What is I.B.S.?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a very common problem. It affects 11% of the population globally. It can also be a cause of other conditions such as adrenal fatigue, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, and more.
Clinical diagnosis is usually based on symptoms. The Rome III criteria for diagnosing IBS are the following:
- At least 3 days per month in the last 12 weeks of continuous or recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort.
- With at least 2 of the following:
- Relief with defecation
- Altered stool frequency
- altered stool form
- onset of symptoms more than 6 months prior to diagnosis
Often times it is difficult to differentiate between irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The FDA approved lab marker to differentiate between these two conditions is called calprotectin. Calprotectin is a marker of inflammation found in the stool. If someone meets the Rome criteria and have low levels of calprotectin then we can diagnose IBS if calprotectin is high then the diagnosis is IBD and should get a colonoscopy.
How can IBS be helped
From a natural medicine approach there are many things that can be done for people who suffer from IBS. The first question that should be asked is "why are my bowels irritable?" The most common answer to this question is a condition called small intestinal bowel over growth (SIBO). SIBO is an overgrowth of the good bacteria in your small bowel. Dr. Davis wrote a great article on SIBO that can be found here. Bacterial overgrowth has been shown to be present in 84% of IBS cases and proper treatment leads to a 75% reduction of symptoms! Treatment for IBS starts with a proper diagnosis of the cause. Organic acid testing (a urine test) and stool analysis will give the most comprehensive information as to why you may have IBS. Once we know the cause then we can correct the underlying problem. This usually is done by following one of three specific diets. The specific carbohydrate diet, GAPS diet or a low FODMAPS diet. They are all very similar in nature. These diets will promote healing of the intestinal lining and balancing of the gut bacteria and yeast levels. While on this diet your natural medicine doctor will prescribe some antimicrobial supplements to reduce the bacterial over growth and then promote proper healing of the gut with probiotics, fish oil, L-glutamine and digestive aids. Over a few months time, the gut will heal and huge reduction in symptoms will follow.
If you suffer with IBS and would like to feel better, please give us a call at 801-798-2515.
Written by Dr. Steven Davis, D.C., chiropractic physician and natural medicine practitioner.