Just by seeing the name, the first instinct is referring the skin on stomach becomes itchy, especially at night. Little did you know, the term of Itchy Gut is referred the itchiness in your colon.

As Gut-Brian-Skin Axis has been more exposed these days, it earns more attention from both general consumers, patients, as well as researchers.

Australian researchers from Visceral Pain Research Group at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute discovered the mechanism that causes itchy skin may also be responsible for the pain experienced in people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or known as IBS.

What Is IBS

About 10 - 15% of the global population have IBS. Research estimates between 25 million and 45 million people in the United States alone live with the condition, and 2 out of 3 people living with IBS are female.

Most of us assume females deal with gut issues mostly due to hormone changes, nevertheless, a good part of them deal with IBS that aren’t even being diagnosed.

IBS is characterized by a group of symptoms that can occur together, such as stomach pain and irregular bowel habits.  One group of people who have IBS, the bowel becomes overly sensitive sensation, while the other group has irregular movement. The increased movement often causing diarrhea is called IBS-D, and the decreased movement causing constipation is called IBS-C.  Some part of the patients also experience both alternating extreme sensations.

The root causes of IBS are unknown, but the most theories in medical and researching realm may be closed to Leaky Gut. According to  Jesse Stondell, MD, an assistant professor in the department of gastroenterology at the University of California, Davis, told Health News on Healthline -

“There’s also clearly a component of hypersensitivity, which means that for some people, their bowel is much more sensitive to normal stimuli, and the body misinterprets this as pain. Finally, anxiety and depression can significantly worsen IBS but may or may not be a true cause.”

Itchy Gut

Professor Stuart Brierley, as Lead Researcher, along with Matthew Flinders, research fellow in Gastrointestinal Neuroscience, have found the receptors which bring an itchy feeling on skin also do the same in the gut, with that said, IBS patients are essentially or most likely suffering from Itchy Gut or painful itchiness.

They urge the chronic abdominal pain experienced by one of these itch receptors called The Wasabi Receptor, or officially called TRPA1.  It’s a protein that exists in sensory nerve cells and when it encounters certain chemicals it activates to protect the body. These receptors responses can be triggered by wasabi, mustard, and tear gas. 

The researches have not only shown that same receptors and mechanisms contribute to itchy skin also exist in human gut, the place where activates neurons that leads to chronic gut itch, but also when patients with IBS issues tend to have more of Itchy Gut receptors in the gut. 

What’s Next

The research team have translated these results to human tissue tests such as work out ways to block these receptors in order to stop the Itchy Gut signal traveling from the gut to the brain.  They hope to help create a treatment such as oral medication for IBS rather than traditional drugs like opioids.

Research & Resource

Fact of IBS

Itchy Gut (video)

Activation of pruritogenic TGR5, MrgprA3, and MrgprC11 on colon-innervating afferents induces visceral hypersensitivity

Cover Photo : @_marieyat_


More from 



View All