Which natural supplements help Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms, backed by scientific studies and commonly recommended by gastroenterologists?  Most people living with IBS can expect to improve their digestive symptoms when they follow a low FODMAP diet, but it is very restrictive and almost impossible to eat out.  Now an IBS sufferer cheat on the FODMAP diet and eat out, without suffering serious discomfort.  Learn what supplements help IBS symptoms before they even start and say goodbye to abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas and urgent or irregular stools.

natural supplement bottles on a counter and vitamin pills in a hand.

Digestive Enzymes

Taking a digestive enzyme such as Beano, Fodzyme or Lactaid with the first bites of a high FODMAP meal can help you digest the meal and prevent uncomfortable bloating, pain and gas later.

Beano

Beano is a natural enzyme called alpha-galactosidase that breaks down the hard to digest starches in beans and legumes called galacto-oligosaccharides or GOS.  Beano can help prevent the common effects of beans including bloating, gas, abdominal cramps and loose stools.

Beano Directions: Take 2-3 pills with every ½ cup portion of beans, tofu, almonds, lentils, chickpeas or legumes.

Lactaid

Lactaid contains the enzyme Lactase to help you digest the sugar in dairy products called lactose. Most people have a limited ability to digest lactose and lactaid can be very helpful if you want to enjoy an ice cream or a creamy dish, without suffering from gas, bloating and loose stools afterwards.

Lactaid Directions: Take 1-3 caplets with your first bite of ice cream, cream based sauce or soup or milk product.

Fodzyme

Fodzyme has combined both of the enzymes in Beano and Lactaid (alpha-galactosidase, and lactase, respectively) and added a third enzyme for fructans called fructan hydrolase.  Fructans seem to be the most problematic to digest and they are found in many fruits, veggies and grains including: garlic, onion, wheat pasta and bread, beet, cabbage, grapefruit, raisins and brussel sprouts.  Fodzyme may improve your tolerance to some favorite high fodmap foods like pizza, pasta and garlic based dishes.

Fodzyme Directions: Sprinkle a dose of fodzyme powder into the high FODMAP meal.  The enzyme works best if it mixes with food before you eat it, but if you cannot mix it in then just sprinkle a dose on your first bite and chew well.

Discount link: To try Fodzyme with a 15% discount, place your order here.

Probiotics

Several strains of probiotics have been shown to reduce IBS symptoms in randomized controlled trials:

  • Align
  • Bio-K+ IBS Pro
  • Jamieson Digestive Care 10 Billion Daily Probiotic
  • GoodBelly Probiotic Juice Drinks
  • Purica Probiotic Intensive GI
  • UltraFlora Intensive Care

For an up-to-date list of probiotics that help prevent IBS symptoms, you can refer to the  Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products made by the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation.

Soluble fiber supplements

Soluble fibre supplements are helpful for both diarrhea and constipation, to give a daily full, normal stool.  Soluble fibre also help to lower cholesterol and improves gut health as an added bonus.  Psyllium, chia seed, and oat bran are examples of soluble fibers that help stool consistency and bulk.  Supplements that include soluble fibre include:

Metamucil

Metamucil is ground psyllium husks with an orange flavour, so it is easier to drink.

Omega3 Nutracleanse

Nutracleanse includes a mix of: ground flax seed, ground psyllium husks, dandelion root powder, burdock root powder, and fenugreek seed powder.  The dandelion root, fenugreek and burdock root can help reduce cardiovascular disease risk and may lower blood clotting and blood sugar levels.

North Coast Naturals Ultimate Daily Cleanse

This fibre mix includes ground flax seed, psyllium seed husk, quinoa powder, chia seed powder, pumpkin seed powder, sprouted brown rice powder and bacterial culture called Lactobacillus fermentum, a probiotic that improves cholesterol.

Soluble Fibre Directions: Take 1-3 Tbsp of psyllium/fibre mix daily in your water, juice, oatmeal, smoothie or yogurt for healthy stool consistency.  Take daily every 24 hours, if you are already having a daily bowel movement.  If you are not having a daily bowel movement, taking psyllium may make you more bloated, since the fibre is expanding in your gut and doesn’t have enough fluid to pass. If this is the case for you, take Restorolax or PEG, below.

Restoralax

Restoralax is the brand name of PEG, a gentle osmotic laxative that helps prevent chronic constipation. For persistent cases of constipation, taking Restoralax daily can create a daily bowel that is easy to pass. It is a gentle laxative as it takes 2-3 days to work and does not cause urgency or dependence.  Many children and adults will take PEG for several months or longer to help have regular bowels.  Because it works slowly, Restorolax is better at preventing, than treating acute constipation.

PEG Directions: Take 1 heaping Tbsp daily in water or juice daily.  You will notice stools become softer and looser 2-3 days after you begin taking it.  If stools become too watery, reduce the dose but still take it every day.  Do not skip days or you will not have consistent, daily bowel movements. You may need to take PEG daily for months or years, until you can balance your fibre and fluid intake to create a daily bowel movement.  You can gradually reduce your daily dose of PEG every week, so that you ensure you continue with daily soft bowel movements.

Peppermint oil

Studies have shown that taking peppermint oil reduces stomach cramps, bloating and gas in people with IBS.  Peppermint oil works by relaxing the digestive system and when taken daily, it can improve occasional cramps, bloating, gas and irregular stools.

IBGard

IBGard is a triple coated peppermint oil capsule that passes through the stomach and releases peppermint oil in the small intestine, to reduce the risk of heartburn.

IBGard Directions: Adults take two capsules, 1-3 times daily. For best results, take 1 hour before a meal, with water. If the pre-meal dose is missed, IBgard can be taken with or after a meal. It will start to work within a few hours but it could take up to 1 to 2 weeks to take full effect. Keep taking peppermint oil until your symptoms improve. Peppermint oil is not suitable for some people. To make sure peppermint oil is safe for you, tell your pharmacist or doctor before starting.

Imodium

Imodium is the brand name of loperamide, an anti-diarrheal which prevents urgent diarrhea by slowing down the movement of the gut. The end result is you will pass firmer stools less often.  This is helpful when access to bathrooms are limited and nerves are high. Keep in mind that although Imodium reduces diarrhea, it may also lead to constipation in some people.

Imodium Directions: For adults and teenagers, the usual dose is 4 mg (2 tablets) after the first loose bowel movement, and 2 mg (1 tablet), if you continue to experience loose stools. No more than 8 mg (4 tablets) should be taken in any 24-hour period.

Iberogast

Iberogast combines 9 medicinal plant extracts that reduce stomach pain, dyspepsia, reflux, bloating and chronic constipation according to promising clinical trials. Iberogast contains: Iberis amara, angelica root, caraway fruit, chamomile flowers, milk thistle fruit, lemon balm leaves, celandine, peppermint leaves and liquorice root. As with all herbal adaptogens, talk to your pharmacist or doctor before taking them.

Iberogast Directions: Iberogast is a bottle of liquid with a drop dispenser and it is taken 3 times a day.  Adults take 20 drops (1ml) 3 times per day.

Gas X

Gas X contains simethicone, which is an over the counter supplement that breaks up gas and reduces bloating. Gas X works by combining and breaking down gas bubbles in the stomach, so the body can burp or pass the gas, if you have a full or bloated abdomen. A common side effect after taking Gas X is burping or farting, as your body removes excess gas.   Gas-X doesn’t treat the cause of your gas, and it’s not likely to help with gas from constipation or a blocked bowel.

Gas X Directions: Adults can take 1-2 tablets as needed after meals and at bedtime. Their package advises not to take more than 2-4 tablets in 24 hours, depending on the dose.

As with all supplements, speak with a healthcare professional to ensure that your supplements are safe and effective for you. Whatever your IBS symptoms, working with a dietitian can help you to identify your IBS triggers, trial the low FODMAP diet and recommend what supplements help prevent IBS symptoms.

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