The Cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Alternative Health

Feb 15, 2001 at 2:06 pm

You've been told there is no cure. You're horribly uncomfortable, with symptoms such as gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, reflux, loose bowels, diarrhea or constipation. You know every bathroom between your home and your destination. Your quality of life has changed.

You've tried Tums, Tagamet, Pepsid, Rolaids, Imodium and Pepto Bismol. Your physician has prescribed Prilosec, Prevasid or Propulsid. When all this fails, you get examined up this way and down that way, never finding anything to be the cause. Complain long enough and a frustrated physician turns to prescribing anti-depressants, hoping you'll go home and feel better about feeling so bad. Obviously your physician is right: There is no cure. But your physician isn't right; he or she simply ignores some fundamental facts.

Has your doctor ever warned you the antibiotics that you have taken might be the cause of irritable bowel syndrome? Probably not. Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria and fight infections. We believe they are without side effects and take them for sore throats, ear infections, acne, colds, bronchial, sinus and urinary tract infections. They are administered during and after some surgeries and lately are required for certain patients before going to the dentist.

No matter whether you have taken one course or 30 courses of antibiotics in your lifetime, your gastrointestinal system suffers.

A healthy gastrointestinal tract maintains a delicate balance of beneficial bacteria and chemistry. The most common bacteria are called acidophilus and bifidus, and there is about two to four pounds of it. In addition to assisting digestion, we absorb their beneficial by-products.

Unfortunately, antibiotics are as detrimental to the bacteria living in your gastrointestinal tract as they are on the infectious bacteria. As we beat down the population of bacteria with each course of antibiotics, a balance is lost that in turn causes a chemistry change and eventual inflammation of tissue. We lose ability to break down foods properly, absorb what we need and eliminate what we don't need.

After years or decades of this abnormal internal environment, we begin to experience symptoms. Welcome to irritable bowel syndrome.

Because of our biochemical individuality, different people develop these symptoms at different stages of life. Attempts to correct the situation through self-medication or prescriptions fail to address the cause of the problem, only suppressing the symptoms, as all drugs are designed to do. The good news is that a trained holistic physician, who understands the cause, has the ability to re-establish balance to the gastrointestinal system.

There are all-natural nutritional compounds that re-establish the population of acidophilus and bifidus, restore proper chemistry and reduce any inflammatory process. Symptoms go away and the process of healing begins.

In more difficult cases, the identification of any parasites, abnormal bacteria or yeast organisms is necessary. As beneficial bacterial populations change, the possibility that you might have some "uninvited guests" making their home in your gastrointestinal tract increases. Any of us can acquire these organisms from food, salad bars or shaking someone's hand.

People at increased risk of infection are those who have grown up on farms, played in small creeks, streams or ponds or traveled to Third World countries. Stool samples are used for identification of harmful bacteria, although very few labs have the proper equipment to perform this test effectively. Any abnormalities can be eliminated with the use of completely natural products.

The elimination of dairy products is the most important dietary change. Dairy exacerbates the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome because of our lack of enzymes to digest the sugars and proteins it contains.

Another effective suggestion is to avoid the intake of liquids during your meals and for about an hour afterward. This habit eliminates diluting the strength of your digestive enzymes and assists your digestion. For more difficult cases, the addition of digestive enzymes is required.

More than 90 percent of patients following this protocol can expect gas, bloating and indigestion to go away within a day or two. Positive bowel changes occur within a week or two and complete healing in three to four months.

The lesson learned is not to avoid antibiotics, but to use them carefully. Wait out an infection a couple of extra days before using antibiotics, to allow the body more time to heal itself.

If you must take them, also use acidophilus and bifidus while you are on antibiotics and for two weeks afterward. This avoids repeating the cause of irritable bowel syndrome.

David Dahlman, D.C., is a chiropractic physician with a degree in nutrition.

contact DAVID DAHLMAN: [email protected]