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April 2, 2015 ~ Scroll down for full newsletter or follow the links:
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Getting Off Laxatives! Yes, You Can.
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After Decades of Suffering, Normal Days Now!
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Getting Off Laxatives
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"I've been using laxatives for constipation for too long now. Can I transition off the laxatives and onto a soluble fiber supplement instead?"
Yes, there is (see a previous special letter from a mother for a perfect example). For just about everyone, particularly people with IBS, this is a terrific goal, as long-term laxative use has not been shown to be safe or healthy.
To quote from a US Pharmacist article (2006;31(6):20-28): "The FDA considers seven days to be the safe time limit for use of laxatives without physician consultation. However, stimulant laxatives cause many patients to become habituated to them because of their nonphysiologic and drastic action; some patients might use laxatives for years once they become reliant on them.
This practice can lead to changes in the colon that are carcinogenic and may result in death of colonic tissues located in the myenteric plexus. Patients should be urged to replace habitual use of stimulant laxatives with bulking [soluble fiber] agents.
However, abrupt discontinuation in habitual laxative overusers may result in an inability to evacuate the bowels. The colon may not respond normally as a result of years of artificial stimulation.
The patient may benefit from a gradual withdrawal. In this method, the pharmacist may recommend short-term stimulant use until the fiber begins to exert its own effect. A combination of a stimulant and fiber might be useful for a 30-day period to boost colonic function and bridge the transition from stimulant addiction to natural facilitation of bowel movements with fiber. After that period, the goal should be permanent discontinuation of stimulants in favor of fiber intake."
So, there you have it. Getting off laxatives in favor of fiber supplements is definitely a good idea. The question now is, how exactly do you go about doing this? Well, if you're transitioning to Acacia Tummy Fiber, an organic soluble fiber meant specifically for people with IBS, try this...
First, remember that Tummy Fiber Acacia is not a laxative, so it won't act like the laxatives you've been taking. It can work wonders for constipation, but it not an overnight solution. It makes a great deal of difference how you take Acacia, and it's well worth the time and effort to do it right.
Just FYI, these are the best ways to NOT get the results you want:
* Try Acacia at a low dose for just 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 Acacia at the same time you abruptly stop taking your laxatives (and this applies to enemas or colon cleanses as well, as they all artificially and abnormally affect gut motility), then give up because your constipation is suddenly worse, not better.
The cardinal rule with Acacia is to start at a low dose (for Acacia, just 1/2 a level measuring teaspoon, twice daily), and increase gradually. Constipation seems to require a much higher daily dose than diarrhea, and it can take several weeks, or even a few months, to slowly work your way up to the maximum daily dose. Remember that you're transitioning to something that is not a laxative, so taking a low dose of Acacia 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 Acacia 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 an Acacia 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 (this is why enemas and colon cleanses can be as harmful for IBS as laxatives).
Suddenly overloading your bowel with a fiber dose that is possibly ten times what you were taking before you started Acacia 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 indigestible 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 Acacia increase. You can't beat your colon into submission with IBS, you need to kindly, patiently, and consistently coax it into normal motility. Acacia 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 Acacia at the same time.
It is definitely possible to transition from a laxative or other unnatural methods of alleviating constipation to Acacia. 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 Acacia and start to gradually increase your Acacia dose. When you've been able to reach a fairly high daily dose (say, 2-3 tablespoons) you can start to gradually decrease your laxative.
Keep increasing the Acacia 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 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 with the Acacia Tummy Fiber to make a tremendous improvement is not really taking too much time in the grand scheme of things.
~ Heather's Tummy Fiber ~
For the Dietary Management of IBS Pain, Diarrhea, &, Constipation
Certified Organic Acacia Senegal ~ Pure Soluble Fiber
The prebiotic fiber that relieves both diarrhea and constipation!
100% Acacia Senegal ~ Never Low Grade Acacia Seyal
Encourages Healthy Gut Flora!
No gluten, FODMAPS, additives, fillers, flavors, colors!
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