Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder worldwide, but it is extremely responsive to Naturopathic treatment! There really is no need to suffer with a condition that affects so many people’s quality of life. It is a frustrating syndrome since it is multi-factorial, manifests differently in everybody, and can affect anyone – men, women, and children – and can start at any point in life. This post will cover what the causes of IBS, symptoms (you don’t need to have all of them), a few case studies, and how to start treating it yourself.
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a set of digestive and emotional symptoms that are rooted in
- a dysregulation of the gut-brain axis – the idea that stress activates the fight or flight nervous system, causing altered digestion.
- altered serotonin signaling – 95% of the body’s serotonin is in the gut. Not enough causes constipation, too much causes diarrhea.
- infection – disruption of good flora and mucosal inflammation and damage
- altered gut flora – from antibiotics, NSAIDs, contraception, stress, poor diet and
- food intolerances / sensitivities – causing undigested food, inflammation, and mucosal damage
Common symptoms of IBS are
- abdominal cramping and altered bowel movements.
- back pain
- incomplete evacuation and
- mucus in the stool.
The criteria for diagnosis are “recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort for at least 3 months with symptoms on at least 3 days a month including 2 symptoms. Relief is found with a bowel movement, a noticed change in frequency and form of stool”
Why is it important to get to the root causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Our digestion is the cornerstone of our health. If there is inflammation in the gut, permeability, an overgrowth of toxic organisms, we cannot digest and absorb our nutrients. As a result, this can lead to any number of health problems. Luckily, probiotics are getting all the attention they deserve from the medical community. This is one factor of IBS – altered gut flora. But as you have read above, it is only one factor. To truly gain back your quality of life, all the causes should be addressed. I treat many patients with I.B.S. and most have already tried the probiotic their medical doctor has recommended.
Real Examples of healing Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Nancy acquired “post-infectious I.B.S” after a bout of food poisoning. She had an underlying generalized anxiety disorder, which was exacerbated from this new diagnosis of I.B.S. She was already taking a good quality probiotic, and she already avoided her food intolerances. We downregulated her sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) with natural remedies and used acupuncture to stimulate her body’s natural healing response. We also used antimicrobials to help her body fend off any other toxic organisms, like yeast or parasites. She regained her health and quality of life.
This next example is the most common IBS patient. Mary remembers having IBS all her life. For her, we found out what her food intolerances were. This was enough to eliminate her IBS symptoms. We followed up with a program to heal her digestive tract so that with time, she may enjoy all foods even the one’s that used to cause her symptoms.
5 Tips for healing Irritable Bowel Syndrome
1. Remove food intolerances – either through a test or an elimination diet, find out what foods your body cannot digest in its current state of health. Many people have also found improvement in their symptoms through following an anti-inflammatory diet, the blood type diet, and others. Be careful of extremely restricting diets, as they may work in the short term but it may be unrealistic to maintain for long periods of time and unnecessary if you truly heal the body.
2. Nutrition – ensure enough protein. If meat is restricted due to a suspected intolerance, it may be from a lack of stomach acid and enzymes. Protein is essential for healthy digestion, neurotransmitters, and liver detoxification. Fish is an easily digested protein and a good source of essential fatty acids. Maintain hydration – aim for 2.5 ltrs / day, and adjust based on size, weight, temperature, and exercise. Include fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains. Vegetables should be lightly cooked. While fiber may be thought to aggravate IBS, it can be helpful in the right amounts. Avoid sugar, alcohol, pop, coffee, excessively fatty foods, brassicas, legumes, onions, and wheat.
3. Take a good quality probiotic. I love HMF IBS Relief by Seroyal, but patients have reported benefit with Bio-K (non-dairy) or other brands such as Metagenics or Klaire Labs
4. Stress – if you feel called to totally address your stress response through daily yoga and meditation, go for it! This will not only help heal your gut, but also change your life. For a step before that, try some calming and regulating nervine herbs. You may like Valerian, passionflower, chamomile and lavender or combo tinctures / tablets.
5. Bitters – ‘Swedish bitters’ is a herbal formula that tonifies the upper digestive tract, helping to begin the cascade of events required to digest food without gas, nausea and bloating, and encourages assimilation of nutrients. Along with dietary changes, this formula helps to restore the gastrointestinal tract.
What to do next?
These 5 tips will start the healing process. Also consider being checked for nutritional deficiencies due to a history of food aversion, avoidance, poor breakdown and assimilation, malabsorption and diarrhea.
If you would like guidance healing Irritable Bowel Syndrome call Dr. Donata today at 289 668 5433 to schedule your appointment. Included in the initial visit is an oxidative stress test and urinary indican test valued at $35.00. These give valuable insight into the health of your digestive system.