IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME: MAJOR PROBLEM IN AMERICA

Millions of Americans suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder that effects the entire gastrointestinal tract that produces intense abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea. Irritable bowel syndrome affects all age groups from infants to seniors. The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome vary greatly. Stress and anxiety seem to be the number one cause of IBS episodes. Irritable bowel affects women three times more than men mainly because women are especially sensitive to stress stimuli.

Many health care practitioners think a more appropriate name for irritable bowel syndrome should be stress bowel syndrome. This name seems appropriate due to the pattern of emotional stress or upsets preceding the onset of IBS symptoms. Periods of stress, anxiety, depression and grief frequently exacerbate episodes of irritable bowel syndrome. During times of stress the stomach is one of the first areas of the body to be affected. Try not to eat until you are full or the food will not digest.

There is no specific test for IBS. The typical diagnosis used by health practitioners is one of exclusion, which is achieved by ruling out other disorders such as food allergies, diverticulitis, parasitic infections, bacterial infections, salmonella and ulcerative colitis. A physical exam will not reveal anything unusual except tenderness over the large intestine. Blood tests and stool samples are used mainly to rule out other problems such as inflammatory bowel syndrome.

There are multiple causes of irritable bowel syndrome that can be treated and corrected such as common food allergies or food intolerances. Common food allergies have been found to occur from eating wheat, eggs and dairy products. To establish the specific foods you are allergic to have a food allergy test done. This requires one blood draw that is sent to the lab for accurate processing. If your IBS symptoms are due to foods some of the symptoms will include a rapid pulse, palpitations, headache and some flushing of the skin. These particular symptoms are helped by taking Alka Seltzer Gold when the symptoms first occur. Alka Seltzer Gold has a special combination that neutralizes the allergic response. Many IBS symptoms diminish when digestive enzymes are added to the daily regimen.

Fatigue, both emotional and physical, can increase the symptoms of IBS. A long term illness that depletes the immune system, surgery. Chronic pain syndrome, increased stress, anxiety or depression, grief from separation or death of a loved one will magnify the IBS symptoms.

Individuals who have a history of long-term drug use, antibiotics, antidepressants, tranquilizers, or pain medication that upset the bowel and cause toxic reactions. Other causes of IBS such as nutrient deficiencies such as B vitamins, magnesium and amino acids. Chronic hyperventilation, swallowing too much air muses the stomach to swell and distend. Avoid gum, eat slowly and relax during meals. All of these can be corrected and IBS controlled without the use of any toxic medication.

The following are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome experienced by most individuals:

Constipation or diarrhea

Bloating, excessive gas

Abdominal pain, full feeling

Mucus in stools

Very small bowel movements

Rectal discomfort

Fluid Retention

Poor appetite, weight loss

Constant craving, mainly carbohydrates

Headaches or backaches

Tightness around the waist

Constant urge to have a bowel movement

There are several common IBS irritants. Antibiotics - if you take antibiotics always add high potency acidophilus to keep the proper amount of friendly bacteria in the intestine and colon. Smoking, alcohol and caffeine are known IBS irritants. Wine, especially red wine, has been found to contribute to the discomfort of individuals with IBS. All alcohol should be discontinued if you are having problems with your stomach or colon.

Smoking is considered a major IBS irritant and when combined with caffeine and nicotine IBS symptoms can become painful and last for several days.

NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT PROGRAM

Add digestive enzymes to your daily meals plus Ginger and Bromotol. Ginger has a calming effect on the stomach and Bromotol is a source of proteolytic enzymes that aids in the digestion of protein.

To enhance the immune system and give your body a complete vitamin, mineral and amino acid formula, use two scoops of Brain Link every morning.

Add a heaping teaspoon of flax for needed fiber.

For stress and anxiety take two Anxiety Control morning and afternoon.

Magnesium in the diet of those who suffer from IBS is extremely important. The best source is magnesium chloride, found in Mag Link. Your program should include two in the morning and two in the afternoon. If you are over 200 pounds use six daily.

Vitamin C - this should be taken in the form of Ester C, a totally neutral C that does not upset the G.I. tract or cause stomach upset. Take 1,000 milligrams in the morning and in the evening.

Vitamin E - 400-800 I.U.'s daily

B Complex 100 - capsule form, one every morning with food.

GABA 375 - If your stomach is upset or you are anxious, open a capsule of GABA 375 and put it in warm water and drink it a few minutes before eating. (Note - cold water causes the stomach muscles to contract. Use water without ice for better digestion.)

If you have bouts of diarrhea use one or two scoops of Glutamine powder in water or fruit juice daily.

Fiber is extremely important. Flax powder is an excellent source that can be added to juice, cereal or even a salad.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION

Taking a multivitamin might help prevent colon cancer, according to a study published in October in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study found that in women who got at least 400 micrograms of folic acid from a daily multivitamin lowered their colon-cancer risk by 75 percent. Only women were studied, but other research suggests folic acid has similar effects in men.

However, researchers emphasized that although evidence favors folic acid supplementation, exercise and a diet rich with fruits and vegetables remain essential to colon cancer prevention. About 47,000 Americans die from colon cancer every year.

SOURCES

Shirley Trickett, Irritable Bowel Syndrome & Diverticulosis: A Self-Help Plan, Thorsons, c1990

Robert Berkow, M.D., ed., The Merck Manual of Medical Information, Merck Research Laboratories, c 1997

"NNFA Today", Membership Issue, Volume 12, No. 10, November 1998

George W. Thorn, M.D., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 8th ed., McGraw-Hill Pub., c1977

This article is not intended to give medical advice or replace the services of a physician. It is for educational purposes only.

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By Billie J. Sahley

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