Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for IBS/GERD

Apple Cider Vinegar has a lot of buzz going for it on the Internet and the natural health circuit. It can reportedly help with all sorts of problems ranging from gout to heartburn to weight-loss. While a lot of these claims haven’t been proven, I decided to give it a try.

Vinegar is fermented apple juice thanks to yeast helping to breakdown the apple juice to an alcohol & then bacteria break that down into the sour acidic substance we know. Most commercial vinegar we see in supermarket shelves has been filtered & pasteurized, possibly even distilled(clear). If you’re looking for health benefits then you’ll want to skip those & look for Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar. Filtered & pasteurized ciders have had all their “goodness” boiled or strained out of them. Continue reading “Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for IBS/GERD” »

While this isn’t directly digestion related, I am here with a terrible pain in my mouth due to the evils of oral sores(may also be called canker sores) & it’s kinda the only thing on my mind right now. Not only do I have one sore, but I actually have two, on top of having two sores, they are both on my tongue! Normally I do not get sores on my tongue, but I guess I am just super lucky this time around. I thought I was getting over the one on the back-bottom of my tongue, only to accidentally bite down on my the front of my tongue, causing another sore to form. So instead of hearing about my woes, let’s get down to some basics and try to think of solutions to these sores, as I am sure if you’ve dealt with them, you already know that they’re a pain in the but… mouth…

Continue reading “Preventing and Treating Oral Sores” »

What Are Digestive Enzymes And Do They Help IBS?

Digestive enzymes are proteins that have the function of breaking down different types of food matter. Different enzymes work on different types of food matter.

Enzymes are important for the proper digestion of our food. Most people are capable of producing enough enzymes on their own, thus adding more may not be of much benefit. However, adding more usually doesn’t do any harm either. It can be hard to tell if you body is deficient at producing enough enzymes, so ultimately it is worth trying. Problems that are occurring in the upper digestive system, could lead to issues later on in the lower digestive system.

I personally did not see major improvement after taking digestive enzymes. At some points I felt a bit more nauseated after taking a digestive enzyme pill before eating, however this probably has more to do with me overeating during these occasions rather than the enzymes causing the problem themselves. Continue reading “Digestive Enzymes & Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS)” »

New Direction For My IBS Treatment

November 19th, 2009 - Written by - 1 comment

New Direction For My IBS Treatment

I am taking another stab at trying to tame my IBS. So I’ve emptied my wallet a bit to invest in some supplements and herbal remedies to see how they’re going to fair. I’ll be sure to relay how they work out in the coming weeks. Continue reading “New Direction For My IBS Treatment” »

When I was dealing with Gastroparesis I suffered from extreme anxiety & had very bad sleep problems. I don’t think anyone wants to be ill like you are with Gastroparesis day in and day out, it will drive a person crazy. Also none of my doctors really wanted to admit at the time that I had a physical problem and were feeding me the line that it was in my head. They could not find anything wrong physically with me, so it of course, had to be mental – this is what doctors like to do when they can’t figure out the problem; blame the patient.

During this time period I did see a real psychiatrist & a counselor to supposedly help me deal with my problems. Perhaps the only useful thing I got out of these visits was the suggestion of meditation. In my view though, meditation can only go so far to help a person who is really suffering from an ailment.  Perhaps it’s just me as I am very analytical & suspicious of things, so it’s hard for me to let go and assume that clearing ones mind & breathing deep is going to result in actual healing. Perhaps though meditation isn’t really meant to be a healing mechanism(though some may have positive results from it), it’s more of a coping mechanism.

My counselor recommended a book called :book-fullcatastrophelivingaff:  written by Jon Kabat-Zinn. I was willing to try anything at the time, so I bought the book. The book is somewhat interesting, it details how Jon helped people in chronic pain use meditation to reduce or alleviate the suffering they were experiencing from it. As for how this helped my gastroparesis situation, unfortunately I can’t give it any accolades there. I was still anxious and suggestions in the book did not really help me a whole lot. Ultimately getting over my gastroparesis(thanks possible to a :bcomplexaff:) allowed me to greatly reduce my anxiety & slowly get off of Prozac. I am sure people who recover from illness or injury feel a great deal of mental relief, unfortunately this doesn’t happen for everyone though.

The book was not all lost on me though. The deep breathing exercises, which arguably are one of the fundamentals of the book and of meditation in general, do indeed help me out from time to time. Just last night I was feeling a little bloated & the stomach was gurgling while lying in bed getting ready to sleep. I placed my hand on my stomach, breathed in deeply expanding the stomach, breathed out slowly retracting the stomach. I repeated this multiple times. This technique did help quite a bit. I am not sure if it was the mind easing off of the discomfort or perhaps the expansion of my stomach helped it digest better. Regardless, it did help.

Ultimately others may find meditation more useful than I have. Perhaps it’s my mind set, I am usually always pondering stuff and thinking of different fixes for my IBS or my life in general or other people’s lives… It’s hard to just let go. I do like relaxation though, light music, warm room, warm tea, resting… Very comfortable. Digestive sufferers should set aside some time to do something peaceful & quiet, to help the soul & the body. Perhaps it’s a warm bath or shower or reading a book. Though it’s understandable if this is difficult to do for some. Life already has enough drama in it, adding IBS or some other illness on top of it, just makes things that much harder to handle. Hopefully though, everyone out there will find some relaxation and comfort, at least once in awhile.

Vitamin D & Irritable Bowel Syndrome

October 21st, 2009 - Written by - 8 comments

Vitamin D & Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Was browsing over @ & found a blog post by user ‘absoluterob’ about Vitamin D deficiency. It is an interesting post on how Vitamin D can help reduce inflammation. Vitamin D is known as ”the sunshine vitamin” since most people produce it naturally by being out in the sun. I don’t get a whole lot of sunlight during my day & a lot of people in the northern hemisphere probably don’t get a lot either. Besides helping with inflammation it also helps with mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder which is basically seasonal depression is suspected to be caused partially by a lack of sunlight/Vitamin D production. So overall it would seem like supplementing Vitamin D would be a wise idea. Continue reading “Vitamin D & Irritable Bowel Syndrome” »

Canker Sores
Canker sores/ulcers are raw “wounds” that usually form on the interior of the mouth in front of your lower gums or sometimes along the interior cheek area, though they can pop up almost anywhere. I’ll sometimes get one on the bottom of my tongue which feels quite a bit different than one on the interior of my mouth. My tongue is sore, but I don’t get the sharp intense pain usually associated with a sore on the interior oral surfaces. Usually they’re triggered by slight trauma to the area spurring on the growth. They’ll usually start small and get bigger, then eventually recede and disappear within about 1 – 2 weeks. Unfortunately until that happens they are very painful and sensitive.

I myself have suffered with canker sores since I was very young. I remember getting them when I was 6 or 7. My mom had a tendency to get them when she was younger, but kind of grew out of it and no longer gets them actively, although she does have some considerable auto-immune disease issues. My brother has rarely ever had one. The source of these sores is unknown. It does not appear to be a Herpes based virus causing it, but probably more along the lines of an autoimmune issue. Though the link between the two isn’t conclusive and autoimmune disorders seem to be a blanket statement for a lot of unexplainable maladies in the health field.

Another big factor is stress and lack of sleep. Recently I’ve had some stressful situations in my life and also have not been getting much sleep. This probably played a part in why my recent sores developed.

The link with IBS comes up because when I have an oral sore flare up, I usually notice that my digestive health suffers as well. My symptoms are more amplified. I am easily fatigued and more irritable as well.

As far as treatment for oral sores go, I’ve found the best treatment is keeping up oral hygiene. My guess is that bacteria in the mouth will attack the open sore and cause more pain. So it is worth it to try to bush and swish with mouthwash as usual, if not more so.

There is also a link between the amino acid Lysine being helpful. Lysine has been somewhat helpful to me before, but unfortunately it also seems to cause digestive distress as well, causing constipation. You may have a different experience and it’s certainly worth a try if you feel a sore coming on and even afterward.

I have tried some of the over the counter remedy gels which are god awful expensive. They really did not make any difference in healing time. There are also numbing agents like Ambesol, which vary in their effectiveness and can really hurt while applying them. They also can make your mouth feel weird or cause funny tastes due to the numbing agent & how they have it flavored.

One tactic that actually has worked in the past was to gently brush around and even on top of the sore when it was small. Yes painful sounding, but when they’re starting out they’re not that bad. This would then be followed up by swishing with an anti-septic mouth wash & taking a lysine supplement. I actually prevented a few small sores from getting very big and they disappeared within a few days rather than taking two weeks. This did not help much with this most recent flare up as the sores set in pretty quickly and largely.

Psoriasis ( Updated Jun, 2011)
Research suggests that Psoriasis an autoimmune related disease. Depending on the type of Psoriasis, symptoms may vary from small mildly flaky & itchy skin to large areas of severe itching, flaking, burning or blistering of the skin coupled with fever, aches & fatigue. Treatment for Psoriasis can range from topical steroidal creams to immunosupressive drugs. Psorasisis can also cause anxiety, depression & self esteem problems. There is no cure for Psoriasis, it is a chronic condition that can be very debilitating. Psoriasis is not contagious.

I initially noticed mild Psoriasis issues on the lower portion of my scalp on the back of my head when I was a teenager. This was around the same time I started experiencing Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. When going to get my hair cut I’d usually get a comment that I had dandruff issues & need special shampoos that never worked. Years later I finally had a doctor look at it & he prescribed a steroidal foam called Luxiq(foamy Betamethasone) which is easier to use on the the scalp where hair can get in the way. I had good results with Luxiq, but it is very expensive if you do not have insurance, up to $300 USD.

I also developed a 2″ patch of flaking, itching & sometimes raw skin on my back. After trying to treat it for many months using over the counter steriods, with diminishing success, I finally got a hold of some Bethamethasone in cream form which obviously worked much better.  Eventually the patch on my back disappeared & has not recurred. I still deal with scalp Psoriasis.

Autoimmune connection

Ultimately there seems to be at least a loose link between IBS, oral sores & psoriasis to autoimmune disorders. There haven’t really been a whole lot of studies linking the three up. I’ve read some other sites on the web about the connection, but a lot of them see to be just be basic outlines on what constitutes IBS or an oral sore. So we’re kind of in the dark. Even if we do find that they are linked there are really only management options available, no cures at this time. Hopefully as medical science progresses there may be more options for treatment. If these are caused by a hereditary link, perhaps gene therapies can be introduced in the future to actually cure or prevent IBS or a whole host of other problems that can occur

NOTE: My story is very long and inclusive, probably has some typos in it too. I will break this down further with time to be more “digestible” ;)

A Summer Trip

My story with IBS starts back in 1996 when I was 13, it was during the summer and my family decided to head out with some friends to do some swimming and have a barbecue. We headed out to some picnic grounds at a nearby park that had a river. Eventually we found our way into the water which was rather cold at the time. We were probably in the water a few hours, eventually the sun started setting and it was time to leave. While I was there we had some hotdogs, potato chips. When we headed back we stopped at a local coffee shop. I started feeling really tired around this time, perhaps it was being in the water all day or perhaps it was a sign of an impending illness, maybe I was just tired. It just stood out that felt a bit exhausted. After we were done the families split up and I and my family headed home. My mom went to bed but my brother and I stayed up to watch “The Gods Must Be Crazy” which was a pretty good film.

I went to bed around midnight. I felt a little bloated/gassy at the time. I attributed it to the food I ate earlier in the day. After lying in bed for awhile I started feeling a lot of pressure, almost as if I had to use the restroom, however usually it was just gas that once released I felt better. This continued to get worse and worse though, so I eventually got up to relieve myself. However upon trying to go to the bathroom nothing was happening. I sat there for awhile reading video game magazines when I started feeling very dizzy and nauseated. I am not one that handles nausea very well and I started to panic due to Emetophobia(more on this in another post) I developed when I had a bad stomach flu as a child. I leave the bathroom still feeling pretty bad. I tell my mom I am not feeling good and she in her sleep haze tells me “well if you’re going to get sick you’re going to get sick, you’ll probably feel better afterwards”. Not the words I wanted to hear!

I head downstairs and turn on the TV to try to distract myself. I start pacing back and forth trying to avoid the nausea. This is when I turn to something I learned from Xena: Warrior Princess when the character Gabrielle(ha!) gets sea sick and Xena tells her to tap her wrists to avoid nausea. This is actually a true technique some sailors recommend. This helped somewhat, but quickly turned into more of a pinching action as that seemed more effective. This is probably not a good habit to get into when feeling ill. The pain involved with the pinching seems distract the mind away from the nausea, but again you’re basically hurting yourself, so it’s not a great idea. I also remembered a technique recommended by a morning talk show guest explaining that eating a salty food like pretzels or potato chips can help combat morning sickness. I didn’t have either pretzels or potato chips, nor was I in the mode for eating them. I did have rock salt on hand and started eating a few granules. Salt would later become a crutch, as crazy as it sounds. Again probably not a healthy habit, but when mortally afraid of getting sick to your stomach, you don’t really care.

After a few hours of late night news, pacing, wrist tapping & salt nibbling the nausea subsided. “I had won” I thought, I was able to go to bed and wake up the next morning feeling pretty good. I was due over at my cousin’s house to spend the night, but decided not to due to feeling so bad the night before. The day went on like normal although later in evening I did have diarrhea, but that too subsided. My feeling is that perhaps there was something in the water we swam in, a parasite or something else which made me ill. A lot of people with IBS note a trigger, such as a flu or food poising which opened the gates to IBS. This is when I feel that the gate to IBS opened for me.

Anxiety & Symptoms Appear

A few weeks passed since the initial incident but I started becoming very anxious around bedtime. There was fear of getting ill again and indeed when lying down sometimes I would start to feel nauseated. Once my mom tried holding the door shut so I’d stay in my room, but I pushed her out of the way to escape! Late night TV/Radio became my friend. I got a big crush on JuJu Chang on ABC’s World News Now.  I basically stopped sleeping in my own room & setup residence in the living room. My room wasn’t really MY room completely anyways it was shared with my brother at the time.  I would also note that  a lot of anxiety I felt also seemed to be geared with life in general. I felt I was missing out on something, somewhere. Family life was not all that great. We were poor, I never really knew my dad, my mom felt overbearing. I was homeschooled, which was on one end a blessing and on the other end somewhat of a curse.

As my late night “escapades” continued, I started developing heartburn, more often. This almost seems to have nothing to do with IBS, but a lot of my initial symptoms were more of the acid reflux kind. Usually I’d get a burning pain in my upper  stomach area along with stomach aches, bloating & excessive belching & nausea.

Doctors Not Much Help

Concerned my mom did take me to see a doctor who prescribed a “stomach thickener” type substance which was in pill form. I can’t remember the name of it, but he did mention that one of the side effects was possibly getting sick to your stomach. This put me off a bit and probably lead to some anxiety regarding the drug. I took it only a few times and the results were mixed at best, sometimes it helped, sometimes it didn’t. Was it the drug or just my symptoms disappearing on their own? I eventually stopped taking it.

I remember at one point, I had a cold or ear infection of some sort. I was prescribed an anti-biotic and this seemed to really flare up heartburn attacks. I made it through the course of anti-biotics, but it was not a pleasant experience and the doctors didn’t really give much advice as to why or what I could do about the heartburn.

Another visit to the doctor a few months later, again about my heartburn problems landed me on Prevacid which is a Proton Pump Inhibitor(makes your stomach produce less acid). This seemed to do wonders for awhile. However one of the side effects is possible diarrhea and this started happening to me. I’d get chronic diarrhea on Prevacid, so I eventually quit it. At one point I tried starting it up again, but with the same results. It was not the be. This was however the start of more of my IBS like symptoms.

Lower Digestive System Starts Acting Wonky & A Bad Crutch Develops

As time progressed my symptoms started to include more of my lower digestive system as well as the upper digestive problems. I started noticing I had to make more trips to the bathroom, stool was not as solid as before or I had diarrhea, feelings of incomplete bowel evacuation, gas, bloating, nausea. None of which was fun. The symptoms would flux and I’d have periods of feeling fine and periods of feeling pretty terrible.

I kind of gave up on doctors at that time and started developing my own coping techniques. My main concern was nausea while out and about. I once tried to help fix the problem by taking some pepto-bismol before heading down to my local library. This seemed to make my situation worse as I started feeling very nauseated and of course this caused me to feel more panicked as it was a long walk home. Again I did not get sick to my stomach, close call though!

Salt actually became my dominate way of coping. I would get a sour/bitter taste in my mouth which would trigger me worrying about getting ill. Salt mixes with sour and neutralizes this flavor. As crazy as it sounds I started carrying around table salt in my pockets. This did lead to some embarrassing moments such as when it’d fall out on to back seats of cars and people would wonder how salt got back there. My friends thought it was just something goofy I was doing. It was actually something more serious and it was really my gateway to being able to function. “Feeling nervous? Feeling sick? You have salt! Take a nibble.” This would help greatly. Perhaps it had as big of a mental affect on me as it did a physical affect.

My symptoms and coping techniques continued for a couple years. I did enroll in half-days at the local high school working int their computer lab. I didn’t have much of a social life, just some friends at school. I did not want to go on trips or be invited out due to IBS issues. Keep in mind most of this time I was not even sure what was wrong with me, if it was possibly all in my head. Even today I sometime wonder, but there have been more grave circumstances I’ve had to deal with regarding my digestion which have lead me to feel that indeed there is probably some underlying physiological malady playing a part.

Life Goals

At the age of 16 I dropped out of high school officially and started working doing technical support at a call center. Call centers would become and still are my main profession. Perhaps it was the best possible profession for someone who has IBS as bathrooms are nearby and you can take a brief break when you need to. Again though, social life didn’t progress much and things I’d like to do became very difficult. Things like taking my GED or getting a drivers license seemed daunting given my symptoms. I did eventually obtain them, however I almost panicked and quit out during the math section of my GED because I started feeling nauseated and started cramping up. This was probably due to my poor choice of eating a microwave burrito before the test.

Bad Food Choices Lead to Embarrassment

A bad food choice before a 20 mile trip to the airport to help drop off one of my mom’s friends caused quite a bit of embarrassment. I had eaten a can of chili before hand and I originally though my brother was going to be going with my mom, not me. However she decided it would be best if I went since I was lighter and the car was unreliable so she felt I’d be less stress on the suspension. I agreed feeling somewhat cocky, however only a few minutes in my nerves started up, my salt was not helping, I eventually translated my nausea into the need to go to the bathroom, which relieved me of the nausea, but I had some of the most intense cramping and urges ever. I was a terrible experience and here it is about 1am in the morning, not many business are open and I am freaking out with a terrible need to use someones restroom. Eventually we find a Texaco and I make it in time. It was a extremely embarrassing.

Another incident I was on a trip to our local coast with my girlfriend and AGAIN food choice plays a part. I had fish & chips a few hours and we were planing on going for a beach walk a few miles from our hotel. I had been feeling bloated the entire trip and felt a slight urge to use the restroom before I left. Having already tried a few times to relieve myself and without I success I ignored it, thinking I am not going to let my wacky digestion control my life. A few minutes later while I am driving and again, I get intense cramping and an urge to go. This is on a coastal highway between cities. I remember there is a WAL-MART in the next city over and eventually get myself to it. The girlfriend had fallen asleep while I was driving a long but eventually awoke as I pulled into the WAL-MART parking lot. I explained my situation and hopped out of the car, without putting it in park, so it started rolling off into another parking space. Luckily the girlfriend was there to get it into park :P! Embarassing, yes. We did laugh about it later. But it was not fun at the time.

You may wonder why I’d eat “bad foods”. Well quite simply it’s hard to tell what is going to trigger your symptoms. Also at those times I was still in denial. I wanted to be normal and most people want to have normal lives with IBS but it has morphed into something all consuming.

My Future

Over the years I have visited quite a few doctors and tried different things, both pharmaceutical and natural. I have no silver bullet and still face many of the same challenges I’ve faced over the last 13 years. I am going to continue to post more information and reviews about some of the products I’ve tried to help relieve my symptoms, as well as just my general life experiences.

*Just as an FYI I have had multiple tests done for things like celiac or Helicobacter Pylori, also have had upper and lower endoscopies done with nothing wrong except for an esophageal hernia which my gastro doctor poo poo’d.

Hello, my name is Gabriel. I am a 25 year old male who has been dealing with IBS(irritable bowel syndrome) since I was 13. Over the years I’ve tried many different things and have talked to many different doctors regarding my symptoms with varying results.

IBS is not always that well understood in the health-care community or society in general. IBS is a chronic condition which leads to all sorts of maladies. It can be hard to discuss with family or friends the problems you experience as most people, understandably, do not discuss their bowel habits. This taboo though leads to people misunderstanding the symptoms and limitations someone with IBS faces. Things like trips or social events become quite daunting & it can greatly interfere with someones life, aspirations & dreams.

This blog is my way of opening up and explaining my story as well as hopefully giving others like me or those who are not, a glimpse into what IBS is like and also things I’ve learned that can help or hurt your situations.

This blog is very new, so I don’t expect a lot of feedback right away, but please feel free to leave me a comment, I’d be happy to reply. :)

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