Thoughts on Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Here I briefly discuss Irritable Bowel Syndrome, focussing on the allergy involvement of this all-too-common complaint. Some practitioners draw a distinction between allergies and intolerances, I believe that this is a bit of hair- splitting which makes no practical difference when one tries to resolve the problem. In my experience, allergies are always involved in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and avoiding the allergens (those foodstuffs to which there is an allergy) can sometimes bring immediate relief to many of the symptoms. For further information on treating general allergiesread my article on resolving allergies.
It is important to understand that allergies are in themselves symptoms and `allergic-ness` indicates that the digestive system is not working correctly and is damaged in some way. This explains why avoidance of allergens doesn`t always solve the symptoms, sometimes the allergies cause the symptoms and sometimes the damage causes the symptoms. The damage is often repairable and in young, otherwise healthy people, simple avoidance of allergens for six to twelve months may enable the body to carry out this repair, alongside good nutrition. Where a person has other health issues some help may be required to enable the digestive system to repair itself.
The difficulty arises when one attempts to identify what one is allergic to; there are several options with varying degrees of accuracy and efficiency. The options are: an allergy test, trial and error, an elimination program, the latter method involves severely stripping food intake down to a very basic level e.g. rice, lamb, carrots and water for a week and then introducing foods one at a time and monitoring any reactions. This can be very accurate, but it is very time consuming and requires much will-power and discipline. Trial and error has a low rate of accuracy and is still quite difficult and time-consuming. Allergy testing can be done in a variety of of ways: skin/scratch tests are only fairly accurate and it can be a very laborious process, blood testing is very accurate and very expensive (£100 to £400), hair analysis ranges from low accuracy/low price (£10) to high accuracy/high price (£300 + in American laboratories only), urine testing is highly accurate and priced accordingly, dowsing has variable accuracy, electronic testing using a Vega machine or similar (there are several types) is highly accurate and tends to be inexpensive (£15 to £50), the price reflects the range of substances tested. In my practice I use a Vega machine and I have in my testing kit a good selection of common foodstuffs and can pick out most of the more usual allergies. Testing with a Vega machine is a painless, scratchless and bloodless, electronic process, in which the patient hold an electrode and I use a probe on an acupuncture point on a foot, using homoeopathic preparations of the suspected foodstuffs in the machine. We get an immediate result, enabling instantaneous determination of problem foodstuffs. The same process can also test for environmental allergies such as rapeseed or the housemite, or cats etc. Vega-testing can also determine mineral/vitamin deficiencies, toxins, hidden infections, and other environmental stresses such as mercury, lead or electro- magnetic radiation.
Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The large intestine and small intestine perform their various tasks of nutrition absorption and waste disposal with the help of micro-organisms - zillions of them, and there are different groups/types of micro-organisms in different sections of the bowel. These bacteria process the food we eat and thus enable us to extract nourishment from the processed material. A very common situation is that a person may have an insufficient number of these beneficial bacteria, this allows opportunistic and hostile microbes to gain a foothold amongst the bowel flora - once these hostile micro-organisms have established a niche in the bowel ecology it can be very difficult to dislodge them.
There are a number of reasons why we become deficient in beneficial bacteria, this loss begins with lack of breast-feeding - breast-fed (6 months or more) babies develop the correct micro-flora in the bowel, whereas bottle-fed babies tend to develop a different set of micro- organisms. Antibiotics used for say, a chest infection, kill, not only the chest infection bacteria, but also bacteria throughout the system indiscriminately, especially in the bowel and it can take twelve months for a bowel to recover from a single course of antibiotics. The chemicals in the tap water, put there to kill micro-organisms in the water, also deplete our stock of beneficial bacteria. Immunisations, in ways not understood, disrupt our gut flora, causing some of our beneficial bacteria to mutate and become hostile. Other drugs (medical and recreational) can also deplete our beneficial bacteria, as does chemical farming (non-organic food) and food additives. Environmental toxins are also involved in the loss and displacement of the good guys from our gut.
This dearth of beneficial bacteria is, in itself, bad enough, in that not enough good guys means that not only are we vulnerable to opportunistic microbes but we may also be unable to process our food and get proper nourishment - we may eat very well but be starved of vital nutrients, one possible cause of over-eating.
Not enough of the correct bacteria in our gut leaves us open to invasion by pathogenic microbes, such as cryptosporidium, giardia or candida albicans. Candida is the most common problem and as such deserves detailed discussion, elsewhere, the other microbes are much rarer and can be lumped together as intestinal parasites.
The orthodox medical profession disregards this sort of problem, largely because there is no obvious clinical picture, candida albicans can cause weight loss and diarrhoea in one person and weight gain and constipation in another. The medics will treat the symptoms in this sort of situation and not worry about the causes, especially because the tests for parasites are extremely difficult, expensive and unreliable, and the test for candida is always inconclusive. There are a half dozen or so specialist laboratories around the country offering very accurate testing procedures, but they are all very expensive. In my practice I use a Vega machine to test for these problems, this is effective and accurate and there are other Vega- testers around the country. There are also other similar electronic testing devices. If you suspect you have a problem here then you may need to think about getting tested.tin
The final part of this page concludes with a brief discussion of the most common cause of irritable bowel syndrome - namely an overgrowth of Candida Albicans in the small and/or large intestine. As already mentioned people are becoming increasingly deficient in the bacteria which inhabit the gastro-intestinal tract. When the numbers of gut flora fall below a critical count the balance is sufficiently disturbed and hostile pathogens can flourish - the most frequent pathogen to fill the ecological vacuum is the fungal/yeast organism called Candida Albicans. Once established in the bowel, candida can cause an immense variety of symptoms having both minor and major effects on a persons' health and well-being. When it infects the mouth, anus or vagina it is commonly called thrush, and the plethora of over-the counter anti-thrush medication available today indicates the prevalence of the problem. The issue is that thrush in the orifices is only an external manifestation of an inner disturbance - the Candida overgrowth in the bowel acts as a reservoir and when the circumstances are favourable thrush breaks out externally - this is why external, topical treatment only provides relief for a time.
The most common symptoms of candida overgrowth are; abdominal bloating, distension and wind, constipation and/or diarrhoea, pain as low as the pubic bone and as high as just under the ribcage, persistent tiredness, menstrual abnormalities, sexual dysfunction, headaches/migraines, eczema/psoriasis/asthma, feelings of cold and numbness, poor mental concentration and memory - the possible symptom list is very long indeed! When candida has become deeply entrenched into the tissues of the gut it changes form and grows roots into and through the intestinal wall causing micro-perforations and this is the cause of most food allergies. Undigested particles of food leak through these micro-perforations, hitting the bloodstream and provoking the allergy reaction - be it migraine, eczema, asthma or fainting, candida spores also enter the bloodstream and the blood thus becomes contaminated possibly resulting in a dysfunction/symptom/disease of any organ in the body.
Diagnosing this problem is very difficult indeed - orthodox medicine, in general, is very sceptical about the existence of this condition, nonetheless various medical specialists are investing much time and money researching a reliable test procedure, without success, to date. Perhaps the best diagnosis is to assume it is the problem and act accordingly. Three weeks on the correct anti-candida diet should produce significant improvement in symptoms and in general well-being. Vega-testing or Mora-testing and similar electronic screening tests are very accurate, kinesiology is quite accurate, and stool/blood/urine tests are very inaccurate as testing procedures for candida overgrowth.
The anti-candida diet guidelines have been published many times in books, magazines and newspapers with little variation between them. I choose not to detail the diet because I have recently read some research which suggests that self-diagnosis and doing the 'diet' may not be a good idea. The research suggested that the anti-candida diet, without appropriate anti-fungal measures, deprived the fungus of food and forced it to adapt to a low nutrient life whereby it goes deep into the epithelial tissue and becomes harder to eliminate. If you suspect that you have this problem, then I suggest you seek out a natural health practitioner, and have professional guidance.