which helps to ease mild stress and anxiety.
Originally published 21 December 2015 (updated on 5 October 2018)