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Causes of
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

This page describes the possible causes of irritable bowel syndrome.

For Dr. Wangen's site devoted to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, click on this: www.IBSTreatmentCenter.com.

Food Allergy and Food Intolerance

Studies of dietary restriction have indicated that food intolerance exists in at least two thirds of patients with IBS. These patients respond well to elimination of the offending food and are often diagnosed via an ELISA food allergy panel.

Interestingly, food allergies are also known to cause most of the symptoms associated with IBS. Lactose intolerance, as well as intolerance to sorbitol and fructose have also been implicated in IBS. A screening for food-triggered IBS is the first recommended diagnostic procedure when dealing with the symptoms of IBS.


Lack of Probiotics: Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium

A 1998 study demonstrated altered colonic fermentation in patients with diarrhea-predominant IBS. Colonic fermentation is the result of bacterial action on ingested food. Altered fermentation can result in symptoms such as diarrhea and gas.

This discovery and other studies have led to the use of probiotics to seed the colon with healthy bacteria, such as lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium species, and oligosaccharide prebiotics (nutrients to feed probiotics) to encourage a healthier intestinal ecosystem.

Individual probiotic status can be measured with an appropriate stool microbiological assay. This is extremely valuable in determining the actual acidophilus and Bifodobacterium levels within a patient, as well as assessing any other potentially pathogenic bacteria not commonly measured by routine stool analysis.

Results of such an analysis allow not only the focused treatment administration of good bacteria (probiotics), but also the focused elimination of pathogenic bacteria with non-resistant antimicrobials. Although most laboratories do not offer this test, several national labs do specialize in this type of testing.

For more information, contact Dr. Wangen's clinic at 206-264-1111./b>



Irritable bowel syndrome develops for the first time in some patients after a hysterectomy. Physiologic studies have shown that hysterectomy is associated with an increase in rectal and bladder sensitivity. Surgical trauma to the pelvis can sensitize adjacent organs. It also may lead to the formation of scar tissue, which in turn will affect the function of local organs, such as the rectum and the bladder.

The physiology of this type of IBS suggests that visceral manipulation techniques may be helpful in resolving these symptoms. Healthcare practitioners versed in these treatments include massage therapists, and cranio-sacral therapists.


The Conventional Medical View of the Cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is considered an illness of mental and physical disharmony. Conventional medicine officially considers IBS neither mental nor physical, but a reaction to life situations. Modern medicine, because it has not been able to diagnose the cause(s) of IBS or cure it, has framed IBS in such a way to demonstrate that it is highly associated with disturbed psychological behavior.

It has been stated that people with IBS tend to have more anxiety about their health and to seek medical attention more often than others. It has also been suggested that these people have been programmed to a pattern of illness behavior. Either way, most doctors are clueless when it comes to treating this condition.

Historically, gastrointestinal symptoms resembling IBS were a common feature of what were known as “hysterical” or “hypochondriacal” illnesses and were thought of in terms of commonly accepted beliefs of the time. Other examples of such “illnesses” include barrenness in antiquity, demonic possession in the Middle Ages, and overcrowded cities in 18th century England.

Although some cases of irritable bowel syndrome are no doubt related to mental/emotional issues, and stress and anxiety can exacerbate IBS as well as most other medical conditions, these are not the predominant causes of IBS. It is unfortunate that conventional medicine has not focused on the other potential causes of the problem. Several causes, discussed above, have been discovered. Unfortunately the success of these treatments continues to be viewed by many healthcare practitioners as merely psychosomatic and therefore irrelevant. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Medicine has a long history of assigning blame on psychological disturbances for medical conditions with an unknown organic cause, only to later discover the organic cause of the problem. In many cases the actual discovery was made long before it entered the paradigm of the standard of medical practice. Sometimes this delay is even decades long.


Click on the links below for more information.

Information on Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

How Irritable Bowel Syndrome Develops

Diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Treatment

IBS Diet

Dr. Stephen Wangen
IBS Treatment Center and Center for Food Allergies
Email: info@CenterForFoodAllergies.com
11300 Roosevelt Way NE Suite 100 Seattle, WA 98125 • 206-264-1111

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