Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: [No Name Given]
Posted on: June 6, 1998

What do you suggest for abdominal pain almost continuous for two years? This is accompanied by constipation, bloating, gas, nausea, hypoglycemic symptoms, weakness, and fatigue. My daughter is now 17. Two years ago, she had an episode of diarrhea that would not stop. After five days, I gave her one Immodium, and these symptoms started and have gotten worse since then.The MDs have done test after test and found nothing, so the diagnosis now is Irritable Bowel syndrome. She is on Fiber three times a day, Sorbitol once a day, Docusate three times a day, as well as vitamins (Centrum), Lo-estrin (birth control pills for dysmenorrhea), and Claritin (for allergies). Her symptoms are not much better.

I suggest that you ask your doctor or pharmacist for information on the possible side effects and cautions of the drugs your daughter is taking. Examples are: Oral contraceptives can cause abdominal pain and nausea; Claritin can cause nausea, fatigue and intestinal problems; Docusate is a laxative that is not recommended in cases of nausea, bloating or abdominal pain. A Naturopathic doctor can recommend safe alternatives for some of these drugs given the full history of your daughter’s health and cooperation with your doctor.

Dysmenorrhea (painful periods) can be caused by stress or nutrition, both of which could result from your daughter’s intestinal problems. Herbal preparations for dymenorrhea recommended by Rosemary Gladstar in "Herbal Healing for Women" (available at Richters) include Valerian for relief from anxiety and tension, Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) is a pain reliever, fresh ginger root is a circulatory stimulant and Cinnamon is warming and stimulating. Gladstar’s dietary recommendations are to exclude sugar products, refined, processed food, fried or salty food, soft drinks and caffeine. Foods to be increased are fresh, raw fruits and vegetables and high quality protein such as fish, fowl and soy protein. Supplements recommended include essential fatty acids such as in Evening Primrose Oil.

Dietary recommendations for irritable bowel syndrome are similar: avoid tea, coffee, processed and sweetened food. Irritable bowel can be brought on by stress, anxiety, food allergies (dairy products being a common allergen) or parasites. A combination of herbal remedies can be chosen from the following depending on the symptoms experienced: Valerian is effective in calming anxiety and tension, useful to stabilize the nerves to allow healing; German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a calming, digestive herb that is particularly effective for intestinal inflammation; Hops is a sedative especially effective for intestinal pain and also aids digestion; Calendula officinalis is anti-inflammatory, anti-protazoal, anti-spasmodic and healing to infection and ulceration; if diarrhea is present, a tannin containing herb such as Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) or Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) astringes the intestinal lining to stop diarrhea (the astringent action of tannins prevents absorption of nutrients, so should be given an hour before or after meals and other medication); Echinacea to stimulate the immune system; if mucous diarrhea is not present, mucilage containing Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva) is soothing and healing to the digestive tract; if mucous is present, plantain (Plantago major) or Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) helps to dry up the mucous; Dandelion root, which can be taken as dandelion coffee, is a liver tonic that improves metabolism of foods and elimination of toxins. From the list of herbs for dysmenorrhea, above, Cramp bark will relieve the pain of irritable bowel, cinnamon is astringent and aids digestion, and Ginger is a warming digestive to be used when there is no intestinal inflammation.

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