Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a condition that affects the colon (large intestine). Once dismissed by conventional physicians as a psychosomatic condition (meaning that it was due solely to psychological issues), IBS is now recognized by both the conventional and holistic medical community as one of the most prevalent forms of chronic gastrointestinal disorders. It manifests without any evidence of structural damage to the gastrointestinal tract, such as inflammation or ulceration of the lining of the intestinal walls. Despite the lack of such damage, IBS can severely disrupt healthy function of the gastrointestinal tract, and cause a variety of ongoing symptoms that can great affect a person’s overall quality of life.
The primary symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea (often both of these conditions alternate in IBS patients), flatulence, and nausea, as well as anorexia nervosa, anxiety, and depression. Symptoms tend to be chronic, although their degree of severity can ebb and flow, ranging from mild to severe.
IBS can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor diet and nutrition, food allergies, imbalanced levels of hydrochloric acid, impaired immunity, infections, lack of exercise, “leaky gut” syndrome, pharmaceutical drugs, and stress.
Diet and Nutrition: One of the primary causes of IBS, as well as other gastrointestinal disorders, is a diet that is high in commercially processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats, and which contains an abundance of chemical additives and preservatives while lacking adequate amounts of fiber. Such a diet, which sadly is all too typical of the way many people eat in the United States and other industrialized countries not only places a great burden on the gastrointestinal tract, it can also result in serious nutritional deficiencies. All of these factors, combined, can lead to excess acidity in the GI tract, indigestion, poor absorption of food nutrients, “leaky gut” syndrome, a buildup of toxins, and autoimmune reactions.
Food Allergies: Food allergies, while often overlooked or misdiagnosed by conventional physicians, are another common cause of IBS, as well as many other disease conditions. If you suffer from IBS, or any other gastrointestinal disorder, it is very important that you be tested for food allergies and sensitivities. Common allergy-causing foods include milk and dairy products, wheat, gluten (a component of wheat products), corn, and chocolate, but any food has the potential to cause food allergies.
Imbalanced Hydrochloric Acid Levels: Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is secreted by the stomach to aid in the digestion of food. Many people suffer from a lack of HCl production, however, which can lead to impaired digestion and poor absorption of food nutrients, and eventually affect the gastrointestinal tract. Similarly, an excess of HCl production can result in a state of over-acidity, causing IBS symptoms, as well as heartburn and flatulence.
Impaired Immune Function: Impaired immunity can also cause or contribute to IBS, as well as other GI disorders due to the relationship between diminished immune function and poor absorption of nutrients from food. In addition, poor immunity can also result in an increase in toxins within the gastrointestinal tract, as well as cause autoimmune reactions that actually attack the cells of the intestinal lining.
Infections: Infections caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses all negatively affect overall gastrointestinal health. In addition to releasing toxins into the GI tract, infectious microorganisms can cause autoimmune reactions, “leaky gut” syndrome, and malabsorption, as well as dysbiosis, or overgrowth of unhealthy intestinal flora such as Candida albicans, the primary cause of candiasis.
Lack of Exercise: Failure to exercise regularly can result in diminished production of digestive and pancreatic enzymes, as well as hydrochloric acid (HCl), all of which are necessary for healthy gastrointestinal function and which, if lacking, can result in a wide variety of gastrointestinal disorders.
“Leaky Gut” Syndrome: “Leaky gut” syndrome refers to a condition caused by damage to the stomach and intestinal lining, specifically the mucosa. As a result of this damage, undigested proteins, as well as various microorganisms that normally remain within the GI tract pass through the intestines to enter into the bloodstream. This, in turn, causes the immune system to overreact, producing antibodies that attack the cells of the intestines. In addition to GI disorders, “leaky gut” syndrome has also been linked to rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
“Leaky gut” syndrome can develop whenever the digestive tract is excessively stressed, yet it is rarely diagnosed. For more information, treatment protocol, and indicators that will help determine if you have “leaky gut” syndrome, please read the expanded Leaky Gut Section. You can print out the full article for easy reference.
Pharmaceutical Drugs: The following drugs can all cause and exacerbate various gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS: Accutane, Alka-Seltzer Antacid and Alka-Seltzer Pain Reliever, Anturane, Genuine Bayer Aspirin, Bayer Plus Aspirin, Bayer Regular Strength Enteric Aspirin, Bufferin Analgesic Tablets and Caplets, Ceptaz, Clinoril, Cuprimine, Ecotrin Enteric Coated Aspirin, Feldene, Ilosone, Lamprene, Leukine for IV Infusion, Lopid, Marplan, Meclomen, Novantrone, Paraplatin, Piroxicam, Prokine I.V. Infusion, Retrovir, Rynatuss, Supprelin Injection, Suprax, Ticlid, Tolectin, Toradol IM Injection, Trecator-SC, Trilisate, and Voltaren.
Stress: Chronic and poorly managed stress has a direct effect on the gastrointestinal system, and elevated stress levels have long been linked by scientific research to a wide variety of GI disorders, including IBS, because of how stress results in elevated acid production and impairs overall digestive function.
Because what we eat plays such a key role in the curing and prevention of IBS, we have included this expanded article outlining the Natural Cures Healing Food Plan, which can be printed out for your easy reference.
Changing your diet
Choosing to upgrade to a healthier diet is one of the most life enhancing decisions you can make, and one that in this day and age is essential to both prevent and reverse illness. This means choosing to eat a selection of foods aimed specifically at healing and avoiding those foods that can undermine your healing process or cause stress to your digestive system. Natural healing foods taste delicious, and have a higher level of nutrients and vibration than the typical meal eaten on the SAD diet, the standard American diet.
Give it time
During the first month or two, allow for a gradual transition from your usual way of eating, to an organic whole foods plan. Be gentle, yet ruthless with yourself, realizing that what you eat has a significant effect on your energy levels, your overall health, and your ability to heal.
What to Eat
Eat the freshest organic fruits and vegetables available, with a strong emphasis on steamed, raw, or juiced dark leafy greens such as kale, collards, chard, bok choy, spinach, and other regional greens. Choose from a broad range of vegetables, rotating your selection and experimenting with a wide variety of fresh seasonal produce. Broccoli, squash, tomatoes and avocados are great staples. Use lettuces of every color and shape to create salads of great variety and diversity. Eat as many raw and lightly steamed vegetables and fresh salads as you can digest.
Note: With digestive issues such as IBS, pureed vegetables could be an excellent option for you. Eating blended foods is less work for the system because the food is already partially broken down. Although it is unnecessary to chew blended food, it is still important to move each bite of food around in your mouth before swallowing to activate saliva’s role in digestion.
Enjoy a fist-sized serving of protein per meal, which translates to approximately 2-6 oz of preferably organic protein. Non-vegetarians may choose from free-range poultry, preferably turkey, wild-caught fish that are low in mercury, and the meats of bison, lamb, and cow. Depending on your individual needs, consider limiting your intake of organic red meat to one serving every four days. It is very important to only consume red meat that is organic, due to the toxic build up stored in the fat of flesh. Fish such as blue fish, cod, Greenland halibut, mackerel, and wild caught salmon are excellent sources of both healthy protein and fats. Avoid the following: farm-raised salmon, because of the antibiotics and food dyes they contain; tuna, which is high in mercury; and shellfish, which contain a high degree of contaminants.
Excellent organic vegetarian protein sources include free range eggs, tempeh, occasional tofu, legumes and beans, especially red lentils, French green lentils, and black, aduki and mung beans. When preparing beans for best flavor and easy digestion, we recommend soaking overnight in purified water, draining and then rinsing the beans before cooking. Handful sized servings of soaked and rinsed nuts and seeds, such as hemp, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are especially beneficial. Flax seeds make great additions to smoothies, and also can be ground and dehydrated, or low-heat baked, into delicious crackers.
For sustained energy, eat complex carbohydrates in the form of legumes, red potatoes, squash, yams, and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat or millet. We suggest limiting your overall carbohydrate intake to 30 percent or less of the foods you eat at each meal. This means increasing your vegetables and protein quantities if necessary, to balance out the complex carbohydrates.
How to prepare and season your food
Steam vegetables in purified water until slightly tender, or lightly sauté in coconut oil, or water and shoyu. Enjoy homemade soups, and try pressure cooking for speed and nutrient retention, especially when experimenting with legumes and beans.
Season veggies and whole cooked grains with fresh and dried herbs, sea salt, or organic soy sauce, also known as shoyu or the wheat-free version, called tamari. Sea Salt is an important addition to the diet, and should replace commercial or refined table salt. Additional seasonings include a wide variety of fresh or dried herbs, gomasio, powdered or chopped sea vegetables, such as dulse, as well as many other interesting powders and condiments found on health food store shelves. Garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, chili peppers, and onions can be enjoyed regularly for their great flavor and immune-boosting properties.
The preferred oil for cooking and/or baking is raw, organic coconut oil. Extra virgin olive oil, high lignin flax seed oil, or hemp seed oil can be drizzled on steamed vegetables, cooked whole grains, and used as the base for homemade salad dressings. Many health stores carry a raw nut butter called tahini, which is made up of pureed sesame seeds; tahini is a delicious healthy plant fat, and makes a great base for salad dressings, dips or spreads.
Live Cultured Foods
Live cultured foods are a delicious and valuable addition to your diet. Eat raw, live cultured vegetables such as unpasteurized sauerkraut, kim chi, as well as cultured dairy products such as yogurt and kefir. Be sure to choose organic dairy products, and choose raw dairy whenever possible. (Look for the soon to be completed recipes for Kefir and yogurt making.)
Freshly made vegetable juices add a powerful nutritional boost to your food plan. Juice made from a wide variety of seasonal vegetables are delicious, and essential to healing, and a great preventative tool when used as an ongoing supplement to any diet. See recipe section for ideas.
Sea Vegetables, Asian Foods and Broths
Asian foods such as miso, ume plum, and a wide array of sea vegetables are fantastic nutrient rich foods. Sea Vegetables vary in flavor and texture, making them fun to experiment with; they also offer an abundance of natural iodine, which is of the utmost of importance to support our glandular systems, especially the thyroid. Miso makes a delicious flavoring in salad dressings, dips, sauces, spreads, and as the classic, miso soup.
Healing broths are packed with delicious live giving minerals and can be sipped like tea or eaten as soup. Make your own delicious vegetable broth simply by cooking down an abundance of fresh organic vegetables in purified water. Miso soup, strained vegetable broth, broths from the seaweeds wakame, hijiki, andkombu, as well as fish and meat broths, are healing and easy to digest, making them especially valuable for any digestive problems.
Throughout the day, drink plenty of pure, filtered water; drink at least half an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. Avoid drinking – as well as bathing, and showering in – unfiltered tap water, as tap water contains heavy metals and pesticide residues that can settle in high concentrations in our organs.
Undergo testing for potential food allergies and sensitivities, and avoid all foods to which you are allergic or sensitive. Common allergy-causing foods include milk and all dairy products, soy, chocolate, corn, and wheat products. Consider a rotation diet or elimination diet in order to further reduce the likelihood of food allergies, especially if you cannot get tested right away.
What to Avoid
Refined Sugar and Flour, Artificial Food, Soy Foods
Eliminate all refined sugar and sugar products, along with empty carbohydrate foods such as commercial white flour, found in white breads, bagels, muffins, pastries, cookies and pastas. Also consider omitting whole grain wheat and wheat byproducts from your diet for several months. Wheat is a highly allergic food, and can be the root cause of a wide variety of digestive troubles. As the weeks go by, notice if you feel better; if yes, consider eliminating wheat for a year, giving your aggravated digestion a long deserved break. Choosing alternatives such as spelt, kamut, and rye will give your body a rest from a lifetime of eating wheat and can offer a major energy boost.
Choose to eat a minimum of processed soy products. By far, the best of all soy foods are fresh or frozen edame and tempeh, a fermented soy product that is less processed and easier to digest than other soy products. Stop eating all “junk” and commercially processed foods, as well as all foods containing artificial ingredients, additives, colorings, flavorings, and preservatives (such as carrageenan, BHA, BHT, sodium nitrite, sulfites, saccharin, aspartame, and cyclamates).
Inorganic Dairy, Excess Caffeine or Alcohol, Hydrogenated Fats
Stay clear of inorganic milk and dairy products, including yogurt and cheese. If consuming dairy, always choose organic dairy products and if available, raw organic dairy products. Toxins are stored in fats, so choosing organic is especially important in the case of dairy and meat.
Minimize your intake of coffee and other caffeine based products, such as soda and soft drinks spiked with caffeine. Avoid commercial non-herbal teas, and excess alcohol. Do not eat saturated, trans-, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated fats and oils. Margarine and shortening are made from these and are to be eliminated.
For some plagued with IBS, a raw food diet could be extremely beneficial; for others, raw food may not be the best choice. Each person responds differently based on their individual chemistry and the depth of the condition being healed. To learn more, read about the Raw Food Diet. You can printout this full article for easy reference. Numerous books are available to give you a bigger overview of how eating raw and live foods might be the perfect healing path. Healing Inflammatory Bowel Disease by Paul Nison addresses this issue directly and describes how he healed his disease by eating raw foods. See the recommended books section for other titles.
The Specific Carbohydrate Diet – A dietary approach that has been found to be effective in the majority of IBS cases is called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It was developed by Elaine Gottschall, M.Sc., in an effort to help her four year-old daughter heal her own colitis symptoms, and is based on the research of the late Sidney V. Haas, M.D., who discovered that most gastrointestinal disorders are caused by an imbalance of carbohydrates in relationship to the microorganisms that naturally occur in the gastrointestinal tract.
According to Dr. Haas, when this relationship becomes unbalanced, the microorganisms grow unchecked and release toxins, causing malabsorption of food, and especially poor digestion of carbohydrates, a staple of the Western diet. To reverse this trend, Haas, and later, Gottschall developed the strict dietary regimen that comprises the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Based on her work with hundreds of patients with severe gastrointestinal disorders, Gottschall has found that the diet can yield complete results in as little as three weeks, but only if it is completely adhered to. Its eating guidelines are as follows:
Avoid: All processed, smoked or canned meats, breaded or canned fish, seaweed, processed cheeses, seeds, potatoes, yams, parsnips, chick peas, bean sprouts, soybeans, mung beans, fava beans, as well as all cereal grains in any form, including flour. Avoid milk, and all products commercially made from milk, dried milk solids, buttermilk or acidophilus milk, commercially prepared yogurt, sour cream and ice cream. Do not consume soymilk, instant tea, coffee, coffee substitutes, beer, cornstarch, arrowroot, chocolate, carob, bouillon cubes, instant soup bases, any product made with refined sugar, agar-agar, carrageenan, pectin, ketchup, molasses, corn and maple syrup, any flour made from legumes, and baking powder.
Eat: Fresh or frozen, preferably organic meats, poultry, wild caught fish, organic eggs, organic milk and products made from organic milk such as cheeses, homemade yogurt prepared at low temperatures from organic milk, and dry curd cottage cheese. Choose from a wide variety of freshly prepared, preferably organic vegetables. Vegetables and fruits are the main stay of this food plan. Use no canned foods with the exception of salt-free canned red salmon, white albacore tuna or sardines, only on occasion. Daily juicing of fresh green vegetables is an important addition for healing and offers you deep nutritional nourishment. With this and all illness, providing yourself with the most supportive nutritional profile possible is of primary importance.
Abide by this diet for as long as your symptoms persist. Adherence can be challenging, but maintenance is essential to obtain the desired results.
Useful supplements for IBS include vitamin A, zinc, and evening primrose oil, as well as probiotics such as acidophilus andBifidobacteria.
Two other highly effective supplements are fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and soil-based organisms. FOS is an all-natural carbohydrate microorganism that has been shown by researchers to serve as a fertilizing agent that enables Bifidobacteria to thrive in the large intestine, where it helps to protect against harmful bacteria.
Soil-based organisms are beneficial microbes found in soil. Taken as a supplement, they go to work to detoxify the gastrointestinal tract while eliminating fungi, molds, parasites, viruses, and yeasts. They also help to improve the absorption of nutrients and to improve both immune and overall cell function, including the production of RNA and DNA. In addition, they also act as natural antioxidants.
Prescription and non-prescription medication:
What non-prescription and prescription drugs are you taking? Your non-prescription and prescription are partially the reason that you have this illness or disease – you need to get off these medications, but do so only under the guidance of a licensed health care practitioner.
We know that when the body is out of balance, energy doesn’t flow, leading blockages and eventually disease. Here are some things you can do to combat stress and restore balance:
- Go to a Dr. Morter BEST (Bio-Energetic Synchronisation Technique) Practitioner.
- Sign up for Energetic Re-Balancing: 2 practitioners to consider are:
- Consider using Mary Millers Iching System Products – ichingsystemsinstruments.com
- Reiki healing is very powerful in releasing stress and emotional baggage. Find a practitioner here.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has had remarkable results in dissolving stress. Find a local practitioner here or go to www.thetappingsolution.com, Faster EFTor www.tftrx.com
- Try Hypnotherapy to relax the mind. Find a practitioner here.
Learn to love yourself and stop berating yourself. What you say to yourself is what you are or what you become. Watch mindfulness films such as What the Bleep Do We Know www.whatthebleep.com and You Can Heal Your Life www.youcanhealyourlifemovie.comand start using powerful positive affirmations such as “I take loving care of my body” and “I am ready to change” Say the phrase over and over again until you start to believe them. Never underestimate the power of your mind.
- Meditate and allow yourself to be still. This may be really difficult for you at first but stick with it building up your time slowly. Often people create an eating disorder in order to fill a void, to stop them from thinking and feeling, and to give them something to focus on. Try guided meditations to help you to relax and let go of negative programming.
Stress Management: Learning how to reduce and properly manage stress is essential for helping to protect against gastritis. Stress reduction techniques are also very helpful for dealing with emotions such as anger, depression, and hopelessness that can exacerbate symptoms. Holistic health practitioners help their patients accomplish stress reduction through the use of various mind/body medicine techniques, such as biofeedback, hypnotherapy, and relaxation exercises. Meditation is another form of stress management that can be highly effective. There are many ways to meditate. One of the easiest is simply to sit comfortably in a chair with your eyes closed as you focus on your breathing. Do this for five to ten minutes twice a day and gradually extend each session 20-30 minutes. To enhance your efforts, concentrate on mentally repeating a peaceful phrase each time that you inhale and exhale, allowing all other thoughts to arise and pass without becoming involved in them. At first, this may seem difficult, but with committed practice you will eventually find yourself able to do so while experiencing greater degrees of calm and peace.
Curing IBS without medication: www.naturalnews.com/022925_IBS_stress_pain.html
Nutrition to eliminate IBS: www.naturalnews.com/022061_IBS_asthma_diet.html
Yoga for IBS: www.helpforibs.com/yoga/
IBS and Ayurveda: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyNvs7_yy2A
Hypnotherapy and IBS: www.naturalnews.com/027504_IBS_hypnosis.html
Aloe Vera for IBS: www.naturalnews.com/021858_aloe_vera_gel.html
IBS is not in the mind: www.naturalnews.com/029980_IBS_causes.html
Further Information (links and books)
IBS Eliminated – A natural way to Stop IBS by Kimberly Buchanan ;
70 Things to EAT when you have IBS and 36 foods that can CAUSE Irritable Bowel Syndrome by Joel Blanchard; Eating right for a Bad Gut, James Scala; Gastrointestinal Health, Steven Perkin MD; Gut Reaction, Gudrun Jonsson; Natural Alternatives to Nexium, Maalox, Tagamet, Prilosec & Other Acid Blockers: What to Use to Relieve Acid Reflux, Heartburn, and Gastric Ailments by Martie Whittekin;Natural Stomach Care: Treating and Preventing Digestive Disorders with the Best of Eastern and Western Healing Therapies by Anil Minocha; Healthy Digestion the Natural Way: Preventing and Healing Heartburn, Constipation, Gas, Diarrhea, Inflammatory Bowel and Gallbladder Diseases, Ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and More by Lindsey Berkson.
David Reavely [email protected] – Food intolerance, nutrition, exercise
Andrea Butje | Aromahead [email protected] – Aromatherapy
Carrie Vitt [email protected] – Organic food recipes.
David Spector-NSR/USA [email protected] – Meditation, stress
Judith Hoad [email protected] – Herbalist.
Kath May [email protected] – Reiki, Tai Chi.
Lillian Bridges [email protected] – Chinese medicine, living naturally.
Monika [email protected] – Aromatherapy.
Rakesh [email protected] – Ayurvedic practitioner.