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Heather's IBS Newsletter ~ For Irritable Bowel Syndrome

January 9, 2007

After Years of IBS, a Light at the End of the Tunnel (and No More Meds?!)

Happy New Year to everyone!

As we start 2007, I'm already hearing from many folks who have made a resolution to finally get their digestive problems under control. So, this issue is dedicated to helping you do just that! We'll kick off the new year by first learning how to be sure that you really do have IBS. Our next issue will follow this crucial first step with how to start sucessfully managing your IBS symptoms - there are five key strategies, and we'll cover them all.

We also have a reader letter that will inspire anyone who needs a ray of hope that this year really can be different. If you're looking for a light at the end of the IBS tunnel, read Darlene's dramatic story of recovery.

Plus, as always, we have a delicious IBS-friendly recipe, and the latest in IBS news, research, and more. Enjoy!

Best Wishes,
Heather Van Vorous

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Norwegian Apple Pan Pie

This fantastic recipe is from Sand on the IBS recipe exchange message board - thanks Sand! It's fast, easy, and flexible. You can omit the nuts, try different apple varieties (or even pears), substitute or omit the spices - it will still be delicious.

The pie looks more like a coffee cake, and it is wonderful with a hot cup of herbal tea on a cold winter day. It's also low fat, dairy-free, high in soluble fiber, and very IBS-friendly, so enjoy without fear!

Makes 1 shallow pie

2 egg whites
3/4 C granulated sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t salt
1 t baking powder
1/2 C flour
1 T Acacia Tummy Fiber (optional)
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 C finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1 1/2 C peeled, finely chopped Granny Smith apples (about 1 large apple)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 or 9 inch pie pan with cooking oil and set aside.

Beat egg whites, sugar, vanilla, salt, baking powder, flour, acacia, and spices until smooth and fluffy (you can use a wire whisk or an electric mixer). Stir in nuts and apples.

Turn batter into pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25- 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pie comes out with moist crumbs. For all-out decadence, serve with soy or rice vanilla ice cream.

For a wonderful treat, serve the pie with a hot cup of homemade Cinnamon Chai!

Are you just learning how to eat for IBS? A little intimidated at the thought of special IBS recipes? Not quite sure just what makes these recipes special in the first place? Don't worry! Find the answers to all your questions in the IBS Diet Kit.

~ Heather's Tummy Fiber ~
For the Dietary Management of Abdominal Pain, Diarrhea, &, Constipation

IBS Acacia Tummy Fiber

Organic Acacia ~ Pure Soluble Fiber

The prebiotic fiber that relieves both diarrhea and constipation!

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divider After Years of IBS a Light at the End of the Tunnel - and No Meds?!

Good Morning Heather,

I wanted to take a minute and say thank you! I have dealt with IBS for years now. I love your Peppermint Tummy Tea but the Fennel Tummy Tea is outstanding.

I have taken daily medication for 12 years and still had problems. I tried this tea as a test and you won. I honestly have reduced my medication in half in just one month of drinking the tea. This has truly made my life with IBS easier. I believe that I will see the prescription medicine go away...what a joy! Thank you for being here to help.

I would have no problem using my name in your newsletter. To expand on the health issues I have dealt with would better explain to you the miracle that I have found in your tea. I have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and all the other fun things that go with it. Actually, I have had IBS since I was 14 years old. I am now 54. My mother died when I was 14 from a rare disease and I became responsible for my brother and sister as my father worked long hours.

In 1999, I had to leave a job that I truly loved. I was a VP, Manager for Bank of America for 26 years. After a successful job and the joy of raising three wonderful girls, I found myself in a place I had never been before. You know, the Type A's who can do it all. I had three major surgeries on my bladder, a migraine related stroke, four surgeries on my eyes for cataracts, a leg wound that would not heal (no, I am not diabetic).

So, as you can read, I have been on a big journey since 1999. I am thankful that I have a family that loves me for me! And yes, two doggies, one cat and a great husband. With all of the above you can see what that can do to your IBS. I choose to look forward, not backward. I only look back to learn and not condemn myself. I love life and all that it has to offer. Now, some days are more difficult than others. It is amazing what the mind does. I choose to be as positive as I can be and attempt to be of help to anyone who needs it. IBS is very difficult health situation.

As I stated to you, your Fennel Tummy Tea has been a light at the end of a dark tunnel. We do need the medical doctors but we also need to be proactive in our own research. I have taken fennel tablets in the past but the only thing that has helped me is your tea. I will be one of your busy customers. Take care and thank you for your help. Sincerely,

Darlene DeSoza
Citrus Heights, California

Thank you, Darlene! I am so happy for you! ~ Heather

Did you miss the recent reader letter from Carolyn, who is no longer afraid to go out? Find out why...

Fennel Tummy Tea Peppermint Tummy Tea
Organic Fennel & Peppermint Tummy Tea Bags

Extraordinary Quality ~ Very Economical

Fennel is terrific for bloating & gas, Peppermint is great for IBS pain & spasms.

divider Surprising Barrier to the Management of IBS-Constipation
A recent Medscape Gastroenterology Expert Interview With Lawrence R. Schiller, MD asked the question, "What do you perceive are the most important barriers to the optimal management of patients with IBS-C and chronic constipation?"

Dr. Schiller replied, "Currently, the greatest barriers to optimal management of functional disorders, in general -- and chronic constipation and IBS-C, in particular -- are recognition by patients that something can be done to help their chronic symptoms and recognition by physicians that their patients have these disorders and that more can be done for them. The first limits the number of patients who come to physicians to avail themselves of treatment, and the second limits the application of modern treatments to this group of patients."

"For example, we know from good population surveys that approximately 15% of the adult population in the United States meet the criteria for chronic constipation, and that almost half of these individuals are unhappy with the treatments that they have been using. However, only a fraction of this group consults with physicians about constipation. This means that many patients have unmet needs with regard to their bowel habits."

"Likewise, we now have agents that can improve symptoms -- and quality of life -- in up to 70% of these constipated patients; however, physicians fail to recognize the presence of the disorder, its impact on patients, and the fact that traditional remedies leave many patients suffering with symptoms." Go here for more information about this study...

Effect of Bran in Bloated Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Bloating is an important but poorly understood symptom in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that is often aggravated by bran. The aim of this American Journal of Gastroenterology study was to determine whether IBS patients with bloating responded to bran differently from healthy controls.

Bran significantly increased the pain index and bloating in IBS patients but not controls. The most striking finding was that the small bowel transit time of the meal without bran was markedly faster in IBS patients than in controls. Although in controls bran accelerated small bowel transit time, and significantly reduced the percentage remaining in the ascending colon, this was not seen in the IBS patients. Bran accelerated whole gut transit in both IBS patients and controls.

The study concluded that bran accelerates small bowel transit and ascending colon clearance without causing symptoms in controls. Small bowel transit is rapid in IBS patients with bloating and, unlike in healthy control subjects, cannot be further accelerated by bran, which nevertheless aggravates symptoms of pain and bloating. The study speculates that bran-induced bloating may originate in the colon rather than the small bowel. Go here for more information about diet and IBS symptoms...

Go here for more information about this study...

Comparison of Fennel and a Drug on the Pain of Menstrual Cramps
A recent study in Eastern Mediterranean Health compared the effectiveness of fennel and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug mefenamic acid on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhoea (menstrual cramps). Two groups of high-school girls suffering dysmenorrhoea were randomized to receive fennel extract or mefenamic acid for 2 months.

In the fennel group, 80% of girls and in the mefenamic acid group, 73% of girls, showed complete pain relief or pain decrease, while 80% in the fennel group and 62% in the mefenamic acid group no longer needed to rest. Go here for more information about fennel...

Go here for more information about this study...

Acupuncture Combined with Massage for Treatment of IBS
A recent study in Zhongguo Zhen Jiu observed the beneficial effect of acupuncture combined with massage on irritable bowel syndrome. Ninety-three cases of irritable bowel syndrome were randomly divided into three groups: group of acupuncture combined with massage (group A), simple acupuncture control group (group B), simple massage control group (group C), 31 cases in each group.

The effective rate in the group A were significantly higher than those in both group B and group C, leading to the conclusion that acupuncture combined with massage therapy shows a better effect on irritable bowel syndrome, and they should be jointly used in clinical treatment. Go here for more information about this study...

Looking for more IBS research and news? Check the IBS Research Library!

Now with 50% More Enteric Coating!
~ Heather's Tummy Tamers ~
For the Dietary Management of Abdominal Pain &, Bloating

IBS Peppermint Caps
Peppermint Oil Caps with Fennel and Ginger Are Amazing!

Because our Peppermint Oil Caps have the added benefits of fennel and ginger oils, they help prevent abdominal pain, gas, and bloating!

divider Is it Really Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
"It's my New Year's Resolution to solve my digestion problems (I think I have IBS) once and for all. Where do I start?"

The answer to this question is actually two-fold. First, you need to know for sure that you really do have IBS. Only if you get a firm diagnostic "yes" can you proceed to the second step and start managing your symptoms (don't worry - they absolutely can be managed!)

This week we'll tackle part one, and begin at the beginning - an IBS diagnosis.

Before you and your doctor (you cannot self-diagnose IBS) hone in on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you first have to address any red flag symptoms, consider what, exactly, IBS is, and rule out illnesses that can be misdiagnosed as IBS.

Once that's taken care of (and depending on your symptoms and history, this may take a few days or a few months), you should be left with no reason to suspect there's something other than IBS going on. When you're at that point, you then need to make sure your symptoms do, in fact, match the IBS diagnostic requirements. How? By using the Rome Criteria.

The Rome Criteria are the codified diagnostic criteria that formally define IBS as a physical - not psychological - disorder that affects mainly the bowel, that is characterized by lower abdominal pain or discomfort in association with diarrhea, constipation (or alternating diarrhea/constipation), gas, bloating, and nausea. These guidelines define IBS not as a disease, but as a functional disorder, and specifically as a syndrome (by definition, a syndrome is a collection of symptoms).

It's a critical point that IBS is not a disease. This means that an IBS diagnosis depends in part on determing whether or not your symptoms match those that have been medically established as definitive of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is exactly where the Rome Criteria come in - they are the current standard for this definition.

What, exactly, are these criteria? In a nutshell....

The Rome diagnostic criteria of Irritable Bowel Syndrome always presumes the absence of a structural or biochemical explanation for the symptoms and is made only by a physician.

Primary Symptoms:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be diagnosed based on at least 12 weeks (which need not be consecutive) in the preceding 12 months, of abdominal discomfort or pain that has two out of three of these features:

1. Relieved with defecation; and/or
2. Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool; and/or
3. Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool.

Secondary Symptoms that Cumulatively Support the Diagnosis of IBS:
1. Abnormal stool frequency (may be defined as greater than 3 bowel movements per day and less than 3 bowel movements per week);
2. Abnormal stool form (lumpy/hard or loose/watery stool);
3. Abnormal stool passage (straining, urgency, or feeling of incomplete evacuation);
4. Passage of mucus;
5. Bloating or feeling of abdominal distension.

Additional Supportive Symptoms of IBS:
1. Fewer than three bowel movements a week
2. More than three bowel movements a day
3. Hard or lumpy stools
4. Loose (mushy) or watery stools
5. Straining during a bowel movement
6. Urgency (having to rush to have a bowel movement)
7. Feeling of incomplete bowel movement
8. Passing mucus (white material) during a bowel movement
9. Abdominal fullness, bloating, or swelling

Please note that the presence of abdominal pain or discomfort is a necessity. Bowel dysfunction, whether diarrhea or constipation, that occurs without pain, cannot be diagnosed as IBS according to these criteria.

Once you have a firm IBS diagnosis that falls in line with the Rome Criteria, take heart. While there is no cure yet, there are many ways to successfully manage - and often prevent - all IBS symptoms. We'll cover the Five Key Strategies for controlling IBS in our next issue!

~ Heather

Did you miss our recent "Ask Heather" and snacks for IBS? Find it here...

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