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Heather's IBS Newsletter ~ For Irritable Bowel Syndrome

August 7, 2007

How Joanne took control of her IBS with a miracle-worker!

Hello to everyone ~ We have an inspiring letter this week from a woman who went through years of discouragement - her doctors told her there was nothing she could do for her IBS. See how she proved them wrong!

After our last newsletter announcement that whole seed Fennel Tummy Tea is back in stock, I'm now equally thrilled to say that we have received our highest volatile oil content Peppermint Tummy Tea ever! Find out just why these volatile oils are so helpful for managing IBS pain and cramping.

We'll also revisit one our most popular Ask Heather topics - the Five Constipation Frustrations. Part one is this week, and addresses soluble fiber supplements - can you expect overnight results?

Best Wishes,
Heather Van Vorous

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Smoked White Fish and Herb Bean Dip

This dip not only tastes terrific, it makes a great high-protein, low fat snack - or an effortless light meal on a hot summer day. Smoked white fish is available at most delis and many grocery stores. If you've got fresh herbs in your garden this summer, definitely use them here!

Makes 8 Servings

1 15-16 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup smoked white fish, skinned and boned (about 1/2 lb.)
juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup plain rice or soy milk
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
2 teaspoons dried basil (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
1 teaspoon dried dill weed (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
salt and pepper to taste

Four 12" long narrow French or sourdough baguettes, halved horizontally, toasted

Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth, scraping down sides of blender with a rubber spatula as necessary. Chill and let flavors develop for several hours before serving. Serve with baguette.

This dip is also wonderful spread on grilled or boiled root vegetables (potatoes, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.).

For a light summer treat, follow this dip with some Fabulous Fruit S'Mores and a soothing cup of Peppermint Tummy Tea.

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.

~ Heather's Tummy Tamers Peppermint Oil Capsules ~
IBS Peppermint Caps
Peppermint Oil Caps Called "Drug of Choice for IBS"

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

divider A Miracle Worker for IBS

Dear Heather,

The Acacia Tummy Fiber has truly been a miracle worker for me. I was diagnosed with IBS 22 years ago when I was 23. All that was told to me was, "watch your diet, don't eat spicy food, carbonated drinks or caffeine." I listened to that recommendation, however, as the years went on my condition just kept gettting worse.

Two years ago, I went through a traumatic time losing my husband suddenly. Needless to say, my IBS symptoms were at their worse. I was in and out of doctors' offices, and they told me there was nothing they could do for IBS-diarrhea.

I tried so many different natural herbs but nothing was working. Then one day I knew I had to take control of this illness that has been with me most of my life. I found your website and ordered the Acacia Tummy Fiber, the Tummy Tamers peppermint oil capsules, and the Fennel Tummy Tea. All have proven to help me.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I also purchased the Eating for IBS book which helped me immensely.

It is so discouraging that our medical field has no clue or cares to help those of us who are stricken with this disorder. You may use my comments on the website or in the IBS Newsletter. If it gets only one IBS sufferer to try your products, then I feel like I've helped someone.

I can't tell you enough how thankful I am that I found your website this past year. You are definitely an angel sent to us!

Joanne Roland
22 Year IBS Sufferer

Thank you, Joanne! I'm so sorry you were told there was nothing that could be done for your IBS, but I am elated that you took control and overcame the symptoms on your own. That is sure to inspire many other people. ~ Heather

Did you miss the recent letter from a reader who went from not knowing what to do, to feeling 99% better?

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

IBS Acacia Tummy Fiber

Certified Organic Acacia ~ Pure Soluble Fiber

The prebiotic fiber that relieves both diarrhea and constipation!

** Very Economical ** Only 3 cents per gram of fiber!

Highest Volatile Oil Peppermint Tummy Tea Ever!

I am very excited to say that we have recently received a special lot of organic large leaf peppermint tea with a volatile oil content of 2.8%. This is the highest amount of volatile oil we have ever found in peppermint, and as a result our new crop of Peppermint Tummy Tea is the strongest ever!

Why is this such a big deal? Because it's the volatile oils in peppermint that make it so effective for the dietary management of IBS symptoms. That means the volatile oil level is critical to the very quality and potency of the peppermint itself. We always carefully select our peppermint from the most recent possible harvest date, process it for minimal volatile oil dissipation, and pack it to stay as fresh as possible. However, the volatile oils always vary with each new crop, and even within individual lots from a harvest.

Menthol and methyl salicylate are the main active ingredients of peppermint's volatile oils. Internally, they have anti-spasmodic actions, with calming effects on the muscles of the stomach, intestinal tract, and uterus. They also have powerful analgesic (pain-killing) properties.

Peppermint tea is extremely useful for IBS cramps and relieving painful abdominal spasms. It also helps relieve diarrhea (it will not cause or worsen constipation), and has a calming, numbing effect on the entire GI tract.

For IBS, the stronger the peppermint the better, and the higher the volatile oil content the more effective the herb will be. See for yourself!

Fennel Tummy Tea Peppermint Tummy Tea
Organic High Volatile Oil Fennel & Peppermint Tummy Tea Bags

Extraordinary Quality ~ Very Economical

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

divider IBS And Restless Legs Syndrome Linked?
A small study announced at the recent Digestive Disease Week Conference found that bacterial overgrowth in the gut, a factor in some patients who have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, may also be at work in restless legs syndrome and antibiotics might help both conditions. In 13 patients suffering from both conditions, all saw improvement in IBS symptoms and 10 found marked relief from restless legs symptoms after a 10-day course of antibiotics, said Leonard Weinstock, M.D., of Washington University in St. Louis.

Dr. Weinstock hypothesized a connection between IBS and restless legs syndrome when his cousin came down with both conditions after contracting a case of travelers' diarrhea, Dr. Weinstock told attendees at Digestive Disease Week. He said he'd also heard reports of IBS being linked with fibromyalgia, which in turn has been linked with restless legs syndrome. He hypothesized that bacterial overgrowth in the gut could be causing the problems and that antibiotic therapy targeting the small intestine might be the solution. Go here for more information about this study...

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Bloating
A recent article in Best Practice & Research, Clinical Gastroenterology noted that gaseous symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) including eructation, flatulence, and bloating occur as a consequence of excess gas production, altered gas transit, abnormal perception of normal amounts of gas within the gastrointestinal tract, or dysfunctional somatic muscle activity in the abdominal wall. Because of the prominence of gaseous complaints in IBS, recent investigations have focused on new insights into pathogenesis and novel therapies of bloating.

The evaluation of the IBS patient with unexplained gas and bloating relies on careful exclusion of organic disease with further characterisation of the underlying condition with directed functional testing. Treatment of gaseous symptomatology in IBS should be targeted to pathophysiologic defects whenever possible. Available therapies include lifestyle alterations, dietary modifications, enzyme preparations, agents which reduce surface tension, treatments that alter gut flora, and drugs that modulate gut transit. Go here for help with bloating.

Go here for more information about this study...

Fecal Microbiota of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
A recent article in Gastroenterology aimed to characterize putative differences in gastrointestinal microbiota between patients with IBS and control subjects. These differences could potentially have a causal relationship with the syndrome.

Microbial genomes from fecal samples of 24 patients with IBS and 23 controls were collected, pooled in a groupwise manner, and fractionated according to their guanine cytosine content. It was found that the coverage of the clone libraries of IBS subtypes and control subjects differed significantly. The samples were also distinguishable by the Bayesian analysis of bacterial population structure.

The study concluded that fecal microbiota is significantly altered in IBS. Further studies on molecular mechanisms underlying these alterations are needed to elucidate the exact role of intestinal bacteria in 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 The Five Constipation Frustrations Revisited
"What if you think you're doing everything you're supposed to do for constipation, but nothing is working?!"

Well, first of all, take a deep breath, relax, and realize that you're not all alone here - and you're definitely not helpless, even if it sometimes feels that way. Constipation tends to be one of the more frustrating IBS symptoms, and it does take longer to resolve through lifestyle changes than diarrhea. But - there are many, many ways to help alleviate constipation successfully, it just takes a little patience and persistence.

What's the best way to take control of IBS constipation? Just make sure you avoid The Five Constipation Frustrations. We'll tackle the first one this week:

1. Soluble Fiber Supplements Are Overnight Wonder Drugs, Right?

Soluble fiber supplements (like Acacia Tummy Fiber) can work wonders for constipation, yes. But they are NOT an overnight solution, and they're definitely not drugs. It makes a great deal of difference how you take a soluble fiber supplement, and it's well worth the time and effort to do it right. (Here's a great resource page about soluble fiber supplements if this is all brand new territory for you.)

First of all, these are the best ways to NOT get the results you want from a soluble fiber supplement:

* Try one at a low dose for a few days, then give up because there's no change.

* Go from zero to the maximum dose in one week flat, then give up because it's not working and now you're all bloated and gassy as well.

* Start taking one at the same time you stop taking laxatives, enemas, or colon cleanses you've been using regularly, then give up because your constipation is suddenly worse, not better.

The cardinal rule with a soluble fiber supplement (SFS) is to start at a low dose (for Acacia, just 1/2 a level measuring teaspoon, twice daily), and increase gradually. Constipation often requires a much higher daily dose of a SFS than diarrhea, and it can take several weeks, or even a few months, to slowly work your way up to the maximum daily dose. SFS are not laxatives, and they will not give "overnight relief", so taking a low dose of one for a few days will not alleviate your symptoms. What it will do is begin to acclimate your gut to a higher daily dose of fiber, and this is the goal. Don't give up as soon as you start - just realize that using a SFS is a slow, steady process. You will see improvements along the way.

It's tempting to think that if you need to reach the maximum dose to see the best results, you can just force your body to adjust to a high dose as fast as possible. After all, if your constipation will resolve on a SFS dose of, say, 25 grams a day, and it might typically take someone, say, 8 weeks to reach that dose, you'll be way ahead of the game if you race your way up to that dose in your very first week - right? Nope - wrong.

By definition, if you have IBS, you do not have a normally functioning gut. No matter how your IBS symptoms manifest (constipation or diarrhea, bloating or pain) your GI tract - and specifically, your gastrocolic reflex - is hyper-reactive to normal stimuli. Your goal should always be to keep your gastrocolic reflex stable so you can soothe and regulate your gut function.

Suddenly overloading your bowel with a fiber dose that is possibly ten times what you were taking before you started a SFS will do nothing but give you bloating and gas, as your GI tract struggles to deal with all of this unexpected fiber. Fiber is, after all, an undigestible carbohydrate, and your body needs to work to process it through your digestive tract.

Asking your gut to go from no soluble fiber supplement to a maximum daily dose too quickly is like trying to become a marathon runner by sprinting as hard and as fast as you can without rest. It won't work, you'll be frustrated, and you'll give up. Instead, go slowly, increase your dose gradually, and give your body the time and gentle approach it needs to adjust to the SFS increase. You can't beat your colon into submission with IBS, you need to kindly, patiently, and consistently coax it into normal motility. A SFS can help do this for you if you give it a fair chance.

If you've been regularly using laxatives, or artificially increasing colon motility through other means (enemas, colon cleanses, harsh stimulant herbs such as senna, cascara, aloe) the odds are pretty good that your bowel is dependent on them. If you suddenly stop using them, bowel motility might shut down and your constipation will seriously worsen. This would be the case even if you didn't add a SFS at the same time.

It is definitely possible to transition from a laxative or other unnatural methods of alleviating constipation to a soluble fiber supplement. But, you can't simply switch from one to the other in a single day and expect equivalent results. What you can do is keep taking your usual dose of laxatives while you begin your SFS and start to gradually increase your SFS dose. When you've been able to reach a fairly high daily dose (say, 2-3 tablespoons of the Acacia) you can start to gradually decrease your laxative.

Keep increasing the SFS and continue decreasing your laxative, taking each step slowly and carefully. This is not likely to be a fast process, but the slower and steadier you go the more likely it is to have a highly successful result. I've heard from numerous people who transitioned off of laxatives, senna, enemas, and even prescription constipation drugs such as Miralax and Zelnorm and onto a soluble fiber supplement, with terrific results. But it took anywhere from one to six months, depending on how long their bowels had been dependent on the laxatives.

Good things can be well worth the wait, and this is one of those situations where patience is truly a virtue. IBS is a lifelong problem for most people, so giving yourself a few months to make a tremendous improvement is not really taking too much time in the grand scheme of things.

Next Time ~ Part Two of Our Five Constipation Frustrations!

~ Heather

Did you miss the recent "Ask Heather" about acid reflux, heartburn and IBS? Find it here...

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