Irritable Bowel Syndrome – A Diagnosis Is Just The Beginning
I have talked to (way too) many people who have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) who feel like they have no way forward. They may have been told take a laxative and increase their fibre or make sure you carry Imodium with you at all times. Some luckier ones may have been recommended the FODMAPs diet.
I have been there myself. After years of gut issues, I was diagnosed with IBS in about 2002. My immediate response to the diagnosis was to burst into tears.
I had done my research and I was hoping for a diagnosis that meant I could do something or take something to calm my so irritable and irrational gut. My tears were based on the understanding that there was not much that could be done, from a medical perspective, with IBS. I felt like it was a dead-end road for me.
After much trial and error, I found a naturopath that showed me how amazing herbs are for calming an irritable gut. He showed me how mindset is critical for calming my gut and what foods were healing. I still use his tonics and recommendations today. And I am happy to say that my gut is overall quite calm and happy. And when it gets occasionally irritable, I know how best to calm and soothe it.
As a medical herbalist and naturopath specialising in gut issues, I now get excited when someone comes to me with IBS – because I know personally and professionally how food, herbs and nutrition can improve a person’s life with IBS. An IBS diagnosis is just the beginning…
What is IBS?
IBS is a chronic condition affecting the large intestine or bowel which results in symptoms such as:
- Alternating Constipation and Diarrhoea
There are four types of IBS:
- IBS-D – diarrhoea dominant
- IBS-C – constipation dominant
- IBS_M – alternating diarrhoea and constipation
- IBS-U – unclassified
I am quite pleased to see that in the last Rome (IV) publication, which serves to provide guidance on diagnosis and treatment gastro-intestinal disorders, two significant changes were introduced:
- Recognition of the link between the gut and brain. Instead of referring to conditions such as IBS as functional gastro-intestinal disorders, ROME IV instead refers to these as: disorders of gut-brain interaction (DGBI).
I see this an improvement in recognising that the brain has an influence on and is influenced by the gut. I hope that this will lead the way for people to understand that gut issues are not “all in your head” and instead the brain is a key component in treating theses sorts of gut issues generally.
- The types of IBS are not independent conditions, instead these are a spectrum such that people can move between each type depending on such issues as diet and stress. This distinction I hope will allow for greater flexibility in treatment options for those suffering from IBS.
Next week, I will dive a bit deeper into IBS – diarrhoea. One of the more devastating types of IBS due to the impact it has people’s energy and their ability to simply do the day to day activities in life.
In the mean time, if you need help to calm your irritable gut, please make an appointment with me to get started… an IBS diagnosis is just the beginning.