I carry a special place in my heart for those suffering from IBS. The reason for this is because I was diagnosed with it over and over again. The issue I have with the diagnosis? IBS isn’t a real thing. Now, let me be perfectly clear: the symptoms experienced by IBS sufferers are incredibly real, and they lead to a poorer quality of life than can be imagined by those who haven’t had close personal experience with the situation. In fact, studies have shown that people with digestive disorders tend to have a lower quality of life than those suffering from many other chronic issues, including cardiovascular problems. IBS is not something you can take your mind off of. It is there looming over you at every meal, every social gathering, and every time you get dressed. So what’s so unreal about this? What Does IBS Mean? IBS was a term created by doctors who were unable to diagnose a cause and effect relationship for a series of digestive disturbances. The term IBS was created as an umbrella term to place people experiencing a wide array of symptoms into one of two categories based on whether their symptoms were diarrhea or constipation predominant (IBS-D & IBS-C). To exemplify, this is the equivalent of going to the doctor with horrible shoulder pains, and being diagnosed with “unexplained shoulder pain syndrome”. Most people who get diagnosed with IBS are told they will just have to live with it. This is a pressing issue, as it puts limitations or halts on their search for a cure. But this search must go on. The symptoms of IBS can be caused by so many different things, ranging from bacterial or parasitic infections to intestinal hyper-permeability or even low stomach acid. The list goes on. In addition, IBS has been identified to have an inflammatory component. The metainflammation theory states that all chronic illnesses stem from an inflammatory component, and when suffering from something like IBS which can keep your body in a constant state of low-grade inflammation, the body is being placed in a potentially dangerous situation that could cause further, more severe complications down the line. This is not meant to panic anyone, but rather to reassure. If we search deep enough and are able to identify the cause, it is possible to eradicate the symptoms. One great example is the work of Dr. Pimental, who is a leading researcher in the field of IBS. Pimental has identified a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine to be causative for many cases of IBS, and has been using a combination of antibiotics and diet to cure people of their IBS, even those who have been suffering extreme symptoms for many years. But it doesn’t stop there. The importance of gut health and microbial imbalances are becoming increasingly recognized as being behind many symptoms of digestive disturbance. These disturbances are often seen in obese individuals for example, who have been observed to possess a reduced number of Bifidobacteria and F. prausnitzii, which can increase inflammatory metabolic conditions. Another example is the countless individuals who have a damaged gut lining, allowing food particles to leak out of the gut and activate the immune system. There is a long list of issues like these to consider when searching for the root cause of your digestive symptoms. What Can You Do About IBS? If you have been diagnosed with IBS, I encourage you to continue your search, and to not be satisfied with your diagnosis. A great way to start is to get a comprehensive digestive stool analysis. This is different to the stool analyses that are done in hospitals or doctors’ offices, as they provide much more detailed feedback and give a clear picture of what your entire gut microflora look like. This can identify any pathogenic overgrowths as well, many of which are not generally looked at in typical stool tests, and cannot be seen during a colonoscopy or endoscopy. If you are still searching or have already found your cause, please share your story. It’s important to motivate those suffering to continue searching. Your solution could be out there, even if you have been told otherwise.