An introduction to IBS and fatigue
Experiencing low energy levels and, in extreme cases, fatigue, are unfortunately common issues for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferers. Fatigue is described as extreme physical and/or mental exhaustion which can be the result of illness, stress, medication or a combination of these factors.
Why does IBS cause fatigue?
The digestive system, more specifically the small intestine wall, is a major site for absorption of food and nutrients into the body. If this isn’t working properly, consequences result.
For example, if not enough essential vitamins and minerals are absorbed our energy levels will decrease. This is especially so if diarrhoea is present and food does not stay in your gut for any length of time.
In addition to this, our bowel contains billions of ‘good’ bacteria. These produce a number of nutrients, including the B group of vitamins essential for converting our food into energy. If this process is disrupted our energy levels may suffer.
Another possibility may be that ‘bad’ bacteria or pathogens appear unwanted and are absorbed through the gut wall, which can put the immune system under huge pressure, resulting in fatigue. Chronic fatigue syndrome has been known to appear in people after they have suffered from a bacterial or viral infection.
Sleep disturbances are also linked with IBS and sleeping badly can have an impact on energy levels during the day.
What can I try at home for fatigue?
There are a few simple techniques which may help to counteract the feeling of extreme tiredness or fatigue:
- Eat right: Eat a colourful, varied and nutrient packed diet to benefit from as many vitamins and minerals as possible. The B vitamins which support the conversion of food into energy are present in many wholefoods such as fish, legumes and wholegrains
- Get enough sleep: Up to 8 hours sleep per night will give you the best chance of feeling energised the following day. Watch our video on What is good sleep? to gain a better insight
- Exercise: Strange as it may seem, exercise can help combat fatigue. Physical activity encourages increased blood flow, increasing the amount of oxygen and vital nutrients being delivered to the tissues of our body, which assists in the process of energy production.
How can natural remedies help me?
Supporting your digestive system will give you the best chance of absorbing the vitamins and minerals we require to feel energetic.
- Digestive bitters: Use digestive bitters before a meal to support the digestive process – this class of herb stimulates the release of gastric juices and enzymes, helping to ensure adequate breakdown of food in the stomach before reaching the small intestine
- Tormentil: The herb Tormentil may help to relax gut contractions in the case of diarrhoea allowing for an increased absorption of vitamins and minerals
- Molkosan: Finally, take Molkosan daily which works well to create an environment to support the good bacteria in our gut. Beneficial good bacteria, also known as microflora, are able to produce B vitamins in the gut – useful for generating energy
- Balance Mineral Drink: This fatigue-fighting drink contains magnesium, which is vital for energy levels. It also contains potassium, calcium, vitamin D and zinc to support overall health. Read more about Balance Mineral Drink.
How can my doctor help?
If you experience any unexplained bouts of tiredness or fatigue your doctor should investigate it, especially if the symptoms linger or become more persistent. They will be able to run blood tests and other examinations to determine if there is any other explanation for your fatigue. This will be the first step towards finding the right treatment for you.