It took fifteen years to learn my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) diagnosis was wrong. My digestive issues started in childhood. At that time, after describing my chronic bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain to my family doctor, I was diagnosed with IBS. I was told to eat more fibre and drink more water. What I heard was “good luck with that diarrhea—for the rest of your life!”
This diagnosis did little for me other than leave me depressed and hopeless, convinced that I would always have a bad gut and there was nothing I could do about it.
As a teen, my IBS led to anxiety, self-isolation, and a lack of self-esteem. I avoided social gatherings due to my fear of debilitating abdominal pain that could strike at any moment and shame caused by my embarrassingly loud bowel movements. Emergency runs to the bathroom and hours spent writhing in pain were my norm. Returning to the doctor would be pointless because, after all, I had IBS, a permanent and lifelong condition with no known cure.
Fast-forward to my late twenties, when my itchy vagina led me to a walk-in clinic where I met Dr. Barb, who, despite my vaginal concern, surprisingly asked me all about my gut! Her interest in my gut health surprised me, and I proclaimed, “you’re not a normal doctor, are you?” She laughingly responded that no, she was trained in functional medicine. She ordered a variety of lab tests and when I returned the following week to review them, I learned I had been misdiagnosed and that I actually had a parasite and a fungal overgrowth in my intestines. Treating these problems took about two weeks after which my bowel movements normalized, my bloated belly flattened out, my skin cleared, my abdominal pain resolved, my vagina stopped itching (yay), and I found myself with more energy than ever before. In other words my “permanent and lifelong IBS” went away, as did several other chronic nagging health issues.
To finally experience normal digestion and improved overall health was an immense relief but I also felt anger and grief. Had I seriously suffered fifteen years of misery that could have been prevented if someone had just run a couple basic lab tests? I was troubled by the questions: how many people put up with their “IBS” when their symptoms can be explained by other underlying issues? And how many people just accept that having a “bad gut” is normal?
How many people just put up with their "IBS" when their symptoms could be explained by other underlying issues?
I couldn’t just stand by while millions of people suffered needlessly. I completed a doctorate in naturopathic medicine, and after years of clinical practice, I can tell you that it’s still happening––people with “bad guts” are still being diagnosed with IBS when they have other easy-to-treat issues. I now consider “IBS” a lazy and unhelpful diagnosis—and have learned it is often a misdiagnosis.
I now consider “IBS” a lazy and unhelpful diagnosis [...] often a misdiagnosis.
You see, the diagnostic criteria for IBS allows for a wide variety of individuals with a vast array of symptoms and conditions to be lumped into one box. Once practitioners diagnose IBS, it is frequently and sadly the case that many of them fail to investigate the possibility of other additional underlying and easily treatable causes of their patients’ digestive symptoms. An IBS diagnosis should be reserved for cases where everything else has been ruled out. Unfortunately, the diagnosis is frequently made without ruling out much else at all.
In my personal and clinical experience, I have learned that chronic digestive symptoms often resolve easily once we figure out what organs and systems need support and which barriers are in the way of healing. It is all too common that people with bad guts rely on Dr. Google or fill their medicine cabinets with a plethora of expensive supplements and drugstore medications to manage symptoms when they could instead treat the root of their problem if they only knew what it was.
I'm asking you to stop settling for a bad gut and raise your standards already! After all, while advertising may have led you to believe that regular diarrhea is normal (just take this medication and your problem is solved!), problems of digestion are often accompanied by numerous other health problems like poor immune function, brain fog, fatigue, hormone imbalances, mood issues, skin problems, headaches, anemia, pain, sleep disturbances, food intolerances, and more. You deserve better than that, don’t you think?
If you regularly experience chronic digestive symptoms like constipation, diarrhea (or a mix of the two), abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, excess gas, belching, or stools that are hard to pass, watery, fluffy, or a colour other than brown, this book is for you.
My mission is to help you figure out what’s behind your gut issues so you can stop settling, stop guessing, and start treating the actual issue. This book will educate and empower you so you can better understand your own digestive system, advocate for yourself, and finally receive the answers and health care you deserve.
My book will teach you:
- What is “normal” and “abnormal” when it comes to gut health
- An overview of common and uncommon conditions commonly diagnosed as “IBS”
- The diagnostic criteria for IBS and what to do if you are diagnosed with IBS
- An overview of available diagnostic laboratory tests and assessment strategies that can help diagnose the root cause of the problem, including how and where to get them
- Free and low-cost do-it-yourself assessment tools and strategies you can use to identify the source of the problem all by yourself
- A variety of practitioners you may wish to include in your care team
- Lifestyle strategies to optimize your digestion
- An overview of supplements that can be helpful and how and when to use them
- Red flag symptoms and when to seek urgent medical help
In short, I want to teach you what 12-year-old me didn’t know so you can finally understand and treat the real underlying cause of your symptoms, suffer less, and spend more time living your life! Ready to dive in?