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Irritable Bowel Syndrome 
(IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disease of the digestive system. It is characterized by a group of symptoms that can vary in severity and duration, but typically include abdominal pain, bloating, changes in bowel habits (such as diarrhea, constipation, or both), and an overall sense of discomfort or distress in the abdomen.

IBS is a functional disorder, which means that there are no structural abnormalities or visible signs of disease in the digestive tract. The exact cause of IBS is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of factors including abnormal gut motility, heightened sensitivity of the intestines, changes in the gut microbiome, inflammation, and disturbances in the communication between the brain and the gut (known as the gut-brain axis).

IBS is a chronic condition that can significantly impact a person's quality of life, causing physical discomfort and emotional distress. Symptoms can be triggered or worsened by various factors, including certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, and certain medications.

DIAGNOSING IBS

 

A diagnosis typically involves a thorough evaluation of symptoms, medical history, and physical examination. It is typically diagnosed based on the presence of characteristic symptoms and the exclusion of other underlying conditions through appropriate tests and investigations.

Conventional treatment for IBS focuses on managing and alleviating symptoms, This may involve lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, stress management techniques, medications to target specific symptoms, and other supportive therapies such as probiotics or psychological therapies.

Functional medicine has been a game-changer for my IBS. Through comprehensive testing and tailored interventions, I have experienced a reduction in bloating, pain, and irregular bowel movements. I feel empowered and finally have a roadmap to better gut health.

Carl.

Functional medicine has transformed my life with IBS. Through dietary modifications, gut healing protocols, and stress management techniques, I have regained control over my digestive health. I am grateful for the holistic approach that addresses the underlying factors contributing to my symptoms.

Emma.

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Our Approach to IBS

Our approach to IBS involves a comprehensive and personalised approach to understanding and addressing the underlying factors contributing to the development and persistence of IBS symptoms.

Rather than solely focusing on symptom management, our approach aims to identify and address the root causes of the condition.

Here are some key components of a functional medicine approach to IBS:

  • Detailed assessment: A thorough evaluation of the individual's medical history, symptoms, diet, lifestyle, stress levels, environmental exposures, and any potential triggers or contributing factors is conducted. This helps in identifying potential underlying causes and individualising the treatment plan.

  • Functional testing: We may recommend specialised laboratory tests to assess various aspects of gut health, including the gut microbiome, gut inflammation, food sensitivities, intestinal permeability (leaky gut), and digestive function. These tests can provide valuable insights into the specific imbalances or dysfunctions that may be contributing to IBS symptoms.

  • Personalised dietary modifications: Identifying and eliminating potential trigger foods or food sensitivities specific to the individual can be an important aspect of managing IBS symptoms. We may recommend an elimination diet or other dietary modifications tailored to the indidivudal's needs, taking into account factors such as gut healing, nutrient deficiencies, and optimising digestion.

  • Gut microbiome support: The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in gut health and overall well-being. A functional medicine approach to IBS may involve strategies to support a healthy gut microbiome, such as targeted probiotic supplementation, prebiotics, and dietary changes that promote a diverse and balanced microbial ecosystem.

  • Addressing gut inflammation and intestinal permeability: Inflammation and increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) can contribute to IBS symptoms. Interventions may include targeted supplementation with anti-inflammatory nutrients or other interventions to support gut healing and reduce inflammation.

  • Stress management and lifestyle modifications: Stress can significantly impact IBS symptoms. Implementing stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and addressing lifestyle factors that contribute to stress, can be beneficial in managing IBS symptoms.

  • Individualised treatment plan: Based on the assessment findings and test results, a personalised treatment plan is created that addresses the unique needs and imbalances of the individual. This may involve a combination of dietary changes, targeted supplementation, lifestyle modifications, and other interventions.

It's important to note that each person's experience with IBS is unique, and the treatment approach may vary depending on individual factors.

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The Benefits of Testing for IBS

Functional medicine testing for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can provide valuable insights into the underlying causes and contributing factors of the condition.

 

These tests help to identify specific imbalances, dysfunctions, and triggers that may be exacerbating IBS symptoms.

While not all tests are necessary for every individual, here are some common functional medicine tests that can be used in the evaluation of IBS:

  • Comprehensive Stool Analysis: This test examines the composition of the gut microbiome, checks for the presence of pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, or fungi, assesses digestive enzyme activity, and evaluates markers of inflammation and intestinal health. It provides valuable information about the balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria, which can guide personalized treatment approaches.

  • Food Sensitivity Testing: This type of test helps identify specific food sensitivities or intolerances that may be triggering IBS symptoms. It measures immune reactions to a wide range of common foods and can guide the development of an elimination diet or personalised dietary recommendations.

  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) Testing: SIBO is a condition characterized by an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. It can contribute to IBS symptoms. Breath testing is commonly used to detect the presence of excessive bacteria in the small intestine by measuring levels of hydrogen and methane gases produced by the bacteria.

  • Nutritional Testing: Comprehensive nutritional testing can assess nutrient deficiencies, imbalances, and functional status. Deficiencies in certain nutrients, such as vitamin D, magnesium, or zinc, can impact digestive health and contribute to IBS symptoms.

  • Hormone Testing: Hormonal imbalances, such as imbalances in thyroid hormones or sex hormones, can influence digestive function and contribute to IBS symptoms. Hormone testing can provide insights into these imbalances and guide targeted interventions.

It's important to note that functional medicine testing should be used in conjunction with a comprehensive evaluation of symptoms, medical history, and other clinical assessments. The results of these tests, combined with a thorough understanding of the individual's health and lifestyle factors, help guide the development of a personalised treatment plan to address the underlying causes of IBS and improve symptoms.

If you're feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start in addressing your gut symptoms, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Our team is here to help you navigate through the confusion and develop a personalised treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

We have experience in uncovering the root causes of gut issues and can guide you towards optimal gut health. Contact us today to begin your journey towards better digestive well-being.

"Listen to your gut, it knows more than you think."

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