"Naturopathic medicine supports the body's innate ability to heal itself"
What is IBS?
IBS is essentially a diagnosis of exclusion. Meaning, that when you have a myriad of symptoms, it could be a number of different gastrointestinal conditions. After diagnostic labs and imaging have been done, and nothing pathological is found, your collection of symptoms are stamped Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS. Within the conventional medical system, there is little to offer in terms of treatments, so many people are left feeling frustrated and unsure of what to do with their new diagnosis of IBS. People may go on to suffer with IBS for years with no relief.
Symptoms of IBS
The symptoms of IBS are varied, and the list can be quite lengthy. Some people have only a few symptoms at any one time, and others suffer with multiple symptoms, occurring all at once. Symptoms often wax and wane, and it can be difficult to determine what the cause(s) were for each and every exacerbation. Symptoms can include:
Natural treatments for IBS
I have treated IBS in my practice countless times. Naturopathic medicine offers so many treatment options for IBS, which have a very high rate of success. With little to offer from conventional medicine system, naturopathic medicine offers a tremendous amount of treatment options for those willing to make the necessary changes for their health.
With most conditions, inflammation is both a contributor and cause. Treating chronic inflammation can be addressed to a great degree with food, or the elimination of certain foods. When it comes to IBS, diet is absolutely essential. The foods you eat can either be your greatest asset, or the greatest detriment to your health. With IBS, there are no particular foods that cause a problem for everyone. However, there are common allergenic, inflammatory foods, most notably wheat and dairy, that are most likely contributing. There are often many other, less common food allergens, which could also be contributing to the inflammation in the intestinal tract. In order to discover which foods are an issue, an elimination diet can be done, whereby all major allergenic foods are eliminated, and then slowly one by one, are brought back into the diet, and you monitor to see if you experience any return of symptoms. This can be difficult, as it requires a close examination of what your body's normal is. Generally, people suffering from IBS have had the symptoms for so long, that they haven't experienced what a 'normal' healthy body feels like in years. The other option is food sensitivity testing, which most people prefer, as it is black and white in terms of what foods are causing an issue for them. Then, just those specific foods can be eliminated, as opposed to a more generic overall elimination diet.
Beyond diet modification, certain aspects of the body need to be supported to return the body to its intended normalcy. Enterocytes are the cells that line the majority of the intestinal system. These cells are injured during the insult of IBS. Helping them heal can include L-glutamine, probiotics, demulcent herbs, digestive enzymes, and fish oil.
Liver support is also important, as IBS creates a leaky gut picture. Our intestinal tract is meant to have tight cell junctions, allowing only essential nutrients to be absorbed via carrier transport proteins. With a leaky gut, various larger particles are absorbed into the blood, creating inflammation, the liver must filter these foreign molecules. The liver sends these to the digestive tract to be eliminated via stool. Thus a perpetual feedback loop exists where the liver is filtering the same toxins repeatedly. Herbs are a great way to help the liver detoxify. Some herbs to consider include; burdock, dandelion, artichoke, and milk thistle.
Stress is a major contributor to IBS flare ups. Ways to combat stress include; a proper sleep schedule (bed by 10:30pm), regular eating habits, balancing blood sugar throughout the day, social activities, exercise, and meditation. You can also support your adrenals with vitamins (ie vitamin C), minerals (ie magnesium), and/or herbs (ie rhodiola, ashwagandha, avena sativa, ginseng, etc).
Who Can Help?
IBS can be a complex multifaceted condition, and treatments differ for everyone. Consistency wins the race. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor how IBS is best treated for you.
When you know better, you do better!
Vancouver Naturopathic Doctor Krista Moyer
Did you know grains, such as corn, oats, & rice can affect people with gluten sensitivity? The same may also hold true with the casein in dairy!
Read this informative article by Huffington Post!
Vancouver Naturopathic Doctor Krista Moyer
Eliminating wheat will make you lose weight! Period! I see it time and time again in my practice in Vancouver. But what happens if letting of the weight stops, when there's clearly more to shed? Well, there can be other clinical conditions impeding your ultimate success.
Dr. William Davis - author of Wheat Belly - a National bestseller on the merits of eliminating wheat for shocking permanent health improvements - has an excellent blog that I recommend following. In his lastest post, he discusses the clinical conditions that can contribute to the lack of weight shedding, when removal of wheat is simply not enough.
I lost the wheat, but didn’t lose weight written by Dr. Davis
As well, here is a great short VIDEO interview Dr. Davis did on Global News while he was in Vancouver speaking at the British Columbia Naturopathic Association Convention. He states the brief reasons why wheat is bad for you, and addresses some FAQs regarding eliminating wheat.
Vancouver Naturopathic Doctor Krista Moyer
“We are what we eat” is a common known phrase, but Naturopathic Doctors take that statement one step further by stating “We are what we absorb”. There is a large difference between those two statements. One major reason for this is the predominance of food allergies, and the more recent acknowledgment of food sensitivities. The immune system reacts differently to an allergy vs a sensitivity, and thus vary in the repercussions. If a food is not tolerated by the body, the established barriers of ‘self’ and ‘non-self’ are hampered and nutrient absorption can be compromised. This occurrence mainly happens in the digestive tract.
The list is anything but limited in terms of the reactions the body can have when a food is deemed ‘foreign’ to the body. These allergies or sensitivities may not necessarily be present at, or before birth, but can develop in childhood, and even well into adulthood. At any age, they are not a welcomed occurrence, however, in knowing and accepting the impacts that any which food can have on the body, changes can be made that can drastically improve a person’s life.
There are several foods that have made the top list of allergenic foods. Within that list, there can be allergies present and/or sensitivities to one, or many. The list is as follows:
3. Wheat (gluten)
Aside from the commonly known immediate reactions to food, such as hives, rash, or anaphylaxis (airway constriction), there is an even larger list of greatly varied symptoms that can occur, minutes, hours, or even days after the consumption of a food. For some, a large amount of that food needs to be consumed for a reaction to occur, for others, only a minuscule amount, possibly hidden in a food, can be enough to set off a whirlwind of symptoms.
Possible symptoms include:
Heartburn, indigestion, stomach cramps, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, excess respiratory mucous, blurry vision, allergic shiners (bags under the eyes), achy joints, chronic pain, itchy throat, itchy skin, candida eruptions, fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, difficulty sleeping, menstrual cramps, irregular periods, slow wound healing, depression, weak muscle strength, headaches & migraines, frequent colds & flu, ear infections, sinusitis, eczema, psoriasis, acne, asthma, arthritis, and aggravation or progression of autoimmune diseases.
Some of these symptoms can last for days after the food is consumed, and if the food continues to be consumed, further serious health concerns can develop, such as the sequelae of autoimmune diseases. The food that are ancestors consumed is far different then what is available to us in the grocery stores today. Food is no longer just food, but what comes with it, is a multitude of hundreds of foreign pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, as well as the ever emerging presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which scientists have yet to learn the full, long term repercussions of in our food system as a whole, or in our bodies. Food has also genetically changed and mutated over the course of hundreds of years. Most land has grown the same crop year after year without the rotation of crops, which is intended to allow the soil to be replenished and give different nutrients to the foods it inhabits and births. The food industry has changed the way we eat. It is thus imperative that we adapt and change the way we eat in order to ensure that our bodies receive the necessary nourishment from food. For many, that involves the removal of some, or many foods from the diet.
Symptoms of food allergies and sensitivities are a red flag from the body to listen to what it needs and what it can not tolerate. Sometimes it can be hard to decipher what food(s) are at the core of the problem. That is where an elimination diet and/or allergy/sensitivity testing is necessary. It may be that the removal of the food for six or more months (along with other dietary, supplement, and lifestyle alterations) will allow the body to heal, and once that healing has occurred, that food may be allowed to be reintroduced with few or no repercussions.
Any symptom produced by the body is meant to be heard and thus addressed. Naturopathic Doctors help clarify the issue of what to eat to ensure proper nutrient absorption. It is worth the time and effort to discover what foods your body is not well tolerating, and to make the appropriate changes. Naturopathic Doctors can help you to modify these changes in your diet as well as other lifestyle changes to best suit your body’s need for balanced health.
Vancouver Naturopath: Vancouver Naturopathic Doctor Krista Moyer
Dr. Moyer Naturopath Vancouver