So many people find themselves with the symptoms of IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome – gas, cramping, running to the bathroom, especially after eating. There are many different ways that IBS symptoms manifest for individuals but the underlying cause is what is treated with Functional Medicine. In the featured article Dr. Mark Hyman gives us what we need to know to look at the underlying causes of IBS and start to heal ourselves.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects almost 50 million Americans, or almost one in every six people. You probably know if you have IBS, with its numerous symptoms including bloating or gas, distention, constipation, diarrhea, cramping, and most likely, running to the bathroom after you eat.
Forty percent of all visits to internists are for “functional bowel” disorders such as IBS, and the cost for treating these types of digestive disorders is $107 billion a year.
Still, I see many patients for IBS who have not had success with conventional doctors. That’s because most doctors have no clue how to treat it or what creates it.
Functional Medicine practitioners take a whole new way of thinking about solving the puzzle of chronic symptoms and diseases. IBS provides a fantastic model for illustrating how Functional Medicine works. Even though it creates needless misery for millions of people, this condition is entirely fixable.
What Causes IBS?
In Functional Medicine, we know that one disease can have many causes. On the flipside, one cause can create many diseases, such as with gluten. Put another way, if I see five people with IBS, each might have a different cause. In Functional Medicine, we get to the disease’s root cause.
When you narrow things down, there are really only five causes of all disease:
- Microbes or imbalance of the bugs in your gut
- Poor diet
All of these can trigger symptoms and create thousands of diseases. Remember those five people with irritable bowel? Each one of them may have different causes for the exact same symptoms.
There’s a funny joke I always tell about how important it is to know what to do. One patient got his appendix out and the doctor sends him a bill for $1,000. The patient says, “Wow! That’s a lot of money for such a simple operation.” The doctor replies, “You’re right.” And he sends him a new bill: $1 for taking out the appendix; $999 for knowing what needs to be taken out.
Functional Medicine is sort of like that. We know exactly what to do and how to take things out to make you better. We treat the system not the symptoms.
Continue reading: Dr. Mark Hyman