Deal with Diarrhoea

imageLast week we started looking at bowel health with a look at natural ways to take control of constipation. This week I am going to look at ways we may be able to help those struggling with recurrent or even daily we will diarrhoea. Some people suffer with a fast track digestion. Food is moved too quickly through the digestive tract. Waste that is moved too quickly through the colon will not lose enough fluid on its journey, resulting in a sloppy movement or even diarrhoea. For others the problem may lie with inflammation or poor bacterial balance in the bowel, which means that again the waste is passed too quickly through the colon leading the a loose motion. This can lead to fatigue, pain, cramping and can also be very embarrassing.
The key points to consider when trying to regain control of this situation are:
Fibre! Many people with diarrhoea try and avoid fibre because they think it will make things worse. But this is not always the case. No you don’t want to eat lots of bran based products because they can be purgative, but some fibres actually absorb lots of fluid and swell in the colon – slowing things down and giving your movement better form! We have had some great results using Pukka Fibre Plus a psyllium husk fibre – for those with lose stools, with people reporting that it has slowed things down and helped to give them a proper bowel movement which is easier to control. As well as the bulking Psyllium husks this product also contains soothing aloe Vera and licorice too.
Bacteria! Good bacteria discourage the growth of the unfriendly bacteria which lead to diarrhoea. Topping up your good bacteria then can actually help to slow things down, particularly if your diarrhoea problems have followed a bout of food poisoning, anti biotics or is they are related to diverticulitis. My favourite in this case is Solaray Mightidophillus12, a high strength, broad spectrum probiotic which replaces all the beneficial bacteria in your colon. This can be particularly useful where the problems hare started after a tummy upset. One gentleman we saw said that his bowel issues had started after a bout of food poisoning, so we put him onto the Mightidophillus12 and after a month he reported that everything had returned to normal with no further upsets.
Soothing herbs. Sometimes the diarrhoea can be accompanied by pain – this indicates that the colon is inflamed and that having any matter in it is painful – so everything is sent through as quickly as possible. Soothing that inflammation with herbs like Vogels Tormentil Complex can therefore help to ease that pain and slow the movement down. This has long been a favourite product of ours. One customer in particular always sticks out in my mind, he had struggled with diarrhoea for a number of years and it had started to restrict his life. He was scared to go anywhere new or anywhere where he didn’t know he could quickly and easily get to a toilet. We suggested that he try the Tormentil, which he did and he swears it was Tormentil complex which has given him his life back, by bringing his bowels back under control!

Bare Necessity

Help! Irritable Bowel

bare-necessityOver the last few weeks I have looked at constipation and diarrhoea. But from seeing people at our bowel health clinic, I am very aware that for many people who are struggling with irritable bowel, the problem is not always as clear cut as constipation OR diarrhoea. Many people don’t really know which way to turn or what to try, because their bowels can’t seem to make up their mind, swinging wildly from one extreme to the other.
A couple of months ago a girl came to ask if we could help her. She would often be constipated for days, feeling more and more bloated. Then her tummy would start to ache and the diarrhoea would start, with lose bowels, wind and bloating being an issue for the following days, before the constipation started again.
When the diarrhoea and lose bowels hit, she felt that she had no option but to take Imodium or something similar sometimes, even though she knew that often this just aggravated the constipation. She was always too scared to do anything about the constipation, in case it triggered a diarrhoea attack.
I sat down and talked to her and explained that when the bowel alternates in this way, it is often the constipation which is at the root of all the problems. Basically, as the constipation builds up, it starts to cause pain, inflammation and irritation in the bowel. This irritation then often tends to lead to the pain, wind and lose bowels, as the bowel tries to clear itself.
The best way then to try and break the cycle is to get the bowel working properly on a daily basis – avoiding the build up of constipation and therefore hopefully also the diarrhoea. To try and do this I suggested that we tried to improve the health of her gut generally and get her going regularly. Getting the right type of product here is important – we don’t want a fibre to swell in the gut or anything purgative – but we do need to get the bowel working better. I suggested that she try a supplement of magnesium citrate – an important mineral which we have found can actually help to improve the function of the bowel, without any ‘purging’ effect or any swelling. I also suggested she use a good probiotic – in this case Solarays Mightidophillus12. Probiotics are known to be important in maintaining bowel health and if someone is bloating a lot, we think this tends to indicate that they could be low in these good bacteria. On top of this we made a few changes to her diet – increasing her water intake and decreasing tea, coffee and sugar a bit.
I asked her to report back after two weeks – which she did – and she was really pleased to report that after only a week her bowels had started working better – she felt hopeful that we were on the right path. The good news is that this was the case and now after a few months she has not had an attack of her IBS for ages and she is feeling much happier and in control!



1954 - eleven megaton

When we speak about indigestion here, we will be referring to acid reflux, heartburn or any problem that causes pain within or around the stomach or ‘in the chest’ where the pain manifests. If these are things that you are troubled by and you are looking for ways that natural medicine might be able to help, read on! We may just be able to offer you some options.
Standard practice outside of natural medicine is to use antacids when treating upper digestive tract indigestion. They may be prescribed or bought over the counter, but no matter the strength their action is much the same. Antacids neutralise stomach acid, minimising the damage it can do to the sensitive mucous membranes outside the stomach. The walls of the stomach are designed to hold the acid, but occasionally they can become inflamed, weakened or ulcerated rendering them susceptible to damage by the acid contained within. In these cases, neutralising stomach acid helps to protect the already compromised stomach lining.
In natural medicine, we do not forget the importance of stomach acid. It begins the digestion of your food as well as killing off any bacteria that might otherwise cause problems. Therefore it is important to ensure that if you are taking antacids, your digestion is still working sufficiently and if you would like to explore alternative ways to manage indigestion, ask yourself the questions listed below.

1. Do you take antacids?
If your answer to this question is yes, then consider what steps you are taking to ensure that your food is still being properly digested. If the process of digestion is not working properly in the stomach then this could cause problems further down the digestive tract including griping pains, bowel problems and poor absorption. Sitting upright at meal times, chewing slowly and choosing cooked, easier to digest foods can make a big difference as well as taking a digestive enzyme. A digestive enzyme with your meals will ensure a proper start to the digestive processes and can help with a multitude of digestive problems.

2. Do you experience reflux?
Reflux is acid rising into the gullet and burning the walls of the oesophagus.
The best way to treat this problem is to tighten the oesophageal sphincter, stopping the acid from leaking. Now after watching a multitude of antacid adverts we are generally led to believe that indigestion is a result of too much acid within the stomach. This is not necessarily the case. In fact, the more acid within the stomach, the tighter the oesophageal sphincter becomes, preventing the reflux and containing the acid within the stomach. Our favourite remedy to encourage this action is A. Vogel Centaurium, a bitter complex designed to stimulate digestion, triggering reflexes such as the tightening of this sphincter and encourage the proper digestion of foods. One thing to be aware of however is that bitter combinations stimulate the production of gastric juices and so taking a protective agent alongside such a remedy will ensure no additional pain or damaged is experienced as the bitters get to work.
Our recommended protective agent in this case is slippery elm. This coats the oesophagus, providing a protective layer; almost like putting a plaster on the inside ensuring any acid will affect the layer and not the mucosa of the gullet. This then allows the mucous membranes to heal, safely beneath the layer of slippery elm, while the Centaurium stimulates proper digestive function and stop the reflux long term.

3. Are your symptoms associated with inflammation of the stomach, ulcers or strong anti-inflammatory drugs?
We have recently begun using a formulation called Carnozin – a combination of l-carnosine and zinc – that has been designed to heal and protect the lining of the stomach. Zinc is a very important healer and the l-carnosine carries it to any wound site within the stomach lining, focusing its healing powers on the affected areas. It also increases the production of gastric mucous, protecting the stomach from its own acid while it heals. Carnozin also deals with inflammation within the stomach, which in itself can be a source of pain. So in a nutshell, Carnozin reduces inflammation, heals the stomach lining and protects it from further damage.
Studies have shown that this combination of actions can help with gastritis and ulceration of the stomach lining. If the gastritis is caused by use of strong medicines, even after healing, continuous use of Carnozin will offer protection from these medications. As well as speeding up the healing of ulceration, Carnozin actually helps to inhibit H.pylori the cause of over 80% of gastric ulcers. For healing within the stomach, a zinc l-carnosine complex such as Carnozin would be an excellent addition to a healing regime.



Controlling Constipation

Over the next few weeks I am going to be taking a closer look at bowel health and bowel function. This week constipation.
For us, constipation is the failure to move your bowel effectively EVERY DAY! You eat three times a day (hopefully), therefore you should be eliminating at least once a day. If you are not, then we would regard your colon as sluggish – the less you go, the worse the problem!
The bowel relies on muscular contractions to move the waste around your colon, for elimination. If the waste is moved too slowly though because of a sluggish or lazy bowel, the stool becomes hard, dry and difficult to pass.
What is helpful then in trying to prevent constipation?
Ensure a good bowel contraction – this will speed up the rate at which the waste is moved throughout the colon. We often suggest Magnesium to help with this. Magnesium is vital for proper healthy muscle function, but it is easily depleted from the body by tea, coffee, cola, sugar and salt. Decreasing the intake of tea, coffee and cola whilst supplementing magnesium then, should help to improve bowel contractions.
Get the right type of fibre. This is important – you want to get things moving, not just fill up the colon with swelling fibres or alternately purge it, which would be very uncomfortable. We often suggest FOS for this. FOS is also a great fibre for people suffering with constipation because it increases the amount of water being carried to the colon, but does not swell too much, softening the stool, making it easier to pass. FOS also works by improving the strength and tone of the bowel, helping those who suffer with a stretched or lazy bowel, achieve a more normal bowel function.
Improve water intake – if the stools are hard and dry, it may be that you are not drinking enough plain water – try and get at least 2 pints of plain water into you a day.
Finally boost your beneficial bacteria – good bacteria are vital to the proper functioning of the colon, so taking a good probiotic once you have got things moving can be really supportive in maintaining the health of your bowel. Personally, for those who have struggled with constipation, my favourite pro biotic is Higher natures Pro Bio Daily as the bacteria it provides have been found to be particularly useful in dealing with a sluggish bowel.


Natural Treatments for Irritable Bowel

Natural Remedies for Irritable Bowel

Whether you have a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or if you are suffering from similar symptoms, there are various ways that you can help yourself. Diet, lifestyle and natural remedies can all have a huge role in alleviating the discomfort of diahrroea, constipation and the associated wind and bloating that come with the two. This month we are opening a free Bowel Health Clinic, offering advice to all those who suffer with what seems to be a widespread problem across the Western world. Below are some of the most common problems we see on a daily basis and the ways in which we treat them.

Irritable Bowel with Diarrhoea

– For the most part, loose stool are caused by either a tummy bug or bacteria that your body is purging itself of; or inflammation along the mucosa of the gut and/or bowel walls. If your problem persists for longer than a few days or if the problem is recurrent, it is more likely to be caused by inflammation than a tummy bug and there are many things you can do to help reduce this.

Eat a diet that is low in sugar, including natural sugars such as fruit and fruit juices as well as lagers, beers and wines. Sugar is pro-inflammatory and can aggravate any inflammatory condition. Instead fill your diet with plenty of spongy fibres that will absorb water, helping to slow transit. Spongy fibres include root vegetables, porridge oats, beans and pulses and ground seeds like flaxseed. Fibres like bran are generally quite scouring and can irritate the gut mucosa, quickening transit of stools. Choose foods that are easy to digest, like soups and casseroles and avoid raw foods that are more difficult to digest.

If you would like to try a natural remedy alongside adjusting your diet, we generally recommend the herb tormentil to our clients, alongside a probiotic to replace gut flora and improve the general health of the bowel. For a limited time we have put together a Healthy Bowel Package – for Loose Stools and Fast Track Bowels, a 4 week plan containing both these products as well as a digestive formula to ease flatulence and dispel wind. Dietary guidelines are included, advising on how best to eat during these 4 weeks for optimum health of your bowel.

Irritable Bowel with Constipation

– Improved greatly by addition of water and the right kinds of fibre if added to your diet regularly. Choose spongy fibres again, root veg, beans and porridge; while ensuring that you are getting 3 pints of water into your system each day. Fibre needs water to soften your stools and without it, you may still find them hard and difficult to pass.

Constipation is not always caused by a dehydrated bowel or lack of fibre. It could be caused by weakened peristalsis. Cola drinks, tea, coffee and a diet high in salt may deplete your levels of magnesium which helps to keep the muscles of the bowel wall working smoothly, ensuring they are strong enough to keep things moving. It is best to move your bowel every day, so if you are getting the urge less frequently than this, strengthening your peristalsis might help to relieve you of any bloated feelings around the belly and even help you drop a few pounds as the excess waste is eliminated.

Our Healthy Bowel Package – for Constipation, contains a 4 week diet plan, that involves consuming just the right type of fibres, regularly and throughout the day. In addition it contains a 4 week supply of magnesium citrate to strengthen your bowel muscles and improve regularity and a fibre formulation by Pukka to provide additional fibres to move things along, softening any stubborn stools and easing pain.

Irritable Bowel with Alternating Constipation and Diarrhoea

When the bowel is put under pressure from continuous blockages, the mucous membranes along the walls of the bowel can become inflamed. This inflammation as discussed earlier can cause diarrhoea, therefore if you find that you often switch between the two, treat it as you would constipation.

It is important to remember that persistent diarrhoea can have many causes and it is always best to check with your GP that there are no underlying problem that needs medical treatment. Similarly, any sudden change in your bowel habits should always be checked out by a qualified medical practitioner.

If you want to keep up to date with our Bowel Health Month, keep an eye out for our next blog post on our Beat Bloating Package and Wind and Indigestion Package. If you would like any specific advice on your digestion or bowel habits, please check out our Free Bowel Health Clinic, in which we are always available for advice.