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IBS connected to Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Migraines & More: The treatment that helps them all

You are at higher risk of the following if you have IBS:

People who have IBS have higher rates of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, migraines, temporomandibular joint syndrome, pelvic pain, anxiety, and depression than the general public. This does not mean causation but correlation and has been observed consistently in studies for at least the past two decades. 

One study reported the following in people with IBS: 94% had depression or anxiety, 49% had fibromyalgia, 51% had chronic fatigue syndrome, 64% had temporomandibular joint disorder, and 50% had chronic pelvic pain. [1]  Another study reported anywhere between 40-80% had higher odds of migraines, fibromyalgia, and depression. [2]

The impact of this is huge on quality of life for people in these groups, and suggests that if left untreated people with IBS may be up against more than we realize.

IBS update:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects 20% of the world population and is still not fully understood. This fact alone is not comforting to those who have IBS, let alone the symptoms that come with it. IBS is characterized by chronic abdominal pain and discomfort, gas and bloating, and alterations in bowel habits - diarrhea and/or constipation. 

Focus of treatment:

Treatment is geared towards improving intestinal permeability to help improve symptoms of IBS and its related conditions. Irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, anxiety, depression, and pelvic pain all have a common denominator in intestinal permeability issues being linked to symptoms. Factors that irritate intestinal permeability are major contributors to the symptoms of these conditions. 

The factors that irritate intestinal permeability are too numerous to list but include the food and drink we consume, stress, and organisms we are exposed to.

The treatment:

Removing gluten has shown to be very effective in improving intestinal permeability and improving IBS and fibromyalgia.[3][4][5] Some studies show that patients with IBS actually have undiagnosed celiac disease and improve on a gluten free diet, and others show that IBS symptoms improve with simply avoiding gluten.

Take home:

If you have IBS on its own or coupled with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, TMJ disorder, pelvic pain, anxiety or depression, talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about getting tested for gluten sensitivity, gluten allergy, or celiac disease.

What if I have already tried this?

In our practice we treat IBS on its own as well as all of these conditions we previously mentioned.  We see that removing specific foods is always beneficial but many times more than just food removal is needed. If you have tried removing gluten and are still not seeing improvements, please give us a call and we can better direct you on the next phase of treatment.

[1] Whitehead WE, Palsson O, Jones KR (2002). "Systematic review of the comorbidity of irritable bowel syndrome with other disorders: what are the causes and implications?". Gastroenterology 122 (4): 1140–56. doi:10.1053/gast.2002.32392. PMID 11910364.

[2]Cole JA, Rothman KJ, Cabral HJ, Zhang Y, Farraye FA. “Migraine, fibromyalgia, and depression among people with IBS: a prevalence study.” BMC Gastroenterol. 2006 Sep 28;6:26.

[3]Vazquez-Roque MI, Camilleri M, Smyrk T, et al. “A Controlled Trial of Gluten-Free Diet in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Diarrhea: Effects on Bowel Frequency and Intestinal Function.” Gastroenterology. 2013 Jan 25.

[4]Rodrigo L, Blanco I, Bobes J, de Serres FJ. “Remarkable prevalence of coeliac disease in patients with irritable bowel syndrome plus fibromyalgia in comparison with those with isolated irritable bowel syndrome: a case-finding study.”  Arthritis Res Ther. 2013 Nov 27;15(6):R201. [Epub ahead of print]

[5]Rodrigo L, Blanco I, Bobes J, de Serres FJ. “Clinical impact of a gluten-free diet on health-related quality of life in seven fibromyalgia syndrome patients with associated celiac disease.”  BMC Gastroenterol. 2013 Nov 9;13(1):157. doi: 10.1186/1471-230X-13-157.