Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
You do not have to “live with it”
Doctor Kathleen Janel, ND
After successfully treating IBS for over 15 years, I can confidently say that there is no need for anyone to simply live with the symptoms of IBS.
Although IBS is not immediately life threatening, it is and can be extremely uncomfortable to live with the ongoing symptoms of alternating diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and gassiness. Many patients become disillusioned after scopes and scans find nothing wrong. This is the case because IBS is not an anatomical disorder, it is a physiological or functional disorder. A colonoscopy, endoscopy, x-ray, CT scan or ultrasound cannot detect an imbalance in the flora (bacteria) of the colon, nor can it detect an adverse food reaction that may be occurring or a deficiency in pancreatic enzymes. These are good tests and good to have done to rule out more serious diseases however, they often end up as the end of the road for IBS patients who are told that there is nothing wrong with them.
IBS can be treated, healed and permanently resolved and the digestive system strengthened to function easily without symptoms.
This is done by first of all detecting the underlying cause of the symptoms. There may be a food which has become a problem in the body. This occurs for a variety of reasons like infection, antibiotic use, elevated adrenal stress, overuse of NSAIDs, premature exposure to foods and nutritional deficiencies. The immune system starts to see a particular food as a foreign protein and attacks it. Whenever the person eats this food, they have symptoms like diarrhea and cramping as the body literally attempts to flush what it believes to be a foreign protein out of the system. Symptoms can be compounded by the fact that for many people there has been a breakdown in the normally digestive barrier or wall of the intestine (Leaky Gut) and many different foods are being attacked by the immune system.
A simple blood test can be used to find out which foods the body has confused as foreign proteins. This test checks the blood for IgG and IgA antibodies which are directed against the proteins in food and cause inflammation when the food is eaten. These antibodies are not the same one that causes inhalant or anaphylactic food allergies (IgE antibody). The IgG antibody is a delayed reaction and IgG’s can be found circulating the blood and causing symptoms up to 5 days after eating the offending food.
Another common problem in IBS is that the nature of the bowel flora (bacteria) is off. Unfortunately, just taking probiotics can make many IBS patients worse, especially early in treatment. There are functional medical labs which can test for every species of bacteria, yeast and parasites living in the bowels, both the ones we want and the ones we do not want living in there. Then, we can correct the problem of chronic undetected infection. Think of it this way, there are trillions of good bacterial species that live in the bowels and protect the body, help to regulate digestion and are involved in nutrient breakdown for absorption. If a few billion bacteria are replaced by bacteria or yeasts that we don’t want living in there, those ones are then taking over the end stage of digestion and creating havoc as they digest our foods and produce gasses and by products which irritate our bowels. This results in the symptoms of excessive gas and cramping for IBS patients.
Finally, it is important to provide the body with the digestive support as this may be impaired for IBS sufferers. Hydrochloric Acid secreted in the stomach protects us from infections in the bowel and initiates digestion. Pancreatic enzymes and bile from the gall bladder breakdown food into its smallest forms for absorption through the bowel wall and into the blood stream. Any of these steps may be missing or inadequately functioning for IBS patients and can be easily replaced until the body is “re-trained” to do this on its own as it once did for these people.
Ultimately, there is a lot of hope for the treatment and resolution of IBS. Like all diseases the symptoms of IBS is a call from the body for help because something is irritating it or is deficient. By applying the Naturopathic principles: Find the Cause, Treat the Whole Person, Doctor as Teacher and Restore the Natural Balance to the body IBS patients can become symptom free and be stronger for it.