Treating IBS with Craniosacral therapy

People with IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome have usually had to endure a load of digestive discomfort, cramping, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and sometimes pain. Most believe it's a chronic condition that they just have to live with for the rest of their lives.

It's not.

IBS is a response of the large intestine which can either be an over contraction or an over relaxation of the muscles in the walls of the intestine walls.

So what causes muscles to contract or relax?

Quite simply, we do.

When we are preparing to take action or our sympathetic nervous system is activated (fight or flight etc) our digestive system is shut down and the muscles contract. This is to conserve energy and focus on allowing blood to get to other muscles of the body that are needed to either fight (arms) or flee (legs).

So our body is intelligent. Somewhere, we are unconsciously telling our body that it needs to either prepare to fight or it's allowed to relax and the body responds.

In people who have IBS, there has been a prolonged corresponding stress pattern that means the fight or flight response is automated, disregulated and unconscious. They're simply less aware of their body being in a place of stress because stress has become so normalised. This sounds weird, but it's very common. It's especially common in people who have lived high pressure lives, or have had early life stress or trauma or have had injuries which have disrupted the functioning of the nerves which impact the gut or led to levels of elevated cortisol hormone, released by the adrenal glands when we are stressed.

“The role of trauma in increasing vulnerability to both gastrointestinal and mental health symptoms is well established in adults but rarely studied in childhood,” said study lead author Bridget Callaghan, a post-doctoral research fellow in Columbia’s psychology department.

IBS therefore cannot be treated at a physical level alone. Relaxing the muscles of the gut and lower back, as well as working with the nerves that innervate the large intestine such as the vagus nerve (sympathetic) and pelvic splanchnic nerves (S2-4 parasympathetic) are crucial - as is understanding the root cause of the pattern of stress - what I mean by this is understanding what the holding is about - why is the body still holding a pattern of deep muscular contraction - what is the programmed fear?

Once the root cause is brought to the surface, understood and accepted there is a corresponding shift in the nervous system which can immediately be felt by the person. There is a relaxing and a softening. As well as working with the gut itself, the nerves, the muscles it can also help to work with the lymphatic system especially if there has been constipation. Lymphatic drainage of the colon is into the mesenteric nodes which empty eventually into the thoracic duct.


If you think you have IBS or you're suffering with digestive sensitivity, constipation or otherwise, or would like to support your digestive functioning get in touch with me


Artist: Lauren Ami, check her out here