stopping ibs

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This came up in the news recently and is worth noting.


“GENIEUR, which stands for Genes in Irritable Bowel Syndrome Europe, was funded by the European Science Foundation. Its main aim is to identify the genes and DNA variants which might be linked to a higher risk of developing IBS symptoms.”

“According to health authorities in Sweden, IBS is the second most common cause of work absenteeism, after common colds – over 10% of all Swedish adults live with IBS.”

Having successfully treated thousands of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) patients, I am 100% confident that their approach will do little to shed light on IBS.  There are literally hundreds of causes of IBS. Therefore it is impossible to find any genetic variants that will have any  meaningful impact on patient health or patient treatment.

The same has been true for celiac disease, which is far simpler than IBS. The genetic variants that have been found in celiac disease still don’t come anywhere close to predicting celiac disease. They also don’t change the treatment for celiac disease, and they never will.

So why do scientists and doctors take this approach? 

One major reason is that they can get funding for it. In the scientific community, if you can get funding for something, then someone will do the study.

Genetic studies are sexy science right now, which is one of the reasons that funding is available. But what we continue to fail to realize is that we control our genes far more than they control us.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or spastic colon is a bowel disorder characterized by diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and chronic abdominal pain.

It is fairly common and makes up 20-50% of visits to gastroenterologists. Although formal diagnosis depends on a very specific set of symptoms, the range of symptoms that occur in patients diagnosed with IBS is fairly wide.

The cause of IBS varies from person to person, which is what makes irritable bowel syndrome and its symptoms so difficult for most doctors to treat. However, through proper testing it is possible to identify the exact cause or causes of the symptoms and live a life free of digestive problems.

There are several hundred potential causes of IBS, but they can be broken down into two major categories: 

  1. Food Allergies and Intolerances; and
  2. Intestinal Microorganisms and Parasites.


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Reason #1: One major obstacle to figuring out which foods are problematic is that, even on an elimination diet, you may not have truly eliminated all of your allergenic foods. Assumptions are often made about which foods are allergenic and which foods are not. These assumptions are often wrong. Even on an elimination diet you may still be eating something that will trigger your IBS, even if you are eating foods that you normally don’t eat.

In order to solve your IBS you may need to stay away from entire food groups, not just one or two foods.

Food groups are much more difficult to avoid than you might think. One food group that commonly causes problems for IBS sufferers is dairy. Dairy is not just milk. Dairy includes cheese, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. It’s found in many baked goods such as muffins, breads, and cookies, as well as in many cream soups, some salad dressings, and milk chocolate. Coffee and lattes are another common source of dairy. Even margarine contains dairy. The list goes on and on.

Two key components of dairy are whey and casein, which many people cannot tolerate. These are used as additives in a great variety of foods, even those you wouldn’t consider to be dairy foods. Look at the labels on the packaged or processed foods you buy. Even non-dairy coffee creamer contains casein, for instance.

This example demonstrates how complicated it can be to avoid entire food groups in order to assess the dietary trigger of your symptoms. Many other food groups are just as complicated. If you remove only one part of a food group from your diet, you won’t really know if that group actually causes your symptoms. You need a great deal of information about the foods you eat and what they contain in order to understand which foods trigger your symptoms.

Reason #2: Another problem is that you may react to more than one food. In fact, most people with IBS are sensitive to more than one food or food group. You may suspect that your symptoms are caused by a certain food, but find that, even after you eliminate that food, your symptoms remain. This may lead you to mistakenly see the eliminated food as not part of the problem.


All drugs have side-effects.
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Yet another symptom focused drug has been approved for IBS patients.  In a very short trial, this new drug was determined to help more patients that placebo to have a bowel movement when constipated.  The primary side effect noted was diarrhea. 

Again it’s worth pointing out that this drug does not address the cause of IBS symptoms (in this case constipation).  It merely forces the body to move the intestines.  Another drug that worked similarly (Zelnorm) was taken off the market because of the high risk of heart problems and other severe side effects.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not caused because you aren’t taking enough prescription drugs – it is caused by some issue with the digestive tract and/or immune system.  Doing the right testing can identify the cause and enable the patient to treat that, rather than just treat the symptom. 

All drugs have side-effects. This one does too, and more will become apparent as it is put into use.

Excerpt from

Food and Drug Administration gave the thumbs up Thursday for a new drug to treat chronic constipation that doesn’t respond to standard treatments. The drug, Linzess (linaclotide), is also approved to treat irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. More than one in five Americans experience cramping and difficulty passing stool on a chronic basis, according to the National Institutes of Health, and could be eligible for treatment with this new drug.

Linzess, manufactured by Cambridge-based Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, is a once-daily capsule taken on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before breakfast. It works increasing the frequency of bowel movements and also helps to ease abdominal cramps associated with IBS.

“No one medication works for all patients suffering from these gastrointestinal disorders,” Dr. Victoria Kusiak, an FDA deputy director in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “With the availability of new therapies, patients and their doctors can select the most appropriate treatment for their condition.”

Fiber supplements and laxatives are usually the first treatments used for constipation. When those don’t work, doctors can prescribe lubiprostone (Amitiza), which works by increasing fluid in the small intestine to help with the passage of stool. It can cause nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and its full safety risks remain unknown.

Image thanks to kevinwestforpresident