In addition to current life stressors such as work or school, stressors like childhood or adult abuse also increase the likelihood of IBS.
Specifically, women with IBS are more likely to have experienced physical punishment, emotional or sexual abuse or general trauma in their past. Of those factors, the strongest predictor of IBS was emotional abuse — a good reason to seek competent help in recovering from any kind of abuse, including emotional abuse.
Early Stress & Increased Gut Pain Sensitivity
There is some evidence that early life stressors affect what’s called the “visceral sensitivity” (sensitivity to pain) of the gut. This research was done using an animal model of pain and stress. Rats were stressed by being separated from their mothers at an early age. When compared to rats who were not stressed in this way, the stressed rats had higher gut pain. Interestingly, the rats in this study were then given the adaptogenic herb schizandra. Those who received schizandra showed an increase in their pain threshold. The study concluded that schizandra can reverse visceral sensitivity in the gut (at least in rats).