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Irritable Bowel Syndrome…Medical Treatment versus Natural Treatment


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic inflammatory condition associated with abdominal pain, bloating, gas and altered bowel habits such as episodes of diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a general name for a number of diseases such as Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the digestive system from mouth to anus, diseases of the colon such as diverticulosis or diverticultis or even Celiac disease. All of these are generally grouped together as IBS. Even undiagnosed lactose intolerance will be labeled as IBS by less than qualified physicians in a hurry to see the next patient.

Although IBS is chronic which means that you have it all your life, physicians only treat the symptoms and pay no attention to the actual triggers that cause these symptoms. They prescribe prednisone for an acute attack, a drug that only stops your body from showing symptoms and then they put the patient on Asacol ( 5-aminosalicyalte) or sulfathalazine. These drugs are derivatives of aspirin only they have an enteric coating, allowing them to resist stomach acid and exhibit their anti-inflammatory properties in the lower bowel. You take Asacol daily for the rest of your life and high doses of prednisone for acute attacks. A new drug Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate) was introduced with a great amount of fanfare. It was to take away all your symptoms. Unfortunately it took away a few lives too and has been withdrawn from the market.

Natural treatment is a lot less invasive and can be done on your own. Celiac disease can be ruled out by going on a completely gluten free diet. Lactose intolerance can be ruled out by not ingesting any dairy products. In fact, anyone with IBS should avoid all dairy products which are the worst triggers for this condition. Other triggers are alcohol, refined sugars, carbonated and caffeinated beverages and chocolate, especially milk chocolate. In addition egg yolks, poultry skin, dark meat, red meat and shortening should also be eliminated from your diet. A low fat high carbohydrate diet consisting of whole-grain breads, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables and high fiber cereals such as oat and bran is your first defense against IBS.

The principle supplements used for IBS are plant enzymes and acidophilus. Plant enzymes, unlike your normal digestive enzymes in the upper and lower intestine, will activate in your stomach. It is important to choose a broad spectrum product that contains an enzyme for every food group so that no matter what you eat it is broken down by your digestive enzymes. You must take two capsules at least 5 minutes before any food enters your stomach. As the enzymes break down the food, the stomach does not have to secrete as much acid and most of the food is digested before the stomach empties it into the upper intestine. If you forgot to take your enzymes before your meal, do not bother. They will not work once you have started to eat because your body is breaking down the food with acid and saliva and depending on the enzymes in your upper and lower intestine. After your meal you take one acidophilus capsule. This breaks down any food left undigested in the colon and this is the most important ingredient in eliminating gas. If you suffer from frequent diarrhea, one teaspoonful of psyllium up to three times a day with lots of water will form natural stools which will be excreted through the colon. It is important that you drink a lot of water with your psyllium or you will become severely bloated. Finally, many people use Aloe Vera in the form of a morning drink to settle down their digestive system.

Although all of the above supplements will remove most of your IBS symptoms, it is important to find the initial cause of your bloating and gas.
The natural way is to always look for the cause and not just to treat the symptoms.