Take IBS seriously!

IBS, fiber therapy, and string in poop



Just kidding … sort of.

For those of you allergic to “too much information,” read no further.

I mean it!

OK.¬† As you may remember, I’ve been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome since 1999.¬† (Nope, I didn’t get to party like it was 1999!)¬† Though I’ve had it at least since 1990.¬† Mostly IBS-Diarrhea (IBS-D).¬† But I didn’t get to see a truly helpful gastroenterologist until 2002 or so.¬† He put me on high-fiber therapy, specifically fiber supplements (pills like Fibercon) and any other fiber I could cram into my eating habits.*¬† Since then,

and here’s where it gets graphic,

sometimes when I’m on the toilet, I feel something hanging out of my bunghole, just taking its grand old time passing/dropping.¬† Recently, with greatly increased soluble fiber dosage (Thanks, Heather, the acacia powder ¬†really does seem to help! [aka “gum arabic“]), sometimes I see whitish strings in my stools there in the bowl¬†— too long to be worms, an inch or more¬†—¬†and eventually I solved the mystery of the hanging business by getting a fistful of TP and just grabbing what was hanging … and it was a rubbery/plasticky stretch of material that I could feel breaking stiffly just inside my anus, like there was more in there — definitely not a lifeform, Mr. Spock.

Well, I just got around to Googling “string in poop” (without quotes), hoping for some unvarnished, un-PC, honest, forthright¬†discussion.¬† And although Yahoo Answers isn’t necessarily C. Everett Koop, all told, several links seem to have the ring of truth in them, like this one, this one, this one, and this one.¬† Could your gastrointestinal tract really do that to fiber, twist it and pound it into unrecognizability?¬† Think about how long the tract¬†would be all stretched out, like they say, and all the muscles squeezing and twisting, acids, weird and normal fluids and bacteria and other things you’re eating, fermentation, reactions¬†… and I could see it.¬† I may run it by my doc just to make sure, but I feel alot better about it just now, so much that I wanted to spread the word, because apparently I’m not alone!¬† Even beyond Yahoo there was this page (text-search for “string” — quotes not necessary).¬†¬†In its basic nature,¬†fiber is sort of waxy, hence I guess the occasional weird forms it gets metamorphosed into.

WHEW!  Thank you, Jesus!  Amen!

(*–Dietary fiber, to be clear, in light of what follows!¬† However, he failed to differentiate between soluble and insoluble fiber.¬† Most Americans trying to eat reasonably-healthily — not our traditional steak-and-potatoes — have no shortage of insoluble fiber in their diets: raw vegetables, even some cooked ones like broccoli, carrots, and other ‘yummy’ things like that.¬† This is the kind that goes right through you.¬† When you have IBS-D, you don’t wanna overdo that, though you shouldn’t go without it either, or so I’ve read, and so I do, mostly.¬† [Screw whole grains!!]¬†¬†Soluble fiber isn’t greased lightning [correct spelling!], but goes slow enough to soak up all that excess fluid that otherwise sends you “running.”¬† That’s what IBS-D’s need tons of: beans [they’re not just good for your heart], other fibery, mushy stuff like that, and other soluble fiber.¬† Wikipedia is all over fiber.)

IBS pacemaker update

Sort of.  In February I discovered what appears to have been initial published research from Egypt regarding bringing Irritable Bowel Syndrome under control with the help of a temporarily-implanted electrical stimulation device Рin your abdomen, not up your butt! Рsimilar to traditional heart pacemakers, more recently also being applied to the brain.  That article was published in January 2003.

Today I located what appears to be the follow-up research they indicated, published at the end of ’04, sharpening and confirming their technique, and now recommending it for treatment “when other measures have failed to cure the condition.”¬† (Why wait?!!!¬† I’ve had this going on 20 years!!!)

This is the latest which leading IBS patient-expert Heather Van Vorous has on it there, so again one wonders, did something derail this, or is it making its way through regulatory approvals in Europe or something?¬† I don’t have access to their full article, so if there’s info there, I don’t have it.

Kaopectate ain’t kaopectate anymore

I thought I posted about this a long time ago, but apparently not.¬† A few years ago the maker of Kaopectate took out the kaolin and pectin that gave the name to this old, effective anti-diarrhea product.¬† Instead they put in Bismuth salicylate, better known as Pepto-Bismol … but they kept the Kaopectate name!!!¬† Even my doctor was pee’d!¬† (I have IBS-Diarrhea, remember.)

On the Web there were suggestions about making your own concoction with clay and chalk, but with all the runs I already get, I wasn’t gonna risk all the little bugs you can get in there!¬† This in part led me to Paregoric, as I’ve said, which is a huge help, but not perfect.

There oughta be a law against such blatant deception in business / advertising by one of our sovereigns’ (States) corporations.

IBS Paregoric update

In August ’03 my¬†GP put me on Paregoric for my Diarrhea-predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome (aka Spastic Colon).¬† I started out on just one teaspoon (5 milliliters/cc’s)¬†per day, and it worked for some months – I forget how long exactly – although it took a while to stop doing the job too well, as I’ve said!¬† But eventually its efficacy declined so much I needed two teaspoons (10 ml, mL, or cc’s).¬† And around the end of 2007 I had to increase to 3.¬† I’m starting to wonder, because I’ve read that the medical community doesn’t like to Rx more than 4 a day because of the risk of side-effects, including dangerous respiratory depression.

I may look into other things, non-opiates.¬† I hear lots of good things about this hypnotherapy program….

(Oh, and the Naltrexone researchers stopped their research.¬† Seems they couldn’t reproduce the initial seemingly-miraculous results.¬† That happens sometimes in drug trials.¬† Too bad.)

An IBS pacemaker?


When your heart acts up, sometimes implanting a device that delivers occasional electrical shocks to it gets it to “straighten up and fly right.”¬† More recently they’ve been putting them in people’s brains for things like epilepsy.¬† What about what we used to call “spastic colon”?

Turns out they’re working on it (PDF)!¬† Muscles do what they do in response to electrical impulses from the nervous system.¬† Some researchers believe that in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, haywire impulses cause the muscles of the colon to act up, messing with how quickly or smoothly your fecal matter moves through, bringing on constipation and/or diarrhea, and the other symptoms.¬† They also believe they’ve helped IBS patients to manually administer helpful shocks to the end of their colons – the sigmoid colon – that restored normal function!

Since this report was published a few years ago, I’m surprised I haven’t come across it before now.¬† Maybe that means it didn’t pan out, or that it’s still in the pipeline, so to speak.¬† Contrary to what we’ve heard sometimes more recently, it can still take years for research to result in “approved” treatments … especially for IBS in the U.S., which isn’t taken as seriously here as in Canada or Europe.¬†ūüė¶

Meat-eating causes Global Warming? (Got milk? That too!)

So said the head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on TV the other day: factory-farming of livestock is a major cause of greenhouse gases, with them farting and burping and pooping so much.*

(My apologies to that lawyer-kid, although in fairness, what we’re talking about here is not “natural processes,” but the astronomical increase in livestock by humanity in recent centuries, now even in the Third World as it too “modernizes” and eats lots more meat.)

In addition, she pointed out that the fires from burning away forest for pasture and farming to feed the beasts, and in so doing taking away trees that remove carbon dioxide from the air, compound the effect.  And of course, it takes alot more crops to produce meat than to feed humans directly with the crops.

Turns out last November the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO [not Schwarz!!])¬†reported on this.¬† The animals’ poor diets are part of the problem, and that can be improved with positive benefit GW-wise, but it sure looks like “prosperity” will outstrip those efforts easily:

“With increased prosperity, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year, the report notes. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tonnes.

The global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector. It provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people and contributes about 40 per cent to global agricultural output. For many poor farmers in developing countries livestock are also a source of renewable energy for draft and an essential source of organic fertilizer for their crops.”¬† [Emphasis added.]

Oh, yeah, dairy products too: milk, butter, cheese, casein, yogurt, (sodium) caseinate, lactose, etc etc etc.

But what’s clear is that once again, we “prosperous” of the world consuming all that meat and dairy, are screwing the whole planet, especially the poorest.¬† But of course, if we consume less meat and dairy, some real people (Screw corporations!) will get less money and thus be harmed.¬† Therefore what’s needed is a coordinated campaign to consume less meat and dairy, AND “economic conversion” help for the real people harmed thereby.

Makes me think of an idea from recent(?) Catholic and Orthodox fasting/abstaining practice, like for Lent/the Great Fast: The money you “save” from giving up meat (and for Orthodox, dairy also), you don’t bank, but do something better with – traditionally, give to the poor or charity; how about a more direct connection to the real people who make the stuff?!

It can be done.¬† I don’t eat alot of meat, and I’ve been lactose-intolerant since my religious-inspired vegan stint in the ’90s.¬† Many flavored soymilks actually taste better than cow’s milk now, and apparently lots of people are foregoing cheese on their pizzas or Mexican food already because of the fat content, so you won’t stick out as much as you/I did even a few years ago!¬† They’re even fortifying some soymilks with calcium (and other nutrients it lacks), and there are other sources for calcium too.

As for milk for human babies… and even their daddies**…!¬† For that matter, apparently it’s even possible for many women to “induce lactation” without a recent pregnancy or birth, so they could donate their milk to interested families, reducing human use of cow’s milk even further.¬† And doing so is real natural birth control, during lactation and for two months to two years after stopping… sure to appeal to many!

(*–This choice of words will bring the kiddies running!!)

(**–As far as I’ve looked into the “adult nursing relationship” concept – by reading only! – the common idea that the partner has to suckle 6-8 times per day¬†around the clock¬†doesn’t seem necessary, as long as the other times the lactating woman expresses instead [to keep the milk flowing]. ISTM the extra milk can be donated, used in cooking – what about cheesemaking? [After all, “Blessed are the cheesemakers“!] – or simply discarded.¬† NB: Breast milk does contain lactose, so if you’re lactose-intolerant, you might need to see if you can do something about that. The guys quoted on the first page of this PDF seem to think it’s easy, though their research is ten years old, so if it worked you’d think we’d have heard more about it since then, eh? I’d try it, for nothing else but the sake of my next relationship or marriage, but dairy stinks to me since I went off it, like, even fresh milk smells sour to me – not much motivation there!)