IBS: Intestinal flora imbalance, anxiety, or both?

As many of you know, I have a spe­cial interest in sup­port­ing digest­ive health, with nat­ur­al meth­ods for obvi­ous reas­ons, as much as possible.

I see a num­ber of patients who have symp­toms of irrit­able bowel syn­drome (IBS) for years. While their symp­toms do not show pos­it­ive test res­ults for a num­ber of con­di­tions, they still feel unwell.

Reading the fol­low­ing art­icle today about IBS, in which the authors and latest research demon­strate that an imbal­ance in intest­in­al microbes (bacterial/​fungal pop­u­la­tions and oth­ers) can be a cause of IBS. The older assump­tions that anxi­ety and mood dis­orders are the causes of IBS may not be correct.

I see this fre­quently in my office, from SIBO and H. pylori infec­tion to para­sites or just a gen­er­al lack of flora in the bowel due to chron­ic anti­bi­ot­ic use, genet­ics, our food qual­ity, the types of foods chosen … you name it. See some of my blog posts on these top­ics! Better yet, you can also read my paper on bowel disease!

In IBS, I also see many people suf­fer­ing and feel­ing anxious because they don’t know when they may next have a flare-up or attack of their symp­toms, or they feel scared to go on long car trips because there is no access to a restroom. People with IBS have symp­toms that oth­ers can­not see, but affects them greatly. I too have exper­i­enced anxi­ety when my stom­ach and bowels were upset, so I don’t think the two con­di­tions are unre­lated. It’s the chick­en or the egg dis­cus­sion; do those suf­fer­ing with irrit­able bowels get anxious because they have uncom­fort­able body sen­sa­tions or do those with anxi­ety get increased activ­ity in their bowels?

In my opin­ion, one is not hap­pen­ing without the oth­er. They all can be hap­pen­ing at once; IBS with a severe glu­ten intol­er­ance, SIBO, gen­er­al anxi­ety due to genet­ics or cop­ing or both — and all of the per­fect con­di­tions to cre­ate imbal­ance in both the digest­ive tract and the entire self. The more we chase one cause for a con­di­tion, the great­er the dis­sec­tion, the less we actu­ally solve.


It’s more of a Venn dia­gram in my under­stand­ing, like this one; health is on a whole spec­trum, and each part is able to affect the whole.

IBS Venn - Plain

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