How to Quickly Ease Stomach Pain From IBS

Finding quick relief is important when you're experiencing stomach pain due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a condition that affects the way the large intestine works, causing stomach pain, gas, diarrhea, bloating, and constipation. Even if you're just having a bad tummy day, you may find some comfort in the fact that there are things you can do to soothe your stomach.

Before we begin, it's important to note that you should tell your healthcare provider if you experience abdominal pain on a regular basis, so you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment. And severe abdominal pain may mean you have a serious health condition that needs immediate medical attention.

Keep reading to learn how you can find relief when dealing with IBS pain.

easing stomach pain from IBS

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Apply Heat

Applying warmth to your belly can help soothe your mind and relieve your IBS pain.

There are a variety of ways to apply heat to your stomach, and all of them work. You can choose the one that you like best and is most convenient for you:

  • Use a heating pad. Be sure to protect your skin with clothing or a towel.
  • Try a hot water bottle. This is an excellent choice when you need pain relief as you sleep.
  • Apply sports creams that treat pain by creating a warming sensation. Pain reliever creams and ointments are a good method of fast pain relief on the go.

Sip a Cup of Tea

Like a heating pad, there is something soothing about a nice cup of hot tea. Each of the following types of tea has a reputation for easing digestive distress:

  • Peppermint tea is a good choice to soothe your stomach.
  • Chamomile tea can also help calm the stomach.
  • Anise tea is good for constipation.
  • Fennel tea is good for digestion issues.

If you are following a low-FODMAP diet, you may want to avoid chamomile and fennel tea. A low-FODMAP diet is one that restricts certain types of carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that the small intestine can't absorb easily. It is a common treatment for IBS.

Keep your kitchen pantry well stocked and try to have tea bags with you when you are out and about.

Eat Carefully

When your belly hurts because of digestion problems, you won't want to make things worse with food. So, what should you eat? Try foods that are light, healthy, and easy on the stomach. At the same time, do your best to avoid foods that will cause more stomach discomfort.

Foods to Eat
  • Broth

  • Lean protein like chicken, turkey, or pork

  • Lactose-free yogurt

  • Steamed vegetables

Foods to Avoid

Once your pain has eased, you can slowly go back to eating your regular diet. If you have IBS and you have frequent stomach pain, you will want to find a ​long-term way of eating. Choose foods that help ease your IBS symptoms. 

Try an Over-the-Counter Supplement

There are a few products available without a prescription that may bring IBS pain relief. It's a good idea to have one of these with you at all times so it's ready when the pain strikes:

  • Peppermint oil has been shown by research to be antispasmodic. This means that it reduces muscle spasms and cramping, which can ease the pain you're feeling.
  • Gas-relieving products are easily available at stores. If your abdominal pain feels more like trapped gas than cramping, you may find relief by taking a product containing simethicone, a medication that makes gas easier to pass.

Calm Your Mind and Body

When we are in pain, we tend to get anxious. Unfortunately, anxiety can make our pain worse. Taking a few minutes to calm down can be very effective. 

Relaxation exercises are a way to break the cycle of anxiety and pain. They offer a way to "turn off" the anxious feelings. Of course, they work better with regular practice, but can still offer some benefits for immediate pain relief.

Three basic types of relaxation exercises are:

With a little experimentation, you can decide which methods work best for you. 

Use Your Imagination

Believe it or not, you can soothe your body and promote healing through the use of healing imagery. Research shows that using your imagination can lead to positive changes in your body and even decrease the amount of pain you feel from IBS.

After you have calmed your body with relaxation exercises, stimulate your imagination and dream up a few soothing pain-relieving images. Here are some possibilities, but feel free to come up with your own:

  • Imagine a white healing light coming into your body and swirling all around your belly, healing and soothing your aggravated ​digestive tract.
  • Imagine that the pain is a hard ball of wax that is slowly melting as you envision a warm, healing heat spread through the area.
  • Imagine that a soft, healing balm is making its way ​through your system, serving to cool, soothe, and calm the inflamed tissue.

Listen to a Hypnotherapy Recording

Hypnosis has strong research support for easing the symptoms of IBS, including abdominal pain. Ideally, you want to be engaged in an ongoing hypnotherapy treatment program for best results. But when you are in immediate pain, you may be able to benefit from the relaxation of listening to a hypnosis CD or recording that focuses on the gut.

The quickest way is to download an app on your smartphone or other mobile device. There are quite a few IBS-specific hypnotherapy apps available. It's best to find one that's backed by research, like Nerva.

IBS Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Woman

Summary

IBS is a medical condition that causes abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. While it's important for your healthcare provider to diagnose and treat IBS, there are things you can do at home to help provide fast pain relief.

Some people with IBS apply soothing heat to the belly using a heating pad or hot water bottle. They may try sipping herbal teas that help with stomach pain.

Other patients with IBS find that over-the-counter medications and creams can help. Sometimes relaxation techniques such as visualization, deep breathing, or hypnotherapy can help people with IBS deal with stomach pain.

A Word From Verywell

If you have IBS, you know that it can make life challenging. It's important to find the pain-relieving methods that work best for you. Talk with your healthcare provider to discuss your unique situation so they can help you treat your IBS effectively.

Was this page helpful?
11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mount Sinai Health System. Peppermint.

  2. Mosaffa-Jahromi M, Tamaddon A-M, Afsharypuor S, et al. Effectiveness of anise oil for treatment of mild to moderate depression in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized active and placebo-controlled clinical trialJ Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(1):41-46. doi:10.1177/2156587216628374

  3. Anheyer D, Frawley J, Koch AK, et al. Herbal medicines for gastrointestinal disorders in children and adolescents: a systematic reviewPediatrics. 2017;139(6):e20170062. doi:10.1542/peds.2017-0062

  4. Magge S, Lembo A. Low-fodmap diet for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2012;8(11):739-45.

  5. Gastrointestinal Society. Peppermint relieves IBS pain. Published July 6, 2021.

  6. Foley A, Burgell R, Barrett JS, Gibson PR. Management strategies for abdominal bloating and distension. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2014;10(9):561-71.

  7. De Heer EW, Gerrits MM, Beekman AT, et al. The association of depression and anxiety with pain: a study from NESDA. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(10):e106907. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106907

  8. Eriksson EM, Andrén KI, Kurlberg GK, Eriksson HT. Aspects of the non-pharmacological treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol. 2015;21(40):11439-49. doi:10.3748/wjg.v21.i40.11439

  9. Phillips-Moore JS, Talley NJ, Jones MP. The mind-body connection in irritable bowel syndrome: A randomised controlled trial of hypnotherapy as a treatment. Health Psychol Open. 2015;2(1):2055102914564583. doi:10.1177/2055102914564583

  10. Lee HH, Choi YY, Choi MG. The efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2014;20(2):152-62. doi:10.5056/jnm.2014.20.2.152

  11. Peters SL, Yao CK, Philpott H, Yelland GW, Muir JG, Gibson PR. Randomised clinical trial: the efficacy of gut-directed hypnotherapy is similar to that of the low FODMAP diet for the treatment of irritable bowel syndromeAliment Pharmacol Ther. 2016;44(5):447-459. doi:10.1111/apt.13706

Additional Reading