Irritable Bowel Syndrome

This is a syndrome where the gastrointestinal tract shows no abnormalities on physical or x-ray examination. There seems to be altered bowel contractions that are needed to propel the food through the digestive tract. Bowel contractions can be altered by many factors, including drugs, stress, activity, food, and emotions. This syndrome is twice as common in women and affects twenty percent of Americans at some point. Preservatives, pesticides, processed foods lacking fiber are all causes for this syndrome increasing in Americans. Signs and symptoms are gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, abdominal pain. Many functions, including malabsorption, food allergies, and deficiencies of enzymes needed for digestion, are associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Antibiotics, laxatives, and antacids can change the environment of the digestive tract causing irritable bowel syndrome.

Diet

High fiber diet supplementing fiber psyllium powder, oat , and flaxseed alternating. Avoid fats, margarines, carbonated beverages, dairy products, wheat and bran, caffeine, candy, and all processed food. Avoid alcohol and smoking. When upset, go to a bland, liquid diet.

Herbs / Nutrition
Multivitamins with extra B-12 and magnesium daily

Calcium 2000 mg.
Magnesium 1000 mg.
Proteolytic enzymes.

Herbs
Licorice Deglycyrrhizinated
Burdock
Red Clover
Ginger
Goldenseal

Food allergies and the normal gastrointestinal flora are other areas to look for with irritable bowel syndrome.

Malabsorption

Absorption of vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are essential for all processes of the body. When food goes undigested or are not absorbed fully, malabsorption occurs. More often in our culture, the process leading to digestion and absorption are not functioning fully. This leads to underabsorption of vital nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. This can cause signs of fatigue, headache, dermatitis, diarrhea, abdominal pain, all the way to wasting of the body in severe cases. Generally the worse the malabsorption, the worse the symptoms.

Factors that can lead to malabsorption:

  1. Food allergies can cause irritation of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, blocking absorption. Some food allergies cause an increase in mucus production hindering digestion. Rarely do these cause a full-blown malabsorption syndrome — rather low-grade chronic deficiencies set up with vague symptoms of fatigue, eczema, and headache.
  2. The gallbladder, liver, pancreas, and stomach all secrete enzymes that break down specific types of food. The pancreas secretes three enzymes for digestion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. The liver secretes bile that digests fats. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and released when fats reach the small intestine. The stomach secretes hydrochloric acid to disinfect the stomach contents and for digestion of proteins. Any problem in these four organs can cause the food to go undigested and excreted.
  3. Another cause could be in the small intestines. It is in the small intestine where most enzymes are released when digestion takes place. These enzymes are sensitive to changes inside the small intestines. If the environment is abnormal, the digestive enzymes become less effective, leaving some foods undigested. An example of this is changing the acidity of the digestive tract. Antacids and/or Zantac are two drugs that change acidity by decreasing acid release. Although these drugs are effective, long-term use can cause malabsorption problems.
  4. Other causes are abnormal environment in the colon from toxic bacteria. There are over 400 different species of normal bacteria in the colon. Occasionally, abnormal bacteria can take over from the normal bacteria in the colon releasing toxins causing malabsorption.
  5. Irritation and damage to the inside lining of the digestive tract can cause malabsorption. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and food poisoning all cause damage to the inside lining. Once this occurs, absorption slows or stops, leading to malabsorption. These are serious problems and a physician should be contacted.

Nature’s healthcare, with proper examination, diagnosis, lab, including blood, stool analysis, and x-ray, help find malabsorption or underabsorption problems. Malabsorption is more common in the elderly. The elderly tend to have low secretion of enzymes needed for proper digestion. Studies show a large percentage do not have enough secretion of hydrochloric acid. The elderly are also more susceptible to problems associated with malabsorption. This is because we have an increased need for proteins and vitamins as we age. Lack of proper nutrition and sound meals in the elderly can result in a more severe malabsorption syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms

Gas, bloating, anemia, dermatitis, abdominal pain, indigestion, diarrhea, fatigue, smelly, watery diarrhea.

Lab

Stool analysis looking at protein, fat and carbohydrate content; also looking at enzymes from the pancreas and liver.

Herbs / Nutrition

  1. Multivitamin mineral needed for healing. The dosage depends on severity.
  2. Proteolytic enzymes for food allergies and lack of pancreatic and/or liver enzymes.
  3. Goldenseal and probiotics or gut flora if abnormal gut flora was found.
  4. Median chain fatty acids can be used. They can be absorbed directly into the system without any enzyme activities.
  5. Licorice, aloe vera, rhubarb are also used in inflammatory bowel disease with malabsorption.
  6. Essential fatty acids can be used for inflammatory diseases.
  7. Fiber can be used later on depending on ulceration.

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