Gen­tle, eff ec­tive ways to treat dis­rupted di­ges­tion /// BY EMILY A. KANE, ND, LAC

Better Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Nat­u­ral So­lu­tions for IBS Nat­u­ral ways to sup­port di­ges­tion and get the nu­tri­ents you need.

QMy doc­tor says I have IBS. An­other doc­tor told me that IBS is a “non­sense” diagnosis. Ei­ther way, my di­ges­tion isn’t right. Help! — Greta Y., Santa Bar­bara, Calif.

a:Ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome ( IBS) has been in the med­i­cal news a lot lately be­cause— guess what— it’s real, and in­creas­ingly com­mon. Con­trary to pop­u­lar opin­ion, IBS does not cause colon or other can­cers, but it can make your life un­com­fort­able, and if you have ir­reg­u­lar and un­com­fort­able bowel move­ments, you should be eval­u­ated for the pos­si­bil­ity of a more se­ri­ous disease.

IBS is dis­tinct from infl am­ma­tory bowel disease ( IBD), which is a more se­ri­ous cat­e­gory of gas­troin­testi­nal dis­or­ders such as Crohn’s disease ( ul­cers in the small in­tes­tine) or ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis ( bleed­ing from large in­tes­tine). IBS typ­i­cally presents as chronic loose and ur­gent stools, of­ten with cramp­ing, and it’s not al­ways easy to sort out the cause. This is partly be­cause there is of­ten an ad­di­tional emo­tional com­po­nent to IBS.

First, ask your­self if there is some­thing you need to “purge” in your life— a bad re­la­tion­ship, a bad boss, a bad mem­ory that may re­quire cer­e­mo­nial clo­sure ( fu­ner­als are an ex­am­ple of cer­e­mo­nial clo­sure). The gut is your “sec­ond brain” and can re­act to emo­tions to a pro­found de­gree.

Prob­lem Foods

The “big 9” food ir­ri­tants are wheat, dairy, soy, corn, caff eine, toma­toes, eggs, shellfi sh, and peanuts. How­ever, fruc­tose- in­duced di­ar­rhea is not un­com­mon, and should be

a con­sid­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially if you eat more than 2– 3 servings of fruit daily.

To fi gure out if a cer­tain food is caus­ing your symp­toms, you need to com­pletely avoid the po­ten­tially off end­ing food for 2– 3 weeks, then rein­tro­duce it into your diet and watch for symp­toms. IBS can also present with heart­burn, fatigue, headache, back or ab­dom­i­nal pain, and even pal­pi­ta­tions. If after 3 days of rein­tro­duc­tion there are no un­de­sir­able changes to your gut func­tion, skin, mood, joint stiff ness, or other symp­toms, that food is likely fi ne.

This takes care­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion of your diet, and it re­ally helps to work with a li­censed natur­o­pathic physi­cian or well- trained nu­tri­tion­ist ( not di­eti­cian). Some chi­ro­prac­tors also have ad­di­tional nu­tri­tion train­ing, but most MDs have very lit­tle train­ing in nu­tri­tion, since they are ex­perts in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal medicine.

Nat­u­ral So­lu­tions

Dur­ing the acute phase of IBS ( lots of wa­tery stools and cramp­ing), try a hy­poal­ler­genic diet ( see side­bar). As im­prove­ment oc­curs, eggs and yo­gurt ( prefer­ably made from goat’s milk) can be added if they don’t worsen the symp­toms. Sup­ple­ments that of­ten help heal and soothe the gut in­clude liq­uid chloro­phyll ( 1 Tbs. daily), al­falfa tabs, calm­ing herbal teas ( Melissa, chamomile, fen­nel, pep­per­mint, and gin­ger), and my fa­vorite GI re­pair agent: glu­tamine, about 2 grams daily.

As your symp­toms sta­bi­lize, you can slowly add the cru­cif­er­ous veg­eta­bles back into your diet. These pro­vide many im­por­tant nu­tri­ents, but can be hard to digest, so are best cooked with di­ges­tion- aid­ing herbs such as fen­nel, car­away, cumin, anise, and dill. Nuts and seeds, grape skins, and red meat are also all diffi cult to digest, but may not be the causes of your GI dis­tress.

Car­rageenan is a com­mon ad­di­tive used to make ice cream and other con­fec­tions “smooth,” but is very ir­ri­tat­ing to the gut. Avoid this ad­di­tive when pos­si­ble, which is used in a lab set­ting to make mice guts bleed. Very spicy and very sweet foods are also GI ir­ri­tants, as are fried foods, al­co­hol, and caff eine.

Keep in mind that we’re ex­posed to more chem­i­cal ad­di­tives than ever in our food and drink, so read la­bels and try to stick to food that is as close to the way it grew as pos­si­ble when you eat it. And cook your food thor­oughly. Well- cooked foods are much eas­ier to digest than raw foods.

With acute crampy pain, heat to the ab­domen ( hot wa­ter bot­tle or heat­ing pad) can be very sooth­ing. Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise helps ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing be­ing a highly eff ec­tive stress- re­liever.

Al­ways be sure to cook your food thor­oughly. Well- cooked foods are much eas­ier to digest than raw foods.

Emily A. Kane, ND, LAc, has a pri­vate natur­o­pathic prac­tice in Juneau, Alaska, where she lives with her hus­band and daugh­ter. She is the author of two books on nat­u­ral health, in­clud­ing Man­ag­ing Menopause Nat­u­rally. Visit her on­line at dremi­lykane. com.

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