Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most common conditions clients come to see me for, seeking relief from symptoms such as constipation, pain, diarrhoea, wind, bloating and headaches.
Stress is one of the main triggers for IBS, and this was certainly a factor with the client in this case study.
Let’s call her Jenny (not her real name). Jenny originally began working with my colleague Tiziana Bertinotti at York Traditional Acupuncture, and Tiziana recommended she also see me for nutritional support.
Tiziana and I frequently work together with the same client as the combined power of nutrition + Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture (the real deal, not just dry needling techniques) brings huge transformative effects to people’s lives.
Jenny was 23 years old and had been suffering with IBS symptoms of constipation, tiredness, pain, wind and abdominal discomfort for 8 years. Her symptoms began just after her parents divorced when she was 15 – she also had a bad viral infection at this time too, so there was a combination of physical and emotional triggers.
Jenny had taken an ELISA food intolerance test in her teens and cut some foods out of her diet already which had brought temporary, but not lasting, relief.
She admitted ‘holding on’ to stress in her stomach and was not finding enough time for relaxation. Due to low energy levels she had stopped exercising as much too: this is a real catch-22 situation as exercise can improve both energy levels and IBS symptoms.
The Acupuncture Approach
Tiziana’s approach was multi-faceted and focused primarily on calming Jenny’s mind and sympathetic nervous system (the ‘fight or flight’ response) whilst improving the flow of energy through her digestive system and liver. She used combination of body and ear acupuncture, with moxa for extra warmth and stimulation.
The Nutrition Approach
My approach was based on the ‘4 R’ technique;
– Remove aggravating foods
– Replace with suitable nourishing alternatives
– Reinoculate: support the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and the entire digestive process from mouth to anus
– Repair: deal with inflammation and increased permeability in the digestive tract
Jenny was keen to undertake another food intolerance test, and this revealed multiple reactions. Rather than removing all these foods, we focused on a handful of strongly reactive foods whilst working on supporting healing and repair in her digestive system. Multiple food reactions are indicative of increased gut permeability which allows partially digested food particles to stimulate the immune system. The foods are not really the problem: the poor gut integrity is, hence focusing on healing and repair.
Her diet included plenty of warming, cooked foods that are easy to digest and supply the necessary nutrients for digestive comfort and energy production;
– Magnesium from green veggies, nuts and buckwheat
– B-vitamins from suitable grains, nuts, slow-cooked meats and vegetables
– Essential fats from nuts, seeds, flaxseed oils and oily fish
– Zinc from pumpkin seeds, meats and fish
– Vitamin A from beta carotene rich vegetables and egg yolks
Jenny had been taking several supplements and we identified some of the reactive foods as ingredients in these. I replaced them with just 2 products to begin with: a multi-strain broad spectrum probiotic formula and a blend of digestive herbs including ginger, fennel, cardamom, papaya, peppermint and clove for their anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and carminative properties.
And the result?
At her final 3 month Follow On session Jenny happily reported having consistent improvements to all of her symptoms. She was sleeping better, exercising regularly, free from constipation, wind, and pain, and was enjoying relaxation time.
In her own words…
“After many years of discomfort I can now enjoy life to the full!”
which is what you want when you’re 23 years old!
Tiziana and I wrote up Jenny’s case for the Complementary & Alternative health Magazine (now called Integrative Healthcare and Applied Nutrition) and you can see the article here;
If you would like to be free from IBS like Jenny, take a look at the Nutrition Plan page to see how we can work together or call or email me to arrange your no-obligation 15min chat and discover how nutritional therapy may be just what you’re looking for!
Call: 07910 705272