Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition I see frequently in practice as a homeopath. With more and more people diagnosed with IBS, I thought it appropriate to explain a few things about the gut and why it can become so problematic.
Firstly IBS is merely a medical catch-all term for any bowel or gut condition that has no pathology attached to it. In order to arrive at this generic diagnosis you would usually (if your doctor is thorough enough) have been through a few basic tests to see what is happening in your digestive system. Colonoscopies, endoscopies, blood & stool analysis, to rule out Crohn’s, Colitis, Proctitis, Coeliac disease, H-Pylori or other IBD related conditions.
So what do you do now?
Usually, the best a GP can offer you is antispasmodics, laxatives, proton pump inhibitors (PPI) or loperamide medications like Imodium, depending on your symptoms.
IBS is categorised into 3 types:
Type 1: Constipation – Pain and congestion of the intestines, cramping pains, bloating and delayed or infrequent bowel movements. Hard stools. We also see piles and fissures alongside this due to congestion and straining.
Type 2: Diarrhoea – Pain and discomfort, frequent bowel movements, with urgency. Loose stools.
Type 3: Constipation & Diarrhoea – an alternating and altogether unpleasant mix of the above 2!
IBS sufferers may suffer with all 3 types at different times throughout their life
Laxatives are often prescribed for Type 1 & 3 – If constipation is your nemesis then a laxative can seem like welcome relief when things are at a standstill. The body dislikes statis, it needs to flow. Here’s the deal with laxatives, and why they don’t actually do you any favours.
Depending on the type of laxative, they can take up to 3 days to work, long term use can cause the bowel to lose its ability to contract efficiently.
The bowel or colon is a continuous tube from the small intestines, it is categorised into 3 parts, ascending, transverse and descending. The descending colon finishes in the sigmoid colon and contents pass from here out of the anus.Usually stools that are passed come from the last section of the colon (descending) the rest of the contents from the ascending and transverse section then slowly contract around to form the next toilet trip (anywhere from 12 -24 hours later)
However, a laxative does not respect this order, it is not patient and its job is to clear all sections of the colon as quickly as it can.
So why is this a problem?
Well, there is nothing left in the large intestines now. It could take anywhere from 2-4 days to have any content worth ejecting. Plus its getting lazy. Why contract so efficiently if it doesn’t need to? We then panic. “I haven’t had a poo in 3 days so I must still be constipated!”. Laxatives become habitual in our quest for a daily poo!
Type 2 IBS sufferers are often reliant on Imodium to be able to leave the bathroom and house in the morning. Anxiety and panic over where the nearest toilet is on their commute or school run. Scrutinising every food they consume, food diaries, allergy tests and a growing list of intolerances.
Whichever type you may be, the toll on our mental and emotional health is massive for an IBS sufferer. I know this, i’ve been there and I understand how crippling this condition can be..
There are many triggers for IBS.
Antibiotics – This is a big one, destroys all your gut bacteria, good and bad. We need those to keep a healthy gut biome. Long term antibiotic use can wreak havoc on your gut. It can take many years to balance itself. The gut biome becomes weak and defenceless. Probiotics can be really helpful here. A good quality Probiotic can do wonders for the gut and beyond. The market is flooded with options. Ideally you need a good multi-strain probiotic that can survive the acidity of the stomach and survive to repopulate the gut.
Leaky Gut – When our intestines become permeable, through damage, inflammation, long term medications etc. Waste products, bacteria and undigested food particles can pass directly into the bloodstream. The body is under attack and creates antibodies to protect. It cannot differentiate between extremely toxic waste and a bit of part digested wheat, so it mounts a full on defence. Hence the increased intolerances and allergies to allergen foods. I have seen many clients who have a list of foods as long as my arm that they can no longer tolerate.
Stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, panic attacks, adrenal overload and hormone disorders also affect the workings of the digestive system. It’s a well honed machine, it aim is to get back on track, and for the most part we are the ones who hinder this process, albeit unwittingly.
Now for the good news! I found a way out of this myself, as a homeopath I help people with their IBS symptoms, I look at each and every person’s case as an individual. I identify triggers and use homeopathic remedies that support the digestive organs. Whilst I class myself as a constitutional homeopath, meaning I find a remedy that encompasses all your symptoms (Gut and beyond) I do also use remedies as organ support. I also use bowel nosode remedies and I have been seeing some excellent results using these in my practice. These are used to help convert non lactose fermenting (bad) bacteria into more gut happy bacteria. The effects of bad gut health extends far beyond the mechanics of digestion. I see skin problems, brain fog, mood issues all being directly influenced by the gut biome.
If you’re sick of living at the mercy of your bowel, then take your health in hand then let me see if I can help you.
originally published to Steemit Jan 17