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.

Thoughts?

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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