Literatus: The mysterious gut-A A +A
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
IRRITABLE bowel syndrome (IBS) is the hallmark of a tension-filled, all-rushing lifestyle in today’s increasingly urbanized society. Abdominal pain or discomfort and a change in bowel habit are mainstays. By its name alone—being a syndrome, that is—much of it has not been understood yet. In fact, there has been no known structural or anatomical explanation accounting for its symptoms and “disease” manifestations.
IBS therefore remains a mystery. Its exact cause remains unknown to-date. That explains why its management centers on treating or alleviating its symptoms.
There are theories though. But like all of them, these remain to be proven still. And we will wait for that time to come before talking about those here.
A study in 2008 concluded that certain groups of food and medicine are more effective than placebo in treating IBS. These are fibers, antispasmodics and peppermint oil.
A traditional treatment of IBS takes the form of dietary fibers based on a widely accepted effect (that is, acceptance among herbalists) in cleansing the intestines from toxins from food ingested. Two of the most common fibers are bran and ispaghula husk.
Bran is the hard outer layer of grain plants, such as rice, corn, wheat, oats, barley and millet. It is particularly rich in dietary fiber in the forms of beta-glucan, pectin and gum. But take note that bran is not chaff. Chaff is coarser and scaly, and merely surrounds the grain, not forming part of the grain itself. Bran is part of the grain itself.
The ispaghula husk is actually the seed husk of psyllium, known in the United Kingdom as ispaghula. It is a portion of the seeds of a plantago ovate. Ayuverdic medicine recommends it for colon cleansing as well as better blood circulation. The typical dose is one-three teaspoons per glass of water. Its standard dose is 3.5g husk dissolved in 250 ml water. Over-the-counter laxatives and fiber supplements—such as Metamucil, Colone Cleanse, Serutan, Fybogel, Bonvit and Effersyliium—have these husks as the main ingredient.
Peppermint oil turned out to be more effective than fibers in combating IBS symptoms.
Where fibers overall improves 43 percent of patients involved in the study, the oil had been shown effective in 74 percent of patients.
We will take up the antispasmodics used in the Ford study in a future issue. In the meantime, let me leave this thought from Pope Benedict XVI: “A critical self-examination would do us all some good.” In a stressful lifestyle, such a thought can work wonders when followed.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 01, 2012.