what causes IBS?

Great panel discussion with Dr. Stephen Wangen from the IBS Treatment Center and a round table discussion. Education is the best way to understand what’s going on with your body!

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)
(photo: commons.wikimedia)

Our intestines are a rich and thriving ecosystem, when we are healthy. The massive surface of our intestines (about the same as a tennis court) provides everything needed for life – space, moisture, and nutrients.

Given the ubiquity of anti-bacterial products in our society, many people are surprised to learn that they have about 10 trillion bacteria living in their intestines. But not only do we have bacteria lining our digestive tract, we desperately need them.

There are basically three types of micro-organisms living in our intestines: Good bacteria; Bad bacteria/microorganisms; and Disease organisms.

The good bacteria include species and strains that we evolved with, like acidopholus and bifidobacterium. These are an essential part of our digestive systems and we would not survive without them. They help us to digest food by producing enzymes, manufacture some of the essential nutrients that we need to live, assist in the development of our immune system, and prevent infection by occupying the space in the intestines that unwelcome organisms would thrive in, if they could.
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Causes of IBS: Candida

(photo: commons.wikimedia)
(photo: commons.wikimedia)

One of the more common causes of digestive problems is Candida, or yeast.

Although there are other types of yeast, Candida is the word usually used to describe a problem with yeast. Although many people think of yeast infections as a female problem, yeast is an organism that can colonize any orifice.

In the mouth it is known as thrush. In the digestive tract it is often called a yeast overgrowth, or simply candida. These do not have to occur together. However, they are essentially the same problem.

What are the symptoms of Candida?

Yeast can cause a large number of symptoms, including all of those of irritable bowel syndrome – gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

How do you get Candida?

Candida are a normal part of the environment. However, a problem occurs when they get out of balance with the normal good bacteria found in your digestive tract. Then they can develop into an overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract and cause problems there as well as elsewhere in your body.

Why does this happen?

One of the most common things that cause yeast to get out of control is the use of antibiotics. There are other causes too, but antibiotics provide an excellent case study. Antibiotics kill bacteria, but they do not kill Candida or yeast. Only antifungals kill yeast.

Therefore taking antibiotics kills off bacteria that are in direct competition with yeast for territory in your digestive tract. This is similar to any other battlefield. Everyone wants territory.

In this scenario yeast can flourish, potentially creating an environment where there is more yeast than is desirable.

What other symptoms can Candida cause? (more…)

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CrohnsParasites are another common cause of IBS symptoms and should be discussed. These symptoms can include diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, cramps, nausea, poor digestion, fatigue, muscle aches, bleeding, rectal itching, and abdominal pain.

Parasites cannot live without you. You provide them living space and food, but unlike friendly bacteria, parasites do nothing for you in return. They only act against you. They vary in size from the very tiny, which can be seen only under a microscope, to inches long. Some can find their way into just about any area of the body, but most are found only in the digestive tract.

The severity of your symptoms and the amount of damage they cause varies depending on the parasite involved, the number of parasites, and the level of resistance your body has.

Parasites damage the body in a number of ways, by absorbing nutrients that you need and by directly damaging your digestive tract; and, if they are capable of migrating, possibly damaging other areas of your body as well. They often reproduce rapidly and by the thousands, and are easily spread to other people. Unfortunately, a strong population of good bacteria does little to protect you from parasites.

Parasites are more common than generally believed. Although most Americans consider them to be a Third-World problem, they infect millions of Americans – even those who never leave the country or drink from mountain streams (a common source of the parasite Giardia). We live in a global community. Parasites enter this country every day through the importation of contaminated foods and seemingly innocent products such as clay pottery. It is true that many common parasites are native to the tropics, where it is warm and humid. But the fruits and vegetables we import from these warm countries can be a source of parasitic contamination, affecting every area of the United States. However, because of the misperception that parasites are not an American problem, they have often been overlooked as a possible cause of digestive illnesses.
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Causes of IBS: Intestinal Microorganisms and Parasites

(img from commons.wikimedia)
(img from commons.wikimedia)

Our intestines are a rich and thriving ecosystem, when we are healthy.

The massive surface of our intestines (about the same as a tennis court) provides everything needed for life – space, moisture, and nutrients. Given the ubiquity of anti-bacterial products in our society, many people are surprised to learn that they have about 10 trillion bacteria living in their intestines. But not only do we have bacteria lining our digestive tract, we desperately need them.

There are basically three types of micro-organisms living in our intestines: Good bacteria; Bad bacteria/microorganisms; and Disease organisms.

The good bacteria include species and strains that we evolved with, like acidopholus and bifidobacterium. These are an essential part of our digestive systems and we would not survive without them. They help us to digest food by producing enzymes, manufacture some of the essential nutrients that we need to live, assist in the development of our immune system, and prevent infection by occupying the space in the intestines that unwelcome organisms would thrive in, if they could.

The bad bacteria and microorganisms include many species and strains that don’t symbiotically help us, but rather upset the balance. These can include bacteria that crowd out the species we need or other organisms like yeast. While some bad bacteria and yeast are often present in small numbers in healthy people, excessive yeast growth can upset the balance and trigger all kinds of effects. Since the advent of medical antibiotics it is quite common for people to use wide-spectrum anti-biotics and unwittingly kill off the bacteria they need, allowing bad microorganisms to ‘claim more turf’ and upset the balance.
(more…)

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One of the more common causes of digestive problems is Candida, or yeast.

Although there are other types of yeast, Candida is the word usually used to describe a problem with yeast. Although many people think of yeast infections as a female problem, yeast is an organism that can colonize any orifice. In the mouth it is known as thrush. In the digestive tract it is often called a yeast overgrowth, or simply candida. These do not have to occur together. However, they are essentially the same problem.

What are the symptoms of Candida?

Yeast can cause a large number of symptoms, including all of those of irritable bowel syndrome – gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

How do you get Candida?

Candida are a normal part of the environment. However, a problem occurs when they get out of balance with the normal good bacteria found in your digestive tract. Then they can develop into an overgrowth of yeast in the digestive tract and cause problems there as well as elsewhere in your body.

Why does this happen?

One of the most common things that cause yeast to get out of control is the use of antibiotics. There are other causes too, but antibiotics provide an excellent case study. Antibiotics kill bacteria, but they do not kill Candida or yeast. Only antifungals kill yeast. Therefore taking antibiotics kills off bacteria that are in direct competition with yeast for territory in your digestive tract. This is similar to any other battlefield. Everyone wants territory. In this scenario yeast can flourish, potentially creating an environment where there is more yeast than is desirable.

What other symptoms can Candida cause?

People with Candida or an overgrowth of yeast often describe having symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, and headaches, to name a few. This does not necessarily mean that they have yeast throughout their body. That is highly unlikely and is an extremely dangerous condition. However, the yeast in their digestive tract can create toxins that affect the rest of the body.

How do you test for Candida?
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This came up in the news recently and is worth noting.

From MedicalNewsToday.com:

“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.


Image thanks to thedancingbibliophile.blogspot.com

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(image thanks to epenihadux.github.com)

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.

Today, we wanted to share a recent patient testimonial that highlights how what you eat can affect many different aspects of your health.

Without the foods that I am allergic to my joints felt at the least 10 years younger. Somehow moving doesn’t seem to feel restricted and gravity isn’t as heavy.

Seven months ago I was told I have piriformis syndrome in my left hip. I haven’t seen any improvement in the pain until now. I had tendonitis in both of my elbows and couldn’t hold even an opened book in my hands without my elbow feeling like they were stiff and going to break. I had to stop Crocheting and knitting because it hurt too bad to do anymore.

I was sent to a Neurologist but since I wouldn’t take the cortisone shot there wasn’t anything he could do for it. I spent 8 years on and off antidepressants for migraines with no real help. Doctors put me on arthritis medicines but I didn’t trust the stuff and wouldn’t take it. I didn’t believe getting to the root of the problem with IBS would make a difference in my whole body.


Living with IBS is a nightmare. It makes you feel like you are terminally ill. ….
I know I still have a ways to go but everyday I remind myself were I was and I am amazed how great I feel!


Thank you so much for the job you and everyone who works with you do that so very few take the time to understand!

Cindy Tomes


Image thanks to github.com

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The Mayo Clinic has found a round about way to offer up a mea culpa.

They aren’t apologizing for not ever having helped anyone solve their Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but a Mayo clinic doctor is at least acknowledging that there are many causes for IBS.

However, this isn’t a study, as the article suggests. It’s simply a review of possible triggers. It sounds like he read my book (The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Solution).

Don’t confuse this article with the Mayo Clinic’s ability to help people with IBS. We’ve seen and continue to see many people who’ve already been to the Mayo Clinic. They provide very good care, but when it comes to IBS, it’s exactly the same as the care that you get from any local institution or gastroenterologist. They are simply a brand, and their number one goal is to promote their brand.

Excerpt from Business-Standard.com:

Irritable bowel syndrome is not “all in the head” as has been commonly thought, researchers say.

In a review of the literature, Michael Camilleri, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist describes a renaissance in the understanding of the condition, also known as IBS.

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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 IBS 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 Intestinal Microorganisms and Parasites.

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Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea or abdominal pain often wonder if they have a problem with their gallbladder.

Problems with the gallbladder can indeed cause these symptoms.  However, many people find that having their gallbladder removed did little or nothing to help their IBS, or even made it worse. Have you had your gall bladder removed? Do you have IBS? Feel free to share your thoughts in our comments section.

What does the gallbladder do?

The gallbladder does exactly what its name describes; it is a small bladder that stores gall. Gall is more commonly known as bile. Bile is produced by the liver and piped over to the gallbladder via the bile duct.

What is bile?

Bile is a highly concentrated yellow green fluid that contains bile acids. Bile acids are important for digesting fats. When you eat, your gallbladder contracts and secretes bile into the small intestine to help you digest your food. If your gallbladder has been removed then it will be more difficult for you to digest fats. In such cases, eating too much fat may cause loose stools.

When does that gallbladder need to be removed?

In some people, stones develop inside of the gallbladder. These stones, when small, can become lodged in the bile duct, which can cause severe pain and be very dangerous if they also clog the pancreatic duct. Larger stones are not able to pass into the bile duct, but their presence can cause severe pain. Sometimes this is worse when the gallbladder is contracting. In either case, removing the gallbladder usually relieves the pain and you feel much better.
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The diagnosis of gastroparesis simply means that there is a delay in how long it takes the stomach to empty. It is then typically assumed that this is due to damage to the vagus nerve, which helps control the emptying time of the stomach. In some cases this damage is actually seen or verified. But in many cases is only an assumption of nerve damage based solely on the delayed emptying time of the stomach.

What should be remembered is that a delay in gastric emptying time is a symptom with several potential causes and is not necessarily due to damage to the vagus nerve. Constipation and diarrhea are also symptoms with multiple causes. The fact that one represents a delay in bowel transit time (constipation) and the other represents an expedited transit time (diarrhea) does not mean that there is permanent damage to the nervous system, or even any damage at all to the nervous system.

These symptoms of gastroparesis, diarrhea, and constipation simply mean that the digestive tract isn’t working properly. In the case of gastroparesis, unless you have a confirmed diagnosis of damage to the vagus nerve, it is very possible that something else is causing it and that you can resolve it.

Gastroparesis is frequently associated with diabetes, and sometimes people assume that if they have diabetes then they must have nerve damage and thus gastroparesis. However, there is still a strong possibility that there is another cause of their gastroparesis and that it can be resolved, even in the presence of diabetes. This is also true for people who suffer from GERD, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, or other digestive problems.

Patients at the IBS Treatment Center often report that they have been diagnosed with gastroparesis, and those patients often get much better after discovering the true cause of their problem. In fact, studies in the medical literature have demonstrated the same thing. If you suffer from gastroparesis, don’t give up. There may be a solution for you!

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Another study on post infectious IBS. The immediate question is “Why does this happen?”  My suspicion is that it is because there are other factors already weakening the digestive tract. The infection was merely the straw that broke the camels back, so to speak.

It’s the other hidden issues that prevented some individuals from recovering, while everyone else did recover.  Our job is to find those issues so that people can recover.

Study:
Incidence of post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome and functional intestinal disorders following a water-borne viral gastroenteritis outbreak.

Source
Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Gastroenterology Unit, University and Spedali Civili of Brescia, Italy.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:
Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome (PI-IBS) may develop in 4-31% of affected patients following bacterial gastroenteritis (GE), but limited information is available on long-term outcome of viral GE. During summer 2009, a massive outbreak of viral GE associated with contamination of municipal drinking water (Norovirus) occurred in San Felice del Benaco (Lake Garda, Italy). To investigate the natural history of a community outbreak of viral GE, and to assess the incidence of PI-IBS and functional gastrointestinal disorders, we carried out a prospective population-based cohort study with a control group.

METHODS:
Baseline questionnaires were administered to the resident community within 1 month of the outbreak. Follow-up questionnaires of the Italian version of Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS, a 15-item survey scored according to a 7-point Likert scale) were mailed to all patients responding to baseline questionnaire at 3 and 6 months, and to a cohort of unaffected controls, living in the same geographical area, at 6 months after the outbreak. The GSRS item were grouped in five dimensions: abdominal pain, reflux, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation. At month 12, all patients and controls were interviewed by a health assistant to verify Rome III criteria of IBS. Student’s t-test and χ(2)- or Fisher’s exact test were used as appropriate.

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