If you have Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you know the feeling even though you may not know the name. It may start with indigestion, bloating and gas and then progress to heartburn, reflux, GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease), abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, constipation or both, abnormal frequency or urgency, vomiting, hemorrhoids or any other gut symptom that you experience and causes you dismay.
You’ve probably traveled the disheartening journey from over-the-counter medications like Tagamet, Pepcid or Tums to your primary doctor for Prilosec, Nexium or possibly Propulsid and then to the gastroenderologist for colonoscopy, barium enemas, MRI’s and CT scans. Along the way, you have probably realized that some foods increase your symptoms and so now you may be afraid to eat. In the end, you continue to suffer and are now considering antidepressants.
The most effective approach is much simpler than you think, but it does require a plan. The first thing to consider is that the cause of gut problems is probably not a recent event. It is likely that this has been developing for quite some time and so it may be difficult to precisely put your finger on the exact cause, but the only way to expect a lasting solution is to get at what is the CAUSE of your problem. IBS is a problem of three fundamental conditions: bacteria, chemistry and inflammation. Each slowly leads to the next until the symptoms are out of control. This may take years to fully develop but you won’t realize it because the digestive tract has no pain receptors to let you know that troubles are on the way.
Drugs (with their predictable consequences and side effects) may temporarily decrease your pain or nausea but your system is not improved in any way and may actually result in decreased absorption of nutrients allowing your underlying condition to worsen. I’m sure you know that something is wrong but you don’t have to live with it.
A healthy environment in the digestive tract is maintained by bacteria balance and dominance of good bacteria over the bad. The good bacteria set up an environment that properly digests food, maintains proper acid/base relationships, and produces and absorbs vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, this balance is quite easily destroyed by antibiotics. Any dose will kill bacteria, and each time they are used it becomes more difficult to get the proper bacteria to come up to the right levels. This balance can also be destroyed by poor diet, alcohol, micronutrient deficiency, decreased digestive enzymes, prescription and self-medications (Advil, Motrin, etc.) or an autoimmune condition like thyroid disease.
Without the proper balance of good to bad bacteria the chemistry of the gut begins to change. Digestive enzymes decrease in the stomach and small intestine, which then prevents proper digestion of protein and fat, leading to malnutrition and severe inflammation that spreads through the entire body causing joint pain, skin problems and brain fog.
Other Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- H. pylori infection. A bacteria that causes almost all stomach ulcers.
- Stress which decreases stomach acid production, which then leads to decreased digestive enzymes.
- Slow transit time (low thyroid conditions
- Alcohol consumption.
- The Western diet – highly processed, refined and cooked foods contain no enzymes.
- Intestinal inflammation and auto-immune response (Gut associated lymphoid tissue)
- Age – Evidence suggests that increased age is accompanied with decreased digestive enzyme production.
There is good news.
We can easily establish the bacterial balance and normal chemistry by supplying the nutrients and bacteria that have been destroyed. This can really been done! Gut testing can direct our approach so we don’t have to waist time hunting for the right combination of targeted supplementation, diet change, and lifestyle modification.
Digestion can also be improved by adding digestive enzymes to adjust the proper acid/base relationships to control indigestion, bloating and gas, again improving the chemistry where the bacteria live. Slowly, the environment begins to improve and the inflammation in the walls of the gut begins to decrease leading to an improved immune picture.
Dr. Don Davis, D.C., DACNB is a BOARD CERTIFIED CHIROPRACTIC NEUROLOGIST in Walnut Creek. He has been serving individuals with chronic pain for 30 years. For information about how you can get a free consultation with Dr. Davis, call (925) 279-4324 (HEAL). Visit us at WalnutCreekThyroidInstitute.com