ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Treating IBS-D Without Prescription Drugs

Updated on June 19, 2017

Prevalence and Impact

According to a 2005 study published in the journal, Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, approximately 10 to 15 percent of the US population suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, a condition affecting the digestive tract. The symptoms - gas, bloating, cramping, pain and either diarrhea or constipation - have a large impact on quality of life for sufferers. A survey released by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) showed a dramatic increase in work or school days missed by patients with IBS and more than half of sufferers reported having symptoms every day. The survey also reported that patients tried 281 different treatments to try to control their symptoms, including prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal remedies. Of those taking prescribed medications, 62% reported adverse side effects and 7% required hospitalization.

What is IBS-D

IBS-D is a condition affecting the function of the colon - the long, hollow tube that transports food through the digestive tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, gas, flatulence, bloating and diarrhea.

Normally, the colon contracts rhythmically to propel contents on its digestive journey. In IBS, the colon is unusually sensitive and normal spasms cause the patient to experience pain. The nerve endings send signals to either speed up or slow down the movement. Because water is absorbed through the intestinal wall, faster spasms cause diarrhea while slower contractions cause constipation.

In IBS-D, the sufferer experiences bouts of diarrhea when food moves too quickly through the digestive tract. The rapid movement inhibits the absorption of water and digestive juices so stools are loose and poorly formed.

Additionally, because food moves so quickly, it doesn't undergo the usual process of digestion in the stomach and small intestine. Undigested food enters the large intestine where normal intestinal bacteria take over the work usually performed by digestive enzymes in the stomach and small intestine. Bacteria emit gases as a normal part of their digestive process. This gas builds up and can cause bloating, flatulence and pain.

Better Digestion Can Ease Symptoms

When food is digested properly in the stomach and small intestine, only nondigestible particles make their way into the large intestine where the remaining water is absorbed. The result is a well-formed stool, with enough moisture to pass easily.

In order to undergo thorough digestion, enzymes secreted by the liver, pancreas and other digestive organs create chemical reactions that convert proteins, fats, and carbohydrates into smaller particles. These particles are then able to be absorbed into the body. When food moves too quickly through the stomach and small intestine, enzymes don't have enough time to complete this process.

Supplementing with digestive enzymes can help ensure that food gets broken down and absorbed properly. Different enzymes break down specific nutrients. Supplementing with the correct enzyme can prevent undigested food from reaching the large intestine and may help prevent gas, bloating and pain.

Enzymes and Digestion

Enzymes speed up the breakdown of food during digestion. Specific enzymes work on specific types of food. The following shows which enzymes break down each food type:

  • Amylase - Starches
  • Protease - Proteins
  • Lipase - Fats
  • Sucrase - Sucrose (Sugar)
  • Lactase - Lactose (Milk Sugar)

Dozens more enzymes work to break down specific particles within each category. For instance, the enzyme alpha-galactosidase helps break down complex sugars found in some starches such as legumes while maltase aids in the digestion of maltose, a sugar particle that results when sucrose is broken down.

Enzymes help break food down into digestible particles

Digestive Enzymes for Gas and Bloating

In Conclusion

  • IBS-D is a dysfunction of the digestive tract that faster-than-normal colonic spasm.
  • The rapid transit of food leaves less time for digestion and absorption.
  • Digestive enzymes can aid in breaking down food before it reaches the large intestine.
  • Better digestion can relieve some of the symptoms of IBS-D.

Take Our Poll

Have you tried using digestive enzymes for your IBS-D symptoms

See results


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)