How to Cure Irritable Bowel Syndrome in a Few Days.

Via on Nov 7, 2013

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“I have irritable bowel syndrome. What do I do about it? What causes it? How do I fix my leaky gut? Do I take drugs?”

Irritable bowel syndrome is a huge problem that affects almost 50 million Americans or almost one of every six people.

It’s one of the most common reasons for visits to the doctor, and yet, most doctors have no clue how to treat it or what’s really causing it.

That’s where functional medicine comes in.

Functional medicine is a not a new treatment or test or modality. It’s a whole new way of thinking about solving the puzzle of chronic symptoms and diseases.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a fantastic model for illustrating how functional medicine works.

So, what is irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, anyway?

Irritable bowel syndrome is what doctors call symptoms of bloating or gas, distention, constipation, diarrhea, cramping—where your bowel is just irritable. When you look in there during a colonoscopy, you don’t really see anything. It looks normal.

There is no structural problem, no tumor or obvious cause. The root problem is dysfunction of your gut ecosystem. Most doctors often suggest eating more fiber or taking Metamucil. That’s generally not very effective.

IBS causes needless misery for millions of people.

But it is fixable!

The causes of irritable bowel syndrome

In functional medicine, we know that one disease can have many causes (or that one cause can create many diseases—think gluten).

If you have five people with IBS, the causes may be quite different for each person. In functional medicine, we focus on getting to the root cause of disease.

There are really only five causes of all disease: allergens, microbes or imbalance of the bugs in your gut, toxins, poor diet, and stress. All of these can trigger symptoms and create thousands of diseases.

Remember those five people with irritable bowel? Each one of them may have different causes for the exact same symptoms.

Let’s go through the causes of IBS and look at what you can do to get rid of it once and for all. It’s extraordinary how simple it is once we know the right thing to do.

There’s a funny joke I always tell about how important it is to know what to do. This patient got his appendix out and the doctor sends him a bill for $1,000, and the patient goes, “Wow! That’s lot of money for such a simple operation.”

The doctor is like, “You’re right.” And he sends him another bill: $1 for taking out your appendix, $999 for knowing what needs to be taken out.

Functional medicine is sort of like that. We know exactly what to do and how to take things out. We treat the system not the symptoms.

Food allergens or sensitivities

The first thing that can happen is that foods can irritate your bowel and digestive system.

They are called food sensitivities. It’s not a true allergy like a peanut allergy or shellfish allergy, but it’s a more mild food sensitivity. But it can cause terrible symptoms, and they are very common.

The most common thing in food that people react to is gluten. That’s the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt.

It’s a very common reaction even if you don’t have celiac disease, which is a full-blown reaction to gluten. Even if your doctor tells you your tests for gluten antibodies or celiac are normal, you can still have a severe reaction.

Dairy, another big problem. This can be caused by the lactose, which about 75 percent of people can’t digest.

It causes bloating, gas, and diarrhea. But dairy can also create problems even if you don’t have lactose intolerance. Lactaid milk helps with lactose intolerance but not other dairy reactions.

Dairy contains proteins (like casein and whey) that also can cause irritation and inflammation in your gut.

There are many, many other foods people can react to, including soy, corn and eggs.

In my book, The UltraSimple Diet, I’ve created a comprehensive elimination diet to get rid of all the most common problem foods for one week.

It allows you to connect the dots and learn whether what you are eating is causing your symptoms. Most people don’t connect those dots very well.

There are also some tests available that you can use to assess food sensitivities and gluten reactions. Check out the “How to Work with Your Doctor to Get What You Need” guide for more information. It’s a great resource to help you figure out what tests you need, and it’s free!

Bad bugs in the gut

The second cause of IBS is imbalances in your gut ecosystem. You have enormous ecosystem of bugs in there—500 species of bugs. There are one hundred trillion bacterial cells in there.

There are 10 times as many bacterial cells as your own cells. You are only 10 percent human!

In fact, there is a hundred times as much bacterial DNA in you as your own DNA. So, you are only really 10% human! And these bugs have to be in balance for you to be healthy. We call this the human microbiome.

If you have bad bugs growing in there or an overgrowth of yeast, or if you have parasites or worms, you can get IBS.

Also, if you have bugs in the wrong spot, you can have a problem. Most of the bacteria are in your large intestine, but sometimes, they kind of move up and go into the small intestine. That’s not very good, because that should be sterile.

When you eat food that’s starchy—bread, cereal, pasta, rice, or sugary foods—the bacteria ferment the sugars in the food. It’s like the way apple cider blows up in the plastic container in your fridge when it goes bad. That’s what happens in your gut.

The bacteria ferment the sugars in the food you eat, and you blow up. That’s why you get bloating right after meals. We call that postprandial bloating or bloating after you eat or what one of my patients calls a “food baby.”

That’s a very common symptom of bacterial overgrowth. We call that SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. It’s very common and a very easy thing to treat if you use the right modality. Most doctors never diagnose or treat this properly.

Yeast overgrowth is also common in your gut. It’s sort of like a garden where the weeds take over. Yeast overgrowth happens because of taking antibiotics, steroids, birth control pills, or acid-blocking drugs.

It also occurs if you eat a lot of sugar, drink alcohol, or you are diabetic.

All these things tend to cause overgrowth of yeast, and that can be treated with an antifungal, such as Diflucan, Nystatin or Sporanox. Antifungal herbs, such as oregano, can also be effective to reboot your gut.

I’m not a big fan of medication, but sometimes for irritable bowel, a good non-absorbed antibiotic called Xifaxan will clear out the SIBO (bacterial overgrowth) and stop bloating and diarrhea.

Using the Xifaxin and an antifungal is almost like hitting the reset button on your computer; you reboot your gut and then you start over.

Other bugs can also be a problem. Stool testing may be needed to identify parasites or worms.

Do you have enough of the good bacteria? Do you have worms or parasites or yeast or other bad bugs?

You can often treat these things based on symptoms or your medical history and then test if you don’t get better. The key is to reboot your gut by getting rid of the bad stuff and putting in the good stuff.

How to heal your gut

How do you heal your gut? First we remove the bad stuff (bad bugs, yeast, parasites, worms, food sensitivities). We replace the things that that are missing (enzymes, prebiotics from fiber). We re-inoculate with healthy bacteria (probiotics), and we repair the gut with the right nutrients.

We talked about getting rid of the bad stuff (bugs and food sensitivities).

Now, we have to add in the good stuff.

Replace digestive enzymes to help break down the food while your gut is healing. You may need those for two or three months.

Then, you need to re-inoculate your gut with healthy bacteria using probiotics including Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus, and other strains of bacteria. They help to repopulate the healthy gut flora and allow your digestion to work better.

You can also eat probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, kombucha, miso, or sauerkraut. Sometimes, you can also eat yogurt if you are not allergic to dairy. Try unsweetened sheep or goat yogurt. These are all foods that help your gut flora get and stay healthy.

Vitamin A, zinc, omega-3 fats (fish oil), evening primrose oil, and glutamine all help repair the gut. We also use herbs like quercetin and turmeric to reduce inflammation and heal a leaky gut.

When your gut is “leaky,” food proteins and microbial proteins leak into your bloodstream, causing inflammation.

A leaky gut occurs when the gut lining is interrupted. Normally, your intestinal cells are stuck together like Legos.

But when they come apart or separate, food proteins and bacteria leak in and they start pissing off your immune system. This triggers inflammation.

Not only will you have irritable bowel but a leaky gut can also cause joint pain, fatigue, cognitive problems, depression, allergies, congestion, and rashes like eczema.

You name it; many symptoms and diseases are caused by leaky gut.

In Functional medicine, the gut is one of the most important systems to focus on and to get working well, because that’s the seat of your health. It’s connected to everything else.

Action items

Do an elimination diet to get rid of common food sensitivities. Get rid of dairy, gluten, and sugar. Try The UltraSimple Diet for two to three weeks. If you find you are better, then you may want to stay off the trigger foods long term.

Try herbs for cleaning out bad bacteria or yeast.

Consider testing for food sensitivities and for stool issues (see How To Work With Your Doctor to Get What You Need.) Consider Cryex 3 testing for gluten sensitivity when conventional tests for gluten are negative.

Add digestive enzymes for two to four months. Take two capsules with each meal.

Add probiotics. Use high potency probiotics.

Add nutrients for healing a leaky gut. These can be taken in a shake or as separate supplements. I recommend for my patients UltraInflamX (rice protein, turmeric, ginger, quercetin, zinc, and nutrients), two scoops a day as a shake, plus G.I. Integrity (glutamine), four capsules twice a day, and fish oil OmegaGenics 720, two capsules twice a day.

If you are constipated (not having one or two normal bowel movements a day) take magnesium citrate capsules 150 to 300 mg once or twice a day. If you take too much you will get loose stools so just take less.

By following this approach, most people can heal their irritable bowel.

If you are not getting better, you may need medical help.

You may need treatment for SIBO or bacterial overgrowth. I recommend Xifaxin (a non-absorbed antibiotic), 550mg twice a day for 10 days, and Diflucan, 100mg a day for three to four weeks to kill the yeast. Sometimes treatment for parasites or worms is needed based on the testing.

 

This post has been adapted from the original.

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Relephant:

IBS, Chinese Medicine & You.

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

 

About Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, M.D. believes that every individual deserves a life of vitality—and that they have the potential to create it for themselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. Dr. Mark and his team work every day to empower people, organizations and communities to heal their bodies and minds, and improve our social and economic resilience.

Dr. Mark is a practicing family physician, a six-time #1 New York Times bestselling author and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate in his field. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post and a regular medical contributor on Katie Couric’s TV show, Katie.

To achieve his mission of transforming healthcare, Dr. Mark works with individuals and organizations, as well as policy makers and influencers. He has testified before both the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and before the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He has consulted with the Surgeon General on diabetes prevention, and participated in the 2009 White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa also nominated Dr. Mark for the President’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health. In addition, he has worked with President Clinton, presenting at the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters, Achieving Wellness in Every Generation conference, as well as the Clinton Global Initiative.

Dr. Mark also works with fellow leaders in his field to help people and communities thrive—he co-created The Daniel Plan with Rick Warren, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Daniel Amen, a faith-based initiative that helped The Saddleback Church collectively lose 250,000 pounds. He has appeared as an advisor on The Dr. Oz Show, and is also on the Board of Dr. Oz’s HealthCorps, which tackles the obesity epidemic by educating the American student body about nutrition. With Drs. Dean Ornish and Michael Roizen, Dr. Mark crafted and helped introduce the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 to the United States Senate to provide for reimbursement of lifestyle treatment of chronic disease.

Join Dr. Mark on his path to revolutionize the way we think about and take care of our health and our societies by following along and chiming in online through his website, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @markhymanmd.

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26 Responses to “How to Cure Irritable Bowel Syndrome in a Few Days.”

  1. Sherry says:

    For me, the problem was beef, not wheat or dairy.

  2. Trish says:

    I find the title misleading. Finding the root cause for any syndrome can take much time. As an IBD sufferer who meditates and has tried every alternative therapy and elimination diet out there, I know there's no magic cure for IBS or IBD. One may "ease" symptoms in time, but stop hooking people with the idea that problems can cease easily.

  3. Maurice says:

    Or you can take a really good probiotic with prebiotic and you'll begin to notice changes in your IBS within a couple of days.
    A friend of mine suffered for 10 years and found hardly any relief through his doctor until I suggested a probiotic and combination homeopathic rememdy and changed his life over a weekend.

  4. dailymusingsofanobody says:

    I was skeptical about the article when I saw the title… and I was right to be. This isn't a "cure" it's just the treatment and maintenance of IBS. This is what my doctor did with me. I don't see any cure, because it's a condition you will just have, and you have to learn to live with it.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Sorry but no. I've done every single thing in here including the SIBO treatments twice. I am not cured.

  6. andeejo says:

    i've tried many things too, and so have most of my patients. you mention finding the 'root' but you never mention what actually caused the irritation to begin with (or why it would matter…). for instance, if it were over-treatment with antibiotics as a child, or poor diet, or stress/bacterial imbalance (many times go hand and hand), illness itself (viruses are implicated and may cause immune malfunction- diabetes type 1, ebv etc), etc etc etc…. so i agree, the suggestions sound like a 1-3 month maintenance plan— do your patients actually have zero symptoms afterward and can they eat a 'healthy' diet (mediterranean, raw foods, grains, dairy) after your plan? curious, i'd love consistent results with myself and my patients!

  7. maura says:

    I have gotten a handle on this, juicing in the morning lots of veggies, fruits. I also take glutomine, HCL, probiotics. I also drink tons of water, no gluten, no sugar. Exercise.

    This changed my life after three weeks, inflammation was down and bowel movements normal.

    I also put in cinnamon, thermic into my shakes. I don't do a lot diary, no corn, no wheat. After thousands of dollars of scans I found answers on You tube and in the book 'Breaking the vicious cycle'

  8. There are a lot of people here in the comments claiming that "this doesn't work." I can attest, those who say it doesn't work did NOT commit to a change in diet. Laying off a few sugars isn't going to cure your problem. You need to FULLY COMMIT. I'm not affiliated with this doctor, I'm just "me." And I'm telling you from experience – it DOES work. I had candida with IBS that was SO bad it had gotten to the point that I had to take days off work and avoided going out in public for fear of what might happen. I had migraines at least once a week, and practically lived with a headache when it wasn't a migraine, 24/7, and was on a steady diet of Excedrin. Three years ago the pain and misery I lived in was so bad, still the doctors couldn't figure out what my problem was. So I went to nutrionist. On her advice, I completely knocked out sugar from my diet, including fruit, for 8 months. You heard me right, ABSOLUTELY NO SUGAR or fructose for 8 months. I won't kid you, it was the single hardest thing I'd ever done in my life. All I ate during that time was was protein (high grade grass-fed/grass-finished, free range beef, fowl and fish) and veggies (not the starchy kind – no potatoes or legumes of any kind, mostly greens like kale and spinach). But within two weeks of my having changed my eating habits, the migraines vanished, the IBS disappeared and I began feeling normal again. I had to remain on the no-sugar diet for a long time to clear out my candida, so that was still an 8-month commitment. But it's been three years and NO headaches, NO migraines, NO IBS, NO gastritis attacks. None. Zip. Zero. I now occasionally eat fruit – especially blueberries, which I love! – but there's no refined/processed/white sugar in my diet, no starches, no breads or yeasts. And I feel better than I did ten years ago. I'm telling you, it works. The naysayers are those which cut sugar/starch from their diet for a week and didn't see any results. They didn't go all the way. Go all the way and you'll get your health – and your life! – back :)

    • Nancy says:

      Why are you so sure that what worked for you will definitely work for everyone else? Are we all exactly the same? And how do you know that the "naysayers" only gave a halfhearted try?

      • Nancy, to answer your questions:

        • Why are you so sure that what worked for you will definitely work for everyone else?

        Because I have seen it work with many, many others. I've been involved with two medical support groups over the past couple years, made up mostly of candida and IBS sufferers. Both groups were led by a doctor (one of which is mine). Those patients who "went all the way" and eliminated all processed food and sugars from their diets for a consecutive 6 months or longer saw the improvement they were desperately seeking. Also, a close friend of mine works for a fertility clinic. Guess what the first thing he tells his patients is? "To secure your chances of conception, eliminate processed food, sugar and eat organic whenever possible." He's been able to help couples conceive between 40-50% of the time in this way, without the need for further fertility treatments. Something to think about, isn't it?

        * Are we all exactly the same?

        Yes and No. YES because any credible doctor will tell you that 80% of our health is based on what we eat, and that's because 80% of our immunity system resides in our intestine – literally! So in that way, we really ARE the same. And, NO we are not all the same because some of us are willing to commit to a better quality of life, which more often than not requires drastic change (gasp!). Others would rather suffer, complain and even die young than change anything. ;)

        • And how do you know that the "naysayers" only gave a halfhearted try?

        Because if they had fully committed, they would have seen positive results. Sadly, most people try something for a few days and then give up. If you want further proof, we need look no further than the honorary 30 days beyond January 1st, when 90%+ New Year's Resolutions bite the dust. The fact is, if you were truly committed to a change, you wouldn't need New Year's Resolutions – you'd just do it. But no one ever does, do they? They just "do it" for a few days and then give up and say "Yeah, I tried it. It doesn't work." Things don't work because WE don't. We shouldn't be surprised by the results we didn't get from the work we didn't do. This change in diet is HARD, there's no easy way around it. And it's much easier to say "it doesn't work" than to commit to the change. That's just human nature.

        In two years, I have NEVER met someone who has committed to this same change in diet and failed to see results, but I HAVE witnessed at least a hundred people that only went half the distance and failed. My own best friend, who has MS, is not only living a healthy and vibrant life again, thanks to committed change in her diet (it only took her 37 years), but she has even managed to finally get pregnant (naturally!) and has two healthy girls now, where doctors said it was impossible before. I too have an autoimmune disorder; I could literally die from a cold or a flu, and yet – even without supplements! – I have not contracted a single virus in two years (yes, I'm constantly exposed to what someone else in the house has brought home). All since I've changed my eating habits. Pretty cool, huh? Finally, I've met enough people in my groups, through my doctor and along my journey over the past two years that echo what Hyman says in the video.

        So you see, I'm not the only one. I just happen to be the only one speaking up here, despite any overwhelming opposition.

        It's a fact of nature that most people would rather live in misery and complain about their situation than change something drastic as eliminating "comfort food" from their daily diets. And most people will pull out their own teeth before giving up their guilty pleasures, even if it means those pleasures are literally killing them. Yes, I agree – change is hard! And thus the old saying, "When the pain to remain the same is greater than the pain to change, you will change."

        Good luck to you :)

  9. Ellie says:

    I was very interested when I saw this article pop up as I am a sufferer of IBS. I was, however severely disappointed to find that it was more of a guide to help find out what causes your problems to IBS and how to deal with that. None of the article has a "cure" to IBS. It tells you how to learn to deal with it. Telling you to try a food exclusion diet is precisely what doctors tell you to start with when they first label you with IBS. It is not a cure as often you find what foods bother your bowel so have to avoid them – this isn't a cure it is learning what your body needs to avoid an if you had that bothersome food again you would have bad bowel reactions – NOT A CURE.

    I think there should be a serious adjustment to this article with the title drastically changed to not say cure but to say how to help. Or that this article be taken offline because what it says in the title is not what the article is about.

    I think for someone who is supposed to be an international leader in his field of chronic diseases this is a very poorly written article which has a lack of understanding for patients who deal with IBS everyday. He gave me hope to which I was sorely disappointed when I read through the entire article, which if he understands the patients suffering with this he would know how devastating this would be.

  10. Monica Morrey says:

    I can say that, after many frustrating years and visits to doctors, I finally visited a holistic practitioner who had me do all of these things listed in this article/ That being said, I do not believe this is a "cure" as the title would lead one to believe. I have been on a strict diet of no coffee, gluten, soy, dairy, meat, etc. for about three years now. I also take or have taken (based on what it is/how long you are supposed to take it) almost everything listed in this article. This does not CURE me, it just makes it bearable. And also, A FEW DAYS? My friend, a few days. Really. I certainly don't know everyone with this issue, but I find it very difficult to believe this could happen in a few days. I also think perhaps the phrase IBS shouldn't be used interchangeably with Leaky Gut as it seems to be in this article. IBS is a doctor's way of saying "I have no idea what the heck is wrong with you." IBS is a bunch of BS. Leaky gut is different, although not recognized by many M.D.s as officially anything (yet).

  11. Carlos says:

    Hello, I wanna ask if there is a relationshio between glutamine and lost of weight.

    Thank you for ur atention and congratulations for this site an help.

    Att

    C.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I tried taking enzymes once and it caused my heart to flutter. So I stopped. Does anyone know why they could have caused this or had the same experience?

  13. Melissa says:

    I did the Whole30 as my elimination diet, but it basically got down to the same results. Without all the gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and additives, my digestion becomes normal. Which, for me, meant that my chosen food, not my organs or flora were the culprit. I like that this author recognizes that my experience might not generalize well to everyone else.

  14. bernardette vella says:

    hi pls help my desperate situation. I have had chronic constipation for 9 days a year and a half ago. since then I have had edema in my thighs and belly and inability to shed a kg. I had tried gluten free dairy free sugar free diets without any help, I m not celiac and tried all food eliminations. now I m suffering from heavy bloating everyday and all the time it s swollen plus fatigue and very uncomfortable distended abdomen. I was on colloidal silver and probiotics plus antifungals and candida diet for a long time without any help. I m depressed and losing my life when I m only 26 yrs old and I m feeling I m gona lose my job with this situation. what could it be? drs here in malta aren t helping me. I had breast implants 6 yrs ago which I checked and no leak and had 2 amalgam fillings removed 5 months ago which didn t affect me could it be that my small intestine is sick?

  15. JohnH says:

    IBS, as this article states, is a syndrome that can be triggered by a variety of causes. Chinese medicine is based on achieving balance within the body rather than attempting to "attack" a disease. Using acupuncture and herbs can often help restore the balance along with the diet advice listed in this article. Change takes time and patience is needed to allow the body to reset to a new base line and not overreact to common stimulus. http://www.nyacuhealth.com/irritable-bowel-syndro

  16. coconut says:

    I was diagnosed w/SIBO. I tried dietary changes & nearly gave up eating altogether because of the misery. My stomach hurt 24/7. Having been a hardcore alcoholic, I thought it strange that my symptoms began after quitting drinking. The stress levels in my life were at an all-time high, however, & of I no longer had the option to drink it away. I started going to yoga regularly & walking everywhere. My stomach still hurt. I was prescribed Rifaximin, and while desperate to feel better, I much prefered to identify the “root cause” or take a natural approach. I visited GNC and started taking a cocktail of dietary supplements. Within 1 week I had begun to feel human again. It is amazing how much better I’m doing. While I still try to eat healthy (less bread and smaller portions, for sure) I’m able to eat fairly normal now. It’s incredible what a difference the supplements have made. Don’t give up!

  17. Robito says:

    Travelling in Colombia sorted my stomach. Every day i ate their version of fast food which is fruit juice with a plate of rice, fried plantain, beans or lentils and salad with meat or eggs. After a few weeks my stomach stopped bloating, I lost weight and no more gas.

  18. Stacie says:

    All sounds good. Thank you.

    But Ultrainflamx that you prescribe has fructose in it which can cause a lot of problems, especially for people who need to follow FODMAPS diet in order to reduce allergies and inflammation.

    Do you have any other suggestions?

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