Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) aka Spastic or Irritable Colon

IBS, spastic colon or irritable colon is defined as the presence of ≥ 12 weeks of continuous or recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort in the previous 12 months that cannot be explained by structural or biochemical abnormalities, AND the presence of at least two of the following three features:

  • Pain is relieved with defecation.
  • Onset is associated with a change in the frequency of bowel movement.
  • Onset is associated with a change in the form or appearance of the stool.


IBS is the most common functional bowel disorder and occurs in 20% of the population in industrialized countries.  It affects more women than men (M:F = 1:2).  Interestingly, the incidence usually increases during adolescence and peaks during 20-39 years of age.


The causes of IBS are:

  • Idiopathic (unknown)
  • Associated with altered gastrointestinal motility and increased gut sensitivity
  • Risk factors include anxiety, depression, personality disorders, history of childhood sexual abuse or domestic abuse


The most commonly experienced signs and symptoms of IBS are:

  • abdominal distention, abdominal pain and/or pain relieved by defecation
  • Abnormalities of defecation that may include loose stools alternating with episodes of constipation, alternating pattern of bowel habits, mucus in the stools, or sensation of incomplete evacuation after defecation 


The following diagnostic assessments, tools or results are used or found when diagnosing IBS (irritable bowel syndrome):

  • Diagnosis of exclusion
  • Stool analysis for occult blood
  • Stool analysis for ova and parasites
  • Small bowel imaging series with barium enema
  • Endoscopy
  • Proctosigmoidoscopy


From a Naturopathic standpoint, Dr. Moira Kwok ND will obtain a very thorough medical history in order to put all of your "puzzle pieces" together to form a whole picture of everything that is going on from a health perspective.  From this holistic approach to treatment, she will put together an individualized treatment plan based on a combination of dietary and lifestyle recommendations, supplements, botanicals, acupuncture and/or IV therapy that is based on your specific case. 



  • Beers MH & Berkow R (Editors).  1999.  The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (17th Ed.).  Merck Research Laboratories: Whitehouse Station, NJ. 
  • Ferri FF.  2007.  Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment.  Mosby Elsevier: Philadelphia, PA.