Another installment in the Natural Treatment of IBS series.
IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome. Why the term ‘syndrome?’ This is a term that is used medically for 2 reasons-
- When there may be more than one contributing factor.
- When they don’t know what it is & what causes it.
Let’s establish some criteria-
To have a condition with which we would give it the title of IBS it would need to be chronic. This means the symptoms must be persistent-frequent and chronic. It could then be called an inflammatory bowel ‘disease.’
Actually IBS and it’s cousins colitis & crohn’s are not diseases at all—-suggesting they are pathological. They are acquired–man-made. I call them Acquired Inflammatory Bowel.
In the case of IBS the most common symptom is frequent and sometimes urgent diarrhea. This is referred to as IBS-D. In some cases people experience both diarrhea & constipation or just the constipation. This is called IBS-C.
These occur because there has been a traumatic change to the bowel tissue.
If you have a rare bout of these then you do not have IBS.
Let me make it clear what does not cause IBS-
- Stress does not cause IBS. Yes of course when we experience stress we may have a bout of loose stools. But stress cannot alter the tissue of the bowel.
- Poor diet does not cause IBS. Of course if we eat some tainted food will can have a bout of diarrhea which is a cleansing reaction and a way of your body to protect you. But there is no food that can damage the tissue of the bowel. In fact you cannot eat your way into or out of IBS.
There are things that can irritate the bowel but are ‘secondary’—-requiring prior circumstances to do so.
Let me give you an example to help dispel some myths.
Aspirin products have a reputation of causing stomach ulcers or IBS. Well—-yes & no. Although aspirin is a very valuable medicine for relieving pain and inflammation the chronic use of it can actually irritate gastrointestinal tissue.
But—–that can only happen if something has happened before that. This is something that will alter the inner bowel tissue. There is only one common substance that we ingest can do this—–antibiotics in some form whether that be from prescribed oral or topical antibiotics or from food-water and environmental sources.
This alters the GI tract by killing off the bacterial mucosal lining which protects the tender bowel tissue—–from what? Well in this case from aspirin. So—-if you have not had (enough) antibiotics to compromise the mucosal lining then you will be that person who can take all the aspirin you want & you will not irritate the GI tissue.
So——yes-under these conditions it is possible to take lots of aspirin and end up with IBS—-but as you see the aspirin did not cause it.
Possibly but to a lesser degree you could aggravate your bowel drinking excessive amounts of coffee or alcohol. It is not true that coffee causes IBS or that alcohol causes IBS. They are only the secondary influence.
I’ve also been asked about aspartame and diarrhea. My response is that a concentrated amount of any strange synthetic substance can cause a diarrhea response—not because it causes IBS–but as cleansing episode—–dumping lots of water in the bowel to rapidly escort the junk out of it.
Another one that comes up is xylitol and diarrhea. Xylitol is a concentrated non sugar substitute that has been known to trigger a loose stool—-but it is really benign causing no tissue damage.
Are there any home remedies for IBS? Not really—-not if you actually have damage to the bowel tissue.
Of course if you are having a bad day or 2 or 3 there are things you can do to slow the diarrhea down until whatever it is that caused it passes through the system. Although not considered home remedies in these cases the best you can do is to use over the counter meds such as imodium or pepto bismal or even plop-plop fizz-fizz —alka seltzer which is still pretty close to the natural medicine developed over 100 years ago for general dyspepsia—sour stomach—–but not for IBS–as that is a condition that did not exist 100 yrs ago.
Got ulcers and want to do something natural to give you some very temporary help?—Drink lots of whole milk. Why whole milk—-the fat content will coat the stomach for 10-15 mins.
Wanna plug up that bowel for a few hrs? Scarf down a few bananas.
Ever heard of carob? It’s a natural chocolate substitute—tastes jut like it. It is made out of the carob bean. It’s healthy stuff. One of the carob’s health benefits is that it will almost stop diarrhea in it’s tracks.
So I hope you get the message—strange stuff in—–gets a rapid escort out. That is all it is.
I am frequently told that people think it was caused by food poisoning. They swear up and down that it all began when they went on that ocean cruise (it’s amazing that anyone still does that). I agree that it may occurred on or after the trip——–but could only have happened if there was a prior compromise to the mucosal lining in the stomach and bowel. Just like the aspirin example.
If you have true IBS you are not going to heal it by meditating or doing yoga or eating organic food or ignoring it.
The good news though is—-if it is a rare or temporary event—then you don’t have IBS.