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The tale of...Cher (15 August 2005)

I have suffered with IBS for about 20 years off and on. Diarrhea all the time. Since giving birth in 1999 it has gotten worse. I have tried different things that never seemed to work. I even tried calcium for a while. I was taking one in the morning and one at night. I didn't take it right after my meals. I found it was not helping.

Then I got really desperate and decided to try again. I started taking one right after each meal and it worked! I couldn't believe it. I actually got constipated so much that I had to cut the dose down to half after breakfast and half after lunch and then one after supper. This has really worked for me. I haven't had a stomach ache since I started taking the calcium. I had stomach aches every day!

I haven't had diarrhea but one time. I think I had too much wine the night before. I still get scared to go out with people but so far so good. I have been taking calcium for two months now. This is just my story, I hope it helps.

The tale of...Charlene (7 September 2005)

Hello everyone, I would like to share my experience and maybe give you some hope that you can get better! My problems started with extreme bloating and indigestion when I was a teen. It usually occurred after spicy or greasy food, so I avoided them as much as possible. In my early 20s, after the birth of my first son, it got worse. So, I avoided the foods that bothered me and started a fitness routine and all was well. I would still suffer from constipation and bouts of diarrhea but it was manageable.

At the age of 26, while pregnant with my second son, things really went downhill. I had to have my gallbladder removed after the birth of my son. Things were OK for a while but I had more and more diarrhea which I could control with diet. This is when I first heard the term IBS from my doctor. I accepted it, watched my diet, did cleanses every now and then. I was fine for awhile.

Then the other symptoms started, itchy rashes, fatigue, pain in my joints, irritability, pain in my left colon, and constipation, which I could relieve by drinking coffee! I was sent for a barium enema and other tests. All was fine! I started yoga and my exercise routine, which I had not done for years, and once again watched my diet closely.

In my early 30s once again all the symptoms returned, plus a new one, light-headedness after eating. This stumped the doctor and he did more tests including checking my heart. Once again all was fine. I still would break out in itchy hives and suffer alternating diarrhea and constipation. Everything was manageable until this spring. My son and I had a bout with bronchitis and were put on antibiotics. Big mistake.

My body broke down. Non-stop explosive diarrhea after eating anything, and this lasted for weeks. Oh and my son had it as well. The doc did tests for c. difficile and other parasites, can you guess? All negative, of course! We slowly started to heal after about three months of diarrhea. I couldn't go anywhere if I had eaten something.

I cried and thought this was it because I lost so much weight, and you know what my doctor said? Well, at least that's good and I'm not overweight. I'm five foot four and weighed 135lbs and went to 120lbs in eight weeks. I was scared!

I started researching on the net and came across some sites about gluten intolerance. I had every symptom and so did my son. I restricted my gluten and dairy. Things started to firm up if you know what I mean. Anyways, I started to get better and started to eat things again. We went on vacation and I admit I ate badly. More bread than normal and even some dairy.

When we got home I ate some veggie links (never ate them before) and five minutes after eating them I had explosive diarrhea and my ears went red hot with an itchy rash all over. This was an allergic reaction, so I looked at the ingredients and sure enough everything was gluten this and that! Bingo! I had bad diarrhea for three days! So did my son.

OK, it's gluten, I'll go to the doc and get tested. Simple right? Yeah right! Two doctors smirked when I mentioned celiac disease and asked if I found it on the web. They handed me Dicetel for IBS and sent me on my way. I was furious! I threw out the meds and decided to do a strict gluten and dairy-free diet and guess what? I have never felt better in my whole life!

No aches, I have energy, and the best part is that I poo normally! It's soft and formed and only once a day. I have no constant dull pain or ache in my colon area. My son is doing better too. No diarrhea for him which I'm so happy about! I'm not saying everyone is gluten intolerant or dairy. I just want everyone to trust their gut (no pun) about their own health.

Doctors need to catch up with the food industry and the idea that what we consume is harming our bodies. Celiac is very common but doctors don't check for it. I'm Italian and in Italy it is the first thing they check for when a patient presents with diarrhea. It is very common if you're from European ancestry. Even though I haven't been medically proven to be lactose and gluten intolerant it works for me.

I also have started walking for 30 minutes a day and find that helps also. I have eliminated caffeine and cut back on fruit. I'm actually eating much better than I ever have and have many options for snacks, since there are a lot of gluten-free foods now. I don't know if the antibiotics triggered this or if after many years of subtle hints my body tried to tell me, it finally broke down and the antibiotics just pushed my body to its limits.

I think I have been intolerant all my life but I ignored the symptoms. Plus, most doctors are useless and narrow-minded! Even though I have been well for a while I still get nervous if we go out all day or I have something scheduled. I fear I'll have diarrhea again.

So, I totally understand how the mind is very powerful and can play a role with bowel problems. I also do rotation diets and don't eat the same foods everyday which also helps with food intolerances. I wish you all well and after 20 years of problems, I believe I have found my road to recovery and better health. Please feel free to contact me. Take care!

E-mail Charlene: [email protected]

The tale of...Patricia (September 2005)

I have had IBS for years, and my gastroenterologist never could figure out my problem. I had it bad one day and my husband told me to go to another gastroenterologist, a lady, which I did. After an examination in her office, she read my paper from other doctors that I have been to, and she looked at me and said, you have been to all these other doctors and they never told you that you have IBS.

She wrote a prescription for IBS and I told her I use herbs and I don't like taking medicine because of all the side effects. She said if I don't take the medication I don't need to come back, so I went home and had it filled, but when I saw it could make me have a stroke, heart attack and other symptoms I declined to take it.

So my husband got looking in herb books and told me about Wild Yam. I was miserable, bloated like I was nine months pregnant and nauseated. I needed help so the next day we went to a health food store and purchased Wild Yam and took two capsules and went to bed. The next morning when I got up my bloating was gone.

I have taken Wild Yam for three years and have not had any problems. I take two Wild Yam capsules every morning. The kind I take is GNC Herbal Plus Fingerprinted Wild Yam 500mg. I have suffered many years without knowing what my problem was so I hope I can help someone so they don't have to put up with the bloating and pain I had.

E-mail Patricia: [email protected]

The tale of...Connie (September 2005)

Hello, my name is Connie and I too suffer with IBS. I have the same symptoms everyone else has. Stomach cramps day and night. Afraid to go out because of accidents. Depression, weight gain, panic attacks which make IBS worse. I have had all the tests.

I also had a fistula develop on my left butt cheek after I had my daughter. I had an eight-inch tunnel from my rectum to a hole in my left butt cheek. When I went to the bathroom it came out both holes. And since it was diarrhea most of the time you can only imagine how painful it was. It has since healed.

I have taken Lomotil for years. It stops the painful stomach cramps and diarrhea in 30 minutes after you take it. But your body gets used to it and sometimes it does not work. My internist also put me on Colestid, which is for high cholesterol (although I do not have high cholesterol). Colestid takes off all the bad fat and other bad things your body digests to cause high cholesterol, but fat is also one thing that triggers IBS attacks. I take one in the morning and one at night.

No more diarrhea! No more stomach cramps! I also followed the Atkins diet. Not a lot of red meat though and I lost 23 pounds. It helped a lot too.

If I do feel that I am getting constipated I stop the meds the next day and I use the bathroom. I have been living with this for 15 years now. This has helped me. And there are no side effects except constipation. And I have found that sometimes when I go to the bathroom my stool clumps up like little rabbit pellets but that is better than the alternative.

When your stomach does not hurt and you feel like you are not going to have a diarrhea attack you can get up and do things and you feel better. And you forget in your head that you are going to have a diarrhea attack and you are not so worried about a bathroom. I still look for bathrooms and worry a little about having attacks and I think I always will because I lived with it for so long, but it has made living almost bearable now.

E-mail address: [email protected]

The tale of...Linda (10 November 2005)

I am 52 now, but my IBS started when I was 15 or so. It was rather cyclical for me, with an attack occurring about every two weeks, and always around my menstrual cycle. The pain always disappeared right after an episode, until one particularly nasty attack, which finally drove me to a doctor.

Many tests followed, but when nothing else was found, I was diagnosed with IBS and prescribed a medication called Librax, which works by easing the spasmodic bowel. It has been a life-altering medication - at the beginning I had to take several pills every day, but after about a year I was down to one pill every three months or so. At one point I went eight months! I still never leave home without them! By the way, I did not really alter my diet at all. The Librax seemed to break some sort of cycle for me.

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