IBS

Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a problem that affects a staggering 3million people, or more, in Australia and about 20% of people world-wide. It is a condition that has baffled doctors for years. There is no single cause, no specific treatment and, as yet, no cure.

But first let’s look at some general information on IBS.

IBS is more common in women than in men and occurs more often in younger people. IBS is usually ongoing, and there are some times when symptoms are worse than other times. Having IBS does not mean you are more likely to develop colon cancer later in life.

Symptoms of IBS

Some people with IBS mainly have constipation, others have diarrhoea. Many people with IBS alternate between periods of constipation and diarrhoea.

Symptoms include:

  • Cramps and bloating in your lower abdomen, which usually get better after having a bowel motion or passing wind
  • Pain that can be a sharp or dull feeling
  • Constipation: feeling that you have not managed to empty your bowels completely, having bowel motions less often, straining to pass a motion or passing small, hard stools
  • Diarrhoea: having bowel motions too often and passing loose stools
  • Flatulence, or wind, and/or rumbling noises from your abdomen
  • Needing to rush to the toilet
  • Headaches
  • Mucus in your stools

Some of these symptoms can also be from other inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohns disease and Ulcerative Colitis, which sometimes get categories as IBS.

But some of the symptoms above can also be part of having endometriosis and many women who are diagnosis with IBS, in fact have endometriosis. They then have all the testing for IBS, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis etc (colonoscopy etc) as these don’t find anything and then these women are often told by doctors they are at a loss to what is happening. This is why endometriosis often takes up to 12 years for definitive diagnosis, which is terrible.

IBS triggers

The cause of IBS is not known, but certain things can trigger its symptoms, including:

  • Stress
  • Depressed mood
  • Food poisoning
  • Tummy bug
  • Virus
  • Certain foods and drinks
  • Some medication
  • Some people find avoiding alcohol, caffeine and nicotine can reduce their IBS symptoms

As said before some women suffer more acutely from symptoms of IBS just before, or during, their menstrual cycle. IBS symptoms can also mean that they have a condition called Endometriosis. Many times these conditions can be overlooked and they can be present at the same time, along with bladder issues as well.

Lactose and wheat intolerance and wheat may be a cause and needs to be assessed before permanent changes to diet are made. Wheat grains are inflammatory to the bowel anyway and they should be removed if anyone does have inflammatory bowel issues.

Treatments

There are a few medical treatments available but results can be varying. Many people with severe IBS end up on steroids to settle inflammation in the bowel. There are also other medications to slow bowel motility and reduce inflammation as well.

Dietary and lifestyle changes are a must for the treatment of IBS. See my post on what real nutrition should be food what a good diet should be like.

There is, however complementary therapies that can bring great results.

The complementary medicine unit and the University of Western Sydney ran a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial to determine whether Chinese Herbal medicine was of any benefit in the treatment of IBS. Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years to treat many disease states, including inflammatory bowel conditions.

The results were stunning. More than 70% of patients taking the Chinese herbs improved. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medicine Association.

There are also other complementary therapies and treatments that can be used and combined with medical interventions, or other interventions mentioned above.

Studies have shown that strain specific probiotic bacteria have induced remission in inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis and IBS. But, this needs consultation with a qualified healthcare professional to treat disease properly. Self-prescribing is not an option for this disease that affects over 3 million people here in Australia alone.

With any disease state such as IBS, there needs to be an individualised approach, not a one treatment fix all approach, because everyone is uniquely difference in their symptoms they experience and what their triggers are. There also needs to be a multimodality approach because many times IBS overlaps with conditions such as endometriosis for women, and other inflammatory conditions in men.

If you have IBS or inflammatory bowel disease and need help and assistance in managing your disease better, please give my friendly staff a call and they will explain how I may be able to assist you.

Regards

Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate

References

  1. Treatment of IBs with chinese herbal medicine -Alan Bensoussan, MSc; Nick J. Talley, MD; Michael Hing, MBBS, FRACP; Robert Menzies, PhD; Anna Guo, PhD; Meng Ngu, PhD http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=188145
  2. VSL#3 Probiotic-Mixture Induces Remission in Patients with Active Ulcerative Colitis- (American Journal of Gastroenterology 2005;100:1-8)
  3. Investigations and treatment of Endometriosis- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 2008
  4. Bensoussan A, Myers SP. Towards a Safer Choice: The Practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Australia . Sydney, Australia: University of Western Sydney Macarthur; 1996.
  1. Yu ZX, Wang K, Li FP. Clinical trial of Chinese herbal capsule for 157 cases of irritable bowel syndrome. Chin J Integrated Tradit West Med.1991;11:170-171.
  1. Liu ZK. Chinese herbal medicine treatment for 120 cases of irritable bowel syndrome. Chin J Integrated Tradit West Med.1990;10:615.
  1. Shi ZQ. Combination treatment of Chinese and Western medicine for 30 cases of irritable bowel syndrome. Chin J Integrated Tradit West Med.1989;9:241.
  2. Chen DZ. Tong Xie Yao Fang with additions in treating 106 cases of irritable bowel syndrome. Nanjing Med University J.1995;15:924.
  3. Xu RL. Clinical realisations during the diagnosis and treatment of 55 cases of irritable bowel syndrome. Shanxi J Tradit Chin Med.1995;11:10-11.
bread 821503 1920

Give us this day our daily…..Bloating

Many people do not realise that the cause of their daily bloating may in fact start with their daily consumption of bread.

I always used to comment that when I was in travelling through Asia and eating all the great fresh foods over there, that I was feeling really good. I never got that bloated feeling that most people often get each day.

On arriving back home, I would always suddenly start to get stomach cramps and bloating for no reason. I find this quite ironic as most people have a perception that you are going to get food poisoning etc if you go overseas. I have never ever been sick in all the years of travelling there. Actually it is always the opposite, I always feel better when I eat the foods there.

Having ruled out bugs and parasites etc, I was starting to go a bit crazy as to what was going on. Then one day I didn’t get the bloating anymore.

What did I do that day?

Was it a virus just getting out of my system, or was it a food that I missed that day?

Then it all dawned on me that I had not eaten bread that day. I’m not a big bread eater anyway, but the next day I tried out my theory and ate some bread. Bingo!

I had bloating and pains all day again. So much for supposedly being a healthy staple food. While travelling in Asia, I didn’t have bread or many refined foods at all and that is probably why I always feel better when I go there.

Many people suffer bloating caused by bread

Actually many people suffer from bloating each day, caused by bread, and some suffer it quite severely. Some to the point that they actually look pregnant with it. Many people’s bloating and weight issues are caused from over consumption of bread and other refined flour foods. Many people lose weight just by giving up bread alone. The sad fact is many people continue to eat bread even when they know it is causing them bloating and pain etc.

When you look at the average Australian diet, we live on the stuff. Toast in the morning, sandwiches at lunch and sometimes we have bread with our dinner too. In this day and age, there is no reason to eat as much bread as we do. There are so many more healthy food alternatives available to us today, but we all go for the gut filler and bloater every chance we get. It’s quick and it makes you feel full, temporarily anyway.

Bread is just a filler to help you fill full

Actually if you look at the history of bread, it was born through poverty. It was born out of necessity when there was no other foods around and it gave the perception of being full. The trouble is the first breads were semi good for you as they were very dense and full of whole grains. Not this refined rubbish, full of chemicals and additives, that make it last for weeks. These days, weevils won’t even live in it and some kids can even get hyper on it because it can be laced with that many preservatives.

Gluten, yeast and other additives

Besides all the additives in bread today, there are two main ingredients that make many people have digestive issues. One is gluten and the other is yeast. Yeast is a rising agent and it can surely make the stomach bubble and rise too. Then the refined grains containing gluten also causes inflammation in the system. The other disturbing thought about bread it that it is really just flour and water. Flour and water makes glue and that’s why it clogs so many people’s bowels up each day. The gluten can also cause loose bowels for some people too.

Many people also have a misconception about the different types of bread too. Many people choose brown bread over white thinking it is a healthier option. Wrong!

Brown bread is just white bread with a tiny bit of wheat germ added and a splash of colouring to make it brown. Even when you do find a semi decent option, with the many breads out there, it still really isn’t a really healthy option. Again it is just a filler and there are many more foods out there with much more nutrition, and again it won’t make you bloated. We also now know how bad refined grains are for you.

Gluten free does not mean healthier

Don’t think for a moment that Gluten free is a healthier option, because it isn’t. It is still refined grains, minus the gluten. It is still inflammatory due to lectins and leptins and other things in the grains. Many gluten free products also contain a lot more sugars and emulsifiers too. It is best to go grain free than go gluten free.

Eating other foods instead of bread

I must admit that there is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread, but that doesn’t make it good for you. The other hard thing about it is it is really hard not to give it to our kids, especially if they are going to school.

But I also know that with cooler packs now, there are many other options that we can give our children to take to school. Moderation is the key here. Have a look at some of the health snack options you can use instead of bread and refined flour products.

All of us need to cut back on the stomach glue (bread) and start eating some healthier foods such as salads, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, veggies and fruit. It isn’t all that hard.

Instead of eating that meat and salad sandwich tomorrow, how about just having the meat & salad. It is a much healthier option and it won’t bloat you either. Some nice sliced ham off the bone, or tuna, or chicken, and a lovely Greek salad and hey presto, we have a great healthy lunch option.

Other foods that may cause bloating

There are other may other things in our diet that cause bloating such as alcohol, oats, sugars, chocolate, fermented bean paste (miso) etc that people also need to be aware of. Overindulgence in all of these things can all lead the stomach to overload and cause bloating and pain.

One more thing, “no”, you just can’t take medicines and supplements to make the bloating go away and still eat the foods that cause bloating.  It doesn’t work that way. You have to remove the cause, otherwise the problem will continue no matter what you do.

So next time you look like you have added two clothe sizes,  with a stomach full of wind, remember that it may just be from the bread that you have just eaten beforehand. If you are getting bloating each day, it is a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about this and look into the cause of your issues. There are simple testings for food allergens and your healthcare provider is trained to know what to test for and look for in your diet as well. There may also be an underlying disease state being missed as well.

Take care

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

-No Stone Left Unturned

-Women’s and Men’s Health Advocate