How taking Theanine could help your IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a life-limiting condition. For many sufferers, IBS means having to plan your life around fear of sudden attacks. It means avoiding social situations for fear of embarrassment, or limiting outings to locations with a toilet close by.
It means living your life dogged by cramps and discomfort caused by constipation, trapped gas and bloating. It’s unpleasant, restrictive and physically painful.
But contrary to common belief, IBS is not just a physical condition.
IBS is what's known as a functional gut-brain disorder. And there is growing research into this connection and how our intestines and our brains communicate with each other.
It explains why mood disorders, PTSD, stress and anxiety can increase the risk of an IBS attack. And it might make sense to conclude that for IBS treatments to work effectively, they need to target both the gut and the brain.
With this in mind, let’s consider how theanine – a stress-reducing wonder ingredient – can help IBS sufferers.
The mind-gut connection
The idea of a link between the brain and the gut is peppered throughout our everyday language and culture.
People ‘go with their gut’ when faced with an important choice, such as where to work or which house to buy. They speak of ‘butterflies in the tummy’ before a job interview and feel a ‘sinking in the stomach’ when dreading something.
It’s no surprise, then, that the gut has become known among medical professionals and scientists as the second brain. The two have a strong connection.
And this is particularly clear among IBS sufferers. Those with IBS are much more likely to develop anxiety and depression. This is in part due to the fact that symptoms can have a serious impact on quality of life (including social isolation, fatigue, and the stress of an impending attack). But it’s also because of this reciprocal relationship between the gut and the brain, known as the mind-gut connection or the gut-brain axis.
Your gut contains over 500 million neurons that transmit messages to your brain through the central nervous system. They communicate with each other constantly to regulate bodily functions.
And when there is an issue with this communication, it can cause all kinds of problems.
The vagus nerve – the major nerve connecting the brain with the gut – is vital in this communication. Stress can interfere with the vagus nerve and it can also cause gastrointestinal problems — which is bad news for IBS sufferers.
How stress can activate mast cells
And if that wasn’t bad enough, too much stress can activate mast cells in the gut.
We know that IBS sufferers have higher quantities of mast cells than those without IBS. Mast cells in IBS sufferers tend to release too much histamine, mimicking an allergic response and worsening symptoms.
Reducing stress can therefore also have a direct impact on mast cell function, which can then help to alleviate IBS symptoms.
A recent study also points to your Genes may play a factor in determining whether people develop IBS. The hope being that their discovery will stop IBS being wrongly labelled as an emotional state or "all in the mind".
What does this mean for IBS sufferers?
With the mind and gut so intrinsically linked, it follows that improving mental health can make a huge difference to IBS symptoms.
So, how do we do this? Health professionals recommend various strategies for improving mental wellbeing, including:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Journaling and mindset work
- Breathing and mindfulness routines
- Regular exercise
- Improved sleep patterns
- Supplements containing theanine that improve mental health
What is Theanine?
Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and some mushrooms. People also take it in the form of a supplement. It has long been used in Asian countries to treat mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
And there is an increasing body of evidence to show that continued use of theanine can lead to a significant decrease in stress-related symptoms like anxiety, depression and sleep issues.
A study of more than 3000 Japanese women who drank more than the average amounts of green tea – known to contain theanine – indicated that it might be a protective factor against premature death.
It also found that taking theanine can reduce the effects of caffeine, control high blood pressure, and support the immune system.
Can taking theanine help IBS?
We know that IBS symptoms get worse when a sufferer experiences mental health problems. We also know that IBS can be triggered by stress and exacerbated by depression and anxiety.
Research shows that theanine has neuroprotective properties and taking it can enhance cognitive function. It has been shown to modulate monoamine levels in the central nervous system, having an anti-stress or antidepressant effect.
Human studies have also shown that theanine has beneficial effects on mental health, and it’s suggested that theanine can increase serotonin levels. Serotonin is known as the happy hormone, increasing feelings of wellbeing and maintaining mood balance.
And we know that serotonin has a direct and indirect effect on intestinal function. In fact, abnormalities in serotonin levels can lead to exacerbated IBS symptoms such as constipation and diarrhea.
Theanine is thought to increase dopamine, which boosts mood, motivation and attention. It is also known to increase GABA - an amino acid that helps balance activity in the nervous system - helping to promote relaxation, calm and better sleep. This all has an overwhelmingly positive effect on mental health, which could reduce IBS symptoms.
IBS sufferers would love a magic pill that would make all their symptoms instantly disappear. Sadly, IBS is different for everyone and each person has different triggers, so finding a cure has been a tricky thing for scientists.
But taking a theanine supplement could help improve mood and reduce stress. And the gut-brain connection means that the improvements it can bring to your mental health should have a positive effect on your IBS symptoms, too.
Rebalancing hormones to regulate the mood and reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety could make the life of an IBS sufferer much easier. Theanine can help with this.
This is where we come in. We’ve added 60mg of theanine to our IBS Advanced Formula +, alongside Quercetin, which may help to stabilise mast cells and CavaCurmin (from turmeric). CavaCurmin is made from the main active ingredient in Tumeric, known for its anti-inflammatory benefits which may help to support a healthy gut and reduce the bloating caused by inflammation. A winning combo that offers effective relief for many of those living with IBS.
Proudly manufactured in the UK, our supplements are vegetarian, 100% natural and GMO-Free.We’re more than happy to answer any questions you might have about your symptoms and how our IBS supplements might improve your quality of life. Just get in touch.