My little pandas, I have been one busy researcher who’s been battling IBS (irritable bowel Syndrome) like a ninja with one leg since May. Hence me neglecting my blog, for which I’m sorry for!
When this chaos first hit me, I thought it came out of the blue, but a whole lot of analysis later, I realised that I should have seen the signs. Then again, how can one see the signs if you don’t know what you’re looking for? Either way, this problem came into my life like a tsunami and it hasn’t gone anywhere 8 months later. After the NHS (the free health service here in the UK) failed me severely (for the second time might I add) I decided to take matters into my own hands. But my journey was not an easy one. In fact I was at breaking point on many occasions. This has tested me mentally, physically and emotionally.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for those who haven’t had the pleasure, affects your intestines. It’s when bad bacteria runs rampant and causes mayhem in your gut. A lot of factors deplete good bacteria. Antibiotics is a major one along with any food intolerances you might have. You will be hit with stomach pains and/or/both cramps, constipation, diarrhea, excessive wind, bloating, urgent need to constantly go to the bathroom, lack of energy, back pain, and feeling sick.
Can you imagine feeling all of that? For me it was so often that I developed a phobia of not wanting to leave my house. The thought of commuting to work every day on the underground literally made me have panic attacks and anxiety. My greatest fear was that I would shit my pants, and that fear was debilitating. Every time I would leave the house I had to plan exit strategies that were closest to the nearest bathroom. Even going around the corner to the supermarket was an extremely difficult task to complete. The constant feeling of going to the bathroom is horrendous. For me, this severe IBS took away my life. I had to cancel outings with friends, my weekends consisted of me staying cooped up at home, yet the most scariest was that I thought I was going to lose my job. Not to mention taking Ubers to and from work because I just couldn’t walk the whole commute. I’m broke now by the way.
When I would try and explain it to my close friends I was met with the typical response of ‘oh that’s terrible’ but I didn’t get any real support. Because they just didn’t get it. But if I’m honest, I expected more from them. A lot more! My mom on the other hand suggested that I should just buy adult diapers and be done with it. I know, what a humorous woman. Ha…. ha…. ha…..
The NHS doesn’t see IBS as a life-altering issue and therefore don’t do anything. One doctor told me this might last for a year, another said 6 months, AND they didn’t refer me to a Gastroenterologist until 3 weeks ago for which I am still waiting for an appointment. They also threw two pieces of paper at me that were supposed to be a helpful description of what a Low- FODMAP diet is but it was very vague. However, the icing on the cake was that they didn’t even suggest that I take probiotics! Woooosssaaahhh!
I was lost, with no real support. I was so depressed that I signed myself up to see a therapist (which was also free) but now 5 sessions in I’m convinced the whole system here is just churning out patients without really taking the time to care for them. If anything, I want my doctors to be empathetic and tell me with military precision, ‘You need to take this, this and this!’ They should have said ‘Well, you’ve taken a lot of antibiotics throughout the last year and a half ( which was due to a kidney infection that they failed to see, resulting in me running to A&E and staying in the hospital for 2 days thinking I was going to die) and that strips away all the good bacteria in your gut.’ Instead, I was left with no real answers. When the symptoms came back in full force about 3 weeks ago after eating a couple of gluten free croissants (I should have read the shitty label) I decided that this fucking IBS was not going to win! I would take control. If the doctors wouldn’t help me, then I would help myself.
So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know: (I think I’ve done enough complaining for one post don’t you think?! 🙃)
1. You should know that IBS can be triggered from food intolerances that you didn’t even know you had. These are not like full blown allergies, so don’t worry! If they were, you would definitely know it! Before this hit me, I used to eat everything. And I never even thought I could have a specific food intolerance to something. But low and behold, I did. I would have never even thought about this if it hadn’t been for a discussion that I had at a friend’s house. They referred me to Allergy test London which is where I found out that I should steer clear of beef, lamb, anything cow and sheep related, apples, corn (maize), whey, wheat, beer, lager, eggs (strangely, I can have the whites and the yolks separate) MSG, wasabi, tea, and something else but for the life of me I can’t remember.
2. The Low-Fodmap diet is a must I’m afraid. I don’t care what you read, it is the shittest diet known to man. It basically eliminates all the foods that could possibly exacerbate your IBS condition even more. After months of dreading to eat, (and I loooovvvveeeee food) I am now at a place where this diet is tolerable. I’ve accepted it through gritted teeth.
This list isn’t an exact science, so beware. Even though it says that these foods/beverages should be ok it really depends on your body. You will have to eliminate everything and go from there. For me, my diet was at a bare minimum yet I was still drinking a decaf cappuccino with almond milk every day. I was still feeling ill, and so I decided to cut out the decaf coffee all together. And what do you know, I started to feel better. I also limit fruit to bananas and some strawberries. The reason being is that sugar ferments in your IBS ridden intestines and gives birth to new bad bacteria. In the beginning I was craving sweets. Which I thought was odd because I am not a sweet person. And this is because of IBS, you get cravings for sweets, so try and resist it!
3. PROBIOTICS IS A MUST!!!!!!!! I can’t stress this enough. It is so important. The three that I have tried are…
I started off with Symprove for 3 weeks back in July. It helped in the beginning but then I never got any better.
Optibac – Extra Strength and Saccharomyces Boulardii
For me these two helped tremendously. My personal opinion is that you should take these two together. And before you ask, ‘Can you overdose on probiotics?’ the answer is, NO! We have trillions of bacteria in our gut. So you can never go wrong with taking enough probiotics.
Before I continue down the list here is a photo of everything that I take…
4. Out of all the research that I did I came across one reoccurring note, that L-Glutamine is the mother of all holy grails for IBS suffers. Now, I can’t give the full stamp of approval, however, after 3 days of taking this I almost feel somewhat normal. Just to put this into perspective for you… it is now 3:36pm here in London and I haven’t had to go number 2! For all you IBS suffers out there I know you know how thrilling that sounds!
Here are some benefits of L-Glutamine…
5. Invest in Digestive Enzymes. They help break down your food in order to help your body absorb the nutrients more efficiently. Therefore when your gut is out of whack it is a good idea to aid it with these.
6. I have also been taking Olive Leaf Extract as well as Turmeric. Both aid your system immensely. Here are some of the benefits for both…
7. Vitamin A also supports your Immune system. Here are some of the benefits of this Vitamin…
Now, Why am I telling you that you have to keep boosting your immune system while battling IBS? Well, did you know that over 70% of your immune system is located in your gut? No, neither did I. And since my gut was battling for it’s life I figured my immune system could do with a boost.
8. Kefir is also very good for your gut, because it’s a probiotic. I wasn’t too sure about cow or sheep kefir since my body is pooh poohing both of those things so I found two alternatives…
I am not a fan of the taste, but at this point I would drink piss if they told me that it would help my gut.
9. Now this one is a interesting one. Apparently they are now saying that IBS can be caused due to a Vitamin D deficiency! And because of this I have also started taking a vitamin D pill. It’s not a high dosage because I also take a multi-vitamin every day.
10. Stress is another factor that causes havoc to your system. This one though is tough because if any of you know what it’s like to battle with severe IBS you know that stress will sky-rocket. You are stressed to leave the house, you are stressed finding a bathroom, you are stressed from the morning you wake up till the moment you close your eyes. So I have tried meditation. I take 10 minutes out of my day to just relax. I have tried the Headspace, Digipill and calm apps. All of which are good, however I don’t really feel like giving them around £10 ($12) a month. I was also thinking about taking up yoga.
11. SLEEP!!! Sometimes this is easier said than done. Especially when you’re not feeling well. But try and get as much sleep as possible. I am trying these Sleep patch-it things that you adhere to the bottom of your feet. And I don’t know if it’s acting like a placebo or actually really calming me but I have noticed that I have been sleeping more soundly. And when I wake up I’m more refreshed. Again, I’m not too sure about this one. But, like I said, I will try anything!
12. Omega 3’s are another source of help for your IBS. I haven’t taken any as of yet but will let you know if I do.
- If you are on antibiotics you must, must, must take probiotics. Optibac have a good one that’s called ‘For those on antibiotics.’ A couple of years ago I suffered from a kidney infection which the doctors failed to see. They chucked me out and said it was probably a flu bug that was going around. But when I couldn’t even keep water down, I knew I had to rush to the A&E who told me that I had to stay for two days in the hospital. Because of that they started me on antibiotics. And throughout the 2 years that would follow antibiotics were coming and going through my system. The last dose I took was this February and I got hit with this whole IBS thing in May.
- Eat healthy foods. Stay away from sugars and complex carbs.
- Stop with all the alcohol.
- Stop caffeine.
- Listen to your body, because you know it the best! If the doctors are insisting that it’s a bug, be adamant that it’s not. You know how your body feels when you have the flu and tummy bugs. Insist that the doctors run blood and stool tests to eliminate things like Celiac and Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory bowels, Parasite or any other anomalies.
Phew! This was a long post wasn’t it! I was desperate to write this because I know that there are others out there pulling out their hair in despair dealing with IBS. It isn’t a fun thing to go through and I just wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone.
These herbal supplements won’t fix IBS overnight. You will have to be patient and strict. I know that I have probably another 6 months of all this stuff. But if I’m feeling better even in this short amount of time then I at least have hope for the future. And that is a big thing to have, for which I’m truly grateful for.
Here are some links that I was looking at through my researching frenzy.
Lastly, please consult a specialist on which herbal pills you should take along with the dosages. If I had to choose just 3 things to help my IBS, it would be the probiotics, L-Glutamine and Olive leaf extract, along with the Low-FODMAP diet.
Let me know if any of you are finding luck with any of these or if you’ve found something else that might be helpful.
❤ ❤ ❤
On a slightly different tangent, I just wanted to give a shout-out to my local pharmacy Panacea Health & Beauty, because if it wasn’t for those lovely ladies I don’t know where I’d be right now. One of the ladies, started me on symprove probiotics and I thought she was an angel sent down from heaven just for me. I later went back and wrote down everything that I was going to take and another lady told me what else I should get because she too also suffered from IBS and was able to cure it through these natural remedies. I can’t stress this enough, that pharmacy and especially the ladies who were so wonderful and extremely knowledgeable helped me tremendously.