Case Study: Irritable Bowel

Samantha came to see me after struggling with irritable bowel syndrome for nine months.  Samantha’s main symptoms were frequent loose stools, severe abdominal bloating and flatulence.  She was extremely distressed by these symptoms, due to their intensity and duration.

The abdominal bloating and discomfort became progressively worse as the day went on; so much so that by the evening Samantha said she looked 6 months pregnant. She said to me “I can’t leave the house at night because none of my clothes fit. It’s a good thing I live alone because the amount of gas I pass each night after dinner would drive everyone away”.

Samantha had seen her local GP about these symptoms and was referred to a gastroenterologist to rule out serious pathology.  Nothing abnormal was detected and Samantha was diagnosed with IBS.  The gastroenterologist suggested Samantha may want to try a low FODMAP diet and left it at that.

Samantha had done a quick internet search on low FODMAP diets but felt quite overwhelmed, so she wanted some personalised help.

After asking Samantha to complete a dietary questionnaire I discovered that her diet is based on wheat and milk.  Nearly every meal and snack contains both of those foods.  In my experience, gluten and dairy products are the biggest offenders in producing IBS symptoms.  I asked Samantha to completely avoid all dairy products and gluten for one month and return at that time for another consultation.  People with weak digestion usually have trouble digesting certain types of fiber in vegetables – known as FODMAPS. I asked Samantha to avoid onions, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower for the moment, because those foods are particularly high in FODMAPS and they do have a bad reputation for causing gas. Once her digestion improves, she will probably be able to digest FODMAPS again.

I gave Samantha BactoClear capsules, in order to reduce the levels of pathogenic organisms in her gut that caused bloating and gas.  I also gave her a glutamine supplement, to restore the integrity of her intestinal lining, give her symptom relief and reduce inflammation in her gut.  When she finished the BactoClear capsules, Samantha was to take the probiotic Floratone, to restore levels of good bacteria in her bowel.  I made sure she was not consuming any carbonated beverages, chewing gum or artificially sweetened foods.

I asked Samantha to take digestive enzymes with every meal. Supplementing with enzymes is a very effective way of alleviating symptoms of gas and bloating. The enzymes would help Samantha to digest her food more effectively. This means undigested food wouldn’t sit around in her intestines and provide food for unfriendly bacteria, which create gases.

Samantha returned one month later with a significant reduction in symptoms.  Her stool was much better formed and she was only having two bowel movements a day.  Flatulence and bloating were greatly reduced.  She noticed some bloating and flatulence whenever she consumed almonds, and if she ate too much gluten free bread.  Several of my patients have reported a sensitivity to almonds, therefore I asked Samantha to eat other types of nuts in small quantities and watch for a reaction.  I told Samantha that the majority of gluten free bread is made of high glycemic index grains and therefore high in sugar.  Ideally it would be an occasional food, and she is better off basing her diet on naturally gluten free foods such as vegetables, seafood, poultry, eggs, meat, and fruit, along with small amounts of nuts and seeds, and good fats.  She found this eating plan quite acceptable and was thrilled with the symptom relief it offered her.

The above symptoms have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.