Yaaaayyyy, there’s a cure for IBS! …AND without drugs, phew. So this must also mean it’s natural. …which must also mean it’s safe?
So what are the 5 steps to curing your IBS, that this guy is promoting?
1. In the video he suggests you should go get IgG tested, or if you can’t afford it, do it yourself by eliminating the most common “food allergies” for 12 weeks – “dairy, gluten, yeast, corn, eggs, soy, peanuts”, then reintroduce to see if you get symptoms.
2. Get your doctor to prescribe Rifaximin, which is a DRUG by the way. And totally conflicts with the title that says they’ll cure IBS without drugs.
In case you’re wondering, because I know you probably are, Rifaximin is an antibiotic. And this guy wants you to take it to get rid of the “unwanted bacteria in your small intestine”.
3. Get healthy bacteria to repopulate your gut (after wiping them out with that antibiotic).
I don’t know where points 4 and 5 got to, but on his website he recommends trying digestive enzymes.
There currently isn’t a cure for IBS, so all this talk of curing IBS raises alarm bells for me.
And to me, these steps don’t sound like a cure either. Because you’ve got to take drugs and supplements. And when you stop taking them, symptoms will return (- that’s if his recommendations work in the first place).
But let’s look at this “cure” in a bit more detail…
He mentions to get tested to identify your triggers. Which is great. If only the IgG antibody testing that he recommends was scientifically proven to reliably identify food intolerances or allergies. And this is why the medical world doesn’t recommend these tests (AAAAI, 2020; BDA, 2021; Wong et al., 2022; Carr et al., 2012; Kelso, 2018).
“A position paper by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, endorsed by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, states that “food-specific IgG4 does not indicate food allergy or intolerance, but rather a physiological response of the immune system after exposition to food components. Therefore, testing of IgG4 to foods is considered as irrelevant for the laboratory work-up of food allergy or intolerance and should not be performed in case of food related complaints.” A position statement from the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology concludes that “positive test results for food-specific IgG are to be expected in normal, healthy adults and children. Furthermore, the inappropriate use of this test only increases the likelihood of false diagnoses being made, resulting in unnecessary dietary restrictions and decreased quality of life.” (In Kelso, 2018).
⚠️ What’s very worrying is this, that’s noted in the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology position statement;
“Additionally, and perhaps of greater potential concern, a person with a true immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated food allergy, who is at significant risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis, may very well not have elevated levels of specific IgG to their particular allergen, and may be inappropriately advised to reintroduce this potentially deadly item into their diet.” (Carr et al., 2012).
In point 1., he recommends you can DIY it and avoid the most common food allergies. But blanket avoidance doesn’t pinpoint the culprit. That’s if the culprit is any of these foods in the first place.
Also, if you’re avoiding the likes of gluten, soy and yeast, then these come as a component within a food. So, you may think ‘X’ food is the culprit because it contains gluten for example, but if it’s bread and you get symptoms, then is it the gluten? … Is it the yeast? … Or is it something else within the bread!
Or… Is it what you had on the bread, like a spread or sandwich filling? … Or perhaps it was what you had with it, like if you had a sandwich and soup or a piece of fruit or yoghurt?
And, some baked products can also contain egg and/or soya, which further complicates things and doesn’t help you get to the bottom of your symptoms.
That’s why it’s good to invest in the help of a Dietitian. It’s a lot quicker, safer, and healthier than going it alone.
Point 2. He wants you to get your doctor to prescribe Rifaximin. But he doesn’t mention about getting tested for SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), so why take a medication if you don’t really know if you need it or not? I believe it’s best to get tested for SIBO first before trying antibiotics, but you can speak with your physician about this.
Also, this medication isn’t suitable for everyone. It may be that your physician refuses prescribing it depending on your symptoms and medical history (Wilkinson et al., 2017).
Another important point is, if you haven’t dealt with the cause of excessive bacteria in your small intestine (SIBO), then it’s highly likely to happen again – you’ll repopulate your small intestine again, so you’ll need to take antibiotics again.
In point 3, he wants you to take healthy bacteria, i.e., probiotics. On his website, it appears you can buy the supplements you need for your ‘personalised’ treatement.
Regarding digestive enzymes, in the past, I’ve worked with people with conditions such as pancreatitis where the pancreas is inflamed and damaged. And consequently unable to produce enough digestive enzymes to break down food to allow your body to use the macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbs). So the person has needed special prescription enzymes. And I’ve helped them understand how and when to take them along with the necessary dosages depending on what they’re eating.
But these enzymes are totally different from the ones you can buy yourself. And these have been rigorously researched and tested. And are a licensed medication… Unlike the ones you can buy over-the-counter or online.
The ones you can yourself don’t work for everyone, and they need to be targeted for what you need because there are different enzymes for different tasks (Ireton‐Jones & Weisberg, 2020).
Another factor to consider is that these supplements you can buy yourself might not survive your stomach acid and consequently won’t work, because they’ve got broken down like everything else! What a waste of money.
If you want to try digestive enzymes, be sure to get them from a reputable source to minimise contamination risk and harm, and that the product is actually what it says it is because the supplement industry is rife with fake products. And isn’t regulated like food and drugs.
Also, some of these products contain other ingredients that could trigger IBS symptoms in some people.
Listening to him talk about his client, he mentions she was suffering with painful cramps and diarrhoea (amongst other symptoms), and she was doing her best to control her symptoms. She was avoiding dairy, didn’t smoke or drink and was taking Citrucel daily.
The thing is Citrucel® is a laxative for constipation (!) (Citrucel®), so no wonder she was going to the toilet so often, bless her. Just by stopping that she would’ve seen an improvement without doing any of that other stuff and without buying loads of his supplements.
I do agree with him when he says this condition is very real and debilitating, because of all the millions of sufferers out there and the hundreds and hundreds of people I’ve personally helped to conquer their IBS.
He mentions that “your doctor calls it a functional or psychosomatic disease, meaning it’s all in your head.” You may feel lots of people, including your medical team unfortunately, see IBS as it’s all in your head and pretty much dismiss it and don’t give you and your condition the respect (and support) you deserve. Which is horrible for you. But, this Functional doctor saying, “functional or psychosomatic disease, meaning it’s all in your head”, isn’t right…
Your physician will no doubt call it a functional disorder, because that is what it is – a disorder that affects the functioning of the gut. IBS doesn’t cause physical damage to your gut, like Crohn’s disease can, for example.
👉 The IFFGD states: “The term “functional” is generally applied to disorders where the body’s normal activities in terms of the movement of the intestines, the sensitivity of the nerves of the intestines, or the way in which the brain controls some of these functions is impaired. However, there are no structural abnormalities that can be seen by endoscopy, x-ray, or blood tests.” (IFFGD).
👉 Psychosomatic means mind – ‘psyche’, and body – ‘soma’, so a psychosomatic disorder is one that involves both the mind and body (Patient, 2020).
A dictionary definition is: “of, or relating to, a physical disorder that is caused by or notably influenced by emotional factors” (dictionary.com).
And as a sufferer of IBS no doubt you’ve noticed your symptoms can get worse when you’re stressed or anxious, so this is also true, and is due to the gut-brain axis which is the two-way communication between your gut and your brain (Mayer et al., 2022).
IBS A CATCHALL Term?!
This guy also mentions that food allergies and SIBO are the 2 major causes of IBS. But IBS is a condition in its own right, just like SIBO is another condition. And there are many different types of food allergies, like wheat allergy, peanut allergy, egg allergy.
It’s like he’s confusing the various symptoms of these conditions and saying they’re IBS.
IBS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Irritable bowel – you could say it’s self-explanatory. Syndrome: A group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterise a disease, a psychological disorder, or another abnormal condition (dictionary definition).
Yes, SIBO can cause gut symptoms such as diarrhoea and bloating (amongst other symptoms)…
…Yes, food allergies can also cause diarrhoea and bloating, as well as symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, swelling, breathing difficulties…
…Yes, IBS can also cause diarrhoea and bloating (amongst other symptoms)…
But these are all different conditions and require different treatment and management. ❗️And importantly, food allergies can be fatal (Allergy UK).
Final point to note, his video is from 2009, so it’s old. And in this video, he briefly refers to a couple of studies, but even if they were newly published in 2009, they are now ancient in scientific terms. Because science moves quickly. And we’re learning new stuff all the time. So, even if the studies are from a reputable source, you can’t rely on the information being correct because it’s not current (plus we don’t even know if they were quality robust studies anyway).
I hope you found this helpful in clearing up the myth behind the ‘cure’ and will help you avoid these pitfalls 👍
P.S. “Natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe. Just think of all those poisonous plants and mushrooms – they’re natural, but not safe!! ⚠️
⚠️ So herbal products may sound safe because they’re from plants, but these products aren’t all regulated like food and medications, so they may not meet quality and safety standards (Gandy, 2019). They can interact with other herbal remedies, medications and nutrients in foods and supplements; they may be contaminated; they may not list all the ingredients; there may be massive batch-to-batch variation in ingredient types and amounts of active ingredients; and herbal products may not be suitable for everyone, for example whilst pregnant, breastfeeding, if you have certain medical conditions or taking certain medications (Gandy, 2019).
So it’s wise to speak with your physician or pharmacist before taking these herbal products.
AAAAI. (2020). the myth of IgG food panel testing. https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/conditions-library/allergies/igg-food-test
BDA. (2021). Food Allergy and Food Intolerance Testing: Food Fact Sheet. https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/food-allergy-intolerance-testing.html
Wong, A. W. Y., White, H. E. G., Plant, A., Shipman, A. R., & Shipman, K. E. (2022). Issues surrounding consumer‐bought food‐allergy testing. Clinical and experimental dermatology, 47(3), 547-552.
Eatright.org. (2019). Are Food Sensitivity Tests Accurate? Eatright. Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org/health/allergies-and-intolerances/food-intolerances-and-sensitivities/are-food-sensitivity-tests-accurate
BSACI. (2020). Choosing Wisely on the use of alternative testing in the diagnosis of food allergy and Food intolerance. https://www.bsaci.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Choosing-wisely-ALTERNATIVE-TESTS.pdf
Kelso, J. M. (2018). Unproven diagnostic tests for adverse reactions to foods. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 6(2), 362-365.
Carr, S., Chan, E., Lavine, E., & Moote, W. (2012). CSACI position statement on the testing of food-specific IgG. Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, 8(1), 1-2.
Wilkinson, I. B., Raine, T., Wiles, K., Goodhart, A., Hall, C. & O’Neill, H. (2017). Oxford handbook of clinical medicine. 10th Edition. Oxford University Press.
Ireton‐Jones, C., & Weisberg, M. F. (2020). Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Physician‐Dietitian Collaboration. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 35(5), 826-834.
Graham, D. Y., Ketwaroo, G. A., Money, M. E., & Opekun, A. R. (2018). Enzyme therapy for functional bowel disease‐like post‐prandial distress. Journal of Digestive Diseases, 19(11), 650-656.
Qamra, A., Soni, N. K., Trivedi, H. H., Kumar, S., Prakash, A., Roy, S., & Mukherjee, S. (2020). A review of digestive enzyme and probiotic supplementation for functional gastrointestinal disorders. The Indian Practitioner, 73(3), 35-39.
IFFGD. Functional GI disorders. https://iffgd.org/gi-disorders/functional-gi-disorders/
Patient. (2020). Psychosomatic disorders. https://patient.info/mental-health/psychosomatic-disorders
Dictionary.com. psychosomatic. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/psychosomatic
Mayer, E. A., Nance, K., & Chen, S. (2022). The gut–brain axis. Annual Review of Medicine, 73, 439-453.
Allergy UK. What is an allergy? https://www.allergyuk.org/about-allergy/what-is-an-allergy/
Gandy. (2019). Manual of dietetic practice. 6th Edition. Wiley Blackwell, Oxford.