Did you receive a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and then get told "not to worry about it"? "Nothing can be done"? "It's not serious"?
Meanwhile you're suffering the everyday consequences of a digestive system all out of whack.
I feel you. The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are myriad and diverse! It's another one of those diagnoses of exclusion, meaning all organic causes of your digestive woes (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's, Celiac, colon cancer, etc.) have been ruled out but the problem remains - we gotta call it something and the medical community decided on "IBS".
The reality is that although IBS doesn't come with the kind of long-term consequences the more serious digestive conditions do, it can cause a real disruption to your quality of life. One of my absolutely favourite principles of naturopathic medicine is "tolle causem" or "treat the root cause". It's a process that takes time and patience, but treating the root cause is truly what leads us to long-term relief from chronic illness and allows us to have a certain amount of control over our symptoms (e.g. "If eat this cake I will have gas and bloating...I will eat it anyway, because it's my birthday and I have tomorrow off"). Here are a few symptoms of IBS and some root causes I like to explore with my patients
Our large intestines are colonized with over 10x more bacteria than there are cells in our body. Years of casual antibiotic use, a bout of bad food poisoning, or ongoing inflammation can lead to significant disruption to your gut microbiome.
- LEAKY GUT SYNDROME has been identified as an important contributing factor in diarrhea associated with IBS
- Gut dysbiosis has been connected with the the development of autoimmune diseases, depression, anxiety, migraines, inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn's disease, and fertility
Bloating, Gas & Pain
When it gets to the point that you find yourself calling in sick for work and cancelling plans with friends because of digestive pain or intense bloating, you know it's time to ask for help.
- Studies have shown that BLOATING is frequently cited as the most bothersome symptom of those suffering from IBS
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a significant cause of symptoms in over 65% of people experiencing bloating & pain as a part of irritable bowel syndrome
- It's not just what you eat, but how - low stomach acid or HYPOCHLOHYDRIA can contribute to the sensation of bloating following a meal
Food Sensitivity Testing
So many of people suffering with IBS can relate to making significant changes to their diet with little to no avail.
- Food elimination diets based on IgG ANTIBODY TESTING for food allergies resulted in a statistically significant decrease of symptoms agains a control group in a study looking at people with IBS (Bentz et al., 2004)
- Bowel movement frequency has been shown to decrease in patients with IBD/IBS following food sensitivity testing (Bentz et al., 2010)
- Patients who have not responded well to medication or other intervention for IBS experience improvements follow an IgG specific diet (Drisco et al., 2006)
Chronic constipation, even with a diet full of fibre and adequate hydration can be persistent and unbelievably frustrating.
- The same HORMONE ISSUES that cause painful periods and breast tenderness can contribute significantly to constipation; by the same token BIRTH CONTROL can be aggravating to digestion
- Your MIGRATING MOTOR COMPLEX, the impulse that propels food from your mouth and all the way down your GI tract can become impaired following an illness or bout of food poisoning
- STRESS can lead to decreased stomach acid production and disrupt nutrient absorption downstream, and contribute to constipation
Your health can be restored - you don't have to live with the symptoms of IBS. Working with a naturopathic doctor is a great place to start getting to the bottom of your digestive issues.
Dr. Emily Bennett is a naturopathic doctor working in Hamilton, ON at the corner of King St. W. and Locke St., and in downtown Toronto at Queen West and Spadina Ave.