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Dealing with IBS

This Week In The HSI Forum

IBS. Those three letters are dreaded by anyone who suffers from “Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” which is the title of a thread on the HSI Forum this week.

An HSI member named RJ poses this question with the leadoff posting: “Anyone have experience with IBS? Would like some alternative that works.” RJ’s dilemma will be familiar to the millions who suffer from this condition. Doctors often prescribe drugs to treat individual IBS symptoms, such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating. So recognizing and treating the condition as a whole is key.

A member named Brent says that he successfully addressed his IBS by cutting out dairy products. This cleared up most of his IBS, and as a bonus, his asthma disappeared.

And a member named Lynn had a similar experience. Lynn writes: “My IBS, or colitis-type symptoms, completely cleared up when I eliminated all dairy and wheat products. This was discovered by my naturopath. I continued with Metamucil and other products to get fiber, but the magic bullet for me is grinding 2 T. of fresh flaxseed twice a day now and drinking it in water. Now I don’t need to know where every bathroom within a 50-mile radius is located.”

“I took meds the dr’s gave me to no avail,” says a member named Dianne, who adds: “I had IBS with diahrrea for 10 years. I started taking acidophilus and then decided to go on the Atkins diet and within a week. I had no more diahrrea, no more pain in my gut and my bowels were normal.”

A member named Mariet found relief with probiotics – supplements that deliver good bacteria to the intestinal tract. Mariet writes: “I can tell you from personal experience that probiotics will get rid of IBS. I’ve been taking them for about a month and I am amazed at how well they work.” Mariet also found the Atkins diet to be useful, describing the relief to be immediate, “like someone turned a switch.”

And Brent again: “Ditto on the probiotics. Yogurt can also help, but it stays in the system longer if it has acidophilus. It seems like there is a lot of evidence now that fermented foods are very good for digestion; perhaps it speeds up the natural process.”

To these suggestions I would add one more. In the e-Alert “Reversal of Fortune” (10/29/03), I told you about a study indicating that more than half of all IBS patients may be fructose intolerant – particularly those with persistent diarrhea. The researchers concluded that many patients might easily reduce their symptoms by avoiding foods that contain fructose. And this may offer a clue to the effectiveness of a low-carb diet, because many carb-laden foods deliver a jolt of fructose as well.

Other topics on the HSI Forum this week include:

  • Grape seed extract as anti-biotic
  • Colon hydrotherapy
  • Fibromyalgia help
  • DMSO
  • Distilled water
  • Fluoride filter

To join in with any of these discussions, just go to our web site at, find your way to the Forum, and add your own insights and comments about health, nutrition and natural treatments.