Are IBS symptoms disrupting your life? Are bloating, constipation, heartburn and indigestion making you miserable? Listen as Dr. Donald Ellsworth explains the causes of IBS and how to get rid of the symptoms for good without prescription drugs.
0:43 What is IBS?
2:15 You’re more likely to have IBS if you’re younger. Usually, it’s before age forty-five when it starts. You’re more likely to have it if you’re female, twice as common in fact. It tends to run in families, a family history of IBS.
4:19 Interestingly, it’s been noted that people tend to do better when they avoid simple sugars.
4:30 People generally do better when they avoid gluten or wheat.
5:49 What seems to be the predominant reason for having IBS.
6:51 IBS really should be thought of as not just a gut problem, it’s an overall health problem.
7:59 What we find is that when people actually start getting their GI tract healthy, it
transforms their lives.
10:01 Things like taking birth control pills will alter the GI Tract, artificial sweeteners, the use of pesticides, herbicides, and being exposed to those… One round of steroids could really leave your GI tract unhealthy.
Hi. I’m Dr. Don Ellsworth. Today we’re going to be talking about irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS for short. This is getting a lot more attention lately, in part because there are some new medications that are being marketed for this. Something that you may not have thought much about or heard much about, you’re going to be seeing more because of the fact that it’s being advertised. Generally, the more something is advertised the more people become aware of a problem. I want to present both what is typically done in a doctor’s office and how we would suggest you would want to manage this condition, because there are some very effective strategies that you can take that will help you recover your health.
What is IBS?
What is IBS? Irritable Bowel Syndrome is commonly a cluster of symptoms that describes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation. Conventional medicine will often talk about this like it’s a long-term condition. In other words, if you have this you generally can expect it to continue. IBS is not the same as some inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. There’s not actually any inflammation when you do a scope and look. You don’t see ulcers. You don’t see a bunch of redness. This is quite different from the more serious inflammatory problems. For the sake of just describing the predominant symptom, it’s sometimes broken down into IBS-D for diarrhea, or IBS-C for constipation. IBS just generally referred to, or IBS-A, is when they alternate. That mainly is distinguished so that when someone is going to prescribe a medication they’ll say, “Well, I’m prescribing this because they have this type of IBS and they’re trying to treat the symptom.” Practically speaking, though, when you’re actually treating the root issue, you don’t need to worry about the distinction. I’ll come back to that.
Symptoms of IBS
One characteristic symptom of IBS is that you have abdominal pain or cramping, but it gets better when you go to the bathroom and have a bowel movement. Gas and bloating is another common symptom. Diarrhea, constipation. Also, you can have mucus in the stool. You’re more likely to have IBS if you’re younger. Usually, it’s before age forty-five when it starts. You’re more likely to have it if you’re female, twice as common in fact. It tends to run in families, a family history of IBS. Because there’s not a specific physical finding or marker on a blood test, the diagnosis is actually made by those clusters of symptoms, and there are a couple of different criteria, the Rome and Manning criteria. One of the criteria, the Rome criteria, says you need to have abdominal pain and discomfort for three days a month lasting at least three months, and it needs to involve improvement with defecation, alternating frequencies of stools, changes in the consistencies of your stools. The Manning criteria is very similar to that, but it just doesn’t have the same criteria for how often.
What I’m would state to you, though, is that whenever you see the word syndrome in a diagnosis, you’re usually not talking about the root issue. There is a reason for this, and I know you want to know what that is. I’m going to cover that. I also want you to know that there are some warning symptoms, that if you have these you probably have something else and it needs to be checked out. For example, if you’re older than age fifty when it starts, if you have weight loss, bleeding, fever, if you have recurrent vomiting, if the abdominal pain does not go away after a bowel movement, if the diarrhea wakes you up when you’re sleeping, if you have issues with anemia, all those things suggest other problems. Generally, the more you have ongoing symptoms and have other issues going on, the more studies the doctor would recommend. Not all doctors would recommend endoscopy, but if it persists, they would. There’s some various tests for H Pylori, celiac disease, stool testing.
Basically, the conventional treatment is either going to be some dietary changes, or some medications, that are really just things designed towards treating the diarrhea, or the constipation, with various medications. Interestingly, it’s been noted that people tend to do better when they avoid simple sugars. We have noticed that as well, and we would highly recommend that. People generally do better when they avoid gluten or wheat. There’s something called FODMAPS that I’m going to mention because if you have the condition, your doctor may have mentioned it, but basically what that is simple sugars, and-or sugar alcohols, if you have those in your diet, they tend to make it worse.
I’ve been seeing full-page ads for a couple of new medications that are targeting IBS. One is actually an opiate medication and the other is an antibiotic. It’s interesting that the state-of-the-art of this condition is such that the newest medications for this are really in a fairly primitive mode. One is actually an opiate just slowing down the gut, like all drugs that are in the opiate family do. The other one is an antibiotic, which is killing off the bacteria that can overgrow and sometimes lead to these symptoms. We would suggest there’s some even better ways to approach this.
By the way, you may be offered an antidepressant and counseling if you see a conventional doctor as well. I would like to suggest that we should think of this as more of a problem of an unhealthy gut and an allergic reaction that’s starting to go haywire. We know that with IBS, there is excessive mass cell activation which is actually a part of the allergic response. What seems to be the predominant reason for having IBS is that we get an unhealthy balance between the different bacteria, usually too little of the good bacteria and too much candida, or yeast. We often will see IBS symptoms from a leaky gut, and that can be from other things as well. For example gluten, which are wheat, is very irritating to the GI Tract. Taking nonsteroidal medications like Ibuprofen or Naproxyn are also very hard on our gut. Some other food sensitivities, dairy tends to be hard on the gut as well. Genetically modified foods, very hard on the GI Tract. Sweeteners that are artificial all alter the GI Tract bacteria adversely, and will cause problems. Then there are environmental toxins that are a little harder to avoid. When those build up in our body, that alters the GI Tract and that will also lead to problems with IBS type symptoms.
This all comes back to the gut, as you can see. Really, the gut does rule our health. As long as our gut is healthy, we are set up for the foundation for staying healthy. When it gets unhealthy, we’re not going to be healthy. IBS really should be thought of as not just a gut problem, it’s an overall health problem. Again, if the gut isn’t where it needs to be, it will lead to other problems. Even though it’s not classically described as being connected with things like autoimmune problems, we know that dysbiosis, or an unhealthy gut where there’s not a good balance in the… you don’t have enough of the good bacteria. You have an overgrowth of some of the bad things like yeast, or other bacteria that are pathogenic, that will lead to autoimmune conditions in many people.
There are a lot of reasons why you don’t want to just live with this condition. That would be one of my concerns with any of you who are taking a medication and you may be happy with the results. You may be thinking, “I’m getting by pretty well.” Keep in mind, if your GI Tract’s not healthy, as evidenced by needing ongoing medication for symptoms, then you would want to get it healthy so you could prevent problems. It just makes sense to get to the root of the issue. What we find is that when people actually start getting their GI Tract healthy, it transforms their lives. The GI Tract starts getting populated with the good bacteria from the get-go. We’re born with very little of the good bacteria in our GI Tract, but over the next first month of life, we get more and more. It is really well set up by just a month. It turns out that by the time you’re an adult, most of the cells in your body are actually not your own cells, but they’re cells of the organisms in our GI Tract.
I say that to emphasize how important this microbiome, or this inner world of the organisms in our GI Tract, are to our health. This is typically a weak spot in the education of medical doctors. We medical doctors learn a lot about looking for ulcers, looking for tumors, but the inner workings of the GI Tract has really not been emphasized. In fact, it wasn’t really studied until fairly recently when the National Institute of Health did a seven year study called the Human Microbiome Project. We now know unequivocally that many diseases are directly related to an unhealthy microbiome. What can you do to get your microbiome healthy and what causes it to be unhealthy?
Causes of IBS Symptoms
One of the more common problems is when you take antibiotics. When you take an antibiotic, it’s similar to taking your front yard and throwing Roundup on it. You’re going to kill off all the grass, and the grass will then have an open source of just being exposed to the world, and weeds will start to grow. That’s exactly what happens to your GI Tract. You start getting things like yeast and other pathogenic bacteria overgrowing. Once that occurs, the balance is not going to be established unless you take action to restore it. In other words, it doesn’t just fall back into place by eating healthy. Once that’s occurred, many people will then go to their doctor, be prescribed a medication for the predominant symptom, but you still have the candida, for example, overgrown. I should also mention things like taking birth control pills will alter the GI tract, artificial sweeteners, the use of pesticides, herbicides, and being exposed to those. Steroids are another common issue. One round of steroids could really leave your GI Tract unhealthy.
What can we do to turn that around? First, we want to get rid of the yeast. That’s a three month process of taking some things to kill yeast, putting in the good bacteria, and you need to be eating in such a way that you’re not feeding the yeast. You need to strictly avoid all the simple sugars. That’s going to be sugar, flour even if it’s whole grain, milk, and initially, you avoid potato and rice. By avoiding those foods and taking some things to kill yeast, and there’s some over the counter things you can use as well as prescription, lots of probiotics, you’ll restore your GI tract. As you’re doing this, it’s very important to also be avoiding foods that are commonly irritating to the GI Tract. Gluten/wheat is always one of my top suspects. By avoiding that, you’re going to really keep your GI tract healthier in most cases. It’s not clear if everybody is sensitive to gluten to some degree, or whether some people are somewhat immune. Clearly, some people are much more sensitive than others, the worst case being celiac disease. Most people who have trouble with wheat actually don’t have celiac disease, they simply have a gluten sensitivity, or a wheat sensitivity, causing their problem. We test people frequently for food sensitivities with blood work.
How to Heal Your GI Tract
That can be very helpful at expanding your list, because you may be reacting to something that you have regularly and have no idea you’re having a problem with that. I highly recommend if anybody has IBS doing the food allergy testing. Getting rid of yeast, food allergy testing, doing some things to get rid of the toxins in our life, artificial sweeteners have got to go, genetically modified foods need to go. I’ve spoken in other podcasts about all the different toxins that are made by candida, but just as a reminder, some of these toxins actually cause…one of them is gas, and that’s one of the reasons why you tend to have a lot of gas with IBS. It also will slow down your metabolism and make it hard to think clearly, because you’re actually making some alcohol and you’re also making ammonia. You want to eat organic. We often use colostrum. Colostrum powder at a high dose can really be helpful at healing the gut.
If you follow these simple rules, you will get your health back in most cases. It’s usually not a complex situation that requires further testing than what we just described. You generally just need to go after restoring the microbiome, and you’ll get your health back. Of course, should it not resolve that you’d want to do additional testing. IBS is simply an unhealthy gut. You want to treat the root issue and we can help you do that. We have lots of information on our website about that, and we’d be happy to help you. Call a wellness consultant today at 877-698-8698.