What’s the difference between IBS & IBD? Current estimates are that as many as 30 million people are afflicted with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). IBS is not a classified as a disease because while symptoms may be frequent no damage occurs to the intestinal walls. Many doctors use this term to describe a wide variety of bowel issues. Many diagnosed with IBS are left to mostly fend for themselves wondering just what causes them to experience such discomfort and what, if anything they can do to prevent further flair ups.
IBD (irritable bowel disease) is different from IBS because in IBD actual damage does occur. The symptoms of both IBS and IBD are abdominal pain or discomfort, often reported as cramping, along with diarrhea, constipation, or both.
~ Read part I on bowel health… Are you living in constipation nation?
IBD is a general classification for bowel diseases such as Crohns and Colitis.
Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract, but ulcerative colitis affects only the colon. Additionally, while Crohn’s disease can affect all layers of the bowel wall, ulcerative colitis only affects the lining of the colon.
While both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are types of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD), they should not be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is a disorder that affects the muscle contractions of the colon. IBS is not characterized by intestinal inflammation.
What these bowel issues have in common are that any of these disorders can stem from bacterial overgrowth, poor immunity, food intolerance’s or reactions to classifications to foods a person cannot digest, heightened sensitivity to chemicals, problems with brain to GUT axis, genetics and impaired motility.
It’s not uncommon for most patients to never actually know what the cause of their problem stems from, and this certainly doesn’t make living with these conditions any easier.
And unfortunately, most MD’s and even gastroenterologist are not much help with dietary advice and just offer immune suppressing medications that treat symptoms but don’t address the triggers that cause these problems in the first place.
While our understanding of genetics is still evolving on this, the other common causes can often be addressed without over reliance of prescription medications.
Even if you are currently being seen by a specialist and have been put on medications, many of the suggested holistic remedies are worth giving a try.
Many people with IBD have found they are able to significantly reduce medications by making diet and lifestyle changes and adding supportive supplements and herbals.
All of these steps are addressed in my Healing from Within Program.
Steps to help manage IBS/IBD without drugs
- The first step is doing some non-invasive specialized test. I am sorry to say that most gastroenterologist don’t use these tests so finding a practitioner who does is essential.
- Next, you’ll need to find out what triggers your attacks so you can reduce your symptoms and avoid relying on prescription medications that just treat symptoms. Triggers can vary from person to person.
- Keeping a strict diet and bowel habit log is the best way to help you identify your triggers.
- Steps three and four involve repair and rebuilding your digestion and improving elimination to a healthy state.
Step I – Testing to uncover pathogens
- Uncover hidden or suspected food allergens or sensitivities. This can be done through specialized IgG/IgE testing.
- Get a hydrogen breath test done to check for c.difficle; an infection of the small intestine
- Check for both small bowel bacterial overgrowth (SIBO Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) and have a Comprehensive Stool Analysis done.
- Check for yeast overgrowth through specialized testing labs
- OAT (Organic Acid Testing) and Amino Acid Testing provides a wealth of information on both supportive and pathogenic microorganisms as well as amino acids that may be in need of re-balancing. But be advised most M.D.’s and D.O.’s do not know about these tests or how to interpret them. I do.
Step II – Removing triggers
This step is highly individualized and what works for some people may not works for everyone. Much of this step involves trial and error and most people find it very helpful to work with a clinician who has expertise in these types of elimination diets so they know what they CAN safely eat.
- Elimination of dairy products helps many people
- Eliminate all disaccharide’s and polysaccharides from the diet as these are common triggers for IBS/IBD
- Consider a trial of other special diets such as FODMAPS to see if this helps reduce flair ups
- Removal of all gluten from the diet helps anyone with IBS/IBD
- Re-balance flora and improve gt health; this means following an anti-candida diet and killing yeast overgrowth
- Eating a no fiber diet helps quiet flare ups for those Crohn’s Disease
- Avoiding foods high in sulfur (eggs, cheese, milk products, mineral water, wine, nuts cruciferous vegetables) also frequently helps minimize flair ups in those with Crohn’s
- Clean up your home and work surroundings and remove toxic products replacing them with non-toxic ones
- Reduce stressful situations and employ effective stress reduction strategies to help yourself cope more effectively when under stress
Step III – Rebuild and Repair with Beneficial Supplements
- Good quality (multi-strain) pro-biotic
- Digestive enzymes with every meal
- Colloidal minerals
- Magnesium citrate
- Vitamin C
- Omega 3 fatty acids – be sure to include both EPA and DHA
IV. – Sooth flair ups and heal with Herbs:
- Cats Claw
- Peppermint leaf
- Olive Leaf
- Adaptogenic herbs for mood, stress and emotional support
For more on the subject see these posts:
Are you ready to stop feeling like your body is working against you and reclaim vibrant health?
Want to find out how to manage your IBS/IBD or other chronic health problems with out resorting to immune suppressing drugs?
Take the next step and contact me to see Are We A Fit?
I teach people just like you how to transform from hopeless to happy again every day. Very often these people tell me that working with me was the catalyst for so many other positive transformations in their lives.
References and resources used:
Did you miss Part I? Bowel Health Part I: Are you Living in Constipation Nation?
Digestive Wellness by Dr. Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN