YES, you can get rid of your Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
In the last 20 years I have seen countless people in clinic complaining of some form of gut disturbance. Many of those clients tried all manner of things to relieve it clinically, one really does have to question the perspective of Western Medicine towards the problem. In this article we will look in some detail at gut function, so hopefully with this knowledge the path to changing it will be obvious.
Many conditions affecting the long term health of the gut have been identified and named clinically. The most commonly diagnosed conditions are IBS, Coeliac disease, diverticulitis and occasionally Crohn's disease. You will see as this story unfolds that we can lump most of them together in one category; that is being out of harmony with your environment. IBS is a syndrome, meaning only that it is a group of common symptoms which frequently occur together. In itself, a diagnosis of IBS tells you nothing about the cause, and is therefore of very little help to sufferers. It is true that some people are happy to come away from the doctor with a name for their condition, so they can blame it for the pains. For those who do actually want to get rid of them however, understanding is the key.
To really grasp gut function, a simple yet slightly unorthodox anatomy lesson is needed. The gut is a long complex muscular tube from mouth to anus. In between is the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. Different sections of the tube secrete specific enzymes which chemically breakdown the food. The process starts with saliva in the mouth, followed by hydrochloric acid and numerous other enzymes in the stomach and small intestine. In the large intestine (colon), the remainder of the water in food is absorbed. In addition, some other organs can be considered part of the digestive system, namely, the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and spleen.
The gut is responsible for breaking down (digesting) the food you eat so it can pass through the gut wall into the bloodstream. The products of digestion are transported to various places depending on requirement at the time. Indigestible material in your food, that is, insoluble fibre or cellulose are bulked together and passed out.
The pancreas secretes enzymes and hormones aiding digestion, the spleen deals with the pathogens (infections) entering the blood from your food, the gall bladder concentrates bile to assist in the breakdown of fats, and the liver, which actually has many functions, neutralizes toxins. Blood vessels carrying digested food away from the gut ALL go to the liver. This is an important point to remember for later.
Now think about a problem for a moment. Your skin, faces the outside world, and is made from dead cells, hence it is impervious to water. Its normal to think of the skin preventing your body from soaking up water, but it's actually more crucial that it stops water from leaking out! The gut on the other hand is a continuous tube from top to bottom, and therefore also faces the outside world, and yet its outward facing mucous membranes are living and very delicate. You are a bit like a doughnut, with a hole through the middle. Think of the gut wall as the barrier between you and your environment. You can imagine how cut and damaged skin might get infected easily; now consider your gut in the same way.
The challenge here is that unlike the skin, the mucous membranes not only have to secrete chemicals into the tube, they must also be able to selectively allow digested food through into the bloodstream (in the opposite direction), but at the same time block pathogens and fibre from entering. That's a tall order for a layer of tissue which in places is no more than one cell thick. It is no wonder its function gets disturbed so easily.
How does it manage all this? In simplistic terms, glands along the length of the tube secrete liquid enzymes and hormones; this is unidirectional. Nutrients pass through the small intestine wall through specific selective channels; these channels cannot transport the wrong thing. Pathogenic bacteria and fungal spores face an army of resident gut bacteria which wage war to keep the populations of different bacterial strains in proportion, and the whole length of the tube secretes mucus as a defensive barrier which prevents digestive enzymes from breaking down the gut wall itself. In addition there is a network of nerves equivalent to a second brain which co-ordinate the operation and move foods from top to bottom. Interestingly, the gut muscles still function if their nerves to your brain are cut. Its motility is autonomous.
So how does this system become disturbed? Disturbance actually occurs in all of those functions.
Enzymes must be made. That process is nutritionally dependent. Deficiency leads to insufficient enzymes, particularly hydrochloric acid ironically (and yet anti-acids are handed out like sweets these days).
Liver function is also nutritionally dependent, hence deficiency interferes with the breakdown of toxic chemicals, mostly from normal body function but also from the environment. Poor nutrition or questionable dietary approaches cause deficiency and sub-optimum liver function.
The gallbladder gets clogged with deposits from an excess of unhealthy fats or too little good fat.
The pancreas has a hard time dealing with diets containing too much sugar or refined carbohydrates, leading to insulin resistance (type II diabetes).
Bacterial and fungal forms thrive on sugar leading to an imbalance of the resident gut bacteria.
Food intolerances cause disruption to the normal rhythmic movement of the tube, leading to retention of years old waste in the colon (large intestine). They also irritate mucosal membranes damaging the gut wall. This allows some of the waste held in the gut to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Now consider all these things happening together. It goes something like this. You start out nutritionally deficient, as most people are these days. You have toast for breakfast, made from horrible super-refined white flour plus sugar rich jam and margarine. As soon as you put this in your mouth your gut is already reacting down below, because its seen this bad food a million times before. The immune system is already reacting to those damaging 'foreign' wheat cells. The adrenal glands go into paroxysms over the quantity of sugar about to hit your bloodstream, because if nothing is done about it you will go into a coma! The small and large intestine are likely beginning to twitch or spasm at what's coming. A zinc deficiency reduces hydrochloric acid secretions, so now the breakdown of that bad wheat and margarine is compromised, passing them from the stomach into the small intestine before digestion has really got going. A similar process has been happening for years, every time you eat toast or bad bread in fact. The loss of synchronization in gut movement this irritating food causes has produced a large intestine choked up with years old compacted waste, hiding in the many twists and folds of the colon. This waste is irritative to the delicate mucous membranes, leaving them 'raw' like a graze on your skin. Some of that waste is absorbed into the blood stream going first to your liver, which is unable to deal with that toxicity well because of nutritional deficiency. Systemic toxicity leads to poor skin, headaches and fluctuating energy levels. The sugar from the refined bread feeds to overgrowth of fungus and pathogenic bacteria in the gut, producing abdominal bloating, cramping, gas, bad breath and mental fogginess.
This scenario is commonly called 'leaky gut' which well describes what's happening. Consider another problem however. Waste absorbed into the bloodstream is passed to the liver, which attempts to neutralize the toxicity before dumping it back into the small intestine via the gallbladder. You can see that unless normal function is restored to the whole system, some of that waste will continue being recycled ad infinitum, causing irritation, inflammation, toxicity and immune triggers looking a lot like allergies.
That sounds a lot like IBS. The difference now is, you know the reasons; Nutritional deficiency and wrong food choices. Sadly these days much of the food available to us is very poor quality. Packet foods contain a wealth of chemistry, preservatives, colouring and flavour enhancers requiring nutrients for the liver to break them down. But the double-edged sword gives those refined foods low nutritional value too preventing their proper breakdown and excretion. Toxins only partially processed by the liver are often worse than the original, so being deficient in liver nutrients has far reaching effects on the whole body.
Remember that the mucosal membranes lining the gut are facing the outside world. Essentially all the symptoms we see in IBS and most other gut related issues mean you are not looking after those membranes well. Its akin to having sunburned or dry cracking skin, except that its much worse because those membranes have important functions to perform.
A condition like diverticulitis is only an extension of the failure of the same processes. Weakening of an unhealthy gut wall, combined with inflammation from the wrong food and a polluted gut environment, may lead to 'pouches' in the tube. You recall we likened the gut to a second brain. All those nagging worries in the back of your head resulting from unresolved emotional conflicts are held in the gut muscles too. On a barium x-ray of the colon constrictions and pouches are clear to see, restricting the passage of waste and maybe even holding on to it, sometimes for years.
Coeliac is described as a gluten allergy and drives a big business in gluten-free products. In 20 years of food intolerance testing I have never seen anyone with a gluten intolerance. I have seen thousands of people with intolerance to today's wheat however. It's not the gluten that's the problem, it's the way the wheat itself is grown. Modification of grains all started back in the 1960s, as an attempt to increase yield and pest resistance. Gluten free bread may actually be worse for some individuals than wheat with the gluten left in.
Crohn's disease usually comes with specific inherited predispositions, but aside from those, 100% of crohn's cases I have treated come with multiple parasitic infections and they respond well to clearing those out.
How to turn around this unhappy situation? It's actually not as difficult as you might think.
You must first disinfect the gut, clearing out all pathogenic organisms, including parasites, bacterial and fungal overgrowths. This can be achieved through a structured gut cleanse; kits are available online.
Next you need to identify problematic foods in order to avoid irritating inflammatory reactions.
Only once consumption of the offending foods has stopped should you perform a nutritional deficiency test, so you can either adjust your diet accordingly or use the right supplements.
Good Gut function needs a relaxed body and mind. Digestive enzymes will not be secreted properly if you eat when stressed or sitting in the office eating your sandwiches at the computer! Sit down after a meal and allow time to relax and digest.
It is key to do this things in the right order. Making an assumption on where you are on the scale of 'polluted to clean' often leads to disappointment.
Article by David Wells 2021
As always, information in this article comes not just from medical training but also from observation of symptoms and treatment protocols after 20 years of clinical experience. If you want to learn more about this topic and more, my book Finding Awesome, Proven Step to Extraordinary Health is available on Amazon.