treating irritable bowel syndrome

Understanding Bacteria & Your Body

(photo: creativecommons)
(photo: creativecommons)

Inside of your body, primarily in your digestive tract, live an enormous number of bacteria.  These single-celled organisms have colonized areas of your body and exist happily there.

This may alarm you, as we have been trained to view bacteria as the enemy. However, we are not sterile beings. Our internal bacteria are actually critical to our health – so critical, in fact, that we cannot survive without them. They are fundamental to the development of our immune system, they help break down our food, and they even create nutrients that we need for good health. And most importantly for you, they play a large role in whether or not we experience diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, abdominal pain or IBS.

The bacteria inside us form a teeming, busy ecosystem. Changing or harming one species will have repercussions on the other species and on the host itself. While we are used to thinking of the earth’s ecosystems in this way, it may seem strange that these same principles govern our internal environments. This environment is all too easily altered, especially in our world of antibiotics. And many people suffer from IBS due to a microbial imbalance in their digestive tract.


Hospital Costs for IBS Rise, While Number of New Patients Remains Stable


This recent piece from Healio shows the admission rates to hospitals for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to be nearly 13,000 per year.

Now that is not to be confused with the number of people going to the hospital for IBS or for any of the various symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain. This is the number of people being admitted to the hospital, meaning that they stayed at the hospital for some extended period of time.


“The findings were alarming,” Sethi said. “The number of inpatient admissions has remained almost the same over the last 14 years. The length of hospital stay for IBS patients is relatively stable; however, hospital costs have gone up.

The article does not point out that the huge majority of people (at least 90%) who seek medical care for IBS at hospitals are not admitted. Nor does it point out that going to the hospital does not result in a cure for their IBS, regardless of whether or not they are admitted.

Hospitals have little more than pain medication to offer IBS patients. The IBS Treatment Center has infinitely more to offer, and is the place to go if you are seeking expertise in treating IBS.

Information on how we at the IBS Treatment Center approach curing your IBS here.

Creative commons image thanks to wikimedia


At least 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with IBS.

Drug companies are beginning to tap into this hefty target market by offering medicines aimed at relieving the symptoms of IBS. These drugs alter the physiology and ultimately the action of the digestive tract, but they do not address the underlying causes of IBS, or even claim to cure IBS.

These drugs also come with an alarming variety of warnings and side effects.

Six types of drugs are used to treat the different symptoms of IBS. They include the following:

  1. IBS-specific drugs to control the speed with which the bowels move (Zelnorm, Lotronex, and Calmactin),
  2. Laxatives to treat constipation (such as Milk of Magnesia, Ex-Lax, Perdiem, and MiraLax),
  3. Antidiarrheal agents to treat diarrhea (such as Imodium and Lomotil),
  4. Antispasmodics to relive the pain from abdominal cramps (such as Donnatal, Levsin, Levbid, NuLev, Bentyl, and Pro-Banthine),
  5. Antidepressants to relieve pain (such as Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil, and Elavil), and
  6. Narcotic analgesics to relieve pain (such as Vicodin, Demerol, and Xanax).

Note that these drugs are categorized by the type of symptom that they treat.

None of them cure IBS.

These drugs change how you experience IBS by forcing changes in the biochemistry of your body. None is capable of curing IBS, because IBS is not caused by a drug deficiency. Treatment with these drugs does not address the cause of your IBS, and once you stop using the drugs the symptoms will return.

The use of these drugs often results in serious side effects and/or negative long-term consequences.

For more information, check out The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Solution or contact our office at


Probiotic products vary widely in quality, quantity, and effectiveness.

When we are born, there are no bacteria in our digestive tract. But as soon as we are born, bacteria begin to populate the gastrointestinal system. This is not only normal, but it’s imperative to life. Studies have shown that without bacteria animals do not develop properly and cannot live very long.

Some of the very first good bacteria to which we are exposed come from breast milk. One fascinating aspect of this is that studies now show that these bacteria are transferred directly from the digestive tract of the mother via the lymph system. This brings up an interesting question…

Could problems in the mother’s digestive ecosystem carry over to her children?

It’s only recently that we have begun to gain a better appreciation for what good bacteria do for us. They inhibit the ability of bad bacteria and other microbes to affect us, both directly and indirectly. They modulate many immune functions and decrease inflammation. They are critical for digesting our food and for absorbing nutrients. They synthesize numerous vitamins. And they stimulate the motility of the digestive tract. Different bacteria have different positive effects. No two are quite alike.

Taking probiotics might seem like a no brainer. It is certainly worth trying if you are suffering from digestive problems, but there are numerous probiotic products on the market and they vary widely in quality, quantity, and effectiveness. Equally important, the ecosystem of the digestive tract is a very complex area that is often affected by numerous other variables. People with digestive problems often find that probiotics are of no benefit, or only help a little. And sometimes they even make symptoms worse.

The reasons for this are too numerous to get into here. However, we specialize in the testing and treatment necessary to help you gain a better understanding of your unique bacterial environment. And we only recommend probiotics, if they are needed at all, once we have a clearer understanding of what is causing your symptoms.

Read PART I of this story.



Medications pile up. (image thanks to

The typical medical approach for treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) involves either doing nothing, or guessing at the problem and trying different medications. Many of the patients that come to the IBS Treatment Center have been on numerous medications. None of which has solved their problem (or they wouldn’t be in our clinic in the first place!), and most of which were not designed to treat IBS symptoms.

Types of medications often prescribed for IBS include:

  • Antispasmodic drugs such as dicyclomine (Bentyl) or hyoscyamine (Levsin/Levbid)
  • Antidiarrhea meds such as Loperamide (or simply immodium or pepto bismol)
  • Anticonstipation meds such as Amitiza, or simply miralax.
  • Proton pump inhibitors (Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid) – These block acid production, but don’t have anything to do with IBS.
  • Antidepressants such as amitryptilene (Elavil) or Lexapro.
  • Antibiotics – Xifaxamin/Rifaximin. They are not any better than many other antibiotics except that they aren’t absorbed.

These drugs may be prescribed as a best guess, in the hopes that the patient will experience some relief. Research continues on IBS medications, but most of the time medications fail to cure the majority of patients. There is no single cause for IBS, and there will never be just one treatment that works for everyone.