Some have diarrhea (IBS-D). And some alternate back and forth between constipation and diarrhea (IBS-A). IBS symptoms result from what appears to be a disturbance in the interaction between the gut or intestines, the brain, and the autonomic nervous system that alters regulation of bowel motility (motor function) or sensory function.
Research has shown that the cause of IBS is related to neuroendocrine immune system dysfunction (brain and stomach hormones). This connection is largely mediated by the neurotransmitter serotonin. The brain and gut are connected through the neuroreceptors 5-hydroxytriptamine-3 (5-HT3) and 5-hydroxytriptamine-4 (5-HT4). These serotonin receptors regulate the perception of intestinal pain and the GI motility (contractions that move food through the intestinal tract). Therefore serotonin controls how fast or how slow food moves through the intestinal tract. In fact, there are more serotonin receptors in the intestinal tract than there are in the brain. Ninety percent of serotonin receptors are in the intestinal tract.
Research suggests that IBS patients have extra sensitive pain receptors in the gastrointestinal tract, which may be related to low levels of serotonin. Decreased levels of serotonin may help explain why people with IBS are likely to be anxious or depressed. Studies show that 54% of IBS patients meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, anxiety, or panic disorder.
Restoring optimal levels of serotonin has been the focus of traditional drug therapy. Zelnorm, a 5-HT4 receptor agonist, was once hailed as “the drug” for IBS-c (IBS with frequent constipation), has recently pulled from the market for its association with heart attacks and stroke. The percentage of patients taking Zelnorm that had serious and life-threatening side effects was 10 times higher than the percentage of patients taking a placebo.
Even before this drug was recalled due to cardiovascular risks, many experts warned that this drug was dangerous for it's other potential side effects including severe liver impairment, severe kidney impairment, bowel obstruction, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, headaches, abdominal adhesions, gallbladder disease, and back pain.
Lotrinex (Alosetron), a 5-HT3 agonist, is prescribed for IBS-d. Within 8 months of being on the market, reports of ischemic colitis (a life endangering situation in which the blood supply to the intestines is blocked) began to grow each day. Lotrinex was responsible for at least four deaths, probably many more. Many who took the drug reported severe abdominal pain from constipation. The drug was taken off the market. It is now back and available with strict prescribing guidelines. An editorial in The British Medical Journal suggests that as many as 2 million Americans will be eligible for the drug under the new guidelines. According to previous reported side effects, this would result in 2,000 cases of severe constipation, almost 6,000 cases of ischemic colitis, 11,000 surgical interventions, and at least 324 deaths.
Antispasmodics (Levsin, Levsinex, Bentyl, Donnatal, etc.) are routinely prescribed for the treatment of IBS symptoms. Potential side effects include bloating; blurred vision; clumsiness; constipation; decreased sweating; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth; excessive daytime drowsiness ("hangover effect"); feeling of a whirling motion; headache; light-headedness; nausea; nervousness; rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue agitation; confusion; diarrhea; difficulty focusing eyes; disorientation; exaggerated feeling of well-being; excitement; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; hallucinations; loss of coordination; loss of taste; memory loss; muscle pain; pounding in the chest; severe or persistent trouble sleeping; trouble urinating; unusual weakness; very slow breathing; vision changes; vomiting.
Why in the world would someone prescribe this crap? (Pun intended.) It is absurd to suggest that individuals with IBS have a drug deficiency. IBS is not a disease; it is a symptom of a compromised gastrointestinal system. Using potentially dangerous drugs to reduce symptoms, while ignoring natural and often more effective approaches, is typical of what is wrong with “cookbook” (symptom-focused) medicine.
Reversing IBS with Nutritional Therapy
Most digestion and absorption takes place in the small intestine and is regulated by pancreatic enzymes (digestive) and bile. The pancreas aids in digestion by releasing proteolytic enzymes, which help break down proteins into amino acids. Natural digestive enzymes are found in raw fruits and vegetables. Processed foods are usually devoid of digestive enzymes. Over consumption of these processed foods can lead to digestive enzyme deficiencies. This may then lead to malabsorption and or intestinal permeability syndrome (bloating, gas, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, and intestinal inflammation). To ensure proper digestion, absorption and elimination, I recommend taking pancreatic enzymes with each meal.
I always recommend people take a good optimal daily allowance multivitamin/mineral formula. Patients with IBS have depleted their stress coping chemicals and this not only leads to IBS but also prevents them from beating IBS. It is a vicious cycle that can only be broken by taking adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. The mineral magnesium, which is involved in over 300 bodily processes, is particularly important for reversing the symptoms of IBS-c. Magnesium helps relax the smooth muscle of the colon (natural laxative) allowing normal bowel movements. While a diet high in nutritious fiber is important, magnesium is even more important. A magnesium deficiency not only causes constipation but can also lead to heart disease, mitral valve prolapse (MVP), depression, anxiety, chronic muscle pain, headaches, migraines, fatigue, and many other unwanted health conditions.
Those with IBS-C (constipation) may need up to 1,000mg of magnesium each day.
While those with IBS-D (primarily diarrhea), may need less than 500mg. I recommend patients begin with 500mg of magnesium a day.
I recommend those with IBS-A and IBS-C take one Healthy Bowel Support Formula pack twice with food. Those with IBS-D (diarrhea) should take one pack a day along with 300-400mg of 5HTP.
The human intestines are inhabited by billions of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria, which are mostly located in the colon, aid in digestion by fermenting substances that were not digested in the small intestine and by breaking down any remaining nutrients. A healthy intestinal tract contains some 2-3 lb. of bacteria and other microorganisms, such as yeast, that normally don’t cause ay health problems. However, when the intestinal tract is repetitively exposed to toxic substances (antibiotics, steroids, NSAIDs, etc.), these microorganisms begin to proliferate and create an imbalance in the bowel flora. Harmful organisms like yeast and some normally dormant bacteria, begin to overtake the good bacteria. This is known as intestinal dysbiosis.
IBS and small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth may share similar symptoms. One study showed that 78% IBS participants had small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth. To aid in digestion and prevent intestinal dysbiosis, patients with IBS should take probiotics (Lactobacillus and Biidobacterium) on a daily basis.
Please Note: For IBS-A and IBS-D-Add 300-400mg of 5HTP
5HTP-should be added in addition to taking Healthy Bowel Support Formula for optimal results in treating IBS-A and IBS-D.
To boost serotonin levels I recommend patients take, the amino acid responsible for making serotonin, known as 5-hydroxytryptophan (5HTP).
For patients with IBS-A (alternating between diarrhea and constipation) or IBS-D (primarily have diarrhea) should take 300-400mg a day with food along with one to two pack packs a day of the Healthy Bowel Support Formula.
This approach isn’t guaranteed to solve every case of IBS. However, in the majority of my patients, symptoms improve to such point that within a few weeks we can focus on more important topics, like “who is going to win American Idol?”
Please Note Here Is My IBS Protocol
For IBS-A (Alternating between loose BM and constipation) I recommend patients take Healthy Bowel pack twice a day and add 300mg of 5-HTP with food or at bedtime (can divide it up 100mg 3x a day with food or 200mg and 100mg or all at once at bedtime).
For IBS-D (Diarrhea)- Healthy Bowel pack once a day and add 300mg of 5-HTP with food or at bedtime (can divide it up 100mg 3x a day with food or 200mg and 100mg or all at once at bedtime).
For IBS-C (Constipation only) I recommend using one Healthy Bowel Support pack twice a day with food and if don’t start to have normal BM add 100-150mg of magnesium (preferably chelate or citrate) at dinner. Keep increasing magnesium (if needed) by one pill each night until have normal BM. If stools become loose reduce magnesium.
What if I continue to have loose bowel movements?
Low serotonin will cause loose bowel movements. Make sure you’re taking 300-400mg a day of 5HTP either at bedtime or with food.
If after two weeks of taking 300-400mg of 5HTP you continue to have daily loose bowel movements, then its time to explore the possibility that your taking to much magnesium. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant. It helps the bowels move, but if you get too much, you’ll experience loose stools. If continue to losse bowel movement reduce magnesium to no more than 200mg a day. See if this helps.
If you’re taking 300-400mg of 5HTP, digestive enzymes, and one of the multivitamin/mineral formulas and continue (or start) to have loose bowel movements then decrease the amount of magnesium you’re taking. To do this, simply cut your daily dose in half. If you’re taking one of the multivitamin formula packs, take one instead of two. If you’re taking 6 of the Basic Multivitamin/Mineral tablets a day reduce to 3 a day.
If the problem persists then you’ll need to treat your leaky gut. If you suspect you have a yeast overgrowth, you’ll need to treat it as well.
What if I continue to have constipation even though I’m taking 2 Healthy Bowel Support Packs per day. Try adding 150mg of magnesium each day-keep adding additional magnesium until have normal bowel movement (recommend using magnesium chelate or citrate). If you start to have loose stools then reduce your magnesium dose. You may also need to explore the possibility that you may have low thyroid. You read more about low thyroid here.