But I’m very stubborn, and somehow I thought that if I went to medical school I would figure out what other doctors hadn’t been able to figure out. Turns out I wasn’t so bright. Your brilliant doctor doesn’t know how to help you because solving IBS isn’t taught in medical school. In hindsight I guess that makes sense.
But I was still stubborn. That part hadn’t changed. After I was done with school I kept searching for answers. Because it seemed to me that there must be an answer. And eventually, being persistent enough, I started to find them. It was primarily by doing things I wasn’t taught in school, and from listening to my patients. Patients can be incredibly helpful and insightful.
The answers were in the places I had been told not to go. The places I was told were not legitimate medicine or good science, like food reactions, leaky gut and dysbiosis. But as I dug deeper, I learned that it wasn’t about science at all, it was about money.
I discovered that the medical system is just like all other massive industries and big businesses. The biggest companies with the most money win. They do what they want to do, tell you whatever serves their interest, and they mostly answer to their shareholders. And in the medical industry these companies are primarily the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies. And they have won the marketing and lobbying battles that tell you what you’re going to get when it comes to healthcare.
But these companies don’t stop there, they also try to block and even discredit their competition, the little people trying to change the system. And keep in mind that the pharmaceutical companies are behind most research and have massive influence on the medical schools. And of course, that research is going to lead to their financial benefit. If it doesn’t, then it’s useless to them.
And your brilliant doctors? No matter how smart they are or how caring they are, or what their motivation was for becoming doctors, they only know what they’ve been taught by those industries. They are not given incentives to go beyond that or improve the standard of care unless it leads to more money for the big players. And they are not in control. CEOs are in control, and optimizing your health is not the money maker at the top of their priority system.
And all of that is why your brilliant doctor doesn’t know anything about the things that we all know are fundamental to health, like diet, and nutrition, and vitamins and minerals and herbal medicine and supplements. And yet we continue to put our faith in them, even though we are dumbfounded when our doctors don’t know a damn thing about them.
I was fed up with all of that. So I did something really stupid, at least from a business perspective. I created a place where the expectation is to cure IBS. It’s dumb because our patients usually get better. Then they leave. Forever. So we always have to get new patients. Successful businesses are built on recurring revenue, like drugs that you can never get off of, not one and done propositions.
But I couldn’t live with myself if I did it any other way. It’s just in my nature. One time I even had a teacher in medical school shame me in front of my classmates for this character trait. Something that probably wouldn’t go over well nowadays, and I regret that I put up with it back then. It still bugs me when I think about it.
My primary goal is to help people optimize their health, from this point forward in their lives . And the body is incredibly capable of doing this if we give it the right supprt and get out of it’s way. If we ever get serious about improving the quality of care and not just the quantity of care or the cost of care, things will be very different in our health care system. That’s a topic for another time, and I would love lead that charge, but for now I’ll just keep it to helping people in my own small way, with IBS.
Anyway, learning all of that eventually led me to create the IBS Treatment Center to help people with IBS and to prove that IBS is curable, something that believe it or not I’ve been told by Google and other authorities that I can’t say, but I say it anyway because it’s true.
And what else do I do when I’m not talking about poop? I love nature and I love to be outdoors. I love to bike, and run, and ski, and hike, and backpack, and fish, and do yoga (though to be honest and I don’t do as much yoga as I should). I love travelling and bird watching. And I always love a good house project, like building a deck or something (Although admittedly that got old during Covid. I painted the entire exterior of my house.). I’m really into soccer and the Seattle Sounders. And most of all I like spending time with my family doing all of those things, and watching them do the things they love to do. And I love to learn, which is probably my favorite hobby.
Well, that’s enough about me. If your goal is to solve IBS, then you can probably do that. I’ve seen it happen thousands of times. So I know it’s possible. And over 20 years ago I experienced it myself in my own health.
But if it’s just to manage it, or to treat the symptoms, then that’s the best you’re going to get. So you have a choice. You can either live with IBS, or you can remove the BS in IBS. The ball is in your court, and I hope that you’ll let us prove it to you.
Dr. Wangen is the founder and medical director of the IBS Treatment Center, the award winning author of two books, and a nationally recognized speaker on digestive disorders. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio, and was named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.