1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Discuss in my forum

Barbara Bradley Bolen, Ph.D.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Follow me on:

Learn about Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Wednesday April 16, 2014

Due to the pelvic floor's close proximity to the large intestine, it makes sense to wonder what role the pelvis floor might play in terms of IBS. Here is the first in a series:

My Bio | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Newsletter Signup

Why Dr. Oz Was Wrong About IBS

Monday April 14, 2014

As I discussed previously, Dr. Oz hosted a segment on IBS recently (see, "Dr. Oz on IBS"). As you can see by the comments following my previous blog, I was not the only one who thought Oz's coverage was awful. I recently heard from another reader, David in Seattle, who initially had me laughing out loud with his description that he at first couldn't even continue to watch the segment without wanting to throw his monitor "out the window." However, his remarks were so spot on and heartfelt, I felt compelled to share them with you:

"I've just finished watching "'Dr. Oz" and his take on IBS. I thought I had heard every ridiculous platitude imaginable concerning the origins of this miserable condition and how to address it, but this video has got to be on one the most dismissive, condescending 10 minutes of of childish nonsense I've seen yet on any topic, let alone one which devastates so many lives. I'm not sure who comes off worse in this program, the presenter or the grinning, gullible audience, but for those of us who suffer from "IBS", yet another "expert" spreading the notion that "IBS" sufferers basically are to blame for their fate, due to not being able to handle stress, and foolishly consuming artificial sweetener and chocolate is extremely unfortunate, and frankly infuriating.

I believe the entire notion that ANY single, distinct, discrete disease entity or process is responsible for the troubles of EVERY person who has been told they have "IBS" is absurd on its face. Virtually every IBD sufferer I've encountered had been told for years they had IBS before finally getting an accurate diagnosis for Crohn's or Colitis. And this is without even including more obscure conditions such as Abdominal Angina, Bile Acid Malabsorption, the Ischemic, Collagenous, Lymphocytic, Pseudomembranous, and Microscopic Colitises, Acute Mesenteric Ischemia, Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, a variety of cancers, etc. "IBS" is a wastebasket diagnosis whose existence has more to do with the medical community's refusal to admit it does not know something, than it has to do with clinical realities. Let's not forget that in the days of blood letting & 'Doctors' going into bubonic plague sites wearing flower filled bird-beak masks, the "medical community" was just as certain of the legitimacy of "Humors" and "Miasma" as it is now is of the existence, prevalence and etiology of "IBS".

A more recent example of a broadly accepted medical misconception which hits a bit closer to home is the notion that stress was also the cause for peptic ulcers, something virtually all of medicine embraced prior to the discovery in 1982 of the H. Pylori bacterium, and its central role in that condition.

Under the ridiculously broad "Rome Criteria", anyone who has chronic digestive issues, and who does not have obvious IBD or a sword protruding from their abdomen, MUST have "IBS". And naturally, since the current medical community can't do anything for the vast majority of "IBS" sufferers, (aside from take their money, of course), they must have a scapegoat for that ineptitude, and that scapegoat is YOU. It's YOUR FAULT, sufferer. YOU must be DEPRESSED. Or responding hypochondriacally to STRESS. Never mind that virtually all of humanity is under some level of stress, that we evolved that way, running from massive carnivores for thousands of years, etc., all without leaving long trails of watery feces across the savanna. And pay no attention to the fact that the depression IS THE RESULT OF never being able to get more than eleven feet from a toilet, NOT THE CAUSE of that situation.

Excuse me, "Dr. Celebrity" but is this all too jaw-droppingly obvious for your limited, one-dimensional, patronizing world view? My own life was nearly perfect when I began my personal odyssey into digestive hell. I had money, a life partner whom I thought would stand by me regardless (wrong), a rewarding and creative career path, great travel experiences, life in a world-class city, enjoying all it had to offer (including FOOD) etc. I had virtually everything I had ever wanted.

Then one day, at the age of 50, I began having constant diarrhea, gas and stomach pain. The symptoms we are all so familiar with. Since that time, and as a result of this condition, I have lost my wife, my career aspirations, my house, and most of my money. I have spent thousands on conventional and alternative therapies, testing, drugs, diets, and DOCTORS, all with minimal impact. I am under FAR more stress now then I was initially, but if anything, my disorder is slightly LESS severe than it was when it initially emerged in my ideal life. The condition remains quite dysfunctional, and my minimal improvements are the result of greatly reducing fiber intake, an undesirable scenario of unknown long term sustainability & impact, but none the less, stress and depression were not the cause of my problem, BUT THE RESULT, and I'm certain that's the case with the vast majority of "IBS" sufferers!

I was surprised "Dr. Oz" did not include in his silly presentation that other attitude we in this community are so familiar with from the medicos; "It's not THAT BAD... after all, it's not FATAL". No, it's not fatal. It's just so utterly miserable and life-destroying that many of us almost wish it were."

My thanks to David for putting into words what so many people with IBS know to be true. I have never seen the Dr. Oz show before watching a bit of this episode. I don't know if the circus-like atmosphere is always present, but I found it extremely disrespectful and insensitive. I find it hard to believe that he would use the same antics when covering diabetes or asthma. Shame on Dr. Oz! He had a chance to educate and advocate, and he blew it.

My Bio | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Newsletter Signup

Digestive Health Group Program

Friday April 11, 2014

Every day for the past six and a half years, I have read heartbreaking stories submitted by readers to this site, as to how their IBS is destroying their life. Providing information through the written word has been my primary way to help, as my psychology license prohibited me from providing psychotherapy across state lines. Now that I have gotten certification as a health coach, I am able to share my deep knowledge about IBS in a more personalized way to people regardless of where they live.

One of the services that I offer is a low-cost group program. This program consists of six sessions over a 12 week time period, conducted via phone. The program offers nutritional and lifestyle guidance, as well as group support, to help members to start to find a way to minimize the impact that IBS has on their life. Please join me--I would love to talk with you directly and help you to find your way to improved wellness. The next group starts on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Click below to get more information, read some testimonials (so you know what you are getting yourself into!), and to find sign-up information.

My Bio | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Newsletter Signup

IBS and the Job Application Process

Thursday April 10, 2014

How to handle the topic of your IBS comes into question in a variety of social situations, e.g. meeting a new friend, going on a date, making travel plans. IBS may also be of concern during the job search process. Should you tell an employer ahead of time about your IBS? Will you be able to get through the interview without experiencing symptoms? Knowing what your rights are may help to alleviate some of your anxiety. This article provides an overview of your rights in regards to dealing with your IBS during the job application process:

My Bio | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Newsletter Signup

How Safe Is Aloe Vera for IBS?

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Many of you have written to me as to what I know about aloe vera for IBS, probably because the ads seem to be everywhere! I am so happy that people take the time to ask the right questions, "Is it safe?", "Will it help?" IBS can be so dreadful that one might be tempted to try anything in the hope that it would help. That is exactly what all of those aloe vera marketers are hoping for. For those of you who have been considering trying aloe vera, please read my article:

My Bio | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Newsletter Signup

Free IBS App

Friday April 4, 2014

I continue to be in love with the folks over at the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD). Their newest endeavor is the development of a free IBS app!

According to their website, the app offers information on diet, symptoms, causes, and treatments for IBS and chronic constipation. It is available for both Apple and Android platforms. You can learn more about the app on the IFFGD website:

Related Reading from Dr. Bolen, your IBS Expert:

My Bio | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Newsletter Signup

FDA Wants to Hear from Lotronex Users

Wednesday April 2, 2014

Jeffrey D. Roberts, of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help and Support Group recently sent out an email regarding a listening call hosted by the FDA on the medication Lotronex. You may recall that although Lotronex was a godsend to many IBS-D patients, it was taken off of the market due to the risk of serious side efffects.

According to Jeffrey, the FDA Division of Risk Management and the Division of Gastroenterology and Inborn Errors Products is looking to hear from people who were on the drug. You can contact the FDA here:

Andrea C. Furia-Helms, MPH
Patient Representative Program
Office of Health and Constituent Affairs
Food and Drug Administration
Phone: 301-796-8455
Email: Andrea.Furia@fda.hhs.gov

The listening session is planned for April 17, 2014 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM EDT. Let's hope the FDA is truly listening!

Related Reading from Dr. Bolen, your IBS Expert:

My Bio | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Newsletter Signup

IBS Awareness Month 2014

Tuesday April 1, 2014

Happy April! You may or may not know that April has been designated as IBS Awareness Month by the powers that be. I love that April is the month that got picked for IBS. In the Northeast, where I live, April is the month that the Earth recovers from the long, cold winter. Daffodils open their pretty heads, green shoots of summer plants start to pop up, and the birds seem to be everywhere! For IBS, I like the hope that April represents. Yes, your body may be in a dark phase, but with time passing comes the opportunity for new treatment options or simply finding a new remedy or approach that works for you.

To help you to expand your IBS awareness and to help you find ways to contribute to awareness in others, I point you in the direction of my article:

My Bio | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Newsletter Signup

Reader Story: Gluten-Free IBS Relief

Monday March 31, 2014

Although I have frequently written about the relationship between a possible gluten sensitivity and IBS, many people dealing with IBS have not yet made the connection. And, unfortunately, many doctors do not suggest an elimination diet to patients presenting with IBS symptoms. I recently heard from a reader who had this very experience. Her story was so compelling, I just had to share it with all of you:

"Becoming gluten free six weeks ago, I have seen all of my symptoms disappear. I am slowly eliminating the medications I have been on (Xyfaxin generic which I had to obtain from out of the country, and Lotronex). These two drugs together cost close to $36,000.00/year; insurance paid a portion only for the Lotronex). There is no way to know at this point if the absence of symptoms will continue, but it is incredible to once again feel good and in control. When I do make a mistake and eat something containing gluten, even a very small portion will make me very sick. This has happened a couple of times, and serves as a reminder of how watchful and observant I must be.

I feel so very sorry for patients whose suffering could be alleviated if only doctors would recommend going gluten free for three weeks. I was told by my doctors I did not have a problem with gluten, but now understand how celiac testing does not rule out gluten sensitivity. I have spoken with many other individuals who have had very similar experiences, so clearly this is a fairly widespread problem."

If this reader inspires you to try a gluten-free diet, please do not do so willy-nilly. The following articles are essential guides designed to ensure that you make such a dietary change safely.

Essential Reading from Dr. Bolen, Your IBS Expert:

Related Reading from Jane Anderson, About.com Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity Expert:

My Bio | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Newsletter Signup

IBS Medicines in the Pipeline

Friday March 28, 2014

Many of you can attest to the fact that something is sorely lacking in the "effective medications for IBS" department. Luckily, there are some medications that are being developed and tested as to their safety and effectiveness. Here are the ones that are currently on the radar screen:

I promise to keep these overviews updated as they make their way through the FDA approval process. Let's hope that happens quickly!

My Bio | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Newsletter Signup

Top Related Searches

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.