Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common gut condition and affects up to one in five people at some time, often between the ages of 25 to 45 years old. Women are more often affected than men.

While the exact cause is unknown, it is thought to be caused by a combination of factors including abnormal movements of the intestines and altered sensation of the gut. Some people develop IBS following gut infections and food poisoning.

Certain things can trigger attacks for those with IBS and should be avoided. These include stress, eating irregular meals and, in some cases, a lack of dietary fibre.


Abdominal cramps which may be eased by passing wind or passing a motion; bloating and abdominal distension; diarrhoea, constipation, or alternating diarrhoea and constipation; or a feeling of incomplete emptying of the rectum are all common.

Other possible symptoms that aren’t related to the gut include backache, tiredness, headaches, and urinary or gynaecological symptoms.

IBS doesn’t develop into bowel cancer.


Reducing stress and taking time to relax is important which is why hypnotherapy can be useful in relieving the symptoms. RAGPH members have all received specialist training the use of hypnotherapy to treat the condition.

Peppermint oil and antispasmodic medication relieve abdominal pain. Anti-diarrhoea medication will stop diarrhoea. If constipation is a problem then increasing fluid, fibre, activity, as well as taking a gentle laxative may be recommended.

Some people with IBS find that increasing the amount of dietary fibre and reducing caffeine helps.