Doctors who have been telling IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) patients that it’s all in their mind will have to rethink that approach after scientists finally discovered the problem really does exist. Researchers at Munich’s Technische University have located the cause of IBS and it is in the gut, not the mind. Specifically, it is the result of tiny inflammations in the mucosa of the gut, which upset the sensitive balance of the bowel.
Professor Michael Schemann’s research team at the TUM Department for Human Biology demonstrated that micro-inflammations of the mucosa causes sensitization of the enteric nervous system, which in turn causes irritable bowel syndrome. The researchers used ultrafast optical measuring methods to demonstrate that mediators from mast cells and enterochromaffin cells directly activate the nerve cells in the bowel. The hypersensitivity of the enteric nervous system upsets communication between the gut’s mucosa and its nervous system. Project leader Prof. Schemann explained: “The irritated mucosa releases increased amounts of neuroactive substances such as serotonin, histamine and protease. This cocktail produced by the body could be the real cause of the unpleasant IBS complaints.”
The scientists are the first to identify IBS’s cause; up to now, many doctors have dismissed their IBS patients as merely being hypochondriacs. Irritable bowel syndrome makes life miserable for those affected — an estimated ten percent or more of the population. And what irritates many of them even more is that they often are labeled as hypochondriacs, since physical causes for irritable bowel syndrome have never been identified until now.
IBS can turn digestion into a nightmare. Common symptoms include symptoms include stomach disorders, nausea, cramps, flatulence, constipation and diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps, sleep disturbances, headaches and backache. While the new research findings will almost surely lead to medicines and treatments to inhibit serotonin, histamine and protease, the findings could also help reinforce and narrow natural treatments that many have found to be effective against IBS.
Proper diet has been the foremost tool used against IBS. Eating properly for IBS can relieve and prevent both diarrhea and constipation, as well pain, gas, and bloating. This is best accomplished by avoiding foods that over-stimulate or irritate the colon and eating foods that soothe and regulate it. It is considered essential to strictly limit the amount of dietary fat (the single most powerful digestive tract stimulant), eat soluble fiber consistently with every snack and meal, eliminate coffee, carbonated beverages and alcohol, be very careful with insoluble fiber, and avoid overeating by having frequent small meals instead of large ones. It is also important to avoid cigarettes, as tobacco wreaks havoc on the digestive tract.
The following list includes many potential dietary sources of trouble. Please note that, since individual tolerances for IBS trigger foods may vary, you may find through experimentation that you have a higher degree of tolerance for some of these foods than others.
Red Meat (Beef, Pork, Lamb, etc.) Poultry Dark Meat and Skin. Dairy Products. Egg Yolks. Fried Foods. Coconut Milk. Oils, Shortening, Butter, Fats. Solid Chocolate. Coffee, Regular and Decaffeinated. Alcohol. Carbonated Beverages. Artificial Sweeteners. Artificial Fats, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
To see a comprehensive article on dieting for IBS by natural health author Heather Van Vorous, who had IBS for more than twenty years beginning in childhood, click here.
One food item that may be particularly beneficial is apples (with the hard to digest skin removed or else cooked). Apples contain "malic acid", a substance that appears to ease pain and inflammation. Apples also contain pectin, which helps remove toxins that may be causing stomach irritation as well as other problems.
Two other natural items, which may help, are:
- Digestive enzymes, which help the body break down and absorb food and have been known to help relieve IBS.
- Ginger, which is a natural anti-inflammatory and which has a long history of use for nausea and other digestion problems associated with IBS.
- Colloidal silver, which can help eliminate bacteria that may cause or contribute to inflammation in the gut.
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