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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is referred to as a “disorder” by doctors and not a disease. People who have been given this diagnosis have frequent stomach pain and discomfort and bowel movements that are irregular in some way. It’s a catch-all term that has been coined for this problem that seems to have no cause and no cure (it is only diagnosed by systematically testing for other diseases and excluding them). But don’t succumb to the IBS diagnosis. There are alternative treatment strategies available and lifestyle changes that can bring relief from this “disorder”. But before you start cutting things out of your diet or trying prescription medication, consider doing a parasite cleanse using herbs like wormwood, cloves, and black walnut. Intestinal parasites can cause many of the same symptoms as IBS. Doctors say that IBS is caused by irregular movement of the intestine as food is being digested. Thus, it is a “functional” disorder (meaning that the intestines aren’t functioning properly). In the 1950’s when IBS was first introduced and doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with their patients using surgeries, scopes, lab tests, or ultra-sound a consensus was developed that the problems was “in the patient’s head”. Indeed, stress can cause the intestines to behave strangely and IBS can be caused by anxiety and stress, but the implication was that the pain and discomfort was imagined, which was insulting to patients. Some patients experienced relief from their IBS symptoms following the colonic cleanse required for a colonoscopy because their real affliction was a parasitic infection that was expelled from the body prior to the scope. Some patients may have food allergies or sensitivities to wheat or dairy. Most doctors won’t mention diet as a possible cause of IBS because doctors are usually uneducated about nutrition. They take one nutrition class during their undergraduate days and never revisit the idea that food could cause symptoms for the rest of their days in school. Women tend to develop the symptoms associated with IBS more often than men. As many as 15% of the entire population suffers from IBS. If you have regular and persistent tummy troubles and your doctor says you have IBS, consider doing a parasite cleanse using an herbal formula, or visiting an acupuncturist or a holistic practitioner who will help you make lifestyle changes to get your belly back on track. My husband was diagnosed with IBS when he was still in our 20’s, but in fact, he had intestinal... read more

What is cystitis?

Cystitis is a swelling or inflammation of the bladder wall. According to popular medical web sites, the bladder can become inflamed for a variety of reasons: -infection -irritation -general inflammatory response in the body -stress -hormonal changes -other reasons that have not been acknowledge by modern medicine yet (like intestinal parasites–see my article Can Interstitial Cystitis be cured? for more information.) When cystitis is the result of a bacterial infection, it is referred to as a Urinary Tract Infection or UTI and it can be treated with antibiotics, D-Mannose powder, or herbs like Uva Ursi. Basically, the difference between cystitis and Urinary Tract Infection has to do with evidence of infection in the urine. If you don’t have an infection (a UTI), then you just have discomfort or pain (interstitial cystitis) and as far as your doctor is concerned, there is no cause and no cure. If you ask your doctor about the possibility of a parasitic infection, he (or she) will probably scoff at you. There are few diagnostic tests on the market to test for parasites of any kind and the ones that do exist are unreliable. Luckily, you can treat yourself for parasites even if you just suspect that you have them by taking herbs like wormwood, black walnut, and cloves. These herbs are available online at Amazon or at your local Whole Foods of Vitamin Cottage. You can buy AZO test strips to test yourself at home for a UTI caused by a bacterial infection. An antibiotic like Macrobid (also known as Nitrofurantoin) is a good choice because it won’t destroy your intestinal flora, but if you have a more serious UTI infection, Bactrim may be a better choice even though it’s a broad spectrum antibiotic. D-Mannose powder can also cure UTI’s as well as the herb Uva Ursi. You can take D-Mannose powder daily to prevent bacterial bladder infections. It works really well, costs very little, and it doesn’t cause toxic side effects like antibiotics. When cystitis has no known cause, doctors call it “interstitial cystitis” or “painful bladder syndrome”. Western medical doctors in the United States may prescribe phenazopyridine for the pain and irritation of interstitial cystitis, but our medical system offers no cure for the problem. Phenazopyridine just covers up the symptoms temporarily and it can have a negative impact on the kidneys. A lower dose of the same stuff, known as AZO is available over-the-counter. These drugs are really helpful if you can’t figure... read more

Alternative Treatments, Lifestyle Changes, and Home Remedies for Cystitis

Cystitis is one of those diagnoses that people don’t like to talk about. Unfortunately, this works to our disadvantage if we’ve received a taboo diagnosis (like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as another example) with no known cause and no known cure because it’s through word-of-mouth (not your doctor) that you’re most likely to hit upon a combination of treatments that will work for you. It’s taken me many years to discover the root of my cystitis problems. Below are a list of lifestyle changes I made over about a decade’s time to help relieve my cystitis. The one’s listed below made the biggest difference in my symptoms: -Eliminating caffeine -Taking D-Mannose powder every day -Drinking plenty of water -Doing yoga every day (for 5 to 60 minutes, depending on my schedule) -Eliminating dairy (gluten caused swelling in my intestines which put pressure on my bladder) -Eliminating gluten (gluten caused swelling in my intestines which put pressure on my bladder) -Eliminating trans fats (also known as trans fatty acids, they cause increase the acidity of urine) -Taking Vitex Berry (also known as chaste berry. Vitex Berry helps regulate female hormones which seems to help)   Below are alternative medical treatments that I’ve used to help relieve cystitis. All were effective though they didn’t cure the problem: -Acupunture My acupuncturists was a magazine editor who suffered from cystitis. Her doctor couldn’t find a cure, but she went to an acupuncturist and finally found relief. It made such a huge difference in her life that she decided to quit her job and study acupuncture. Her name is Robin and she works at Acupuncture Boulder in Boulder, CO. -Steam Room or Temazcal If you drink plenty of water, the steam room (known as a temazcal in Mexico) can help your body eliminate toxins. This treatment is also worth considering if you suffer from other inflammatory problems like fibromyalgia or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. My favorite temazcal is in Guanajuato Mexico.   The most profound changes for me occurred after I did a parasite cleanse. Apparently, my husband, daughter, and I had been host to hookworms and pinworms, probably for many years. These worms primarily live in the intestines, but they crawl out of your anus at night and, in women especially, sometimes crawl back up inside the wrong hole. Women may suffer from cystitis, menstrual irregularities, or both as a result of parasites. Doctors in the United States aren’t educated about intestinal parasites and prescription medications for worms are especially toxic and... read more

Thinking Holistically about Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome are diagnoses that promise little help to patients in terms of treatment. Cystitis is roughly just a chronic inflammation of the bladder wall. What causes interstitial cystitis is unknown and doctors agree that women’s symptoms vary greatly. According to the Interstitial Cystitis Association, the problem occurs in both men and women and affects 4 to 12 million people in the United States. That’s 3 to 6% of the population. The statistics indicate that women are more prone to being diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, but that may only be because men are more likely to receive a diagnosis of chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Doctors don’t have much to offer patients who receive this diagnosis, but if you’ve been told that you have chronic cystitis don’t give up hope yet. I received my first cystitis diagnosis years ago from a doctor who was irritated with me for showing up in his office without a urinary tract infection (UTI). I was very convinced that I had a UTI, but the tests showed otherwise. I wanted antibiotics, but he refused to give them to me. I went home with no relief from the irritation. Several doctors later, I was at least able to find drugs to relieve the bladder discomfort. This doctor told me about Cystex and AZO. Both drugs worked reasonably well, but cystex didn’t last as long. AZO, on the other hand, turned my pee a very bright yellow. Cystex contained a mild antibiotic which was a plus, in my opinion since sometimes my bladder discomfort turned into a full fledged UTI. This doctor also prescribed a month’s supply of Macrobid (or Nitrofurantoin) to take after having sex as a prophylactic. Around this time, I suddenly developed symptoms of fibromyalgia. Some nights, I could hardly pull the sheets up on my bed to cover myself. My joints had stiffened for what seemed to be no good reason. As a long-distance runner, this scared me enough to make me re-evaluate my lifestyle and what I was putting into my body. I was in my twenties at this time and I was quite fit and high-energy most of the time. I lived on coffee. My exercise routine involved over an hour of exercise every day. My family and I had recently moved to a higher altitude in Colorado Springs. Sometimes, my sweat was so acidic, it would bleach my running clothes. I started to... read more

Thoughts on Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS is a common diagnosis these days and little wonder why. The American diet is hardly conducive to good digestive health! IBS is one of those diagnoses that doctors give patients when they’re tired to trying to find the answers to an upset stomach. It isn’t an acceptable diagnosis in my opinion because there’s no “cure” for IBS and there’s also no known cause (according to doctors). In other words, when your doctor says, “You have IBS,” it’s essentially synonymous with saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” But IBS isn’t an impossible diagnosis and it certainly isn’t worthy of stepping on the drug treadmill. Doctors will often prescribe anti-depressants to treat IBS. Patients then develop new problems including sexual dysfunctions as a result of the anti-depressant medications. Doctors then prescribe additional drugs with new side effects to combat the sexual issues. If you think critically about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it seems probable that diet is a leading cause of the problem. Doctors may mention this fact in passing, but patients are rarely given guidance on how to go about making dietary changes that would diminish their symptoms. Years ago, my husband was given a flexible sigmoidoscopy that ultimately showed nothing causing the symptoms he was experiencing (cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating). The doctor indicated that my husband was probably just imagining his symptoms and prescribed an anti-depressant to take care of the problem. My husband never took the drugs. Instead, we started paying more attention to our diet. For a long time, we couldn’t find anything that was causing his stomach problems. He decided that it was something that he was just going to have to live with. But then, 9/11 happened. Our business went under a couple of months after we bought a new house. We liquidated everything and bought an RV to live out our poverty on the road. We ate a lot of beans and rice. About a year after we started living in our RV, we noticed that my husband’s IBS symptoms were better. Our diet was much simpler by that time. We ate more one-ingredient foods (like red beans or rice) instead of pre-packaged meals. My husband started noticing stomach problems whenever he ate beef. After we realized that my husband’s stomach problems were due to beef consumption (or so we thought at the time), we started reading food labels. We cut trans... read more

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