Diarrhea or constipation: What if the cause was the same?

   April 12, 2019

diarrhea or constipation: same cause?If you have had diarrhea or constipation for a while, have seen your doctor and are not finding that traditional treatment is doing the job for you, read on. I want to share something important with you about the potential cause of your symptoms if you suffer from IBS.

In reality, diarrhea and constipation seem to be total opposites.

The functional explication for diarrhea is about food traveling through the digestive tract too quickly, causing “abnormally loose watery stools“.

For constipation, the food is traveling too slowly, and too much water is being absorbed into the colon. With the results you know and are trying to live with.

But what if the root cause of diarrhea or constipation was the same?

We are so busy trying to deal with the symptoms that the possible root cause is difficult to see. But when, like me, you no longer have your daily IBS, things become clearer. I had IBS-D which turned into IBS-C so I have experienced both to some degree. And I have my own hypothesis of what might be going on.

A recent example: causes and effects

Last year an apparently insignificant repeated event took amazing proportions. My back seized up totally. I sat down and find it hard to get up or walk and felt like I was a 100 years old. And I rapidly became severely constipated. This reaction crept up on me. I didn’t see or feel it coming, which is why I repeated it – and got this severe reaction.

The last time this happened was 15 years ago after a difficult pregnancy. The symptoms looked and felt as if something was physically wrong with me and I felt awful for months. Back then I went to see my doctor, an osteopath, took pain killers, but nothing helped. After about 6 months my symptoms slowly improved.

Now I know why


There was nothing physically wrong with me, although the pain was very real. Over time and with lots of research I realized it was a nervous neuro-muscular reaction to a repeated trigger.  Parts of my body went into a contracted state, as if I had cramp. As this state continued, the area became inflamed. That was what caused the pain and blocked my body movements.

And you?

Imagine the same thing happening in your bowels. Something seemingly insignificant happens, but it is a trigger and makes muscles cramp. It is particularly hard to see because it happens inside your body.

In some people, it will give rise to abdominal spasms and diarrhea. In others abdominal cramps may freeze the natural rhythm of voluntary spasms that push food through the digestive tract, resulting in constipation. This is my own hypothesis, but it makes sense.

Maybe this happens every day.

Maybe it is intertwined with the stress of trying to deal with or conceal the IBS symptoms themselves.And the result is either diarrhea (ie. rapid muscle spasms pushing your food through too quickly) or constipation (muscles tensed up and thus slowing down digestion).

Where to start

The basic solutions I would suggest then are these:

  • If you haven’t done so already, check with your doctor that there is no physical cause to this problem
  • Realize that stress and ultimately fear may be hiding behind these symptoms. And that’s why meds aren’t helping you sufficiently
  • Learn to turn down your stress levels. The more you can relax mentally and physically, the better you will feel. Look into deep breathing and mindful meditation  to counter your stress reaction. This, plus  can help you reduce the state of tension you are in and take a step back.
  • Look out for what is triggering you. Have a look at my previous post on triggers for ideas.

What to do if you have diarrhea or constipation every day and can’t see the triggers

Looking for triggers sounds easy – but it really isn’t. However, it is essential if you want to reduce your symptoms. It means taking the time to observe what is happening in your body and trying to link it with what is happening in and around you. If you can’t see the triggers, maybe someone close to you can. 

If you get stuck, consider getting outside help with finding triggers and reducing your reaction to them. I have done this work on myself and have become regular – and I no longer have chronic IBS. As an IBS coach and certified NLP practitioner, I can help you work on this.

If you have had diarrhea or constipation for a number of years, I really recommend having a few Reiki energy sessions to help get you started. These can help release the tension you are holding in your body and any current cramps or spasms. If stress triggers are an issue, this should improve symptoms – and help you to see more clearly.