What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder; this means there is no true structural problem with the bowel, but a physiological disturbance in its function. Many people suffer from IBS, and yet don’t seek help until years after the onset of symptoms. Symptoms may include alternating constipation and diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating which may be relieved by defecation. There seems to be a link between the brain, gut and nervous system which contributes to this disorder. Stress and emotional problems may worsen symptoms. The exact cause is unknown, but may be linked to over-stimulation of the gut’s immune system (GALT); reaction food allergies; infection; drugs; and leaky gut syndrome. The criteria that must be met to diagnose IBS are:
- At least 12 weeks or more (which need not be consecutive) in the preceding 12 months of abdominal discomfort or pain that is accompanied by at least two of the following features:
- It is relieved with defecation, and/or
- Onset is associated with a change in frequency of stool, and/or
- Onset is associated with a change in form of stool.
The goal of treatment is to normalize digestive function, using the “4 R program”- Remove (Allergens, Antigens, Pathogens, Parasites), Replace (Acid and Enzymes), Reinoculate (Symbiotic Flora-pre and probiotics), Repair (Gut Mucosal Integrity Nutrients- Lactobacillus, FOS, Glutamine, Fiber)
Stress reduction activities (yoga, biofeedback, meditation) will also help calm the gut.