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Heather's IBS Newsletter ~ For Irritable Bowel Syndrome

January 23, 2007

How Cindy Found Help and Why She's Now "Almost Totally Well"

Hello to everyone -

Welcome to the second part of our New Year's Resolution special double issue! We began 2007 by learning how to be sure that you really do have IBS, and now we'll follow this crucial first step with the five key strategies for successfully managing IBS symptoms.

We also have a short and sweet reader letter that offers hope to IBS folks who have already tried (practically) everything. Find out why today Cindy Campbell calls herself "almost totally well" - after turning to what she felt was the last resort.

Plus, as always, we have a delicious IBS-friendly recipe, and the latest in IBS news, research, and more, including a fascinating - and notably sympathetic - comparison of treating long-term IBS patients versus the newly diagnosed. Enjoy!

Best Wishes,
Heather Van Vorous

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Wild Mushroom & Thyme Scrambled Eggs on Sourdough Toast

Scrambled eggs are so easy to make safe for IBS - just omit the yolks and use only whites, and fry with cooking spray in a nonstick skillet. Adding sauteed wild mushrooms makes for a truly special dish, and the sourdough toast plus Acacia Tummy Fiber gives a nice soluble fiber foundation. The touch of Sherry demonstrates how small amounts of alcohol can be safely incorporated into recipes for heightened flavor.

I love this dish not just for breakfast, but for a light supper as well.

Makes 1 serving (easily doubled or tripled)

2 organic egg whites
1 teaspoon Acacia Tummy Fiber (optional)
dash salt
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2/3 cup wild mushrooms (oyster, portabella, shitake, etc.), cleaned and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon Sherry (or cooking Sherry), to taste
1 large slice sourdough bread, toasted

In a small bowl whisk together egg whites with Tummy Fiber, thyme and salt. Set aside. In a small nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking oil saute the mushrooms and garlic over medium heat until tender, and liquid from mushrooms has evaporated. Add egg mixture and Sherry and cook, stirring, over medium heat until egg has just cooked through. Spoon over toast and serve.

For a wonderful breakfast or brunch combination, serve these eggs with a heavenly slice of Norwegian Apple Pan Pie!

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 ~
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divider What Helped Cindy's IBS as a Last Resort?

Dear Heather,

Thank you so much! I used the IBS Self Hypnosis Program as a last resort, kind of. They were actually the last thing I found. I used to have episodes every 3-5 days, for the past 2 years. I have IBS with constipation.

I am almost totally well! I'm going to repeat the hypnosis program again to hopefully get total relief and hopefully go off my medication eventually.

You are very welcome to use my comments on your website or IBS Newsletter! Thank you!

Cindy Campbell

Thank you, Cindy - I am thrilled to hear you're doing so much better! ~ Heather

Did you miss the recent reader letter from Darlene, who found a light at the end of the IBS tunnel?

The Best Gut-Directed Self-Hypnosis Program for All IBS Symptoms

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divider Hypnotherapy for Long-Standing IBS Patients vs. Newly Diagnosed
A recent World Wide Health article by Michael Mahoney, one of the UK's pre-eminent hypnotherapists, noted that the successful use of clinical hypnotherapy (CHT) for the treatment of patients with irritable bowel syndrome has been established in at least 14 published studies, where it has been shown to produce significant reduction in the cardinal IBS symptoms and associated symptoms such as anxiety.

The success of this treatment method in the clinical setting is contingent upon the protocol being gut-directed or gut-specific, i.e. directly addressing the digestive tract, balancing the dismotility and restoring its proper function while allowing the patient to take part in their own healing. Sufferers who consider hypnotherapy currently tend to do so as a 'last resort' rather than a first approach after diagnosis.

In treating IBS patients since 1991, Mahoney recognised a consistent trend in therapy outcomes and decided to investigate this further with an informal observational study. From September 2003 to January 2005, he assigned 40 patients with the same primary IBS diagnostic criteria into two groups.

The first group consisted of 20 IBS patients of long-standing, termed as refractory, where no previous medical interventions provided relief. The second group included 20 newly diagnosed IBS patients, who had no prior IBS treatment intervention upon their arrival in the study though they may have presented with symptoms for varying degrees of time.

Improvement levels for both patient groups were within the same symptom reduction range with an average of 90% symptom reduction overall for 20 IBS and IBS-related symptoms.

However, refractory IBS patients who had received other forms of treatment first had a longer recovery and symptom reduction time frame. It was found that for these patients, the time required to move forward to the next session became extended by an average of 1 to 3 weeks (or more in some cases) depending upon severity and longevity of symptoms and the resultant psychological issues.

This group's confidence and self esteem was very low, and their ability to see things in perspective was significantly reduced. When talking about the psychological elements most of these patients wept. After sometimes years of pain and discomfort, and the following of unsuccessful treatment options, it was clear this group of sufferers had become emotionally drained.

Before the refactory sufferers could even begin to work through the IBS, the hypnotherapy sessions first provided a strong emotional base that increased self-esteem, confidence, and allowed the sufferer to begin a journey of self improvement and management, and thereby equip themselves emotionally to move away from the symptoms and the familiarity of IBS thoughts and commence recovery initially at the emotional level.

The newly diagnosed group who received CHT as a first line of treatment showed a much quicker response towards their improvement in IBS symptoms, and did not require extensions in the standard protocol time frame.Go here for Michael Mahoney's IBS Self-Hypnosis Program...

Go here for more information about this study...

Family Basis for Constipation?
A recent American Journal of Gastroenterology study noted that clinical observation showed a family aggregation in constipated subjects, but formal data were lacking. This prompted a formal family study in constipated subjects. Constipated subjects were identified according to the Rome II IBS diagnostic criteria and Chinese constipation questionnaire criteria, and healthy subjects were chosen as controls.

The study found that constipation prevalence was 16.4% in the constipated patients' relatives versus 9.1% in controls' relatives, leading to the conclusion that familial aggregation of constipation occurs, supporting a genetic or intrafamilial environment component. Go here for more information about constipation, IBS, and treatments...

Go here for more information about this study...

Sacramento, California IBS Support Group Established
Melissa Grubbs is proud to announce the formation of the Sacramento Area IBS Support Group. Their first meeting will be on Sunday, February 18, 2007 from 6:45pm to 8:15pm and following meetings will be the 3rd Sunday of each month at the same time.

Meetings will be held at the Carmichael Public Library in the Community Room at: 5605 Marconi Ave, Carmichael, CA 95608. The meetings will be held in the Community Room after library hours, and will have access to the restrooms, of course!

This is a support group targeted at those with IBS but anyone with Crohn's or Colitis is invited and welcome to attend. Also, any friends or family members are welcome. Once the group is established Melissa will have guest speakers (GI docs, clinical hypnotherapists, etc.) Anyone with comments or questions can reach Melissa via e-mail at (Note: This meeting is not co-sponsored by the Sacramento Public Library Authority.) Go here for more information about this support group...

What are the Attitudes and Opinions about People with IBS?
The Northwestern Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders is conducting a research study looking at attitudes and opinions about people who have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The purpose of this study is to develop a questionnaire that would measure social stigma toward those who are affected by IBS that could be used by health care providers to address this important area of quality of life.

They are seeking volunteers to complete 3 online questionnaires that include questions about demographic information, attitudes others may have had toward you because you have IBS, and how open you are about your condition. Go here to participate in this study...

If you have any questions or concerns about this research, please contact the study coordinator at (312) 694-7717 or About the Northwestern Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders

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

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divider It's Really Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Now What?
"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?"

As we learned in the last newsletter, the answer to this question is actually two-fold. First, as we've already addressed, you need to know for sure that you really do have IBS. Only once you have a firm diagnostic "yes" can you proceed to the second step and start managing the problem.

First of all, it helps to take a deep breath and realize it's honestly not the end of the world to have IBS, because there is a lot you can do about it.

Eating for IBS, using IBS symptom-specific supplements, managing stress, taking medications, and trying alternative therapies are the five greatest weapons we have to keep our GI tracts functioning normally and thus prevent our IBS symptoms.

You might need to use just one approach, a combination, or all of them. You may also find that the effectiveness of various treatments waxes and wanes as time goes on, and what worked for you at first may one day need some modification. A strategy you tried without success in the past may have better results the second time around, and your tried-and-true approaches may require some extra help if your symptoms worsen. IBS is a chronic, but not necessarily consistent, disorder, so staying flexible and adjusting your strategies to your symptoms and your life in general will be of great benefit.

Though it may take some trial and error experience to see what helps you the most, some changes should result in immediate improvements. Other strategies may take a few weeks or even months to significantly help, but have patience - these may well be the most effective approaches for you in the long run.

Five Key Strategies to Control IBS

For detailed information about all of these approaches, just follow the links.

1. The Eating for IBS Diet. In a nutshell, you need a diet that is low fat, high in soluble fiber, careful with insoluble fiber, and avoids trigger foods. Can this help all IBS symptoms? Yep. Does it require a life of deprivation, boring and expensive home cooking, and never venturing near another restaurant again? Nope. Dietary changes have immediate benefits for most people.

2. Supplements. These should be keyed to your specific symptoms. The most effective options are:

  • Prebiotic, FODMAPS-free organic soluble fiber (for diarrhea AND constipation)

  • Enteric coated peppermint and fennel oil capsules (for abdominal pain, spasms, bloating, gas)

  • High volatile oil herbal teas such as peppermint, fennel, chamomile, ginger, and oregano (for abdominal pain, bloating, spasms, gas, and nausea). They must be high volatile oil or they won't be effective - you want teas that are specifically labeled as medicinal strength.

  • Vegan probiotics (for diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating, gas). If they're vegan, you know they weren't cultured on dairy, as dairy is a huge IBS trigger.
The fabulous thing about these supplements is that you can mix and match them for your symptoms and vary them as needed. They won't negatively interact with each other or with IBS prescription medications, nor do they carry any risk of serious side effects. Typically, most supplements help IBS symptoms either immediately or within a few days.

3. Stress Management. The most important avenues here are daily exercise, getting enough sleep, and practicing meditation, and/or yoga, and/or tai chi. Stress does not cause IBS, but it can definitely trigger symptoms, so it's difficult to successfully manage IBS without some - or even several - forms of stress management. Getting well rested and increasing your exercise can help very quickly, while meditation may require consistent practice before you see significant improvements.

4. Prescription Medications. These range from anti-spasmodics to anti-depressants to opioids, with a few IBS-specific drugs such as Lotronex and Zelnorm that affect serotonin regulation in the gut. You may not ever need drugs to manage your symptoms, you may occasionally need them, and you may need them on a daily basis. Personally, I'd give the non-drug approaches a fair try first, and if you don't see significant improvements start investigating the prescription options with the help of a good gastroenterologist. Some drugs work quite quickly (the anti-spasmodics) while others (anti-depressants) may take weeks of regular use before having notable benefits.

5. Alternative Therapies. The hand's down winner here is gut-directed hypnotherapy, which has been deemed by leading GI researchers to be the IBS treatment of first choice. Unfortunately, it's more often the treatment of last resort, particularly in the US, which is a crying shame. The clinical studies supporting the overwhelming success rate of IBS hypnotherapy in treating symptoms - and just possibly curing the underlying brain-gut disorder itself - are unimpeachable.

Acupuncture is another alternative therapy that has shown some good results, particularly in association with massage therapy. All of these therapies have the added benefits of being incredibly relaxing and enjoyable, so please give them a try. The fringe benefits of alternative therapies typically begin right away, while direct IBS symptom alleviation can take days, weeks, or even months.

If your New Year's resolution is to successfully control your IBS symptoms once and for all, take heart. It's not only possible to do so, it could likely be far easier than you think. The five key strategies are a great way to get started, and best of all there are many additional benefits (great IBS recipes, less stress, better health overall) to be had.

~ Heather

Did you miss our recent "Ask Heather" and how to know if you really do have IBS? Find it here...

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