Tuesday, November 8, 2011

origin of IBS: Is it all in your head?

Not so long ago, the only answer you got from a doctor about your IBS symptoms would be "It's in your head, it's stress. Try to relax.". Thanks doc, very easy to do. In the last few years, lots of possible origins of IBS have been discovered (see my article on the origins of IBS ). But recently, some studies suggest that irritable bowel syndrome may indeed be triggered by your own brain. A review of these discoveries, and what we can do to get better.



The evidence

A recent study has proven that traumas play a very important role in the development of IBS. Be it in childhood or adulthood, the way your brain reacts may trigger IBS symptoms. How is that even possible?
There is a natural phenomenon called the brain-gut connection. To sum it up, your brain controls your digestive system, they send messages to each other. It seems that under stressful circumstances, experiencing a trauma for example, wrong messages are sent. For people with IBS, the messages are wrong most of the time. So the brain would have "learnt" to behave wrongly?
How are these messages sent? through neurotransmitters. Serotonin is one of them, and most of the serotonin in your body actually resides in your gut. Studies have showed that IBS-C sufferers had too low serotonin levels, and IBS-D sufferers had too high serotonin levels.

here's another interesting study: People with IBS have a different brain structure than normal patients! How incredible is that? It is not known if the differences are here before the disease appears, or if they develop with the symptoms.

So a plausible theory would be that IBS sufferers badly react to traumas, eventually their brain starts changing, serotonin levels become abnormal, and symptoms appear. With time, as the patient keeps thinking about his/hers IBS, the symptoms get aggravated.
But what can we do, if the origin of IBS resides in our brain? Surely we cannot operate! Well, there are some answers.


But what can I do?

I already mentioned it, but hypnotherapy could really be the way to go. I've already written about my try on the ibs audio program, and given an introduction to hypnosis for IBS.
In regard to these new discoveries, the hypnotherapy method gains even more weight: its precise role is to re-educate the brain-gut connection.
Here is another study that should finish to convince you: solvingtheibspuzzle.com recently talked about a new paper, stating that 90% had benefits with hypnosis, and 40% got symptom-free!
How can we explain, that by using just our mind, symptoms disappear in such a large group? Maybe the 90% would have become symptom free as well, had they continued hypnosis. There is no answer to that right now, but it sure shows the effectiveness of hypnosis on IBS.
I have therefore decided to have another go at the IBS audio program, we will see if I get better results this time.


I would also like to mention 5-HTP. 5-HTP is the precursor of serotonin, meaning that your body will be able to use it to restore serotonin levels. For IBS-C sufferers, this could be a big help, as they seem to have not so much serotonin. Some people on the forums even claim it can cure IBS (C and D), but if it were the case, there would be thousands of testimonies about it. Start with 50mg a day, you can go up to 300mg a day. Be careful, I gave it a go and ended up with diarrhea and insomnia, it seems that my serotonin levels are high enough.
As many IBS sufferers find relief with anti-depressants, I suggest they consult their doctor about 5-HTP ( do NOT mix anti-depressant with 5-HTP, it's one or the other!). Some people have similar results with it, without all the side-effects this type of medication usually has.

Final note: I am only talking about IBS here. Some people suffer from a misdiagnosed food-intolerance, or SIBO, and think they have IBS. Be sure to get tested!

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