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Liz Lipski, Ph.D., CCN Posted October 25, 2010

Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, is a noted clinician, author, speaker, talk-show host, educator, and consultant. She is well known for her landmark book Digestive Wellness which will soon be in its 4th edition and the companion book for children’s digestive wellness among other healthcare focuses. She joins our series at Natural Health Science News to discuss how the ground-breaking concept of functional digestive health which includes functional testing has forever changed the clinical practice of medicine. Dr. Lipski has educated practitioners and consumers about how digestive health is an essential focus to address many healthcare challenges.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also known as Colitis and spastic colon, affects 10 to 20 percent of all American adults and is the most common gastrointestinal complaint. Most often people with IBS experience abdominal pain and spasms, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and/or alternating diarrhea and constipation. Diarrhea alternating with constipation is the most common pattern. Sometimes people have unrelenting constipation, and that’s also called IBS. Bowel movements usually relieve the discomfort. Over the years, IBS has had a variety of names: spastic colon, spastic bowel, mucous colitis, colitis, and functional bowel disease. It accounts for 10% of all doctor’s visits and 50% of referrals to gastroenterologists. Although 75% of people who have it never seek a physician’s help—they just learn to live with it. Twice as many women as men seek medical help for IBS, and it often appears in the teen years or early adulthood.

Basically your doctor will diagnose you with irritable bowel syndrome if you have intestinal issues but don’t have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s. It’s called “functional bowel disease” because people who have irritable bowel syndrome do not have any obvious changes in bowel structure or other serious complications and rarely require hospitalization. Nonetheless, IBS can significantly restrict one’s lifestyle. Most of my IBS clients know where every public restroom is in town. They can’t make morning appointments due to the unpredictability of the bowels and eating away from home can be tricky.

Anemia, weight loss, rectal bleeding, and fever are not symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Bowel changes accompanied by these symptoms need to be checked out by a physician to discover the cause.

Rather than just accepting a diagnosis, it’s in your best interest to try to figure out the underlying cause or causes of your IBS. IBS can be caused by food sensitivities, lactose intolerance, lack of beneficial probiotic bacteria, stress, infection, mind-body interaction, malabsorption of nutrients, hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, AIDs, environmental sensitivity, antibiotics, over-use of magnesium supplements and more. There is no single cause for IBS, but hopefully you can find the underlying causes for your IBS and work with them to eliminate or alleviate your IBS. Here are some suggestions to help. You’ll find many more in my book, Digestive Wellness. – by Liz Lipski, Ph.D., C.C.N.