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Help for IBS Newsletter Logo

September 17, 2003

Hello to everyone!

This newsletter is just stuffed with special IBS events, announcements, and more! First, I'd like to welcome everyone to my comprehensive (and gorgeous!) new website for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, This site offers a wealth of information, research, support, and tangible help for all IBS symptoms.

The focus of the new site is strategies for managing IBS, including diet and recipes, books, supplements, yoga, hypnosis, and more. Our fabulous IBS Message Boards are now a part of the site, as are the IBS Support Group Boards. There is also a vast and growing body of news and research on the site, ranging from archived newsletters to an IBS Glossary to the IBS Research Library. My goal for this site is to offer all of the information people need to take control of their symptoms and lives, the support systems and community services to help them do this, and a wide range of IBS-specific products that have been clinically established as helpful for IBS and digestive health. Please come visit us, make yourself at home, and consider yourself warmly welcomed to stay as long as you like!

In other news, I'm delighted to announce that the IBS Newsletter has returned to its twice-monthly publication and will continue on this course. This is thanks to the many of you who voluntarily subscribed - and for all your help, I am truly grateful. (If you have paid for a subscription but have not received a special email thank you newsletter, please write to let me know!)

Although I'm continuing to search for newsletter and message board sponsors, I've also decided to take things into my own hands in this regard. I've added a complete "Shop for IBS" section to my new website, with everything from books, organic herbal teas, and enteric-coated peppermint capsules, to IBS hypnotherapy programs, hot packs, and more. Everything on the site is specific to IBS and/or IBD, is the highest possible quality available, and has supporting clinical studies in the IBS Research Library wherever possible.

I'm so incredibly excited about the new site and the launch of the new products, because as far as I know this is the only "just for IBS" store in existence. Almost every product there has been developed to my specifications and requirements (a very long list!), with the realization that IBS management is a daily routine. These items are meant to become a reliably helpful part of your everyday life, if not downright enjoyable as well. My goal, as always, is to find ways to turn IBS into something that you control (often through means, like recipes or herbal teas, that are a pleasure in their own right). IBS does not have to control you! That is the very heart of what this newsletter, and all of my work, is about.

Best Wishes,
Heather Van Vorous

Mushroom Stroganoff

Makes 2-3 servings

1 1/4 lb. button or mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1-2 T sherry, to taste
2 T plain soy yogurt
2 T soy or rice sour cream
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1-2 t paprika, to taste
cooked wide noodles

In a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat, heat 1 T olive oil. Saute mushrooms in oil until very tender and most liquid has evaporated. Remove mushrooms to dish and set aside.

In same skillet, heat remaining 1 T oil over medium high and saute onions and garlic until golden. Add cooked mushrooms and all remaining ingredients except noodles, turn heat to low, and heat through but be careful not to boil. If sauce is too thick, add a little soy or rice milk to thin. Serve mushroom mixture immediately over cooked noodles.

Just learning about the IBS diet? Come see the diet section, and find the answers to all your questions!

Are you an old pro at the IBS diet? Come find more fabulous recipes at the recipe archive!

IBS Cooking Demo and Discussion! Saturday, September 20th at 2 pm
At the Skagit Valley Food Coop this Saturday afternoon, I'll be giving a talk on managing IBS through diet. During the question and answer session I'll be whipping up some Peppermint Fudge Cake and demonstrating just how fast and easy it is to make your kitchen IBS-friendly. Please come by - the event is free - for a lively discussion and delicious dessert!

The Skagit Valley Food Coop is located at 202 South First Street, Mount Vernon, WA 98273. Call for more information, at 360-336-9777.
Pain Relievers and Intestinal Disorders
Ever since aspirin hit the market in the late 1800s, it has been a fixture in medicine cabinets everywhere -- and for good reason. It erases headaches, soothes arthritis, lowers fevers, helps prevent heart disease, and may even ward off some types of cancer. If it were discovered today, doctors would hail it as a medical breakthrough.

But for some people, aspirin has a serious downside -- especially if taken regularly. At the same time it's easing your pain, it could be giving you an ulcer. Aspirin is just one of many painkillers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can cause serious damage to your digestive system. Other members of the NSAID class include the over-the-counter pain relievers ibuprofen and naproxen and at least 15 prescription drugs.

According to the American College of Gastroenterology, up to 60 percent of the approximately 14 million patients with arthritis who consume NSAIDs regularly will develop side effects related to the drugs. Although most are minor, side effects may include stomach ulcers, bleeding, holes in tissue, and even death.

The danger is real. According to a report in the May 2001 issue of Postgraduate Medicine, more than 100,000 Americans are hospitalized each year with intestinal trouble caused by aspirin and other NSAIDs. Only a small percentage of cases are fatal, but it's enough to make NSAIDs-related stomach trouble the 15th most common cause of death in the United States, ahead of asthma, cervical cancer, and Hodgkin's disease. Click here for more information...

Association Between Pain Episodes in Patients With IBS
This represents the first study using techniques of objective analysis to demonstrate an association between High Amplitude Propagated Pressure Waves and pain in a subset of patients with IBS studied under physiologic conditions.

The underlying pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) appears to involve both increased visceral sensitivity and altered colonic motility. In healthy individuals, colonic motility patterns known as high amplitude propagated pressure waves (HAPPWs) occur approximately 6 times daily. These waves are believed to be the driving force in the colon that generates transit of colonic content over long distances; they appear essential for maintenance of physiologic bowel activity.

In the normal, healthy individual, HAPPWs occur more often in the postprandial period or after awakening, and infrequently occur at night. However, as might be expected, in patients with IBS with diarrhea, there is generally a trend toward an increased number of HAPPWs, whereas in those patients with IBS with constipation, a decreased number of propagated contractions are observed.

Recently, an association was demonstrated between the occurrence of HAPPWs and abdominal cramps in patients with IBS, but these propagated waves were induced by cholecystokinin and a high-calorie meal in a laboratory setting. So, under physiologic conditions, do patients with IBS perceive HAPPWs as painful? Click here for more information...

Constipation and Its Management
Although slow to emerge, major advances have occurred in understanding the causes and management of constipation. It now receives the attention deserved of a symptom that affects a quarter of the population at some time. Most important is the recognition that different pathophysiological processes can result in the final common symptoms of decreased bowel frequency or impaired rectal evacuation. Different clinical syndromes require different therapeutic approaches. Click here for more information...

Indeterminate Colitis - Can Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis Overlap?
A diagnosis of Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) is based on a combination of clinical, histologic, endoscopic, and radiologic data. The distinction between UC and CD can be difficult because of the lack of a differentiating single gold standard. Indeterminate colitis (IC) was introduced by pathologists for the diagnosis of surgical colectomy specimens showing an overlap between the features of UC and CD. Click here for more information...

Familial Occurrence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Celiac Disease
This case-control study shows that there is a significantly increased prevalence of familial ulcerative colitis in patients with celiac disease. There was no significant increase in the prevalence of Crohn's disease in patients with celiac disease. The possible role of this association is discussed in the study. Click here for more information...

Looking for the latest IBS research and news?
Click here for the IBS Newsletter Archive

Herbs as Medicine for IBS
"What about herbal remedies for IBS symptoms? Do they really work?"

The idea that herbs are nature's medicines is especially true when it comes to IBS. According to the American Botanical Council, whose mission continues the historical tradition of disseminating scientific information that promotes the safe and effective use of medicinal plants, several herbs are particularly effective digestive aids for IBS. One is an exceptional stand-out for its multi-symptom effectiveness: peppermint. This herb is safe for daily use and has no risk of short- or long-term side effects, which is a terrific plus when you compare it to prescription drugs.

Peppermint has pain-killing properties that have been recognized for millenia. Menthol and methyl salicylate are the main active ingredients of peppermint. 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, which are mediated, in part, through activation of kappa-opioid receptors, which help block pain signal transmission.

Peppermint is extremely useful for indigestion, gastrointestinal spasms, and menstrual cramps. It is anti-bacterial, increases gastric juices, and relieves gas, nausea, vomiting, and morning sickness. Peppermint also contains essential oils that stimulate the gallbladder to secrete its store of bile, which the body uses to digest fats. This makes peppermint a wonderful digestive aid for heavy meals. It also improves the function of the muscles that line the stomach and intestines, relieves diarrhea, and has a calming, numbing effect on the entire GI tract.

One of the easiest and most effective way to use peppermint for IBS is to brew it (fresh or dried) with boiling water into hot tea (do not actually boil the herb in water as this can destroy its volatile oils, and thus its effectiveness). Peppermint tea can ease IBS symptoms virtually immediately; from the first sip to the end of the cup you should feel a significant improvement. It's important to try and find the freshest, largest-leaf cut dried peppermint available to brew your tea. The volatile oils in the mint, which will give the medicinal effects, evaporate with age and degrade quickly when the leaves are finely cut. Bulk loose peppermint is always preferable to tea bags, as it will be a higher quality and potency. Organic is a good choice as well.

Because peppermint tea is most effective when you're in the habit of drinking several strong cups each day, it's helpful to buy it in quantities large enough to last through a month or two of daily use. This usually means buying the mint in bulk (or you'd be going through more than a box of tea bags a week, which is very expensive), but this isn't an option at most grocery stores.

To this end, I've developed Heather's Organic Peppermint Tummy Tea. This tea is quite noticeably stronger than your typical peppermint tea bag, not just in minty aroma and flavor, but in its medicinal strength as well. The tea has a volatile oil quantity of 2%, which is exceedingly high (twice as high as that of many tea bags), and it's a very large leaf cut (too large for tea bags), which means that it is stronger and fresher to begin with, and it will also stay that way for a longer period. The tea is sealed in airtight bags in 1 lb. quantities (equal to more than 10 boxes of teabags), so you have a generous quantity on hand. The idea behind the Tummy Tea is to give an ample supply of the herb, so you can feel free to use it liberally both in terms of brewing strength (try 2 full tablespoons per cup) and frequency. As with most herbs for IBS, peppermint works best when you're using it regularly, not saving it for special occasions.

Peppermint is actually such a powerful smooth muscle relaxant that it can trigger GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) or heartburn in people who are susceptible. If you're prone to these upper GI problems, avoid peppermint tea and try another terrific option: enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules.

Peppermint oil capsules are meant to be taken before or in between meals, to help prevent IBS symptoms in the first place. Peppermint capsules are specially coated so they don't dissolve in the stomach (which could trigger heartburn); instead, they dissolve in the intestines, where they act as a muscle relaxant and pain killer. Because the capsules use peppermint oil, which is extremely potent, they're often amazingly helpful. As they don't take an effect until they've passed partially through your digestive tract, they have a more delayed reaction than peppermint tea, so it's actually helpful to use both the tea and capsules on a daily basis; they'll work far better together than either one will alone.

Peppermint capsules have been proven highly effective (and safe) in several clinical trials, including some of the few IBS studies ever conducted that focused specifically on children with IBS. I've personally used peppermint tea for years but hadn't tried the capsules until quite recently. I've been completely astonished by how effective they are, even under some pretty trying circumstances (including severe menstrual cramps, which the caps also helped a great deal). They have worked much better for me than any of the prescription anti-spasmodic drugs I've ever tried, and without a single side effect.

I've added enteric-coated Peppermint Capsules to the new IBS store, in a formulation that has not just pure peppermint oil but also ginger and fennel oil. Ginger is helpful for a wide variety of gastrointestinal ailments ranging from simple indigestion to severe nausea and cramps, it contains very powerful digestive enzymes, acts as an anti-spasmodic, helps prevent vomiting, and improves the tone of intestinal muscles. Fennel has anti-spasmodic properties and it stimulates the production of gastric juices. It's useful for gastrointestinal and menstrual cramps, diarrhea, colic, heartburn, indigestion, and stomachaches. Fennel is also exceptionally beneficial for bloating and gas, and if those symptoms are your primary concern, the new Heather's Organic Fennel Tummy Tea should be very helpful. Heather & Company for IBS, LLC is dedicated to serving people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Our mission is to provide education, support, and products that allow people with IBS to successfully manage their symptoms through lifestyle modifications.

We offer extensive information and tangible help for IBS, including the world's best-selling and best-reviewed books for the disorder. We provide the internet's top IBS web site resources; a twice-monthly IBS Newsletter; seminars and classes; dietary brochures for patient distribution by health care professionals; an IBS Research Library; and Heather Cooks!, a healthy cooking show on Seattle television. Much of our work is based on Heather's development of the first and only comprehensive IBS dietary guidelines and recipes, an achievement which has earned numerous awards and accolades as well as thousands of thank you letters from IBS sufferers.

Heather & Company also provides the only patient-expert moderated IBS Message Boards on the internet with forums for diet, recipes, hypnotherapy, yoga, plus Crohn's and Colitis. In addition, we support and coordinate the formation and continuation of local in-person IBS support groups across the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. We will soon have other IBS services and products available.

Our websites receive over 900,000 visits each year, and our newsletter is sent to over 18,000 people. Every month over one thousand new people join our email list. We are regular exhibitors at the Digestive Disease Week and American Dietetic Association conferences.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for the message boards and this newsletter for companies and/or products that have been legitimately established as helpful for digestive disorders. Please click here to contact us for information.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER - This email is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Any application of the recommendations in this email is at the reader's discretion. Heather Van Vorous and Heather & Company for IBS, LLC are not liable for any direct or indirect claim, loss or damage resulting from use of this email and/or any web site(s) linked to/from it. Readers should consult their own physicians concerning the recommendations in this email.

© 2003 Heather & Company for IBS, LLC. All rights reserved.

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