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Heather's IBS Newsletter ~ For Irritable Bowel Syndrome

July 10, 2007

How to Eat Without Getting Sick - Plus, "Another Miracle" for Diarrhea & Pain!

Hello to everyone ~ We have a fantastic letter this week from a woman who finally found the help she needed - not just for IBS, but for anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia as well. She just returned from a tropical island vacation, and considers her return to normal life an outright "miracle".

I would like to personally thank everyone who wrote me such kind, gracious, and truly heartfelt letters in response to my recent memorial issue. You all worked a miracle and gave me some bright rays of hope in a very dark time - many thanks from the bottom of my heart for that.

Also, we'll tackle the double whammy of acid reflux and IBS this month - can you live with both? Yep, and it's a lot easier than you might think.

Finally, we celebrate summer's coming crop of gorgeous ripe tomatoes and basil, and feature a most intriguing article about the effect of music on the GI tract. Enjoy!

Best Wishes,
Heather Van Vorous

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Italian Tomato Basil Bread Salad

Once you have a summer garden full of ripe tomatoes, here's the perfect recipe - a traditional Italian bread salad. This is a simple, rustic, delicious, and IBS-safe one-dish meal. Bread salad is a great way to use fresh veggies with a soluble fiber foundation, the herbs fennel and basil are both digestive aids, and best of all it tastes fabulous!

Makes 3-4 Servings

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced to a paste with a dash of salt
Salt and white pepper to taste
1 tablespoon whole fennel seed, such as Heather's Fennel Tummy Tea, finely ground

3 cups stale crusty French or Italian bread, cut into 1/2" dice
1/2 lb. fresh ripe tomatoes, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 cup thinly sliced sweet white onions (such as Maui or Walla Walla)
1/2 cup packed basil leaves, stems removed, finely shredded

Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat.

For a light summer meal, have the salad with a luscious glass of Peachy Summer Lemonade.

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! Come see the IBS Diet pages, and find the answers to all your questions.

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

divider How to Eat Without Getting Sick, Plus Another Miracle!

Dear Heather,

I've been meaning to send this for a few months, but was afraid I'd "jinx" something. I cannot adequately express my gratitude to you and Michael Mahoney for the IBS Hypnotherapy Program, which has given me my normal life back. I got sick last July and was so sick that I was down to 95 lbs (severe pain, diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite, etc.).

My gastro doc did the complete workup to rule out all the other stuff, and utimately said it was IBS. They put me on an antispasmodic medication that didn't do much except make my mouth so dry it was impossible to swallow. I also developed anxiety/panic attacks about 2 months after my IBS diagnosis and was taking Atavan for them. I went the library to do my own research and came home with your book Eating for IBS. Thank you for telling me what I could eat without getting sick.

Within a few weeks I ordered Michael's CDs....another miracle!!!! After listening to the first session, I slept through the night with no Ambien. I continued all the sessions, even going on a trip to St. Croix that had been planned for a long time.

I have been done with the CDs for about 5-6 months now and am back up to about 105 lbs (my normal weight is 110-115). The only medication that I take is one tablet of Zoloft per day - nothing else. My "safe" food list continues to expand and I can eat ALMOST everything I used to (I still limit dairy, red meat, no carbonation, no caffeine, very limited fried food).

Thank you again for helping me when my doctors couldn't seem to. I would so appreciate it if you could forward this thank you to Michael. Please feel free to use this letter in any way that might help someone else.

Jill Johns

Thank you so much, Jill. I'm truly thrilled you're feeling so much better, and I know Michael is too! ~ Heather

Did you miss the recent letter from Linda in Japan, who is shocked to find herself feeling so much better?

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divider Effects of Music on GI Activity
A recent article in International Journal of Clinical Practice aimed to study the effects of listening to music on gastric myoelectrical activity in healthy humans. Gastric myoelectrical activity was recorded from 17 healthy volunteers before and for 30 minutes after they listened to music.

All subjects listened to the same music. Ten perceived the music as enjoyable and seven did not. The percentages of normal slow wave, dominant frequency and dominant power did not differ significantly between baseline and during music intervention.

An analysis of covariance model that included the subjects' feelings about the music and dominant power showed significantly higher dominant power during music intervention in subjects who enjoyed the music. In the individuals who enjoyed the music, dominant power was significantly higher during music intervention than at baseline.

In the subjects who did not enjoy the music, dominant power was significantly lower during music intervention than at baseline.

Therfore, the study concluded that listening to enjoyable music increases the amplitude of gastric myoelectrical activity in healthy humans, and music therapy may improve gastric motility and may be used to stimulate gastric emptying. Go here for more information about this study...

Autonomic Cardiovascular Responses Impaired in Women With IBS
An article in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology had the stated goal of characterizing cardiovascular autonomic function in women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), using standardized techniques.

Background: Autonomic dysfunction is believed to contribute to abnormal gastrointestinal motility and visceral hypersensitivity in IBS. There is mounting evidence of generalized impairment of autonomic activity in patients with IBS.

The study concluded that autonomic cardiovascular function is impaired in IBS, manifest as attenuated cardio-vagal tone, and relative sympathetic excess during stimulated conditions. Go here for more information about this study...

Alterations of the Digestive Tract in the Pathophysiology of IBS
An article in the Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology noted that the pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is based upon multiple factors that have been organised in a comprehensive model centred around the brain-gut axis. The brain-gut axis encompasses nerve pathways linking the enteric and the central nervous systems and contains a large proportion of afferent fibres. Functionally and anatomically, visceral nerves are divided in to two categories: the parasympathetic pathways distributing to the upper gut through the vagi and to the hindgut, through the pelvic and pudendal nerves, and the sympathetic pathways, arising form the spinal cord and distributing to the midgut via the paravertebral ganglia.

Several abnormalities of gut sensori-motor function have been described in patients with IBS. Abnormal motility patterns have been described at the intestinal and colonic levels. Changes in colonic motility are mainly related to bowel disturbances linked to IBS but do not correlate with pain. More recently, visceral hypersensitivity has been recognised as a main characteristic of patients with IBS. It is defined by an exaggerated perception of luminal distension of various segments of the gut and related to peripheral changes in the processing of visceral sensations as well as modulation of perception by centrally acting factors including mood and stress.

Viscero-visceral reflexes link the two edges of the brain-gut axis and may account for the origin of symptoms in some pathological conditions. Recent advances in the understanding of the role of myenteric plexus allowed recognition of several neurotransmitters involved at the level of both the afferent and efferent pathways. Targeting the receptors of these neurotransmitters is a promising way for development of new treatments for IBS.

Go here for more information about this study...

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

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divider A Diet for IBS and Heartburn?
"I have acid reflux and IBS as well. Can I follow the IBS diet or will this make my heartburn worse?"

The bad news here is that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome are statistically more likely to have upper GI problems (like GERD or acid reflux) as well. But, the good news is that the vast majority of dietary changes that help IBS will also help prevent or minimize heartburn - there are just a few extra considerations you'll need to take. This whole issue is actually something that requires a somewhat lengthy discussion, so this week we'll tackle part one:

The general IBS diet guidelines of low fat, high soluble fiber, and the careful addition of insoluble fiber, are well-suited to reflux as well. In particular, going low fat will be very beneficial for IBS and reflux both, so make sure you're avoiding the high fat trigger foods. While acidic foods can sometimes (but not often) bother IBS, they are very hard on reflux, so be careful with citrus, vinegars, and cooked tomatoes.

Coffee is an acidic food that is also a powerful GI tract irritant and it will wreak havoc on both your lower and upper digestive tract - please avoid it completely (even decaf!) Tea is not a safe replacement beverage, however; both black and green teas contain caffeine (problematic for IBS) and tannins (not good for reflux). Carbonated drinks and chewing gum increase the amount of swallowed air in your GI tract, and are also bad news for reflux and IBS both.

Herbal teas are an excellent option instead, with one big exception: peppermint, which is one of the single best herbs for IBS (particularly pain and cramping), is such a powerful smooth muscle relaxant (which is why it helps IBS) that it can seriously exacerbate heartburn.

Choose Fennel Tummy Tea, which will actively help both heartburn and IBS, or try chamomile or anise teas instead.

You may also be able to use peppermint in the form of enteric coated peppermint oil capsules, which do not dissolve in the stomach. Instead, they pass through the digestive tract intact until they reach the intestines, so they are often very helpful for people with both reflux and IBS who cannot tolerate peppermint in other forms (such as teas or candies). If you do have reflux and want to try peppermint oil capsules, it's usually best to take each capsule on an empty stomach, about one hour before a meal.

Sulfur-containing vegetables (garlic, onions, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts), can produce significant gas in the GI tract and this can trigger IBS attacks, and the sulfur can also exacerbate reflux. As with all other fruits and veggies, however, these are extremely nutritious foods with significant health benefits, so they need to be treated with caution but, if at all possible, not simply eliminated from your diet.

Next week, we'll tackle part two of this issue, including everybody's favorite splurge, chocolate - plus, what about fiber for reflux? Can it help or hurt? Coming soon...

~ Heather

Did you miss the recent "Ask Heather" about children, doctors, and IBS? Find it here...

~ Heather's Tummy Fiber ~
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