Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 10-20% of the general population, with women accounting for the most of the patients. IBS costs more than $20 billion a year in the United States. IBS is the second leading cause of missed work days in the US. The common cold is first.
The Rome III criteria for diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is:
Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least 3 days per month in the last 3 months that is associated with two or more of the following:
· Improvement with defecation
· Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool
· Onset associated with a change in form (appearance of stool)
The following are supportive symptoms that may be associated with the diagnostic symptoms above:
· Less than 3 bowel movements per week or greater than 3 BM’s per day
· Abnormal stool form (lumpy-hard stool or loose-watery stool)
· A feeling of incomplete evacuation
· Passing of mucus
It is important for primary care physicians to rule out other causes of digestive complaints if the symptoms vary significantly from the above. Coffee-ground stools indicate bleeding ulcers and have serious consequences. Burning in the stomach may indicate ulcers and H. pylori lab tests can be done. Severe pain or fever should be thoroughly checked out by one’s primary care physician.
Common simple approaches can often deal with some of the annoying symptoms. More varied fiber intake can often help a lot with constipation. Simethicone pills can often ease gas until a more permanent solution can address a specific cause of the gas…which is usually microbial infection.
Once other conditions are ruled out as an explanation for the digestive upset a multifaceted approach can be taken since IBS is often a multifaceted health problem with no one, single cause. Sometimes the main offending agent is bacterial or parasitic contamination of the upper small intestines or lower large intestines. This is particularly true if diarrhea is part of the symptom complex. A comprehensive stool lab test can be performed and if pathogens are found anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and/or anti-parasitic herbs or medications can be prescribed. Probiotics such as acidophilus can also be used in these situations in order to restore normal intestinal bacterial flora.
Sometimes the cause is not microbial infestation but instead immediate or hidden and delayed food allergies. IgG and IgE immune antibody tests are the gold standard for these types of problems. Some doctors just do IgE tests for immediate reactive substances. This misses delayed food allergies that are found only with the IgG tests. Even these tests may omit food intolerances. That is why some allergists rely instead on challenge tests. This involves avoiding consumption of all your regularly eaten foods and either fast on water or eat exotic foods that you never usually eat like rabbit, elk, goat, papaya, turnips, parsnip. We have food allergies and intolerances mainly to foods we eat most frequently so avoiding the main offenders like wheat, corn, soy, beef, cane, beet, eggs, dairy, oranges and apples flushes these offending foods from the system. After 5-14 days of avoidance you then re-introduce one of your suspected food allergens at a time to see if you react adversely. This will often clearly identify the problematic foods. Then changing the diet to continually avoid these foods for about 18 months will often eliminate the food as being problematic and you can then return to eating it infrequently…no more frequently than once every four days. Ten percent of foods have to be permanently avoided.
Another causative factor is stress. We often think of stress causing stomach ulcers. But stress can also deplete neurotransmitters in the small intestines. This then can play havoc in a variety of ways from constipation to diarrhea, gas, pain, changes in motility, decrease immunological competence and thus susceptibility to infection. There are many thing we can do to manage stress. We can avoid chemical stressors like smoking, caffeine, alcohol. We can avoid some emotional stressors. We can train ourselves to be more resilient with meditative techniques. We can learn how to more effectively manage our emotional responses to stress with psychotherapy and communication skills. There are a variety of different forms that can be quite effective.
Taking a targeted, specific ratio of amino acids and vitamins can restore neurotransmitter levels (serotonin and dopamine) to normal in the gut and brain. This not only rapidly restores the intestines to better function but also allows the brain to function better. This improves emotional stability and resilience to emotional stressors, making us happier and more satisfied. These nutritional precursors are sometimes the key approach to resolving IBS symptoms because they address the core functional chemicals at the heart of the dysfunction. They are the treatment of choice for a more serious digestive disorder called Crohn’s Disease. So if you have been diagnosed with Crohn's disease restoring normal neurotransmitter balance with Monoamine Transporter Optimization is crucial and can mean a complete recovery. Contact us so we can help you with this.
For more detailed, scientific explanations of the nutritional protocols we use for resolving Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's Disease click on the relevant tab on the right side of the Health Resources page of this website.
Check out our free Stress Management Course. There is also more info on diet in the free Wise Nutrition Course. Under the Heading of Health Articles click on "Brain Neurotransmitter Health" to learn more about how to restore a better balance of neurotransmitters in the gut and brain. Click on the Initial Health Consultation Packet in the right hand column if you want to consult with Dr. Collins on using nutritional supplementation for the resolution of Crohn's or IBS. Or if you are in Sonoma County call 566-7396 for an appointment.