IBS And the Gut-Brain Connection

Today we are going to explore Irritable Bowel Syndrome known as IBS. 

Welcome to the podcast Fibromyalgia Real Solutions with Amanda Love. You are listening to episode 8 I am talking about IBS today because most people with fibromyalgia suffer from  IBS. By the way, you can listen to this podcast wherever you are in the world and at any time that you wish. I always include show notes for those with “ brain fog” so you don’t have to take notes.

   I do believe that there is a lot of information both good and bad out there about fibromyalgia. As an educator who specializes in this area, I think it is my job to point out to you that beneficial information can be organized in a fashion that will reduce the symptoms of this malady. 

    My name is Amanda Elise Love and  I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 9 years ago which influenced my decision to enter the field of nutrition and now I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who works with those who are suffering from fibromyalgia.

     To understand what IBS  is, it is best to compare it to inflammatory bowel disease or IBD which is actually a condition that a doctor can diagnose while  IBS is an intestinal issue that a doctor can’t diagnose. The IBS diagnosis is one that a doctor can’t give until they have tested for everything else and those tests are all negative. However, that doesn’t mean that IBS is any less real or less difficult for those who struggle with it.  IBS is basically a group of symptoms with an origin that can not be identified. It is interesting to note that almost 40 percent of people who visit their doctor state they have gastrointestinal problems. It is estimated that 60 million Americans suffer from IBS. This is a disturbing number for doctors and their patients because without addressing the root cause they can’t do much more than mask the symptoms. 

Here are a few symptoms of IBS   

 A change in stool composition 

Chronic constipation or diarrhea,

Abdominal cramping, especially after meals,

Excessive gas 

Severe stomach pain

Nausea

And mucus in the stool 

   Other symptoms may include headache, fatigue, insomnia and muscle pain. These symptoms, for those with IBS, are chronic lasting for at least 3 to 6 months out of the year. So you can see symptoms like these can be very debilitating. 

  It was previously thought, erroneously, that IBS was psychosomatic and a problem caused by a real or perceived stress that was all in the head. But there is a problem here as it implies that a person can control their symptoms or think their way out of it. However, those with IBS know this isn’t the case. 

   So doing away with that theory IBS is classified today as a gut-brain axis problem. Researchers recognize that the gut-brain axis is bidirectional communication pathway and that IBS is caused by a combination of things that can disrupt the nervous system in the gut, the production of digestive enzymes and the muscular reflex system. The root cause of IBS can be SIBO which is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, food intolerances, leaky gut, parasites living in the gut, yeast overgrowth, zinc or magnesium deficiency, or heavy metal toxicity. So, the common disruption of the nervous system and reflex is why IBS is categorized as a gut-brain axis dysfunction. 

So what does the gut-brain axis mean? To repeat the gut-brain axis refers to bi-directional connections between the brain and the gut. We also have a nervous system in the gut called the enteric nervous system. This is part of the autonomic nervous system which controls all muscle contractions and reflexes that happen during digestion. 

IBS is considered to be a disturbance in the autonomic nervous system. What used to be considered, motility dysfunction is now looked at as a  breakdown of communication between the gut and the brain. The result is hypersensitivity, meaning the body starts responding to stimuli that normally would be difficult.  

This may sound weird but scientists today believe that the gut is a second brain. It has more neurons than the brain and the spinal cord put together. In fact, there are 100 million neurons in the small intestine alone. 

A neuron is a nerve that communicates and transmits information throughout the body that acts as a control panel, sending signals to other neurons- except now, we know that our control panel isn’t located in one central place -there’s a control panel in the gut too.

Neurons communicate with other nerve cells by neurotransmitters. You can think of it like a game of telephone, where a message is passed down a line of people from one individual to the next, each person receiving that message through their ears before communicating it along. The brain sends all kinds of essential signals, or neurotransmitters, which tell the body really important messages, like instructing your heart to beat. And, as we have been saying,  the gut is the biggest sensory organ, so it has a lot to say.  

    There are about 20-30 various neurotransmitters in the brain. The gut has this same variety. If you think of neurotransmitters as the language through which neurons communicate, then your gut has a similar ability to communicate with as many words as the brain. And, it appears to be as equally complicated as equally smart. Overall, only 1,200 nerve fibers connect the brain to the gut. Such a small number is part of why scientists believe the gut it has a mind of its own.

  At this point, you may be starting to see the complexity of the gut function. What we do know is that IBS is a group of symptoms, not a specific disease with a name.  While there is numerous root cause for IBS, the underlying connection is that they all involve dysfunction in the gut-brain axis. Of paramount importance in managing IBS is deep healing of the gut so that the gut is producing the right enzymes, neurotransmitters, and stress receptors. We know that gut health and mental health are more connected than we thought. 

     Sufferers of IBS need information and support to improve their condition. This is possible through changes in their foods while avoiding those foods that are harmful, supplements and lifestyle changes. With an improvement in overall health, people will begin to feel much better. 

For you, the information here is a few suggestions for supplements to begin the healing of the intestine. 

  1. Acidophilus  Suggested Dosage -As Directed on the label. To replenish the “friendly “bacteria. Needed for digestion and for the manufacture of the B vitamins. Use a nondairy formula.
  2. Essential Fatty acids (flaxseed oil or primrose oil) Suggested Dosage -As Directed on label  Needed to protect the intestinal lining. 

Before we dive into the THIRD suggestion I want to remind all of you.  To please leave a comment! Next week I’m doing a giveaway for Fibromyalgia Journal and I can’t wait for you to grab it. You’ve had to leave a review on my podcast and the winner is announced on my  NEXT SHOW! 

  1. Colostrum  Suggested Dosage – As directed on the label. Heal’s intestinal lining and aids in nutrient absorption. 

Also, consult with a physician to receive help with controlling the IBS symptoms. 

I will be talking about Food choices for IBS In Episode 9. So don’t miss out on episode 9. 

I love sharing these episodes with you and have been SO excited about all the listeners and feedback you’re sending me. Subscribe (which is free on Itunes), share and get all of the people you know who need this support to listen! Did ANYONE thing resonate with you today? If so leave it in the comments – that helps us create even more amazing shows for you! Next week we’re going to continue on IBS where I will share foods to heal the gut, foods that irritate the gut, supplements and lifestyle changes that will help restore the balance in the gut. See you next week and thanks for being here. Like, share, and comment – and listen for the winner to our leave a comment contest next week! 

 Looking forward to talking with you soon for the  9th full episode where I discuss irritable bowel syndrome Part two. 

1 Comment

  1. Virginia Creason on July 27, 2019 at 7:08 PM

    I have bowel problems and have been told it is insufficient pancreas also been told before it was I s and not getting better. I do have Fibromyalgia and have for over 49 years and also diabetes. This reading sounds like me. Just found these scripts and hope to read more

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