IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Explaining IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome also known as IBS is a functional bowel disorder characterized by a collection of symptoms such as:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • cramping & spasms
  • dyspepsia
  • heartburn
  • bloating
  • flatulence
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • back pain
  • indigestion

Differing from Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Ulcerative colitis or crohns disease – which present with physical changes to the bowel wall in ulceration and bleeding or in coeliacs disease where there is a flattening of the celia, in colonoscopies performed on IBS patients there is no evidence of of structural change to the small or large intestines, which is why it is called a ‘syndrome’ not a disease.

Classifications of IBS

There are 3 simple classifications of IBS relating to the predominate bowel response:

  • IBS with predominant constipation (IBS-C)
  • IBS with predominant diarrhea (IBS-D)
  • Mixed IBS (IBS-M) where bowel movements switch between constipation to diahorrea

Causative Factors

For a long time it has been unclear the cause, trigger for the onset of IBS, however in clinical research performed in recent years and taking a holistic approach we have identified a number of factors that have been linked with the onset of IBS:

  • Antibiotic use – especially during childhood (the first 7 years of life is when the bowel flora and immune system is being formed, so any disruption during this time can lead to lifetime changes and suppressed gut and immune function) and chronic antibiotic use at any age.
  • Gastrointestinal infections – Bacterial, parasitic or yeast infections which causes disruption of commensal flora, mucoal inflammation and damage also leading to leaky gut
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Anxiety and mental/emotional distress (Brain-Gut Axis)
  • Increased gut permeability (Leaky Gut)
  • Inflammation in the gut 
  • Excess consumption of a food group ie. grains
  • Food hypersensitivity or intolerance
  • Diet and nutritional deficiencies esp. Protein (which also affects mood as amino acids such as tryptophan are a precursor to serotonin and 95 % of Serotonin is found in the GIT)

Diagnostic Tests

If you are suffering from the symptoms of IBS there are a number of useful investigations we can persue to assist us in addressing the underlying causes and creating the most effective treatment plan. 

Here at the clinic we offer comprehensive testing to suit your individual needs and we will sit down and explain the results to you so you understand what these mean for you and your treatment.

  • Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis
  • Breath testing for SIBO (hydrogen and methane)
  • Blood Test
  • Coeliac*
  • Iron studies
  • B12
  • Gliadin antibodies (?)
  • C-Reactive Protien (CRP)
  • Erythrocyte sediment rate (inflammation)
  • Liver function tests
  • Endoscopy
  • Colonoscopy

Please note: It is important to first rule out cealiacs disease as some of the symptoms can appear the same as IBS. This can be done through a comprehensive blood test or alternatively through a colonoscopy. If you see any blood in your stools it is important to report this to your naturopath or GP for further investigation as it could indicate an Inflammatory Bowel Disease which requires active treatment.

How do we being to heal IBS? 

It's important to first of all identify the underlying cause of IBS. One study showed over 84% of IBS sufferers also showed a positive result for SIBO via lactulose breath testing. If SIBO is an underlying factor to your symptoms we need to treat this first in order to obtain long lasting results. Click here to read more about SIBO.

The good news is that we do not need to take drugs and mediations that have negative side effects (such as PPI’s proton pump inhibitors ie “Zoloft”, analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, Simethicone ie. “Degas”) rather we have a wide variety of natural medicines which will effectively address symptoms and stimulate healing in the gastrointestinal tract. 

These natural medicines can include pre and pro-biotics, herbs which act as demulcents, vulnerarys, anti-microbials, carminatives, laxatives and more, nutrients which support mucus membranes, gut lining and gut function. We also look at diet, nutrition and lifestyle factors, such as dealing with underlying emotional trauma, addressing mood imbalances and exercise routine. 

After taking a comprehensive case history and requesting and reviewing any pathology/functional testing we will construct a complete, comprehensive treatment protocol that is specific to you, your individual needs, symptoms and underlying causative factors.

Keys to Recovery:

  • Effective diagnosis of underlying causative factors
  • Addressing SIBO or parasitic infections if present
  • Rebalance Intestinal Flora 
  • Remove trigger foods – wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, chemical additives, nuts, legumes, onions & garlic. Insure adequate protein intake 
  • Intestinal healing and repair – glutamine, slippery elm, SB
  • Liver support (for detoxing and bile production)
  • Herbal support – Marshmallow root, goldenseal, globe artichoke, chamomile, peppermint
  • Also addressing emotional / mental triggers if present

When dealing with complex conditions such as IBS is it best that you work closely along side a qualified naturopath who can guide you through the process and utalise the best, well researched natural treatment protcols and supplements.

Here at the clinic we have a focus on working with gut issues as these most commonly underline almost all other symptoms and conditions. Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut”, so in the same way all healing must begin there too.

We look forward to helping you back to health today and getting you started on an effective treatment and road to real, long lasting recovery.

Read Angela’s interview and hear her personal story with IBS.

For more info please give us a call at the clinic on 0416 775 530 or use the book now button below online to make your appointment.