Shifts Can Harm, But Artichokes Can Help With IBS

March 26, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Health


As recent figures show that 22% of the population in the UK suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, anything that can help is to be welcomed, especially if it is natural – but more of that later.

What certainly won’t help is if you are a shift worker, as new research published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology shows that it has a significantly increased risk of developing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and abdominal pain. “We know that people participating in shift work often complain of gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramping, constipation and diarrhoea,” says Sandra Hoogerwerf, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School where the research was carried out.

These are also the same symptoms of IBS and so the study followed three groups of nurses who were either working on permanent day shifts, permanent night shifts or rotating shifts between day and night. Your colon has its own biological clock and that’s what increases the likelihood of having a bowel movement in the first six hours of the day and shift work can cause chronic disruption of that biological rhythm. This can result in that clock to be constantly thrown off and needing to adjust, creating symptoms of IBS.

The researchers say their study suggests that sleep disturbances do not completely explain the existence of IBS or abdominal pain associated with shift work but their findings suggest that nurses on shift work, particularly those who participate in rotating shift work, have a higher prevalence of IBS and abdominal pain than others.

Natural Help

IBs can be particularly difficult to treat medically and there are a number of self help options available that most sufferers turn to. Studies and clinical trials have shown that extracts of artichoke were able to relieve the symptoms for those suffering a constant upset stomach or indigestion. This led to the idea that artichoke could also have benefit sufferers of IBS and a UK study showed that an amazing 96% of patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) rated artichoke leaf extract as better than or equal to previous therapies administered for their symptoms.

If the idea of artichokes for breakfast, lunch and dinner doesn’t appeal you could take the easy way out and get the same benefit from a herbal tea from Natur Boutique that has the same benefit. If you can’t find it in your health store, go to

Please be aware that pregnant and breast feeding women should seek advice from their doctors before using artichoke extracts and it should not be taken in the presence of gallstones or other bile duct occlusion, due to its bile stimulating effects.