Signup for the Montana Integrative Medicine Newsletter
Montana Integrative Medicine :: Bozeman, MT

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), as the name implies, is a grouping of symptoms that include gas and bloating, abdominal discomfort and constipation or diarrhea. IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning it is diagnosed after other conditions, such as irritable bowel disease (IBD) has been ruled out. Many natural treatments can help IBS. Meditating 30 minutes a day for just six weeks significantly decreased diarrhea, bloating, flatulence, and belching in one study. Not surprisingly, the study reported no side effects. Dietary allergies can contribute to IBS symptoms, and eliminating them can lead to dramatic improvement as well. A recent review of dietary allergies in IBS published in Neurogastroenterology and Motility concluded that excluding dietary allergens can lead to an improvement in up to 71 percent of IBS sufferers. We can identify food allergens several ways. Blood tests for IgG4 antibodies and the allergy elimination-challenge tests are the most sensitive. In an elimination-challenge test, patients follow a hypoallergenic diet for a prescribed period of time and track their symptoms in a journal. Then they methodically, and with guidance from a clinician, reintroduce foods one at a time. If symptoms return with specific foods, the patient eliminates them from her diet altogether, perhaps not forever, but for a while.

Case: Irritable Bowel Syndrome / Depression

A 49-year old woman complained of diarrhea multiple times a week, with a past diagnosis of diarrhea-predominant IBS. She would experience bouts of urgency several times a day during which she would be forced to stop anything she was doing to rush to the bathroom, where she would have diarrhea. She also was experiencing depression for which she was taking 40 mg of Prozac for the depression. Her health goal was to test for the possible underlying causes of her IBS so that she could get rid of it once and for all. Her MetaCT 400 test results revealed severe allergies to dairy; functional hypothyroidism (low T3); deficient in all 10 essential amino acids and some non-essential amino acids; multiple essential mineral deficiencies (magnesium, zinc and manganese);  elevated free radical damage to lipids and DNA, which are risk factors for heart disease and cancer; mercury toxicity, a risk factor for depression and irritability; vitamin D insufficiency, a risk factor for colorectal cancer, osteoporosis, and cervical cancer; decreased ability to burn fats and carbohydrates for energy production; borderline vitamin B12 deficiency, a risk factor for dementia; intestinal bacterial dysbiosis, a risk factor for malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies; and iron deficiency (low ferritin). These test results explained her IBS and depression (below).

Food allergies, explaining her IBS symptoms

Note: Casein is a protein found in high concentrations in dairy and dairy products
Intestinal bacterial infection, explaining her IBS symptoms
Amino acid deficiencies, explaining fatigue, depression, exercise intolerance
Low minerals, explaining fatigue, increased free radical damage to DNA
Mercury toxicity
Elevated free radical damage to cell membranes (lipid peroxides) and to DNA (8-Hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine)

Vitamin D insufficiency

This woman was placed on a therapeutic elimination diet, her bacterial infection was treated, and her nutritional deficiencies addressed with dietary supplements and dietary modification. After six weeks of being on the program her diarrhea was decreased by 80% and she no longer had any urgency. After 12 weeks her IBS was decreased by 90%, she no longer experienced gas/bloating or diarrhea except when she would eat dairy. Her mood had also improved during this period, she reported feeling "calmer," and she spoke with her physician about coming off of her antidepressant medication.