IBS Treatment Center

Seattle, WA

Get out of the bathroom and get back to your life!

Yes, You Can Have Healthy Digestion!

Posted on by IBSTC

Dr. Stephen WangenDigestion should be the natural process of an exquisitely complex system that converts food into the materials needed for life: vitamins, minerals, fats, amino acids (proteins), and sugars (carbohydrates). From the average person’s point of view, it is a relatively easy, even unremarkable process, something you take for granted. But from a medical viewpoint it is truly fascinating.

A lot happens between the time you eat a piece of food and the time the waste products leave your body. Most people are concerned only with the two parts of the digestive system that require some active participation on their part – the food going in and the waste coming out. The steps between these two poles are involuntary, and you probably don’t pay a lot of attention to them, or need to, as long as things are working well.

Elimination itself is fairly straightforward. Eating causes the colon to contract, beginning the process of peristalsis: contraction followed by relaxation, over and over again along the tube, moving things down to the exit. Between thirty to sixty minutes after eating (depending on various factors, such as how much was in the intestinal tract to begin with), a person will normally feel the urge to have a bowel movement.

About 60% of the fecal mass is made up of water, although this figure can vary widely. When you have diarrhea, for example, the percentage of water is much higher. About 30% of a normal stool consists of dead bacteria, which gives feces its characteristic odor. The rest is made up of indigestible fiber, fats (such as cholesterol), inorganic salts, live bacteria, dead cells and mucus from your intestinal lining, and protein.

Relaxation is a key to healthy bowel movements. In fact, the whole of digestive function is based on relaxation. This is why stress is often blamed for bad digestion. When you are relaxed, the parasympathetic part of your nervous system is dominant. This same part allows your digestive system to “do its thing.”

Although the number of bowel movements a day that is considered “normal” varies, the average is one or two. Stools should be well formed; not watery; generally dark brown in color; and passed easily, without straining, cramping, or pain. Lighter brown stools, which usually float, generally mean you’re not digesting fats very well. Ideally, at the end of the bowel movement you should feel like you are fully “through.”

Evacuation is a fine balance and everyone is a little bit different, but the general rule is that if you experience discomfort, especially regularly, then things are not functioning normally. Pooping is a natural experience and should be comfortable and – dare we say it? – even bring an enjoyable feeling of release.

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Article Breaks Down the Deductibles of Various Health Plans

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Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 12.07.33 PMThis recent article from Forbes Magazine does a decent job of describing some of the terms in health insurance policies.  However, some additional information is needed.

The deductibles and maximum out of pocket limits only apply to “covered charges” and there are different rules for in-network vs. out-of-network providers.

Many plans that offer out of network coverage (that let you to see any doctor you want) have a separate, usually higher deductible for those providers.  They also usually have either a separate out of pocket maximum or no maximum.  This means that if the doctor you need to see is not in your network you may have to meet 2 different deductibles in a given year.  That can easily increase your medical expenses by double or more.

Plus, keep in mind that this only applies to covered charges.  Because insurance companies have decided to under pay for many services, hospitals and other providers have added “facility fees” and other charges that are generally not considered “covered charges” and for which insurance companies will pay nothing.  Since most providers don’t explain fees up front, you get an unexpected bill weeks after you have already incurred the charges and have little recourse.

In addition, insurance companies make up their own “allowed amounts” for the fees and services charged by providers of healthcare.  Often those “allowed amounts” ( for covered charges) are way below what things actually cost.  A blood draw is often “allowed” at between $2 and $3.   But no business can provide a qualified technician, gloves, needles, in a clean space for that price.  So the cost is shifted to other things.  As a result you may pay a large “facility fee” or pay much more for other services to make up the difference.  When in-network these fees might count towards your deductible and out-of-pocket maximum, but sometimes they are given special labels and the insurance company can wiggle out of paying – such as calling lab testing “investigational” or retroactively requiring pre-approval.

Questions?

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Patient Finds Cure for Chronic Heartburn

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Dr. Stephen WangenIt’s commonly believed that heartburn is the result of overeating. Although 116 million Americans may overeat, the size of the meal has no scientific correlation with the frequency of heartburn.

“Then we must be producing too much stomach acid,” you say. Having too much acid production is very rare. In fact, the opposite is the case. In most people, stomach acid decreases with age.

Whatever the name, if you are like millions of others, you are experiencing this gastrointestinal malady.

You may take your acid reflux problem for granted and buy your antacids at Costco, but you should be aware of the negative effects this has on your entire body. You also should know that heartburn is a sign of other problems, and can almost always be treated without acid blockers.

From a recent patient at the IBS Treatment Center:

I wanted to send you an update. I have not once had heartburn or indigestion, both of which I’ve had since high school.

I want to thank the whole team at the IBS Treatment Center for all they have done. I continually tell people about my experience with you all and encourage others to make an appointment. You all do such amazing work and I hope that you continue to do so for many year.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for sparing me years of pain, boxes of Prilosec and surgery!! I will never forget the amazing work you do!

Best,

Mallory Saffold

Acid rising from the stomach and irritating the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, results in the feeling of what is commonly called heartburn.

Some 35 to 45 percent of the population experiences heartburn, often called GERD or “gastroesophageal reflux disease”. That’s a whopping 116 million people! It’s also the most profitably treated symptom in America. Last year, Prilosec was the top selling prescription drug in the world, earning Astra Zeneca, the drug’s maker, 6 billion dollars.

This sad state of affairs means that it is almost considered normal to have GERD and to take drugs for it. However, heartburn is far less than normal, and those experiencing it are definitely nowhere near optimal health.

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Do You Have Good Digestion?

Posted on by IBSTC

DigestiveSystemDigestion should be the natural process of an exquisitely complex system that converts food into the materials needed for life: vitamins, minerals, fats, amino acids (proteins), and sugars (carbohydrates).

From the average person’s point of view, it is a relatively easy, even unremarkable process, something you take for granted. But from a medical viewpoint it is truly fascinating.

Much happens between the time you eat a piece of food and the time the waste products leave your body. Most people are concerned only with the two parts of the digestive system that require some active participation on their part – the food going in and the waste coming out. The steps between these two poles are involuntary, and you probably don’t pay a lot of attention to them, or need to, as long as things are working well.

Elimination itself is fairly straightforward. Eating causes the colon to contract, beginning the process of peristalsis: contraction followed by relaxation, over and over again along the tube, moving things down to the exit. Between thirty to sixty minutes after eating (depending on various factors, such as how much was in the intestinal tract to begin with), a person will normally feel the urge to have a bowel movement.

About 60% of the fecal mass is made up of water, although this figure can vary widely. When you have diarrhea, for example, the percentage of water is much higher. About 30% of a normal stool consists of dead bacteria, which gives feces its characteristic odor. The rest is made up of indigestible fiber, fats (such as cholesterol), inorganic salts, live bacteria, dead cells and mucus from your intestinal lining, and protein.

Relaxation is a key to healthy bowel movements. In fact, the whole of digestive function is based on relaxation. This is why stress is often blamed for bad digestion. When you are relaxed, the parasympathetic part of your nervous system is dominant. This same part allows your digestive system to “do its thing.”

Although the number of bowel movements a day that is considered “normal” varies, the average is one or two. Stools should be well formed; not watery; generally dark brown in color; and passed easily, without straining, cramping, or pain. Lighter brown stools, which usually float, generally mean you’re not digesting fats very well. Ideally, at the end of the bowel movement you should feel like you are fully “through.”

Evacuation is a fine balance and everyone is a little bit different, but the general rule is that if you experience discomfort, especially regularly, then things are not functioning normally. Pooping is a natural experience and should be comfortable and – dare we say it? – even bring an enjoyable feeling of release.

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IBS Patient Finally Finds Help After 20 Years of Searching

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IBS Treatment Center Entrance and ParkingI first experienced IBS symptoms in 1992, at the age of 21 and I lived with it for 15 years.

I tried everything to find a solution including visits to about 10 doctors (G.I. specialists, OB/GYN, Internal Med., allergist, kinesiologist and chiropractors).

I read several books on IBS and tried elimination diets. I was tested for gluten and dairy allergies and the tests came back negative. I tried at least 6 different prescription medications, every over-the-counter treatment available for digestive problems and also tried many “natural remedies” from the health food store.

It was frustrating and exhausting and some days were better than others but that was always unpredictable. IBS was draining me and making me feel awful. In January, 2007 I came across the IBS Treatment Center’s web site. I immediately made an appointment.

Because of the knowledge gained from being a patient there, I have felt better in the last 2 months than I have in 15 years! Going there is a must for IBS sufferers.

- Mimi (former patient of the IBS Treatment Center)

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Patient Finally Finds Proper Treatment For IBS

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Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.

Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.

This letter comes from a former (cured!) patient of the IBS Treatment Center. Patients have come to the IBS Treatment Center from all over. They have visited our clinics in Seattle, WA and Santa Monica, CA from 49 states and from every continent on the planet. Some of these patients had even spent a considerable amount of time at the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA, and other major medical centers to no avail. We have treated many doctors, nurses, even faculty from some famous medical schools.

I always had a nervous stomach my whole life, but it was nothing serious until part-way through college when I started having some major digestive problems.

I was beginning to feel like I was falling apart, and my anxiety worsened as my symptoms worsened. But most of the time I thought the anxiety was causing the symptoms and I was just trying to live with it. I always had an escape route to the nearest bathroom scouted out.

I saw several conventional doctors [who couldn’t help me], so I decided to see a gastroenterologist. He told me that there’s not much that can be done about it. He told me to reduce my stress, and gave me a list of foods to eat that are rich in fiber. I tried these things, but it hardly made any difference. So I turned to alternative medicine and tried homeopathy, supplements, acupuncture, and an elimination diet…but none of those worked either.

I did some more research and found the IBS Treatment Center online. I decided to take the chance, and I am so glad I did. I’ve been telling people that it was the best money I’ve ever spent! I was so impressed with the whole operation.

- Amanda McLean

Since 2005, the IBS Treatment Center has successfully treated thousands of patients of all ages, from infants to seniors. We understand the discomfort, frustration and embarrassment that our patients have experienced.

We won’t blame stress, tell you to eat more fiber, or drink more water. We won’t repeat the same tests that you’ve already had and tell you that everything is ok. We’re listening, and we know that you’re not ok.  Please let us help you!

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Probiotics: 4 Quick Facts

Posted on by IBSTC

Image of bacteria. (photo:creativecommon)

Image of bacteria.
(photo:creativecommon)

Probiotics, or supplements containing strains of good bacteria that normally live in the intestinal tract, are frequently taken by individuals suffering from digestive upset in an attempt to improve their symptoms.

In our practice, it is common to hear from patients who have tried probiotics that the supplements offered no improvement or even made them feel worse. The following points should help to explain why a negative reaction to probiotics is not necessarily surprising:

Fact 1

Many brands of probiotics contain low numbers of organisms, which essentially translates to a low dose of good bacteria.

Prescription probiotics can have numbers as low as 1 billion organisms per dose (which sounds like an awful lot, but is actually far less than what research finds to be a therapeutic dose). We commonly find that for some patients, doses as high as 25-50 billion organisms per day can effectively address the causes of IBS.

Fact 2

Most probiotics are grown on dairy, which can be very problematic for patients who suffer from a dairy allergy, a common cause of IBS symptoms.

In treating IBS, it is essential to identify any underlying food allergies and intolerances prior to starting treatment with probiotics, as taking a supplement that contains foods that your system reacts to negatively can cause more harm than good. Unique and specialized food allergy testing helps our physicians identify negative reactions to
specific foods in patients suffering from IBS.

Fact 3

The strains of good bacteria found in the supplements may not match the strains that your intestines need to reach healthy and appropriate levels.

By identifying the microbial ratios in the gut via a DNA stool analysis test, specific levels of different strains of good bacteria can be measured and identified as deficient. By replacing specific bacterial strains (instead of guessing), healthy levels of good gut bugs can be replenished to maintain a healthier intestinal environment.

Fact 4

Some strains of probiotics are much more anti-inflammatory than others. These strains help to reduce distress in your intestinal immune system, while others may have a potentially pro-inflammatory effect or no effect at all.

Research shows that certain strains of good intestinal bacteria are exceptionally strong regulators of intestinal inflammation. Having high enough levels of these bacteria can help to moderate immune reactions that can cause
symptoms of IBS.

Effectively utilizing probiotics is key to properly treating IBS. This is a science. Please contact our clinic if you
have questions about probiotics or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.

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Patients Ends IBS After 40 Years of Suffering

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Innate Health GroupFrom a former patient of the IBS Treatment Center:

I am a 58 year old woman suffering with IBS since the age of 15.

I have been to many gastro doctors over the years who run basically the same tests. I have swallowed the camera pill, had numerous colonoscopies, endoscopies, breath tests… you name it. I even went to a Los Angeles’ major medical center a few years ago. Nothing was found and various meds/supplements over several decades did nothing.

My problem is chronic diarrhea. As I got older my problems were getting worse.

My husband found the IBS Treatment Center online and we decided to give it a try.
THIS PLACE HAS CHANGED MY LIFE!! I am so happy with my new life!

My favorite thing to do is travel and as I have traveled over the years, it has been marred with this issues..
But now.. my traveling is so much more enjoyable.

You will see how knowledgeable the staff are and how passionate they are to help you solve your gastro issues!!

Thank you!!

Puzzik F.

Click HERE to read more about Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

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Meet Our Doctors: Dr. Heath McAllister

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Dr. Heath McAllister

Dr. Heath McAllister

Dr. Heath McAllister is a state-licensed and board-certified Naturopathic Doctor. He received his doctoral degree, with honors, from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona and continues to teach medical students. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire, also graduating with honors (Summa Cum Laude).Dr. McAllister has a long standing interest in digestive health and considers it to be at the core of wellness. He has personal experience with IBS, and as a child suffered from diarrhea along with fatigue and moodiness. It was from this that he learned that when digestion works properly, everything else seems to come into balance. When digestion is not working properly, however, almost every major body system can be affected. Through effectively treating the digestive tract he has seen dramatic improvements in patients’ energy, mood, improved sleep, seasonal allergies, asthma, skin rashes, and other symptoms.

Having grown up in a small town in Maine, Dr. McAllister developed a deep love of nature. He is an avid hiker and wild-flower photographer and likes to get out when he can on weekends to explore wild-places. Before becoming a doctor he worked for the US Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Land Management as a plant biologist in the Mojave Desert.

Dr. McAllister also speaks Spanish and Russian proficiently, for those patients who may find it easier to communicate in those languages. To work with Dr. McAllister, please call our Santa Monica office at 310-319-1500.

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Patient Sees Big Difference Working with IBS Specialist

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

I saw several conventional doctors [who couldn’t help me], so I decided to see a gastroenterologist. He told me that there’s not much that can be done about my IBS.

He told me to reduce my stress, and gave me a list of foods to eat that are rich in fiber. I tried these things, but it hardly made any difference. So I turned to alternative medicine and tried homeopathy, supplements, acupuncture, and an elimination diet…but none of those worked either.

I did some more research and found the IBS Treatment Center online. I decided to take the chance, and I am so glad I did. I’ve been telling people that it was the best money I’ve ever spent! I was so impressed with the whole operation.

– Former IBS Treatment Center patient Amanda McLean

 

What Does a Gastroenterologist Do?

Many people assume that gastroenterologists are experts in all things related to the digestive tract. However, they are experts in diseases of the digestive tract, but not syndromes or symptoms.

Gastroenterologists primarily focus on performing colonoscopies and upper endoscopies. They may also do other imaging work of the GI tract, such as an ultrasound, CT scan,MRI, x-rays, and even “pill cameras”. And they may perform studies that assess the motility of the digestive tract. Therefore, if you go to a gastroenterologist your diagnosis will be based on this testing. Notice that all of the things mentioned so far are visual exams.

Gastroenterology is primarily a specialty in assessing the structure of the digestive tract. Gastroenterologists are focused on diagnosing ulcers, polyps, cancers, and other physically apparent abnormalities of the digestive tract.

Surprisingly, gastroenterologists do not have training in nutrition or most reactions to foods. And though the digestive tract is the single most concentrated area of immune activity, gastroenterologists have no special training in immunology. The tools of the gastroenterologist are all very useful tools – they are really important to diagnose cancers, structural problems, certain kinds of infections, and other problems. But the standard of care for problems other than those is purely palliative (also known as care to make you feel better about having IBS).

IBS Specialist

IBS specialists are experts in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A gastroenterologist may diagnose IBS, but that will only tell you what you already know, that your bowel irritates you. To the IBS specialist the label of IBS only serves as a starting point for further investigation, nothing more.

The IBS specialist focuses on assessing and diagnosing the cause of your digestive problems, not on the gross structural integrity of the digestive tract. Rather than focusing on the patients symptoms, or simply treating the symptoms, the IBS specialist is devoted to identifying the condition or conditions in the patient that are causing the symptoms. There are literally hundreds of different causes of IBS and the digestive problems associated with IBS.

This process involves a detailed evaluation of how the body is responding to the foods in the diet (food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities), and a thorough assessment of the profound ecosystem (including probiotics, yeast, bad bacteria, and parasites) that is contained within the digestive tract.

It may also involve evaluating enzyme production, acid production, and the overall functioning of the digestive tract. IBS specialists do not do what gastroenterologist do, and gastroenterologists do not do what IBS specialists do. These are completely different specialties. There is only a very tiny amount of overlap with regard to stool testing. But even this is extremely minor as the IBS specialist utilizes much more advanced stool analyses.

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

 

­

 

 

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3 Secrets about IBS and Your Job

Posted on by IBSTC

(creativecommons)

(creativecommons)

Secret #1:

You are not alone.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects millions of Americans. Unless you work for a very small company you probably have co-workers who have IBS. Digestive problems can be hard to talk about, but they are very common.

Secret #2:

Even if you are coping well, managing IBS is affecting your work

Dealing with IBS is hard but many people develop coping strategies that enable them to keep working. But even if you do – you may not be as effective as you could be, and you are spending a great deal of your energy keeping it all together – instead of focusing on your work.

IBS Treatment Center patient Marsha kept her job, but was not achieving her goals like getting that promotion because her IBS was always at the top of her mind. (Click HERE to read Marsha’s story.)

Secret #3:

You don’t have to keep suffering with IBS

Most people with IBS get medical care but the treatments are not solving their problem. Real help is available though. And it is possible for nearly all IBS patients to end or dramatically reduce their symptoms so they can return to normal work and life.

Most people with IBS can get better. There is usually a cause for their symptoms, and most of the time it isn’t just stress. We believe that most likely you are stressed because of your condition and not the other way around.

(photo: creativecommons)

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IBS Making You Exhausted?

Posted on by IBSTC

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

We commonly hear from patients that they feel exhausted all of the time.

If it happens to you it might seem normal. You may think that your body is just spending a lot of energy digesting your food. But this doesn’t happen to everyone.

Food should give you energy, not make you tired. Eating a reasonably sized meal should not cause your body or your mind to shut down, making you feel like it is time for a siesta.

How Can Eating Cause Fatigue?

Sugar commonly causes fatigue. The energy boost from sugar only lasts for a short time, often followed by a “crash.” But there are many other causes of this problem, often referred to as hypoglycemia.

One of the primary causes of fatigue is eating food to which you are allergic. In fact, this is one of the most common symptoms of a food allergy and may be your only symptom. A food allergy can be causing your fatigue whether or not you have any digestive problems, including IBS. time you eat the offending food you are introducing something foreign into your body. This results in your immune system attacking your food, which is the equivalent of being sick. Your immune system is expending a great deal of energy trying to remove this “invader” and you suffer the consequence, in this case fatigue.

Mental Fatigue

An interesting component of this is often a sense of mental fatigue. Many people complain of a mental fog or lack of clarity in their thinking. Interestingly, after they discover that they have a food allergy and remove it from their diet, this often improves. It is frequently described as “a cloud” being lifted from their head.

People with physical and/or mental fatigue often feel hypoglycemic. They may feel a need to eat frequent meals or snacks in order to keep up their energy. This is because the food that they eat is causing as many problems as it solves. They are not getting the same amount of nourishment out of the food as someone who is not allergic to it would. Therefore they have to eat more frequently.

How do you know if you have a food allergy?

When you are allergic to a food, your immune system forms antibodies against that food. These antibodies can be measured via a blood test.

If you suffer from fatigue or a lack of mental clarity, please do yourself a favor and find out if you have a food allergy. You’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make in your life.

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

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Children Can Have IBS Too!

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

From one of our patient’s parents:

After having children that have constant tummy aches and below average growth rates, I figured it was the least I could do as a parent to invest in their health. My daughter has immediately reaped the rewards of health, energy, and growth. She literally glows now, with no more dark circles under her eyes. She also seems to be leaner, not as puffy or irritable.

Don’t you want to be as healthy as possible? Goodness, people run miles, work out for hours; but, you are truly what you eat, so why not find out what works for your body.

Sharon L. Wilford

At the IBS Treatment Center we’ve found that children’s digestive problems are very similar to those of adults, and that the causes are generally identical.

Digestive problems often get worse as you get older, so more attention is given to adults. But that doesn’t mean that infants and children can’t suffer tremendous discomfort and disruption from their upset tummy. It really isn’t normal to have these problems, at any age.

Infants have only two ways of demonstrating their maldigestion. You either see it, or you hear it. Colic and reflux are two of the most under appreciated and misunderstood problems in infants. A healthy baby is generally a happy baby.

They cry when they are hungry, or lonely, or need a diaper change. But they shouldn’t be inconsolable.

Treating any of these problems with drugs is generally ignoring the cause of the problem. With the proper workup most babies feel much better and will have solved a problem that will benefit them for life.

The same is true for children. Children suffer from the same kinds of digestive problems as adults, but they often get treated as if they are different. Fewer drugs are used, and health care providers often down play the significance of the problem. Children may be given a diagnosis of IBS, but generally the diagnosis is kept to constipation, diarrhea, or reflux. Other words are also sometimes used, such as encopresis, or even nervous stomach.

However, children are just as susceptible as adults to food allergies and imbalances in the ecosystem of the digestive tract. These are tested for and treated in children exactly as they are in adults. The physiology is the same, only the size is different. For more information on exactly how we assess and treat digestive problems please visit our website at www.IBSTreatmentCenter.com.

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

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Cured IBS Patient Finds Weight Loss an Added Bonus

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loss

(photo: creativecommons)

WOW! I am absolutely amazed! For the first time in 30 + years, I have been virtually symptom-free for four weeks! As an added plus, I have lost ten pounds, and now weigh what I did in the 70′s! I love the lean feeling.

The most important thing is that I feel great! It was worth every penny to finally find out what has caused decades of discomfort. I still find myself half expecting to have problems again; it just seems incredible that it could all be that simple!

I can’t thank you enough, and I’ve told everyone I know what a great discovery I made while surfing the Internet!

-Melanie (former patient of the IBS Treatment Center
__

Have you ever tried to lose weight but couldn’t do it?
Does it seem like no matter what you eat or how little you eat, you still can’t lose weight?

Ironically, the inability to lose weight and the inability to gain weight can be two sides of the same coin.

Food allergies and sensitivities can lead to a variety of symptoms. Sometimes they cause inflammation, swelling, and bloating; other times they result in the inability to assimilate nutrients properly. Occasionally they even do both at the same time. These are the underlying issues that contribute to both weight gain and weight loss.

You can read more on this topic on our e-newsletter page.

(photo: creativecommons)

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You Are Not Alone With Your IBS

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Innate Health GroupConsider the following facts about IBS:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 10-20% of the general population, with women 20-40 years old accounting for the majority of patients. (Astegiano et. al. 2008)

Irritable bowel syndrome affects approximately 10-15% of the European population and up to 70% of individuals with IBS may not be formally diagnosed. (Quigley et. al. 2006)

Patients with IBS cost an average $1300 more per year than non-IBS patients (Levy et. al. 2001)

IBS results in more than $10 billion in direct costs (eg, office visits, medications) and $20 billion in indirect costs (eg, through work absenteeism and reduced productivity) each year. (Foxx-Orenstein A. 2006)

Approximately 12% of all primary care doctor visits are IBS related, making IBS one of the top 10 reasons people go to the doctor. (Cash 2005)

Roughly 30% of all visits to a gastroenterologist are IBS related, making it the number one reason people see a gastroenterologist. (Cash 2005)

IBS is the leading cause of missed work days in the US (second only to the common cold). (Cash 2005)

IBS patients are more likely than others to have their gall bladder removed unnecessarily and with no positive effect on their IBS symptoms. (Corazziari et. al. 2008)

We have helped thousands of patients recover from IBS since our clinic opened in 2005. Click HERE to learn more about our doctors.

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Back to School: 3 Secrets for Dealing With IBS

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IBS Treatment CenterAs summer draws to an end many of us are preparing to go back to school or send our children back to school. For those suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), this can mean big challenges, like worrying about making it on time when you have a particularly tough morning in the bathroom, or being stuck on the school bus in rush hour traffic with nowhere to go. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard IBS patients telling me how they used to have panic attacks when stuck in traffic.

Back to School time is a good time to prepare for dealing with IBS. Digestive problems, including IBS, can cause embarrassment, missed classes, depressed grades and achievement, and even require some students to drop out.

Consider Andrew. Andrew was a normal healthy teenager. He and his older brothers played basketball, had active social lives, and did well in school. But when Andrew started having digestive problems things slowly but consistently spiraled out of control. Eventually Andrew saw no other choice but to give up basketball because he couldn’t make it through practice. Andrew had to give up something he really loved. And to top it off, his grades started dropping significantly and he became depressed. His parents were extremely concerned.

Andrew’s story is not unusual for a patient with IBS. But even though IBS affects millions of children and is the second most common reason that adults miss work, the taboo over conversation about one’s digestion means that many children and adults are suffering in silence from the effects of untreated IBS.

Ideally, the most effective solution is to get treatment that ends IBS. But if a cure has eluded you, here are THREE SECRETS for dealing with IBS while in school.

#1 Be Prepared

This may require working with teachers and administrators to get the student permission to run to the restroom whenever they need to do so.

Providing simple meals for school time may also help. Have over-the-counter medicines constantly available to help with symptoms. For example, put anti-diarrheal medicine in the student’s desk and in their backpack. Younger children may need help or special school permissions for medication.

2# Communicate Frequently with Teachers

Students with IBS often miss classes. Extra effort is usally required to make sure the student gets all the information about what was covered in class, assignments, etc. Close coordination with instructors can make this easier and less embarrassing for your child.

#3 Get Creative!

If a student’s IBS is going to interfere with school, it is worth considering this when determining what school to attend, which classes to take, and whether or not to home school or choose online educational options.

Primary and secondary schools vary quite a bit in how well they accommodate students with chronic health problems so find out what options are available. You may even qualify for a formal accommodation program.

The REAL SECRET is that almost any student can end their IBS and get back to school free from the problems it causes.

Andrew’s school career was on the road to failure before he got effective treatment for his IBS. When he did, his life improved dramatically. His grades improved, his depression cleared and he returned to playing sports. His college dreams were re-energized and he was free to choose the school that was right for him, not one that could deal with his condition.

READ MORE ABOUT ANDREW IN HIS OWN WORDS HERE.

 

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“I Was Beginning to Feel Like I Was Falling Apart”

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From a recent patient of the IBS Treatment Center.

I always had a nervous stomach my whole life, but it was nothing serious until part-way through college when I started having some major digestive problems.

I was beginning to feel like I was falling apart, and my anxiety worsened as my symptoms worsened. But most of the time I thought the anxiety was causing the symptoms and I was just trying to live with it.

I always had an escape route to the nearest bathroom scouted out. I saw several conventional doctors [who couldn’t help me], so I decided to see a gastroenterologist. He told me that there’s not much that can be done about it. He told me to reduce my stress, and gave me a list of foods to eat that are rich in fiber. I tried these things, but it hardly made any difference.

So I turned to alternative medicine and tried homeopathy, supplements, acupuncture, and an elimination diet…but none of those worked either. I did some more research and found the IBS Treatment Center online. I decided to take the chance, and I am so glad I did.

I’ve been telling people that it was the best money I’ve ever spent! I was so impressed with the whole operation.

-Amanda McLean

Learn more about the IBS Treatment Center here.

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Parents Seeking Help for Daughter’s Abdominal Pain Finally Find Help

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

We see cases like this all the time. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone and there is an answer to your digestive problems!

From a recent patient’s father…

My 18 year old daughter suffered for approximately 2 years with severe abdominal pain. After countless trips to emergency rooms and doctors appointments we finally discovered Dr. Wangen and the IBS Treatment Center.

The worry and the stress caused by an unidentifiable and debilitating pain is unimaginable especially to a young woman who is trying to live the best years of her life! We saw a minimum of some 20 doctors both naturopathic and traditional, sought consultation from very well known clinics all of which came up short.

We heard everything from “there is nothing here and its psychological” to “she may be intolerant to something she is eating but nothing will change that” to surgical solutions. When we arrived at the IBS Treatment Center I literally had to carry her in as she was unable to even walk. Her pain was so severe she kept passing out.

Our daughter has NONE of the symptoms that she was previously living with. Our thanks and appreciation for the kind care and concern provided by all of the staff cannot be measured. This course of treatment should not be overlooked if you are experiencing digestive problems. Thanks to them, our daughter has her life back. We can’t thank you enough!

-Brad

Learn more about IBS here.

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Patient Finds IBS Relief After 50 Years of Suffering!

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IBS Treatment CenterWe receive a lot of great letters and emails from our patients. Here’s a sweet one from Susan Weir.

In the third grade I remember complaining constantly about having stomach aches and was actually put on anti-anxiety medication.

I have struggled with this throughout my 52 years. Things really got bad about 6 years ago when I started having severe stomach aches along with bloating and large, really smelly bowel movements.

After having every test known to man, with no serious problems found, I was diagnosed with IBS. I started feeling depressed, withdrawn, tired and sick ALL THE TIME.

A friend told me I should go to the IBS Treatment Center. I called the next day and made an appointment. One of the best decisions I have ever made! Thank you, I LOVE YOU!!!!

-Susan Weir

See more testimonials from recent patients at the IBS Treatment Center here.

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“I Was Poisoning My Body Every Day Without Realizing It!

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(img via commons.wikimedia)

(img via commons.wikimedia)

From a recent patient at the IBS Treatment Center.

I am a 43 year old female and I have been having stomach/digestive trouble since I was a baby. My mother used to say I had a “nervous stomach.”

Well, things reached a peak when I was 39. I got to the point where I couldn’t eat or drink anything (even water) after 2:00 in the afternoon or I would be very nauseous and throw up. I spent a year going to the doctors. First my primary care doctor, then a gastroenterologist. They ran repeated tests and only determined that I had GERD.

After a year of throwing up 4 or 5 days out of every week (I lost 65 pounds), the gastroenterologist finally said, “I can’t do anything more for you. This is just what you have to live with.” Well, no way was I going to put up with that answer!!!

I made an appointment with the IBS Treatment Center. Within 2 weeks I stopped being nauseous!!! I was poisoning my body every day without realizing it!

It has been 3 years and I am so much better! No more Tums! No more Pepsid! No more drugs!!!!

I really feel that the IBS Treatment Center has saved my life; I no longer have to cancel vacations or invitations from friends because I am not feeling up to it. (You should have seen me on my honeymoon; I know every bathroom at Disneyland!)

I would (and do!) recommend them to anyone who is tired of having their MD just prescribe drugs to fix a symptom instead of trying to find out what is behind the symptom and treating the cause.

Sincerely,

Terri Coon

Read more patient testimonials here.

photo: commons.wikimedia

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Celiac Disease vs Gluten Sensitivity: The Sensitive Side of the Story

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

Most people who react to gluten do not have celiac disease. This is not a new problem, although it is only now beginning to be acknowledged by the general medical community.

Fifteen years ago most doctors didn’t understand the importance of celiac disease. We are now at that same place with gluten sensitivity.

What symptoms do these non-celiac gluten intolerant (often called gluten sensitive) people have? Well, we know what they don’t have: villous atrophy. (For more on this, see the previous newsletter.)

However, you may be shocked to learn that villous atrophy is about the only difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

Careful now. I know you’re thinking that this article has truly gone off the rails. That there is no way this could be correct. But let’s examine the facts, just like in CSI. (Actually, I prefer Sherlock.) Continue reading →

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What Causes IBS?

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Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.

Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.

The cause of IBS varies from person to person, which is what makes irritable bowel syndrome and the symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and chronic abdominal pain so difficult for most doctors to treat.

However, through proper testing you will be able to identify the exact cause or causes of your symptoms and live a life free of digestive problems.

There are several hundred potential causes of IBS, but most cases result from issues that fit into two major categories:

  • Food Allergies and Intolerances
  • Microbial Issues  – including infections, bacterial imbalances, yeast, and parasites

There are other issues as well and since every patient is different it is essential to understand what is causing the IBS symptoms if you want to find an appropriate and ultimately successful treatment.  Use the links at left to learn more about IBS causes and some of the testing for those causes.

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Report: How Your Health Insurance Company Can Still Take Advantage of You, Despite Obamacare

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Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.

Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.

For corporations, healthcare is a business, and their mission is to make money.
That is not patient-centered care. The point is to focus on what the patient needs to get better.

Consider this recent article from the Huffington Post.

Excerpt:

To save money, insurance companies will be stricter about approving and paying for medical treatments, said Carmen Balber, executive director of the nonprofit organization Consumer Watchdog. “I have no doubt that claims denials or delays will be the new discriminatory tactic of the industry,” she said.

It continues:

[Dr.]Wang returned to the clinic after Memorial Day weekend and attempted to follow up on a request she’d made to refer a patient to a specialist. The insurance company said her request already had been rejected because she hadn’t called back quickly enough.

“Their clock started ticking on Sunday. Monday was a national holiday, and so when 48 hours went by, they denied,” said Wang. “A conspiracy theorist would wonder.”

The gist of the article is that insurance companies are using a lot of various tactics to avoid paying on claims. One of the big advantages of the IBS Treatment Center vs. other doctors, even in-network doctors, is our transparent prices.

Patients are only obligated to pay for doctor consultation time they actually use and for tests they ask for. Prices are explained by the doctor before the patient pays and there is never a surprise bill in the mail months later. The patient controls what they pay and when.

The IBS Treatment Center patients submit their claim to the insurance company and get reimbursed so costs can only go down.  Go to a doctor who accepts insurance and you never know how much you will pay until you get the bill – usually months later.  Even obviously necessary care could be rejected by the insurance company, leaving you with the bill.

We all pay for medical insurance, even if our employer is paying the premium with money that could have been in our paycheck.  Don’t let your insurance company get away with denying valid claims.  We recommend appealing all denials and making sure your insurance covers all licensed providers, in- or out-of-network.

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What is a Food Allergy?

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

Let’s start with the word allergy. When people hear the words food allergy, some people think that they have a pretty good idea about what that means. The first thought is often of anaphylaxis, which is swelling of the tongue or throat that could be life threatening. This is typically the assumption when we are discussing, for example, a peanut allergy.

Of course there are other foods that can trigger an anaphylactic reaction, such as other nuts, shellfish, strawberries, milk, and eggs. And just about any other food has the potential to trigger an anaphylactic reaction. But thankfully, anaphylactic reactions to most foods are relatively rare, so you don’t often hear about them.

Based on this information, you might assume that food allergies are always severe or life-threatening. But then you might remember that sometimes a food allergy merely causes hives. Hives are irritating, itchy, and unsightly, but they aren’t life-threatening. Lots of different foods can cause hives, including peanuts.

So a food allergy doesn’t have to be life-threatening, nor does an allergy to one particular food, such as peanuts, lead to the same symptoms in everyone.

Confused yet? If not, we’re just getting started.

Other people believe that food allergies are defined by the mechanism underlying the reaction. Different parts of the immune system can cause inflammation and thus symptoms. With most food allergies, it is assumed that an IgE antibody reaction is involved. IgE antibodies are produced by the immune system and can lead to histamine release, which causes inflammation.

However, just because you have elevated IgE antibodies to a food does not mean that you will automatically have an obvious allergic reaction. Also, elevated IgE antibodies do not represent the only pathway that causes anaphylaxis or hives.

So what is an allergy?

It depends on who’s doing the talking and on the context of the story. Take, for example, your typical newspaper or magazine article. When they use the word allergy, they are defining it by symptoms. This is the same thing that your traditional allergist does.

Allergists define food allergy by a very limited set of symptoms that they can see with their own eyes.

These symptoms are: anaphylaxis, hives, asthma, and eczema. That’s it. If you don’t have one of those four symptoms, then you don’t have a food allergy. Period. End of story. At least according to people who have defined allergy by only four symptoms.

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Symptoms of Food Allergies (Part 2)

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(commons.wikimedia

(commons.wikimedia

As discussed in part one, food allergies can cause many more problems than you or your doctor probably realize. After having worked with thousands of patients with food allergies, we know this to be true.

Symptoms list continued from Part 1:

Acne

Yes, acne really does have a lot do with your diet. If you suffer from acne then you need to consider food allergies as a cause.

Heartburn

Heartburn isn’t just about spicy food. And it isn’t about overproducing stomach acid. Heartburn is about inflammation. Many of our patients tell us that their heartburn has resolved after having worked with us. You could be the next.

Reflux in infants

Infants reflux and throw up food because their little bodies are rejecting something, and they are rejecting it for a good reason. We can help you understand that reason and find the diet appropriate for your infant that will help your little one thrive.

Colic

Babies cry incessantly and fail to sleep because they are uncomfortable. And of course, they are uncomfortable for a reason. Let us help you figure out why. The results will speak volumes, and you’ll both sleep much better.
Continue reading →

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Symptoms of Food Allergies (Part 1)

Posted on by IBSTC

(img thanks to commons.wikimedia.org)

(img thanks to commons.wikimedia.org)

Food allergies can cause a lot more problems than you or your doctor probably realize. After having worked with thousands of patients with food allergies, we know this to be true.

Although there is plenty of published research on the symptoms of food allergies, there is also a lot of misunderstanding due to conflicting definitions of allergies; some testing methods that are scientifically invalid; and the length of time between exposure to a food and the reaction.

Headaches, including Migraines

Headaches are about inflammation. And food allergies are also about inflammation. It is not at all unusual for our patients to report that their headaches have disappeared once they know how to stop triggering them with their diet.

Ear Infections

If your child suffers from more than just the very infrequent ear infection, then they probably have a food allergy. Kids should not get ear infections. Proper testing can reveal whether a child has a food allergy that is contributing to their susceptibility to ear infections.

Sinusitis

As with kids and ear infections, adults often get chronic sinus infections. Don’t think that it must be caused by bacteria or
an environmental allergy. We regularly see chronic sinus problems that are caused by food allergies come to an end when the patient is properly diagnosed and treated.

Eczema and Hives

Whether in infants, kids, or adults, eczema and hives are often triggered by food allergies. Even if an allergist has told you that you don’t have a food allergy, you could still have one. Standard tests, including skin prick testing and RAST testing
cannot measure allergies mediated by certain types of antibodies.


(photo via wikimedia commons)

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Washington Post: Backlash Has Begun Against Gluten-Free Dieters

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

You have heard the criticism: gluten free is a fad.

While it is true that some people choosing to eat gluten free are doing so for reasons other than real medical problems, that shouldn’t cause us to stop supporting those who really do have medical reasons for avoiding gluten.

Excerpt from The Washington Post:

People who have celiac disease are often misdiagnosed before the cause of their health issues — which can include digestive problems, rashes, fatigue, headaches and joint pain — is pinpointed. The only treatment for the disease is to give up gluten.

There has been a concerted effort to raise awareness of celiac disease, so that those living without a proper diagnosis can see an end to their suffering. But some people believe that the push has caused new gluten-free converts to believe that they have a disease they don’t have.

Celiac patients face backlash from critics of gluten-free trend.

As more Americans adopt gluten-free diets, some are facing criticism that gluten-free is a fad promoted by food companies to make money. Late-night TV hosts have derided the trend toward gluten-free dieting, and some celiac disease patients say they are frequently mocked. “I’m embarrassed when I say that I’m allergic to gluten, because I feel like people are rolling their eyes: ‘Just another one, part of the fad,’ ” said Glutie Foodie blog author Shira Kraft, who has celiac disease.

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

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