While Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the name given to longstanding symptoms consisting of frequent abdominal discomfort and bowel disturbances that any other disease cannot explain, a doctor should always diagnose IBS.

Please do not attempt to diagnose yourself or with the help of (as much as we love it) Google!

Don’t hesitate to see your GP; they will carry out a careful history to identify any Red Flag symptoms and refer you for any test that they consider necessary.

When I first speak to you on the phone (and if IBS is your concern), I will ask if you have

received a diagnosis from the GP or consultants? This will let me know that you have been

investigated for all serious abdominal complaints, and I am safe to treat you. 

If, when we speak, you let me know you have not yet discussed your symptoms with your

GP, I will ask you to via them before coming forward for a Colonic.

IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion; there is not test or marker that is specific for IBS.

Your doctor’s priority is to ensure you haven’t got a life-threatening treatable condition such

as Coeliac Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s Disease, or Ulcerative Colitis). Any disease that affects the bowels can cause symptoms that are identical to IBS.  

Frequent symptoms such as Bloating, explosive diarrhoea, constantly feeling over full,

constipation, incomplete bowel movements, excessive aggressive wind, spasm and

cramping are very obvious, but if you are also experiencing or have been feeling: -

Recent weight loss, whilst for most of us we would be happy with this.

However, if you have lost more than half a stone (3kg) with no changes in your diet or

lifestyle and you’re not actively trying, then you should check this with your doctor.

Blood in the stools or from the rectum.

Although in many cases, rectal bleeding is caused by haemorrhoids (piles) which often develop in people with IBS;

  • Regular blood loss from the rectum should never be ignored as it could be a symptom of colitis or cancer.

  • Constant fever and a general feeling of discomfort (attacks of sweating, shivering and

  • tiredness)

  • A persistent unexplained change in bowel habit for no apparent reason (diet, stress or

  • medication) is essential in somebody over 50 years of age.

  • A family history of bowel or ovarian cancer.

  • You need to consult with your GP immediately; please don’t sit on problems…The GP will be

  • more than happy to see you and arrange for samples to be taken.

  • Some of the tests carried out on blood or stool samples are.

  • Haemoglobin (for anaemia).

  • White cell count, c-reactive (for infection or inflammation).

  • Tissue transglutaminase antibodies, anti-glial in antibodies (for Coeliac Disease).

  • Faecal calprotectin (for inflammatory Bowel Disease).

  • Faecal Occult Blood (for Bowel Cancer).

When all these come back as negative, then you may be advised you have IBS. Should you

have a positive result; your GP will send you for further scans and colonoscopy.

Even if you have been diagnosed with IBS, if your symptoms change, then you should seek

further medical advice.

This has been documented as a 20th-century problem and one that can cause a lot of distress and disruption in day-to-day life. I have noticed that there is a lot of confusion about what exactly it is over my years in practice.

We are all unique individuals, and only we truly know our own bodies. Therefore, it’s essential that if you have any new, changing or long-standing undiagnosed bowel concerns, you need to get them checked out by your doctor.

I hope I can address some of its mystery in this and future blogs. Our understanding and what we can do to support this problem is constantly changing, so this information is correct at the time of publication.

So, first things first.... What is IBS?

“Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the title given to a collection of long-standing symptoms consisting of frequent abdominal discomfort, pains linked to the bowel and lower abdomen that any other disease cannot explain.” The IBS Network.

Everyone experiences some bowel or tummy symptoms from time to time. The day we overate pizza and fizzy pop or the day we ate just a few too many roast potatoes with that extra glass of wine! But symptoms that start to impact your life like Bloating, explosive diarrhoea, constantly feeling over full, constipation, incomplete bowel movements, excessive aggressive wind, spasm and cramping, to name just a few. Work and home life can be busy and stressful.

Folk who suffer from IBS can get these symptoms frequently and severely. These symptoms can make life stand still. It disrupts day to day life. They start to fear eating out for fear of being caught short while away from home or dare not eat out for fear of excessive gas or bloating.

Throughout my years in practice, I’ve worked with clients suffering from every possible symptom of IBS. Clients have felt that colonics help and supports their control and maintenance of their symptoms.

In addition to the bowel and tummy pains, there are many other symptoms that are not spoken of so much. These include: - Tiredness, Nausea, Heartburn & ingestion, Backache, needing to pee frequently, Headaches, Muscle pains, Anxiety, Depression, Ringing in the ears.

There is no definitive cause for IBS, although some triggers have been identified. Everyone can suffer from IBS. It can occur at any stage in life. It does, however, have some common threads; it is more frequently diagnosed in young adults. Symptoms can come and go.

It is associated with emotional tension, often triggered by an attack of food poisoning or Gastroenteritis. Symptoms can be triggered by life & routine changes, difficult life situations and stressful life events. Stressful working conditions and antisocial hours are also prominent candidates for exasperating the symptoms.

There is a thought that IBS symptoms can manifest following an attack of Gastroenteritis (food poisoning), with about 10% of folk going on to develop IBS symptoms. It is more likely in folk who are anxious, depressed or experiencing complex life changes and situations when they were unwell with Gastroenteritis.

A course of or long-term use of antibiotics to treat life-threatening infections can seriously deplete the colonic microbiome (the bacteria that population the colon). This may increase the permeability of the intestine and therefore stimulate the immune system to make the bowel more sensitive and reactive.

There are also reports that folk who have been through a series of significant traumatic, upsetting event/s suffer heightened symptoms.

Despite being a very small word, stress is something that most people say they don’t suffer with... stress can wreak havoc. We are all very good at hiding it and saying “no, I’m fine” when in fact, our worlds are falling apart. I draw the thought that the swan that swims beautifully through the water, but and it’s an enormous BUT, it is paddling like hell underneath!

Stress can increase bowel sensitivity. It’s always important to look into your life and ask yourself what has happened in the preceding days and week that could contribute to an attack or flare-up of symptoms.

Trauma goes to the gut! Fight and flight. Please have a read through the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system post. If the trauma is not easily resolved, the memory of what has happened can linger on as IBS symptoms.

Having a soothing, relaxing colonic have been found to be very supportive to work with the symptoms of IBS.

One of the most discussed subjects in practice involves the painful and disruptive effects of trapped gas in the bowel and the excessive releasing of ghastly embarrassing gas.

I am going to have to take a walk through some physics and anatomy & physiology to explain this one! Perhaps a cup of tea would be a good idea for this blog!

Your bowel is the last part of a muscular tube that makes up the digestive tract (gut). The digestive tract is around 9 meters long, and the last (approx.) 1 ½ metres is the bowel. This is also called the large intestine, large bowel, or colon.

The bowel is porous and absorbs water and water-soluble nutrients. As this water is absorbed, the insoluble residue, which includes lots of bacteria, forms into solids (poop).

These solids should be soft enough to pass out of your bottom comfortably, easily and without straining.

When this process is disrupted for any reason, the first thing that happens is water is overly absorbed from the insoluble waste, and the insoluble waste matter dries out.

Your brain/bowel doesn’t recognise that this waste is already drier than it should be; your bowel just keeps drawing water off. The result is that the waste matter gets drier and drier and then harder and harder. This matter forms into round balls due to the tubular shape of your bowel. These are uncomfortable and hard to squeeze out when you go to the toilet; they just do not travel to the exit easily.

Lots of bacteria populate this fibrous matter, and when you put large amounts of fibre in a warm, dark environment, add in some sugars and bacteria, you pretty much turn in to a very efficient compost machine. This creates lots of gas which can only be excreted through your bottom.

Depending on what you have eaten and how long it’s been hanging around in your bowel will depend on what it will smell like. Add into the mix various levels of anxiety, which stimulates adrenaline, and things can get very smelly and sometimes downright offensive and embarrassing.

Now to the physics, I have broken this down to give an overview of what you might feel and identify with, following your personal bowel experiences.


Solids take up a finite amount of space; this means they do not expand.

Insoluble waste matter contains lots of water as it passes into your bowel. As it travels along the bowel, excess water is absorbed back into the body.

Drawing too much water from waste that is congested from the insoluble waste in your bowel forms into hard solid pellets.

But, solids don’t expand in size, so when they are moving through your bowel, although it may make you feel full and uncomfortable, they don’t really cause too much trouble until you try and pass them out of your bottom.


Like solids, liquid also takes up a finite amount of space, but liquid molecules like to lie as flat as possible. For example, a litre of water only ever takes up the same amount of space, whether it’s in a glass or a saucepan. The liquid in your bowel does not really feel uncomfortable, and we are not really aware of it unless we are suffering diarrhoea-type symptoms.


This is the bit that causes significant pain and distress.

Gas molecules like to get as far away from each other as possible. You can see this with steam which contains gasses combined with water. Boil the kettle, and you will see the steam gets everywhere. It is a visible image of how gasses like to expand.

When gas forms in your bowel (which is perfectly normal and natural,) if everything is working well, we naturally pass it out of our bodies as we move around (exercise) or when we use the toilet.

But, when we get a build-up of waste matter, we produce more gas, which, if you are congested and constipated, can build up pressure, and this situation becomes self-perpetuating.

The more gas we produce, the more the molecules want to expand away from each other, creating pressure against the bowel wall. Nerves and pain receptors pick up this pressure exerted against your bowel wall, and you feel the pain and discomfort we can all identify with.

Imagine a balloon.

Blow it up a little, and the balloon feels soft; the more gas you put into it, the tighter and more pressured it becomes. Too much gas and it puts the balloon under high pressure as the gas molecules try to get away from each other.

Your bowel is very similar. The gas molecules put your bowel under pressure as the molecules try and expand; this, in turn, creates pain, bloating, and an abdomen (tummy) that can feel as tight as a drum. As the gas travels along your bowel, the bowel wall experiences variations of pressure which cause you to feel more pain and discomfort.

What can help with this congestion and build-up of gas?

By releasing the build-up of waste matter and associated gas, the abdomen can return to its normal size, which should feel soft and malleable to the touch. It should not feel hard, sore or painful when touched.

Colonic hydrotherapy can really help by releasing this waste, aided by taking a high-quality supplement of friendly bacteria, which help break your food down properly in your bowel and help keep the less beneficial bacteria under control.

Sometimes altering your diet is needed. It can also help by reducing highly fermentative food for a time. These foods are referred to as a low FODMAPS foods.

Increasing fluids can also help as we need plenty of water to keep the insoluble fibre and waste matter soft and wet. This needs to be kept constant for the best results.

If you have any concerns about your bowel or gut health, see your GP.