“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Natural Anti-diarrheals for IBD

Most natural diarrhea remedies you find on the web do not apply to folks with IBD. They assume your diarrhea is caused by something that 'will pass' with time. i.e., they assume if you can manage the symptoms, kill the infectious agent, and/or stay hydrated for a few days, then you'll be fine--Not so with IBD.

In IBD, your diarrhea is most likely due to one or a combination of the following:

Damaged Intestinal Wall- Damage to the intestinal epithelium impairs, for example, the ability of your large intestine to transport water and salts, causing fluid to accumulate in the colon. Damage caused by inflammation results in poor absorption and digestion of food, which increases transit time in the gut, adding to your diarrhea.

Food Intolerance- Although there are few actual food allergies, there are lots of food intolerances, especially in people with IBD. The only way to know if you have an intolerance to a specific food is to track your diet, and track your symptoms, to see which foods exacerbate your symptoms. (See my posts on diet tracking, and symptom tracking) Of course the first and best diet-related step you can do is to start the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).

Prescription Drug Use- Some of the drugs that allopathic doctors prescribe have diarrhea as a 'side effect'. Asacol is an example of one such drug. Curious that we take a medicine that gives us diarrhea to get rid of inflammation that causes diarrhea...

Natural Diarrhea Remedies
Most natural remedies just won't work for those of us with IBD. For example, a crushed clove of garlic may work for mild food poisoning in people with a normal gut, but for people with IBD, raw garlic can often cause massive D and exacerbate other symptoms. I've compiled the list below of IBD-friendly natural treatments for diarrhea. Keep in mind that the goal is to heal the root cause, not mask the symptoms, so while these treatments will decrease the severity of your diarrhea, they should be used in conjunction with a comprehensive natural IBD healing program such as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, natural healing protocols from Listen to Your Gut, or treatments that your naturopathic physician has given you.

Below are a few natural treatments you can try that will help alleviate diarrhea. There are oodles of these out there, but I've only listed the remedies that I have either tried myself, or I've seen from multiple, trusted sources. I've labeled the remedies that are SCD friendly.

L-Glutamine- (SCD Friendly) L-Glutamine, on an empty stomach has a soothing and rebuilding effect on the inner lining of the intestine. Take anywhere from 1-5 grams of free-form L-Glutamine powder (no additives, no mixes, nothing but L-Glutamine) in divided doses throughout the day. This works best if you take the amino acid on an empty stomach. Start slowly (dosages are usu. 1/4 tsp) with one dose/day, and build from there until your diarrhea is under control.

Probiotics- (SCD Friendly) Probiotic therapy has been shown in placebo controlled, double-blind studies to be effective in alleviating the clinical manifestations of Colitis, and thus will decrease your diarrhea. The key with probiotics (and with any natural treatment for IBD, really) is to start slowly. While tracking your symptoms and diet, begin with 1/4 tsp/day, and slowly build to a therapeutic dose of 8-12 Billion CFU (Colony Forming Units). I"ve taken doses as high as 40 billion CFU. Keep increasing the dose until you notice your symptoms are improving.
You should use a probiotic that guarantees potency, is sealed in glass, and comes cold (to ensure that you are ingesting live bacteria). Avoid any product that doesn't list the serving size and CFU per serving on the label. See this post on probiotics, and this one on the probiotic retention enema. Jini Patel Thompson has some of the most detailed work on probiotics for IBD that I've seen. I highly recommend reading her book, Listen to Your Gut, for more information on probiotic (and other) treatments for IBD.

Bentonite Clay- (Not SCD Friendly) Bentonite clay is gray-ish colored and does not taste. It provides a 'filler' for the gut. By absorbing excess water and fluids, it is a good detoxification agent for the gut. The active ingredient is montmorillonite. Do not take Bentonite clay in conjunction with probiotics, as it also removes bacteria from the gut (i.e., the probiotics you just swallowed). Again, start small and note the effects. I'd start with 1/2 tsp/day and work up from there SLOWLY until you reach the desired effect.

Onward to Health.

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