IBS: Change Your Gut, Change Your Health!

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects between 12-15% of the world’s population. If affects mostly women, and mostly younger than age 50. It is characterized by stomach pain and cramping, gas/bloating, diarrhea or loose stools and/or constipation. Some people alternate between diarrhea and constipation. Other symptoms that are common with the primary symptoms listed above may include nausea, heartburn, reflux or indigestion. However your symptoms exhibit, it can be really uncomfortable and if bad enough, life-changing. I have helped patients that were so bad that they knew where every restroom was in every store and every restaurant they went to. They tried not to go anywhere new, but if they did, the first order of business was to find a restroom. Not a happy way to live!

Whenever I look for causative factors, I tend to look upstream. If a dam breaks and it is barreling down the river, overflowing the banks, we could do everything possible to shore up the sides, but until you manage upstream – the dam – all your efforts are for naught. It is very true when it comes to IBS. So I ask, how is the stomach health? For most people, there lies the key to resolving the issue. I look at the function of the stomach: Do they have heartburn or reflux, are they producing enough enzymes, are they bloated and gassy? Then I start asking “why?” Until I fix the upper gut, I am unlikely to fix the lower gut. Yes, I may be able to manage the symptoms, but it won’t be lasting until I address the upstream problem.

I also have to fix the diet. Many dietary factors trigger IBS. Caffeine, alcohol, pasteurized dairy products, too many raw foods and gluten are the biggest triggers. Sometimes just the elimination of one of them could have a substantial effect on minimizing triggers. That is well and good, however, we still have to fix why those foods are bothering them!

The lower gut also needs to be managed. Is there damage to the gut lining allowing foods normally excreted to be absorbed, causing irritation? Are they consuming irritating foods or drinks? Is their healthy gut flora out of balance, or even practically non-existent because of frequent antibiotic use or other factors? This is another area to be addressed.

Using acupuncture to restore gut function and eliminate the symptoms as a result of the malfunction, along with herbs and dietary tweaks goes a long way in restoring gut health. I was once told that you will never get anyone better if you don’t handle the gut first. Our digestive system is vital to our overall health. IBS isn’t just an annoyance; it could be affecting many other areas of your health.

©2022 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling

Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.

Medical/Health Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article or podcast should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article or podcast. Readers/listeners should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the author, but readers/listeners who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

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