Is There a Cure For Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common gastrointestinal disorder and the worldwide prevalence is roughly between 9 and 20%. In the USA it is between 10 and 15%. It is the most common condition seen by a Gastroenterologist. In the USA, the cost when the indirect cost such as loss of productivity and absenteeism are included is over 21 billion dollars annually.

In the past consuming more fibre was the best advice family doctors gave to their IBS patients. Today we know that some fibre can make IBS symptoms worse. There is no one drug available that works for IBS patient and most IBS sufferers are disappointed with the treatment and care they get from their family practitioners. The common advice given to them is to live with IBS the best way they can and control stress. Disillusioned sufferers turn to alternative treatments and over the counter medications hoping for improvement and in the process spend a lot of hard earned money for little or no gain.

Is there a cure for IBS? The straightforward answer is no. There are, however, several things you can do to live your life with IBS under your control. We now know a lot more about IBS, foods triggers, visceral hypersensitivity, gut motility, serotonin and probiotics to find ways and means to gain significant improvement of all the symptoms of IBS. There is no cure but with the current knowledge and research, there is no reason why we cannot live a life free from all the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Family doctors now refer IBS patients to a dietician who will give good advice on the right diet to follow. The diet they will advise is a low FODMAP diet.

In 2005, Gibson and Shepherd at Monash University published the first FODMAP research results. They studied the effect of FODMAPs on functional gut disorder and found that a low FODMAP diet provided improvement in gut symptoms. Since then further research has given us clear guidance on the foods to avoid for better quality of life with IBS.

76% of patients with IBS improve with a low FODMAP diet (Staudacher et al). It, therefore, should be the first line of treatment for all IBS sufferers along with gluten free foods.

FODMAPs is an acronym for fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharides and polyols and these include fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols. The general advise is to avoid all foods containing FODMAPs and then gradually introduce FODMAPs in stages to isolate the groups of food that produce symptoms.

In addition, research show that hypnotherapy is best long term treatment for IBS. Hypnotherapy improves all the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Peter Whorwell, Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology in Manchester University’s Medical School has used Gut Directed Hypnotherapy for IBS for over 20 years and has a success rate of over 70%. He considers it significantly superior to other treatment because it controls all of the symptoms of IBS.

Hypnotherapy will work only if the hypnotherapist can drop the brainwave down to theta level. This is not always possible. Professor Ernest Lawrence Rossi noted that less than 35% of people are hypnotisable. The rest can achieve a hypnotic state by added stimulation that results in brain entrainment.

In theory, every IBS sufferers can use affirmations after dropping down to theta brainwave level by hypnotherapy or the use of sounds and beats, to gain lasting control of all the symptoms of IBS. After this method of treating IBS, sufferers are able to eat foods that were previously triggers. This is as good as cure for IBS.

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