Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder of the large intestine and causes severe and debilitating symptoms like cramping, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and abdominal pain. While it doesn’t cause changes to the tissues like inflammatory bowel disease does, it still can become a chronic condition. Experts report that nearly 10% to 20% of the population suffer from IBS, but millions go undiagnosed and untreated. Furthermore, up to 73% of patients with fibromyalgia have IBS.
Diagnosing IBS requires certain symptoms to be present for at least 12 weeks over a period of 12 months. These do not need to be consecutive. Some patients will have constipation, some will have diarrhea, and others will fluctuate between the two. These are the most common symptoms of IBS, but it must also be associated with abdominal pain, and at least 2 of the following:
- Pain relieved with defecation
- Pain being associated with a change in the frequency of bowel movements
- Pain being associated with the form of the stool (i.e., watery or pellet like)
Serotonin plays a major role in the cause of IBS, and this neurotransmitter is routinely deficient in nearly all fibromyalgia patients.
Current research shows that IBS is caused by a dysfunctioning neuroendocrine immune system (the hormones in the brain and stomach). Serotonin is the main hormone that controls gut motility, or how fast/slow food moves through the intestines. Actually, 90% of serotonin receptors are in the gastrointestinal tract… not the brain.
It’s thought that depleted serotonin levels leads to hypersensitive receptors in the GI tract, which is why so many fibromyalgia patients suffer with IBS. This may also explain why people with IBS (even those who don’t have fibromyalgia) suffer with anxiety or depression. In fact, research has found that 54% to 94% of people with IBS meet clinical criteria for anxiety, depression, and/or panic disorders.
Most IBS patients are taking a prescription medication like a smooth muscle relaxant, antidepressant, anti-diarrheal, or bulk-forming laxatives, all of which can endanger your life and well-being.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the medications used for IBS patients.
Zelnorm (tegaserod) was once used for constipation-predominant IBS. This was the “miracle drug” for this condition. In previous posts and books, I warned of the side effects that come with this drug, and now it’s been removed from the market because of its association with stroke and heart attacks. There were still other potential side effects that experts were warning people about including liver damage, kidney impairment, adhesions, bowel obstruction, back pain, and gallbladder disease. The percentage of people who experienced life-threatening side effects was 10 times higher than those on the placebo.
Lotronex (alosetron) was the main drug of choice for diarrhea-predominant IBS. This drug was also removed from the market (though for only a short period of time) because within a few months of it coming out, there were reports of ischemic colitis (a condition that happens when blood supply to the intestines is blocked). Many reported major constipation and severe abdominal pain. This drug was responsible for at least four deaths, too. Lotronex has been put back on the market with stricter prescribing guidelines.
Antispasmodics like Levsin and Bentyl are routinely prescribed for IBS. Side effects are both severe and likely and include blurred vision, bloating, constipation, clumsiness, dizziness, diarrhea, difficulties breathing, drowsiness, vomiting, nervousness, rash, chest tightness, pounding in the chest, swelling, irregular heartbeat, fainting, memory loss, muscle pain, insomnia, and weakness.
Normal bowel activity is at least one stool every 24 hours, which should be soft but formed; however, one bowel movement after each meal is ideal, and you can get this using much less dangerous, natural supplements.
Poor elimination is a symptom, a warning sign that something has gone wrong in the digestive process. No one has a drug deficiency. Instead the symptoms of constipation and or loose bowel movements have to do with poor nutrition, nutritional or hormonal deficiencies, and or drug side effects.
Magnesium is a natural relaxant and relaxes tight achy muscles as well as congested colons. Magnesium is in 300 hundred bodily processes and is needed for cellular energy. It’s one of the stress minerals. The more you’re under the more magnesium you use. Deplete your magnesium, common in fibromyalgia and you find that you have tight achy muscles and constipation-along with restless leg syndrome, cramps, PMS, high blood pressure, depression, and more.
Constipation is usually a symptom A WARNING SIGN of being deficient in magnesium, digestive enzymes, poor diet- not enough fiber and too many processed foods, hypothyroidism, and or the affects of drugs that slow done your metabolism (benzodiazepines, pain meds, etc.).
Without getting into too much detail about natural ways to treat IBS (which I will cover in another post), I will mention that patients who are on my CFS/Fibro Formula along with a digestive enzyme find their bowels are normalized within a couple of weeks. This formula contains a healthy dose of magnesium, which is a natural relaxant and will relax the colon sufficiently. Usually, 700 mg is what you want to aim for in magnesium, though some people need more or less to have soft, formed stools. They should never be loose, however, so if bowels become loose, you have too much magnesium.
If you need to increase your dose of magnesium, I would suggest doing so by adding 140 to 150 mg daily at dinnertime until you start to see a normal bowel movement. That will be your ideal dose. I have found, however, that the 700 mg in my CFS/Fibro Formula is usually sufficient, but it needs a couple of weeks to start working.
It is no secret that prescription medications are potentially dangerous. They are often removed from the market and then put right back on after stricter laws are in place to regulate their dosage. “Regulating” it, however, does not eliminate the chance of serious side effects, so why not treat this problem naturally and reduce your risks?