September 5, 2012
The real cause - and treatment - for irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome affects 30 million Americans. It causes lots of gas, bloating, and irregular bowels. However, unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, there’s no overt inflammation in your bowel. For years, conventional doctors had no idea what was causing the problem. Now a new study out of Greece appears to have found the cause.

This study was superior to others because it employed a direct small bowel culture. Previous studies had been based on methane exhalation. Methane is a byproduct of intestinal bacteria. This study, on 320 patients, found small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) in more than a third of IBS patients compared to only 10% without IBS. And, in patients who had diarrhea-associated IBS, more than 60% of them had a bacterial overgrowth compared to just 10% of those without IBS.

The lead author was Mark Pimental. He caused a stir years ago when he suggested that the cause of IBS is bacteria. At that time, few doctors believed him. Well, there have been many physician martyrs who suggested the same about peptic ulcer disease. Their “learned” peers hounded them to oblivion. Well, while medicine is not any more open-minded today to sacred dogmas than yesteryear, one-by-one, pillars are falling.

This study does provide hope for IBS sufferers. Unfortunately, while Pimentel is looking for an “alternative” explanation for IBS, he is still looking for conventional treatments – antibiotics. He noted that one antibiotic, rifaximin, provides relief even after you stop taking it. I have other suggestions for IBS sufferers.

Bacteria are sparse in the small bowel in normal people. Stomach acid kills most bacteria. Then, as intestinal contents slow down toward the colon, and once in the colon, digestive juices are gone and bacteria can flourish normally. So, first, you need to assess if you might be deficient in acid in your stomach, or pancreatic digestive enzymes. If so, supplemental betaine hydrochloride (acid) and/or pancreatic enzymes might help. Both of these are widely available in health food stores and online. Advanced Bionutritionals makes a good formula called Integrative Digestive Formula.

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Next, you need to be sure that you have an abundance of “good” bacteria in your gut. There are plenty of great formulations. For example, there is Culturelle (an excellent strain of acidophilus), lactobacillus sporogenes, and others. These may greatly assist any particular person, but not necessarily everyone. I recommend Advanced Probiotic Formula. ProThera also makes quality probiotics.

Finally, I’m a great fan of colostrum. It is baby’s first food for a reason. It programs the infant’s gut for life. Cow colostrum is virtually identical to human colostrum. It rids intestines of bad bacteria and sets up a climate for beneficial bacteria. You can order colostrum by following this link. The normal dose for colostrum is four capsules daily. If you have IBS, you need to take more to restore health to your gut. So take three to four capsules two to three times daily between meals.

There are many other products that can be used to remove toxic germs from your gut. But I’d try these first, especially the colostrum and probiotics.

Yours for better health and medical freedom,

Ref: Digestive Diseases and Sciences, May 2012.

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