By Dr. Paul Deglmann
Edited by Meghan Feir Walker

Whether you have been suffering from digestive-related ailments for years or just recently have been diagnosed with IBS, you want effective answers as to how you can remedy your discomfort. 

Unfortunately, as with many conditions, patients with IBS are often given the runaround because their doctors either aren’t going deep enough into testing for the right things or they simply don’t know what to do. 

In this article, I (Dr. Paul Deglmann) am going to explain what your doctor isn’t telling you about IBS–the potential causes of IBS and some support that may help your body recover and thrive. But first, let’s go into what IBS is and what the most common symptoms are for those suffering from this condition.

To watch the accompanying video, click here.

IBS: What your doctor isn't telling you

What is IBS?

First off, IBS stands for “irritable bowel syndrome.” It groups together common symptoms that happen together, like repeated abdominal pain, bowel movement problems (such as diarrhea, constipation, or both), and other stomach issues. 

When it comes down to it, IBS is a bit of a catch-all term. A “functional bowel disorder” simply means there is abnormal functioning of the GI tract, but all the normal GI tests are typically normal, like CT scans, ultrasounds, colonoscopies, endoscopies, blood tests, etc.

In other words, tests come back “normal,” but you don’t feel “normal” or well.

What are the common symptoms of IBS?

The following symptoms are the most common for those with IBS to experience regularly. 

  • Abdominal pain/cramping
  • Gas/bloating
  • Constipation/diarrhea/both
  • Mucus in stools

Less common symptoms

While these aren’t the most common, patients can also experience the following symptoms: 

  • Lack of energy (lethargy)
  • Feeling sick
  • Heartburn
IBS: What your doctor isn't telling you

IBS affects daily life

Whether you’re experiencing the most common symptoms and additional, less common symptoms, any of these symptoms can be common for many conditions, which is one reason IBS is a vague diagnosis to receive. 

The symptoms of IBS can have a significant impact on a person’s day-to-day life and as a result, some people may experience low moods, depression, anxiety and chronic stress. It can be difficult for some with IBS to make commitments because of their need for a toilet at a moment’s notice. It can be hard to get through the workday or interact with loved ones when you constantly feel sick or fatigued. It can be hard to relax when you have abdominal pain and discomfort much of the time. And it’s hard to feel confident and attractive when you’re always feeling bloated or gassy.  

These and so many other reasons make living with IBS difficult and cumbersome. It’s especially disheartening when doctors don’t seem to have any answers to help you overcome your symptoms and condition. 

IBS

What causes IBS? 

IBS is said to be idiopathic according to traditional medicine, which means they don’t know why it happens. 

In functional medicine, we believe there is a combination of causes contributing to IBS, depending on the individual person.

We commonly find that food allergies/food sensitivities, imbalance or dysbiosis of the microbiome from bacterial overgrowth, yeast/candida/fungal overgrowth, parasitic overgrowth, infections, toxicity (like from chemicals, mold, or heavy metals), chronic stress, a dysfunctional brain-gut axis and more can potentially contribute to IBS.

What tests are there for IBS in traditional medicine?

There is no actual test for IBS. IBS is diagnosed through a thorough history of the patient and standard tests for other conditions. Some doctors will often look at your symptoms and the frequency of those symptoms over time and test to rule out other conditions such as Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. If these tests for other conditions come back negative, you will commonly be diagnosed as having IBS.

What functional medicine tests identify potential IBS triggers?

In functional medicine, we take a more thorough approach. We commonly carry out the following tests when IBS patients come to our clinic:

  • Food allergy/food sensitivity testing
  • Stool testing
  • Toxicity testing
  • Nutritional deficiencies testing
  • Cortisol/adrenal testing
  • Comprehensive blood tests to make sure blood sugar is optimal, inflammation is low, red and white blood cells are healthy, hormone levels are healthy, and the immune system looks well balanced

We realize it’s important to find the root cause(s) of your issues so we can actually help you feel better. Oftentimes, the symptoms of IBS can lead us to discover other imbalances or infections inside your body. It’s important to take the time and effort to find out what these reasons may be.

What can you do about IBS?

Test, don’t guess!

By testing, you can eliminate a lot of the guessing game, fine-tune your individual dietary needs, remove inflammatory triggers and replenish what you are missing to help your body heal, recover and repair.

It’s important to find and work with a skilled functional medicine practitioner so they understand the importance of this testing and replenishing process.

If you can’t do the testing, what can you do?

You can start to identify dietary triggers on your own by starting an elimination diet with a few common offenders. However, there is no substitution for good testing.

The most common dietary triggers we’ve seen in the clinic are grains, dairy, and sugar.

What is our approach and how is it different?

In our clinic, we boil down our IBS approach to the following two phases.

No. 1: Discover your triggers

In the first phase, we put our effort into discovering what is negatively affecting the body, creating inflammation and breaking the body down. Your symptoms could be caused by:

  • Food allergies/food sensitivities
  • Imbalance of the microbiome (low beneficial bacteria; bacterial, yeast, fungal, candida or parasitic overgrowths)
  • Other infections
  • Toxicity

We want to identify these factors by testing and removing anything that is negatively affecting your body. By doing this, we give your body the best chance to restore its own innate ability to repair itself.

No. 2: Discover what is missing

After we discover reasons why your body isn’t functioning properly, we move on to our second phase where we identify what your body is missing that can positively impact healing, recovery and repair. 

Some reasons why your body is missing or low on some of the raw building materials it needs to function well could be due to: 

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • A lack of good beneficial flora/probiotics
  • And other possible reasons

We want to identify this information through testing and improve these levels as much as possible.

Everyone is unique and different, which means the testing and test results will likely be different for each person based on their own unique case.

Gluta Core for IBS.

What supplements do we recommend for IBS?

Outside of dietary changes, we commonly suggest Gluta Core, a NutriRestore product that is designed to promote the health and barrier function of the gastrointestinal (GI) lining. Its unique formula includes nutrients that support the gut mucosal epithelium. The purpose of the epithelium is to allow the digestion and absorption of dietary nutrients while keeping unwanted toxins, microbes and food particles from passing directly into the body. 

Gluta Core includes a high dose of L-glutamine (4 g), which serves as nutrition for the gut lining. It provides 400 mg of deglycyrrhized licorice root extract (DGL) and 75 mg of aloe vera extract, both of which protect and promote the health of the gut mucosa. It also contains N-acetyl glucosamine and zinc to boost GI integrity. Gluta Core is available in a delicious vanilla flavor, which makes it more likely you will take it every day!

You can get better

I know how difficult it can be to live with conditions that affect your daily life, especially when doctors don’t present clear solutions and you have already tried different “solutions.” May this article encourage you to seek better, more thorough professional functional medicine help, to keep digging, and to find ways to help remedy IBS.

Remember to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for daily, helpful advice on health and wellness. 

To watch the accompanying video, click here.

Summary

  • IBS stands for “irritable bowel syndrome,” which is a catch-all term for having a “functional bowel disorder.”
  • Common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain/cramping, gas/bloating, constipation/diarrhea/both, and mucus in stools.
  • Living with IBS can be complicated, painful, uncomfortable and disheartening, especially when it feels like nothing works to relieve the symptoms.
  • IBS is said to be idiopathic according to traditional medicine, which means we don’t know why it occurs, but in functional medicine, we believe there is a combination of causes contributing to IBS, depending on the individual person.
  • The most common causes of IBS are food allergies/food sensitivities, imbalance or dysbiosis of the microbiome from bacterial overgrowth, yeast/candida/fungal overgrowth, parasitic overgrowth, infections, toxicity, stress, dysfunctional brain-gut axis and other possibilities.  
  • In our clinic, we know we have to discover your triggers and what your body needs to recover.
  • Test, don’t guess! Testing helps you discover your dietary needs, inflammatory triggers, and what your body is missing.
  • Grains, dairy, and sugar are the most common dietary offenders.
  • We suggest Gluta Core for supporting overall gut health.
  • You can get better!

We hope “IBS: What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You” has been helpful in your healing journey!

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