What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Maybe Early Trauma - Continued

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
October 11, 2016

An earlier study at UCLA documented that IBS patients are more likely to have suffered childhood trauma — including physical punishment, seeing violence, mental illness in the family, being forced to have sex or touch someone’s genitals. Emotional abuse was the strongest predictor of IBS. Don’t assume, however, that everyone with IBS is an abuse survivor.  

Insight into irritable bowel syndrome treatment?

The research distinguishing subgroups could make a difference in irritable bowel syndrome treatment. One day, a gut microbe analysis may be a routine screening test. Based on the results, doctors may be able to recommend diets and supplements. The tests may also identify which patients could benefit most from meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, or drugs — helping them handle the changes in the brain that may have arisen from early trauma. As research on how to treat IBS develops, we also may learn which drugs best target the affected brain processing areas.

What if you’re facing symptoms today?

See your doctor to confirm you have irritable bowel syndrome, rule out other conditions, and receive treatment recommendations.

For self-care, consider peppermint capsules, the FODMAP diet, eating more fiber, medications, hypnotherapy for your gut, relaxation techniques, and therapy to address emotional issues or a history of trauma and possible triggers to symptoms.

If you feel that your childhood set you on the path now causing symptoms as an adult, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed. This awareness is an opportunity.


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March 25, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA