Irritable Bowel Syndrome

.. oute to healingalternative therapy. Various forms of this type of therapy include the use of herbs, vitamins and minerals, yoga, aromatherapy, meditation, massage and acupuncture. According to the April 2000 issue of GreatLife magazine, Australian researchers treated 116 IBS patients three times a day with the following herbs: Dang Shen, Huo Xiang and Fang Feng. Improvement in these patients was confirmed by gastroenterologists (18).

Further herbs used in the management of IBS symptoms include milk thistle, licorice, burdock root, red clover, alfalfa, aloe vera, skullcap, peppermint, valerian root, balm, chamomile, ginger and pau darco. Vitamins and minerals can be used to supplement the body to help heal the intestines and lower the stress level in IBS patients. It is important to have extra B vitamins in the body for proper muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract, proper absorption of foods, protein synthesis, and metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Acidophilus is a necessary nutrient to replenish the friendly bacteria and to aid in digestion and the manufacture of B vitamins. Garlic is also used as a digestive aid and destroys toxins in the colon. A major metabolic fuel for the intestinal cells, L-Glutamine maintains the absorption surfaces of the gut. Calcium and magnesium supplements are also needed to help the nervous stomach and the central nervous system.

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Other than taking nutritional supplements, the use of relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga, aromatherapy, meditation, massage and acupuncture can be beneficial to the IBS patient. Because the digestive tract is highly sensitive to emotional stress, anxiety about having an attack can aggravate your symptoms. Stress management can help to alleviate and improve daily anxiety and pressures. Relaxation, 101 Essential Tips details the importance of practicing relaxation techniques. Any physical exercise is helpfula daily 20-minute walk helps to control stress levels, calms the digestive tract and keeps the IBS from flaring up.

Yoga is highly recommended because it not only conditions muscles and connective tissue, but is also thought to improve the functioning of internal organs, including those in the digestive tract. Stretching and yoga are holistic therapies benefiting both the body and mind (20). Aromatherapy is becoming increasingly popular as a healing art and can be used in an oil form in conjunction with massage. Aromatic essential oils are extracted from flowers, herbs and resins (31). They are commonly found in perfumes, body lotions and candles. Deep, slow, steady breathing relaxes and calms your mind and body.

Toxic wastes are expelled and emotional balance is restored (24). Meditation goes hand in hand with breathing exercises. It enhances the clarity of consciousness by stilling the mind (25). Some people choose to repeat a specific word or phrase as they meditate, for example, inner as they inhale and peace as they exhale. Massage is one of the most beneficial therapies for relaxation because it eases the pain and tension, bringing vitality to a sluggish system and soothing and calming the overactive nervous system (28).

Acupuncture is an ancient technique in which a skilled practitioner inserts hair- thin needles into specific points on the body to prevent or treat illness. Practiced for over 2,500 years in China, where it originated, acupuncture is part of the holistic system of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), which views health as a constantly changing flow of energy, or qi (pronounced chee). Acupuncture helps regulate imbalances in this natural flow of energy, which result in disease *9*. Anxiety plays a major role in Irritable Bowel Syndrome by exaggerating the symptoms and, in some cases, actually causing the individual to trigger a reaction simply by anticipating it. Lucinda Bassett, former IBS sufferer, wrote a book called From Panic to Power and details the role anxiety played in her life. I began avoiding situations where I couldnt come and go as I pleased, situations where I couldnt be in control .

. . it was difficult for me to sit in class. I felt anxious, panicky, and trapped. I made all kinds of excuses for my lack of social activity and my inability to travel with friends .

. . my world became smaller and smaller (Bassett xv). She also states that IBS is an anxiety-related problem common to many people with anxiety disorder and that by age fourteen, everything in her life revolved around her fear of diarrhea. She was constantly in a state of worry and felt uncomfortable in any situation where she couldnt run if need be (Bassett 5).

A recent guest of the Montel Williams show, Bassett is now cured of both her anxiety disorder and her Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Her public appearance was one of the few times the subject of IBS has been aired on national television. However, the month of April was designated in the year 2000 as the first National IBS Awareness Month *8*. A celebrity IBS sufferer, Camille Grammerwife of Frasier star, Kelsey Grammercame forth recently to speak about the disease on NBCs Today Show. According to Kelsey Grammer, You dont hear much about IBS because some of the symptoms involved relate to subjects traditionally considered taboo by the public and the press .

. . The Grammers are working with the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) to raise awareness and educate the public about this condition and its effects. Camille Grammer found out she has IBS nearly four years ago, but says, As long as I can remember, Ive always had stomach and bowel problems and have never really known what to do about it. I have been amazed to learn how so many women have been suffering in the same way.

I hope that my efforts to speak openly about my condition will encourage others to do the same and get the help that they need. The Grammers have been working with IFFGD to create and broadcast television and radio public service announcements to educate the public through the media. Nancy J. Norton, President and Founder of IFFGD, hopes this will inspire a national openness about IBS to make it easier for patients to discuss the issue *10*. Its time for people with IBS to realize that theres light at the end of the tunnel. Theyre not crazy. The symptoms arent all in their head.

There may not medically be a cause or a cure, but now there can be an understanding. Why some people feel the burden of stress in their gutand not, for instance, in their heartcan also be explained by the close communication between the brain and the gut. When the big brain consciously perceives a stressful situation, it calls on its fraternal twin through specialized mast cells, embedded in the gut’s lining. These mast cells secrete a chemical called histamine, which activates the nerves controlling the gut, telling the muscles to contract. Hence, the cramps and bathroom trips so often associated with bouts of stress *11*.

Now that theres an understanding, hopefully physicians will open their eyes to potential triggers and/or causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, such as gluten or wheat irritability, lactose intolerance, candida albicans and intestinal fungus. Wheat or gluten allergies are inherited from previous generations. These products can cause serious gastrointestinal upset in a wheat or gluten sensitive individual *12*. When the person eats milk products, symptoms such as gas, bloating and abdominal pain may occur *13*. Candida albicans can cause a variety of complications including digestive problems *14*.

These items are just a few examples of possible causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and should researched in depth in order to be ruled out. In conclusion, IBS is a legitimate and serious condition that deserves a lot more attention than it has gotten in the past. Advances are being made in the pharmaceutical area and patients are opening their eyes to the idea of alternative medicine. Many IBS sufferers are choosing to take control of their health and learn as much as possible about the disease. Where the medical profession lacks knowledge, perhaps the patient can provide the breakthrough information needed to find a cause, and ultimately a cure, for this debilitating disease. Most of all, having a celebrity spokesperson such as Camille Grammer, will hopefully do for Irritable Bowel Syndrome what Montel Williams has done for Multiple Sclerosis and Michael J.

Fox has done for Parkinsons Diseaseawareness is the key to overcoming this major medical obstacle. Health Care.