Friday, December 07, 2007

Gluten Free Diet Successfully Handles IBS Symptoms

Have you been diagnosed with IBS? Do you know anyone with IBS? Then you know miserable it is to have much of your life dictated by looking for restrooms. We live in a society which is very disease oriented. Our body gets to a point where it is malfunctioning to such a degree that we are given the diagnosis of a disease, which is accompanied by a recommendation for some kind of medication. Does that medication get to the underlying root cause of why the malfunction occurred initially? No. And suggesting that that should be the approach is usually met with a disapproving look from our doctor.

Well I disagree with that approach. And having over 20 years of treating patients has only supported my belief that getting to the underlying root cause of why the body is malfunctioning is the only true route to optimal health. Masking a symptom with a medication does nothing to isolate and treat the real reason the problem occurred in the first place.

IBS is a classic example of the failure of the traditional approach of addressing the symptom only. Patients with IBS are told that there is no cure for their condition. Further they are frequently given drugs which offer temporary relief only and dietary advice which, in my opinion and experience, is severely off the mark.

Considering this is a gluten blog, you probably know where I’m headed. But that makes it no less exciting to share with you that I can’t recall a single patient with IBS whose condition wasn’t eradicated when he or she followed our program. That’s not bad for a supposedly incurable condition!

What the program entails is a few key steps:
  1. Isolate and eliminate any foods the patient is reacting to.
  2. Diagnose and treat any infections which may exist in the digestive tract.
  3. Heal the damage to the intestine which has resulted from 1 and 2.

That is the overview of the program. Yes, it does require you to change your lifestyle and yes, it does frequently entail patients removing gluten from their diets. But the response from my patients is that it is more than worth it when the results are no more IBS and feeling great.

Below is a success story written by one of my patients. You’ll notice that he mentions getting off an anti-anxiety medication. Patients with IBS are frequently diagnosed with depression and anxiety and given dangerous drugs to “treat” these symptoms. Getting to the root cause of the problem as mentioned above is usually all that’s needed to eliminate such symptoms of anxiety or depression as they are a secondary manifestation and not the primary problem.

Enjoy and please let me know if I can help you to achieve your health care goals!

Yours in health,

Dr Vikki Petersen

IBS ruled my life. I could not go anywhere where I was not absolutely sure that there was a close bathroom. I tried to take over the counter and prescription diarrhea medicine, but it would only last a few hours. Because of my symptoms, I was also on depression medication on a daily basis to "help" me deal with the anxiety that was caused by my IBS. I also suffered from extreme claustrophobia, and could not travel in my car without stopping to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes or so. I would say on a good day I had 6-7 bowel movements and on a bad day 8-9 - every day. I have had IBS for the last 20 years, but this bad, only for the last 2-3 years.

I could not go skiing, running or walking outdoors. Traveling was a nightmare for me and my family. I was always stressed about when I would have to next go to the restroom.

I remember at our first meeting Dr Petersen told me that she could help me, not with arrogance, but with confidence. She showed me pictures of what my insides probably looked like, but explained it in an easy to understand, matter of fact way. Dr Petersen told me I would have to give up eating like I was (eating myself to death, or a certain heart attack), but I could do it gradually.

I was given a diet that included none of the things I had been eating or drinking. It included giving up caffeine and gluten and sugar and aspartame. I had come to the clinic willing to try anything and I knew it would be hard but nothing could have prepared me for the withdrawal from caffeine and sugar. I thought that during the first week I was getting sicker, but I made it through. No real progress on my IBS, but I felt different. We went through blood tests and saliva tests and stool samples. It turned out I had 2 infections in my intestines that were not letting me digest food. The antibiotics at first made me feel even worse, but I was in this for the long haul. I knew I was on the right track because soon I started to feel better. Maybe the IBS was not cured yet, but I had more good days than bad, and I felt better emotionally and physically than I had in a long time. About one week after I finished the antibiotics, I began to lead a normal life. I was only going to the bathroom 3-4 times a day, and the experience was much better. Two weeks later, I had a few days in a row with only 2-3 bowel movements per day. In three days, I had what would have been one of my bad days, but with no anxiety or discomfort.

The side benefit of my gluten free diet is that I am off of my "maintenance anxiety drug". This did not happen because my new doctors told me not to take it, I just forgot to about two weeks ago, and have not had the need for it. Today I got in a car w/ 4 other men and I wasn’t doing the driving. It suddenly dawned on me that I would never have done that before. The anxiety would have prevented me.

I have also lost 18 pounds, which was not why I came here, but is a definite benefit.

It is very difficult to explain the pain and suffering that I went through and that I put my family through with my panic attacks and IBS. I am lucky that they supported me and did not leave me. I feel that I can start to be the person that I am meant to be. My life gets better every day. Maybe everyone is not as sensitive to gluten as I am, but for me it is poison. It is easy to pass up gluten with the great results I am seeing. I asked Dr Petersen if it was just the caffeine that made me so irritable. The doctor explained that for some people gluten is neurotoxic. This was definitely the case for me and understanding that makes it easy to stay on a gluten free diet. I also realized that all of the food that made me sick has gluten in it....bagels, bread, pizza, pasta, sandwiches......I was killing myself while trying to eat healthy. When I had a salad with bread and croutons, it defeated the purpose.

Anyway...that is my story so far. I feel better everyday. I can not thank Dr Petersen enough for helping me change my life.

Sincerely,
Elliot B.