Signs and Symptoms: Adrenal Fatigue and IBS

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


How Can You Define Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

This woman is bent down and clutching her stomach. She may have adrenal fatigue and IBS.Are adrenal fatigue and IBS related? Are adrenal fatigue and IBS reducing your quality of life? There is useful information below concerning adrenal fatigue and IBS that could change your life! Irritable bowel syndrome, otherwise known as IBS, is one of the common syndromes that affects the intestinal tract. It is a collection of symptoms usually involving chronic intestinal discomfort with diarrhea and/or constipation for reasons unknown. IBS has been classified as a functional disease without recognizable pathology. The name simply describes the bowel in an irritable state. It is one of the most common problems of the GI tract and is actually twice as common among women as it is in men.

It is important to talk to you about Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome as it relates to IBS because both are associated and can occur together. Essentially, adrenal fatigue and IBS are partners in crime.  IBS is a bowel dysfunction that can play out in numerous ways for various reasons. Your body is not very stable and from time to time, you may feel that there is discontent in your GI system. The GI tract is not “happy”. Sometimes it will be diarrhea, sometimes it will be constipation, but the general trend is more towards constipation for most of those who are in the advanced stages of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) when the body starts to metabolically slow down to conserve energy for survival. As your body slows down, the gut motility slows down as well. When the gut motility slows down, food tends to stay in the gut longer with increased transit time. The body will automatically go into constipation mode rather than diarrhea mode. It is interesting, because in the situation of IBS with AFS, oftentimes you experience consistent constipation, but intermittently accompanied by some diarrhea, especially when you are under stress. Most times, it is a mild form of persistent constipation that does not get better by itself. Although IBS does not pose a serious threat to health, it can have adverse effects on your quality of life.

What Are the Things That Can Cause IBS in Your GI Tract?

Many things can lead to adrenal fatigue and IBS, stress among themThe main cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is unknown, but there are some factors that appear to play a role in the development of this disorder in your body system. Commonly associated with IBS is an imbalance in the level of serotonin in your body, as well as recent history of heightened stress. Common triggers of IBS include the following:

  1. Chronic stress
  2. Depression
  3. Use of various antibiotics and other medications
  4. Change in hormone levels or hormonal imbalance
  5. Anxiety
  6. Chronic infections
  7. Brain chemical imbalance
  8. GI infection
  9. Imbalance gut Flora
  10. Malfunctioning immune system

What Are the Common Symptoms That Makes You Know You Are IBS Patient?

If you suspect any of the following in your body, be sure to check yourself for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  1. Diarrhea and /or constipationThis man is holding his stomach and in pain. He may be suffering from adrenal fatigue and IBS.
  2. Painful bowel movement
  3. Abdominal bloating
  4. Stool with undigested food particles
  5. Cramping
  6. Passage of mucus from the rectum
  7. Loose stool with onset of pain
  8. Feeling of incomplete defecation
  9. Relief of abdominal pain after defecation
  10. Anxiety
  11. Loss of appetite
  12. Poor food absorption
  13. Early satiety
  14. Nausea
  15. Fatigue
  16. Lower back pain
  17. Muscle and joint pain
  18. Headache
  19. Bad breath
  20. Frequent and/or urgent need to urinate

How We Diagnose IBS?

If you are having any of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms, you will always be recommended by your doctor for blood test because there conditions that cause similar symptoms, such as infection or a stomach condition caused by gluten intolerance. Usually laboratory tests are negative, and IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion.

How Can You Reverse Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Anyone can suffer from IBS. Because Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) causes are not clear, the recovery generally is focused on the relief of symptoms and improved quality of life. . Mild signs and symptoms of IBS can be successfully controlled by learning to manage stress and making changes to diet and lifestyle. The foods that trigger the symptoms should be avoided. There should be enough exercise, sleep and drinking of plenty fluid, especially water. The following are the suggested treatments for IBS:

  1. Reduce your stress levels and stay positive. These are great ways to help adrenal fatigue and IBSThe first step for recovery for Irritable Bowel Syndrome is to reduce the stress on your body and mind by avoiding negative thinking. Also, replenishing your body with a good diet and positive thinking will help. There are foods you need to avoid if you want to recover from IBS, they include; caffeine, processed foods, sugar and sweeteners, and hydrogenated oil. Eat foods like avocado, olives, coconut, fatty fish, cruciferous vegetables, chicken and turkey, kelp and seaweed. The foods mentioned are important in the recovery process of overcoming Adrenal Fatigue as well, because they are low in sugar, nutrient dense and contain healthy fiber and fat. To get the bowel moving, fiber must be increased. Lots of fibrous fruits and vegetables as mentioned above will do. Avoiding broccoli, beans and dairy products is also advised.
  2. Rest as much as possible when you feel tired. In fact, you need to be sleeping for 8 hours a day.
  3. Take time to have some fun.
  4. Do moderate exercise every day and reduce work stress. Light exercise in your living room is a way to start.
  5. Avoid negative thinking and negative people.
  6. Medication to treat IBS can vary according to symptoms. Seek advice from your primary medical doctor. Natural herbs can also help relief the syndrome. Digestive enzymes, malic acid, and magnesium can be used to reduce constipation and probiotics can be used to reduce diarrhea. These are gentle, natural compounds that most tolerate well. Care should be taken not to take motility drugs that contain opiates as these can permanently damage the gut over time with dependency issues. Enemas should be avoided unless there is no other choice as it can cause a “lazy bowel” with long term use. For healthy gut, a combination of glutamine, DHEA, and pantethine can be used.
  7. Seek counsel whenever you experience any emotional trauma. People suffer mental and emotional problems as they struggle to manage IBS. Counseling can help in this situation, it can include; psychotherapy, helping to work through anxiety issues, and education about relaxation techniques. People find discussing irritable bowel syndrome difficult, but ignoring it will not take the pain away, it will only aggravate it.
  8. It is important to find the root cause of your IBS fatigue. One of the common triggers that is often overlooked is Adrenal Fatigue. When the adrenals are weak, IBS becomes more prevalent. The key for long term healing is to first heal the adrenal glands. Unfortunately, natural compounds that may have adrenal support effect can sometimes make IBS worse. These include herbs such as rhodiola, ginseng, maca, green tea, and licorice. Trying to heal IBS and AFS concurrently requires extensive clinician experience because the body is generally in a state of weakness and is very fragile. The wrong move can make both Adrenal Fatigue and IBS worse. A comprehensive program is required to ensure lasting recovery, and to rid yourself of both adrenal fatigue and IBS.

DrLam.com
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I have been researching about thyroid and celiac problems for 3 years. This is the first time anyone has ever explained the adrenal fatigue syndrome so clearly. It's like a breath of fresh air. I finally realized the huge significance of emotional stress and how it affects our bodies. That's the real problem. everything else is because of how we process stress, emotions and circumstances




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1 Comment

  • Pravi says:

    Dr lam,
    I’ve been following ur articles lately, i’ve a doubt tht these two situations r concurrently present in me. I’m tryng to treat my adrenals first n m on hydrocortisone 10+5+5 mg protocol which i’m planning to taper off later. But i’m facing the chronic acidity n bloating problems with that, which makes my ibs symptoms worse. Would u recomend me to take a ppi with tht whnever necessary.
    If there is any better remedy for it, i would love to read, as you have not mentioned any treatment or atleast the way to go in the absence of any specific treatment present.

    Thanks for all the information,
    Pravi.