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5 Ways to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome

by Dr. Mark Hyman

How I Helped Alexis Heal from IBS

I prescribed Alexis a non-absorbed antibiotic, an antifungal drug for her yeast problem, and had her eliminate the foods to which she was allergic. I believe in treatment that addresses the underlying cause of the problem. If there is a bacterial or yeast infection, then medications are often the best treatments. The key is to effectively treat the cause. If medications do that, then I use them.

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Then I gave her supplements of healthy bacteria to normalize her gut and zinc to help with her digestive enzymes (chronic diarrhea can result in zinc deficiency).

I also gave her extra fiber to feed the healthy bacteria, fish oil to reduce gut inflammation, a multivitamin, and herbs to balance her hormones (which are greatly affected by abnormal bacteria).

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What happened then may shock some, but I wasn’t surprised. It is the same result I have seen in patient after patient when the principles of functional medicine are applied …

Alexis came back to see me two months later, and she was a different person. Not only did she lose 20 pounds, she had not had a “s—- attack” and was having normal bowel habits for the first time in 33 years! She also had more energy, and her PMS vanished.

She looked and felt 10 years younger and was free of the suffering she had endured for over three decades.

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Do you have to suffer like Alexis did? No. We have the science, the understanding, and tools to deal with this chronic problem and the suffering it causes 1 in 5 people. There is no need to wait for any more studies. I have been treating IBS in my practice for over 15 years with dramatic success.

In fact, just recently, one of my patients told me that, for the first time in his life, he didn’t have any more stomach pains or digestive problems. He had previously been so bad that he had to have a phone installed in his bathroom!

To take advantage of these discoveries today, simply follow these five steps.

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5 Steps to Curing IBS

Get tested. Try to get a test for IgG food allergies and eliminate the foods that test positive for 12 weeks. Or simply try an allergy elimination diet for a few weeks.

Test yourself. If you can’t afford the test mentioned above, then just eliminate the most common food allergens for 12 weeks — that’s dairy, gluten, yeast, eggs, corn, soy, and peanuts. And then reintroduce them to see if they cause symptoms. This is an effective way to isolate the foods that may be causing you problems. I have created a simple program to follow based on a comprehensive elimination diet called The UltraSimple Diet.

Get rid of the unwanted visitors in your small bowel. Ask your doctor to prescribe rifaximin (Xifaxin) and take two 200 mg tablets three times a day for seven to 10 days. This is often the best way to deal with the chronic bacterial overgrowth that causes bloating and irritable bowel syndrome. You may also need an anti-fungal such as nystatin or fluconazole for two to four weeks.

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Repopulate your digestive tract with good bacteria. I don’t usually recommend brands, but when it comes to probiotics the quality varies so much that I suggest taking two specific brands. Take one packet of VSL3 or other high potency probiotic twice a day for one to two months. This probiotic has over 450 billion organisms per packet. I also recommend a probiotic called S. boulardii take two capsules twice a day for two months. This is a special probiotic that helps to further normalize gut function.

Try digestive enzymes with meals to help break down food while your gut heals. You also may benefit from nutrients that help heal the lining of the gut including fish oil, GLA (from evening primrose oil, zinc, vitamin A, glutamine and others.)

By taking these steps and seeking out the underlying causes of IBS, you can dramatically improve your health and overcome your digestive disorder.

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Sources:

(i) Lin, H. (2004). Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. The Journal of the American Medical Association. 292:852-858.

(ii) Pimenetel, M., Park, S. Mirocha, J. Kane, S., and Y. Kong. (2006). The effect of nonabsorbed oral antibiotics (rifaximin) on the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Annals of Internal Medicine. (145)8:557–563.

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(iii) Atkinson, W., Sheldon, T.A., Shaath, N., and P.J. Whorwell. (2003). Food elimination based on IgG antibodies in irritable bowel syndrome: A randomized controlled trial. Gut. 53:1459–1464

(iv) Shanahan, F. and P.J. Whorwell, M.D. (2005). IgG-mediated food intolerance in irritable bowel syndrome: A real phenomenon or an epiphenomenom? The American Journal of Gastroenterology. 100:1558–1559.

Dr. Mark Hyman

Dr. Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, MD is a practicing physician, founder of The UltraWellness Center, a six-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in the field of Functional Medicine.

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