Irritable bowel syndrome is a common name for a conglomerate of bizarre, unlinked symptoms. The word ‘syndrome’ refers to a collection of symptoms, which, unlike a disease, have no clearly identifiable cause. Since an actual cause for the abdominal symptoms you and countless others suffer is unknown, doctors often treat it in the same way as a stress-related problem, offering antidepressants and drugs for symptomatic relief. My opinion is that there are various possible causes, as listed below, and I often do a tongue diagnosis to find out. Sometimes, however, infections of the gastrointestinal tract or parasites in the gut are the real culprits.
An overgrowth of the fungus candida albicans (a type of yeast, which is fed by sugar) will cause bloating, gas, abdominal cramps and lethargy an hour after eating gluten-containing foods (ie, pasta or piz’a), and fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot or mouth ulcers. The signs to look for on the tongue are a heavy, white, furry coating and deep cracks.
Excess stomach acid leads to indigestion, heartburn, acidity in the mouth, a feeling of fullness, bloating (30 to 40 minutes after meals when the stomach acid mixes with bile and other intestinal secretions), irritability when the stomach is empty, and/or unbearable hunger pants. The signs to look for on the edges of the tongue are red markings and/or teeth-like impressions with semicircular ridges and serrations.
Diverticulitis, a condition where a pan or parts of the colon blow up due to repeated and excessive gas formation, causes stool masses to accumulate in these sacs. This results in constipation, and then diarrhoea when they are full. If the two are alternating, the chances are that you have diverticulitis.
Constipation causes flatulence and/or lower abdominal bloating. The tongue will have a thick white coating at the back.
Since you have excessive bloating, it seems likely that you have excess stomach acid, and there is also a possibility of candida or yeast overgrowth in the gut. Although I can’t diagnose the exact cause, I will give you a general treatment plan.
Stick to the following regime for three months:
- Porridge with milk cottage cheese with manuka honey; soft boiled or poached eggs; rice or oat cakes; peeled apples or pears, melon, banana, papaya with live yoghurt and drink mint tea.
- Soft and overcooked foods such as minced meal chicken and turkey (grilled, steamed or poached); fish without skin; mushy white rice; lentils (well soaked first); mashed potatoes and other root vegetables; heads of cauliflower, broccoli and asparagus; plain wheat-free pasta with olive oil, and rice pudding or custard sweetened with manuka honey.
- Oat or rice cakes; pancakes (made with non-wheat flour); fruit (from the breakfast list); hazelnuts and walnuts.
- Strictly avoid yeast produces; citrus fruits; hard nuts, including almonds and peanuts; rich curries; chillies; fried and canned foods; white wine; champagne; beer, and excess sugar.
- Eat slowly, chewing your food thoroughly. Drink two glasses of water when you wake up, then massage the abdomen clockwise. Drink water 30 to 45 minutes either side of a meal and only take sips during a meal, if you wish.
- Rest for ten to 15 minutes after lunch to activate digestion.
- Walk for five to ten minutes after your evening meal. Find out more about controlling various digestive problems through diet in my book Dr Ali’s Nutrition Bible.
- Detox Powder: for three months, soak half a teaspoon in a cup of hot water at night and drink first drink in the morning to help candida or yeast overgrowth. Calciprite (Rasastrala): take one tablet twice daily for three months to regulate stomach acid and reduce gas. lf constipated, take Qurs Mullayan : one at bedtime for two months. Avoid over-the-counter painkillers.
- Practise the cleansing breath twice daily. Sand or sit comfortably, arms loose, upper back straight and shoulders back Close your mouth, look straight ahead and inhale deeply through your nose. Then breathe out quickly, pulling in your stomach. Pause, then repeat 25 times. (For more details, see Therapeutic Yoga by Dr Ali and Jiwan Brar.