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!


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.