It is estimated that about 20% of the population have symptoms associated with irritable blowel syndrome (IBS). Irritable bowel syndrome is not accounted to be a disease, but rather a disturbance in the normal intestinal function.
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome usually suffer from a range of stomach related ailments. Even so, conventional investigations can’t find a specific reason for their suffering. That means that even though they have real symptoms, extensive investigations will not find any abnormalities. In colonoscopy there may be seen an irritated mucosal lining, but no real damage that can explain the patients suffering.
Because conventional investigations can’t find any abnormalities, patients are often told that there is nothing they can do about their suffering. They may be told that the reason for their ailments are psychological, which can often be very frustrating.
Symptoms that are often associated with irritable bowel syndrome include stomach pain, gas/flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, slimy feces. The gastrointestinal discomfort often come after intake of food, or in accordance with stress. It is also very common for irritable bowel syndrome patients to have psychological problems such as anxiety and depression (often as a bi-effect of longterm ailments), as well as other problems such as tiredness and joint pains. The symptoms can vary from mild to so severe that they influence the patients’ quality of life.
Irritable bowel syndrome is different from diagnoses such as Ulcerous Colitis, Chrons, Coeliac Disease, Cholecystitis and other gastrointestinal problems where one can see real physical abnormalities by standard investigations.
Through extensive research and experience in functional medicine we see that complicated and chronic intestinal problems often have a multitude of underlying causes and triggers. Only through an extensive investigation through the functional medicine scope will it be possible to unravel the real reasons why patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome have developed their ailments, and consequently what to do about it. The reasons for irritable bowel syndrome can be about gut flora imbalances, food intolerance, irritation on the gut/mucosal lining due to an irritant, and psychological issues. Irritants such as heavy metal exposure or ingestion of other chemical irritants can be a reason for irritation to the gut lining.
Treatments in functional medicine follows the “5R” Method, not necessarily in this order:
This means to remove the irritants (from food or chemicals), allergens and/or dysbiotic flora. Then replace and make sure that there is enough beneficial stomach acid, digestive enzymes, gall and so forth. Then reinoculate with beneficial flora, and repair the mucosal lining and gastric functioning. Here the diet plays a major role, and also correct other imbalances such as a lack of essential vitamins and minerals. Less stress and focus on physical activity also play a major role in repairing and treating the gut. The last step is by far the most important, and that is to maintain a good digestive functioning once it has healed.