I recently saw a commercial for a medication used for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It started off by having people with a chief concern of constipation voice that they were tired and overwhelmed with use of probiotics and laxatives that did not work for them. It then proceeded to say that this medication would work better.

There was no mention of diet, drinking enough water, adequate exercise, reduction of stress. It is common knowledge to the medical community that these strategies can help reduce constipation (they can also help reduce several other ailments too) if consistently and properly implemented overtime. The lack of prior implementation of these strategies more than likely significantly contributed to constipation in the first place.

There are other commercials I have seen that have gone as far as to say that without diet changes, the medication would work, which in a way is fantastic, but in another way disregards the issues that lead to the need for medication. Most MDs do not spend much time at all addressing diet, maybe 10 seconds. The likelihood of these 10 second discussions creating profound change in someone’s dietary habits will probably be very minimal.

MDs will refer clients to dietitians or nutritionists to go further. This may be helpful, but it may not prove to be as fruitful either depending on the situation, especially in the case of IBS, because the knowledge base of these professionals is sometimes limited. Understanding food sensitivities and changing diets, nutritional deficiencies, acknowledging the extent of imbalanced intestinal flora and re-balancing it with the right kind and amount of probiotics (I don’t recommend any in the drugstore because they are not usually strong enough, so of course consumers would complain they do not work) and herbs, cleaning out toxins, helping a person deal with stress, and taking the time to get the importance of doing these things regularly and consistently for the long term across to the individual to where they actually do it, are synergistic in nature and effective.

And the irony of it all: drugstores now carry herbs, homeopathic supplements, concentrated nutrients like Vitamin D, fish oils, healthier snacks (like items labeled gluten-free), plant-based protein powders. They also still carry fiber, laxatives and probiotics.

A naturopathic doctor can teach you how to bring all of this knowledge together for yourself, gives tips on which brands are better than others, and help you know what you need to take and what you don’t.