I have had alternating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for about 15 years now. The following story and all I have done has occurred over the last 14 years. I am not telling this story to bore anyone it’s just to show how many different things I have tried to get well, until I finally found the answer, a specialized low carbohydrate, high fat diet.
Interminable Irritable Bowel Syndrome
It started at a period of time when I was very stressed in my late 30's. I had had rather bad unexplained tummy aches from about 11 years old all throughout my teens whenever I was stressed and then disappeared in my 20's. It was at about 11 years that I started eating a lot more sugar then earlier in my childhood.
The IBS started with burping huge burps all the time and feeling bloated and a little nauseous. Then I had a very painful lower and upper back and a very tight, very painful tummy at night in bed. I had a year where I practically had no sleep because of the pain. I was always exhausted. At 38 I realised I couldn't really have another child (I wanted one) as I just had no energy. I still pushed myself around all the time because I had no choice.
I was diagnosed by a specialist who just said that I had IBS (no tests) and that there was nothing that could be done.
I didn't believe that nothing could be done because I really do believe there are always answers but boy I didn't know how hard it was going to be!
I had been mostly vegetarian (one of many mistakes!) since my teens so I started looking at what else I could take out and put into my diet to stop the pain.
Was it all from Candida Albicans? Certainly I sometimes had a problem with Thrush.
Tried an assortment of diets over the years. Used the anti-fungal drug 'Nystatin' via tablet form for a number of months on several occasions along with a low sugar, low yeast diet. This was supposed to kill off the Candida from my system. I didn't get a result.
Used many and varied and spent enormous amounts of money on them
I first thought it was a lactose (dairy) intolerance but even taking out dairy from my diet, which did alleviate some symptoms, other IBS symptoms just grew worse.
These help you digest Lactose when you own system can't product this enzyme
They did seem to work for a little while...but stopped working after a few weeks.
Because I'm into natural therapies, and the specialist offered me no hope, I decided, after a friend did kinesiology on me and told me I had certain Acupuncture Meridians that were very weak, and to go to the acupuncturist she recommended. I went for quite awhile and it did help me a lot. I could now sleep at night and had some good days. The acupuncturist said that I would never really ever get over my tendency as my spleen meridian was a problem. He also said my tendency to obsess was not helping the situation! Of course having gut pain does tend to you give you the tendency to obsess and stress.
In fact 95% of all serotonin (the relaxation hormone) in the body is in the gut, where it triggers digestion. Nerve cells in the gut also use serotonin to signal back to the brain. This information can train us not to eat certain foods by communicating pain, gas and other terrible feelings but when everything you are eating seems to cause gut pain....well, you can get kind of anxious.
I still had a lot of pain on some days and still days with just no energy. Just dragging myself around.
I wanted an answer. Just managing is not good enough.
Tried using Threelac, which is a special formulation made to get rid of Candida from the gut. Seemed to help a little bit for a little while then stopped working.
St John's Wort
I took St John's Wort so I could relax but it didn't help and made me feel worse. More anxiety not less.
I read about a parasite called Blastocystis and went to see a doctor who had some knowledge of this parasite. Blastocystis really florishes on a diet high in carbs and sugar The doctor said all one can do is manage it as it was very hard to get rid of. I had a stool test and sure enough there was a fair amount of this in my stool. He gave me a herbal anti parasitic, told me not to eat certain foods, and also gave me a blood test for gluten intolerance.
I also read about a famous professor (he had found the cure for stomach ulcers just recently) doing a study on the link of Blastocystis and IBS. I thought I would try the same antibiotics he was using in his trial.... Some very expensive antibiotics later (I had to get them specially as they were not allowed in Australia)... I just felt worse.
A gluten intolerance test came up positive, very low on the scale and definitely not a Celiac. I absolutely hated the idea of going off gluten. Already having given up dairy I was not keen on this at all. But as all else had failed I decided to do it. I started having no gluten and nothing much happened to begin with. But the first sign that I really noticed was that all the aches and pains in my back and body disappeared! This was amazing and when I realized that if I had even the smallest amount of gluten they came back I was sold! The pain in my bowel didn't go immediately in fact it took a long time but eventually (I can only guess that my small intestine was healing) I started to experience no pain there either. And best of all I had my energy back, consistently. I was very happy as you can imagine but I was still not happy that I could have no gluten at all.
Hubby gluten sensitive also
I hated not being able to go restaurants and eat what was on the menu. I'm not Celiac but I am just as sensitive to tiny amounts of gluten and it is not easy. Luckily my friends were fairly supportive although they got kind of impatient with me when we would go out -all my questions about whether a dish has this or that in it. Also very lucky for me my husband turned out to be Gluten sensitive too and when he went off gluten his long standing back problems all cleared up!!!! It was great to have him in the same boat! Not very kind I know but........
Chinese Herbal Medicine
I decided to try Chinese herbal medicine. Boy was that a mistake! I don't know if it was the inept practitioner or what but the remedy he gave me started the pain off in my body again. I felt angry and frustrated. He had no answer as to why this had occurred. After this mistake it took ages to recover. Many, many months.
Here's a good one: Craniosacral Therapy
This person gave me a bit of a massage in my stomach and told me it had been
twisted since birth and now I was going to be all better.
He was a bit strange.....took himself very seriously, like a leader of a cult sort of personality. Megalomaniac, that's the word.
Did it work? Of course not.
Emotional Freedom Technique
Still frustrated with my food restrictions I embarked on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). I don't believe that IBS is in my head but I know it is badly affected by stress and I had nothing to lose. I used it for a quite a few months. I tapped (EFT technique) a lot on dairy and for a while I could eat it but it didn't last. Probably only worked because I wasn't so intolerant of it as I hadn't had dairy for quite a while.
I did have some gluten as well and had no bad side effects at all the first few times I ate it. But soon I started burping continuously and became bloated (which was one of the first symptoms I ever had) Next came the bad pains in the small intestine and lots of wind that doesn't move. In the next few days pain in the lower bowel and diarrhea and then a few days after that absolutely no energy. All in all it took about a week to get through that mistake. As you can imagine there was now a lot of fear around trying gluten again. I think I was able to eat it because as with the dairy I hadn't had it for quite a while and it took a while for the reaction to occur.
Boy, this really isn't easy!
I now had great respect for IBS. I had been through a myriad of other remedies I haven't mentioned that initially seemed to help only to stop working after a short time. So I deeply understand the cynicism for the so called "cures" that comes with this kind of disease.
Oh Yes, that's right Kinesiology
The Kinesiologist I went to over a course of several sessions did not have any affect.
So he told me all I needed was one more session and he guaranteed me success or
my money back.
When it didn't work and I asked for my money back, he became quite irate and told me it had worked and I was lying! Not a good experience.
I want to stress how important taking gluten completely out of my diet was. I do believe my small intestines healed a lot due to this. But gluten is in wheat glucose, malt, additives and a lot of foods which you wouldn't believe! And of course oats are a no no and you need to find gluten free beer because of the barley they use to make it -basically I am on a celiac diet even if I not celiac. I really wonder why it's so hard to give up wheat. I think it might be quite addictive. I started eating a whole lot less sugar. I found it was also important not to eat too much at one meal. Really bloated me.
Okay so I took out casein, lactose (decided it was this and not necessarily the lactose in dairy) and gluten out of my diet but I still got painful episodes. I was getting really paranoid about my food, this is not good for stress!
I noticed coffee was really hard on my gut. I mostly cut it out completely.
Less Grains and Legumes
I started eating less carbohydrates-more veges and meat, less grains etc. Seemed to help. I had already cut out legumes (beans, lentils) as they gave me painful wind. Realised later that I had cut out most of the high fibre foods which I believed at the time was what left me constipated.
Deadly Nightshade Family
Found out that not only was dairy and gluten a problem but so is white potato (which I loved!). There really seems to be no end to what I can be sensitive to in the way of foods. I threw up a couple of times after eating Eggplant. Eggplant and White potato are from the Deadly Nightshade Family.
Spices are gone
I took out spices from my diet as these also were causing me a lot of gut pain.
I went to see the Allergy clinic who said they could use kinesology to find what foods I am sensitive to and fix the intolerances. Sure enough all the familiar intolerances (they used little vials of particular foods etc and used kineseology to ask the body which ones were a problem) and then the practitioner also found I was sensitive to Salcilates which is in so many foods including veges! I got treatment for dairy first.... didn't work. Went back for treatment for gluten... didn't work. Decided not the go back, expensive and useless.
Tolerating less & less foods
Okay, this was not going well. The amount of foods that I could tolerate were starting to go up not down!
Human Probiotic Infusion
A friend told me about a treatment he had getting Human Probiotics back into the bowel. He said it was worth it. Started to research the correlation between IBS and Gut Flora, in fact any Auto Immune Disease and Gut Flora. Seems there is a huge connection that is just being found out. Of course people have said that probiotics have helped them but I never got any help using them. I can see that Human probiotics infused into the bowel could really work. Plus the excellent part about it is the actually adhere and stay, unlike oral probiotics
Went to the clinic that does this and had a colonoscopy and a pandescopy to find out what problems I might have eg parasites, celiac, lactose intolerance etc.
No problems with my small or large intestine. Not even a polyp. Not a celiac either according to their test. No problems with lactose. There was inflammation however in my stomach. Found out this could be due just to food intolerances. They tested for parasites (one of which was Blastocystis Hominis) and helicobacter pylorus but nothing showed.
Diagnosis by the clinic was - As there was absolutely nothing wrong with me - IBS.
Decided to go ahead with the Human Probiotic infusion (HPI). Was given a course of Rifamicin antibiotics for 10 days prior to treatment. Had to travel hundreds of kilometres and spend two weeks away from home for this treatment. Did the prep that must be done prior which is clearing out the bowels completely by fasting and used a very strong laxative.
Had another colonoscopy in which they put human faeces into the small intestine. I smelt very different to myself. They told me this was the new flora in my bowel. The next day I had more HP but this was just using a enema into my large bowel. My tongue is coated yellow. This is strange as I usually have a very clean tongue. Didn't have a bowel movement for five days. Finally went on fifth day, smelt very different from my old faeces smell.
I was told to wait for the results of the HPI they say it can take quite a few months for the new bowel flora to grow in my gut. I have been told to eat lots of Prebiotics (soluable fibre- legumes, vegetable etc) to feed the new flora.
In short let me say that this expensive excursion into HPI did not work.
I keep on going
Continued on eating a gluten, dairy, etc free diet. Not exactly well but not in agony at least.
Tried a raw diet. Got very sick on this diet. My acupuncturist said it was completely wrong for me. Really wanted it to work as it seemed such a good idea.
Went to do a well documented, special fasting technique in Thailand using special anti-parasitic herbs and clay.
Got really sick on the third night. Couldn't stop retching. I gave up and starting eating.
Was told I had a bad liver by the naturopath in charge.
At some point in all this I started eating meat again. Not only did my acupuncturist tell me I needed to my a voice in my head kept telling me I need to also.
It was hard because it didn’t suit my idea a sustainable planet nor my ingrained ideas of health through being a vegetarian. I had truly thought meat was bad for most of my life.
Over this very long period of time I kept coming back to maybe all my problems stemmed from Candida Albicans (yeast/fungal infection in the bowel) No doctors had been able to diagnose this problem as there were not tests available and there still isn’t a reliable test.
I did go on quite a few different anti-Candida diets none of which seemed to help so I would give them up. But of course all of the diets I tried still included plenty of Carbs, all be it in their whole food form.
Then I learnt that Candida is only in the bowel because it's been made by the gut to cope with all the carbohydrates that I was ingesting. Candida helps to ferment the carbs thereby allowing some digestion to occur. The body had found a way of dealing with foods that I was not evolutionarily made for. Trying to kill Candida off was not going to work as I really needed it while I was eating Carbs.
Low Carb, High Fat Program! Yes!
Finally I have found a special Low Carb, High Fat program. I embarked on it 18 months ago and haven’t looked back. It takes 1 month to heal for every year I have been sick so I have a way to go. I started having stomach pains in my early teens. So that makes it 40 months I need to be on this diet. It’s not a quick fix but look at my quick fixes up to now! Expensive and pretty useless.
OK, I do have a confession to make. I just spent the last 5 months in Italy. I went berserk on bread in the first few weeks so.......I did get set back a fair bit. But I was able on the whole in the land of pasta to eat mostly a low carb diet. So I congratulate myself because it was a challenge! I will write more on this wonderful and challenging experience in another blog entry.
My testimonial after being on this Program for 1 1/2 years:
Among the many of my symptoms that are gone or greatly better and which I didn't even think was connected are:
- Menopausal flushes have gone. What a relief!
- Periods have became regular and much easier like when I was a teenager.
- White spots on nails since childhood have disappeared.
- Fatigue has gone. I now have really good energy.
- Iron deficiency-tests now read normal. Contrary to the belief that going off gluten will restore iron levels this never worked for me, even after 8 years on a gluten free diet. I needed to go on this program to restore good iron levels. I had been taking iron supplements for years to no avail.
- Homocysteine levels are now normal. They were in the higher than average range. Higher homocysteine levels show there is inflammation in the body.
- Stronger bladder - after childbirth my bladder was weak and after 30 years it was getting much worse
- Vaginal thrush all gone. It was a regular occurrence since my teens. No reoccurring bouts.
- Weak bladder: I had a weak bladder since giving birth and as I was ageing it was getting much much worse. I now can run and sneeze without leaking.
- Age spots have disappeared from my hands. I still have some on my face but they have been there much longer so I except they will take longer to go.
- Itching calves have stopped itching. They were driving me crazy at night.
- Deep ache in thighs when lying on my side in bed at night. I would have to turn again and again which meant my sleep became very interrupted.
- Sleeplessness is gone
- HDL and LDL Cholesterol ratios are fantastic
- Triglyceride levels are low
- IBS: I no longer have the symptoms of IBS.
- My bowels are working beautifully regular and easy
- My libido is up. It has been rather low for the last 5 years.
- No first thing morning eye bags. This is the first time since I was in my 20's
- Foggy brain has gone
- Menopausal spotting has gone
- Lost my back fat common in middle aged women
- I am a lot more calm. My emotions are a lot more even.
- Pain on intercourse has gone.
- No colds or flu
- The yellow colour has gone from my skin- I know this because I went to use my foundation make up for the first time in about a year. And the colour of it was far too yellow for me now!
- Breathlessness has gone-this got a lot worse at the beginning of this program (I have had it all my life) and now has become non existent.
- I used to bruise very easily especially as I got older: I don't bruise now unless I really bump myself hard!
I will just keep adding to this as I go!