by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
Irritable bowel syndrome is sometimes used as a blanket diagnosis for many digestive ailments. On this page, you’ll learn a little bit more about the real causes of IBS including more about your second brain. Once you know what’s been causing your unusual gastrointestinal symptoms, you’re one step closer to finding permanent relief!
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome, often shortened to IBS, is not a disease in and of itself but rather a symptom of something going wrong with the digestive and neurological systems. It is a malfunction of how the digestive system works and often presents with chronic abdominal pain, frequent bowel movements, constipation, and colon spasms. To be diagnosed with IBS, a person must have intestinal pain or discomfort at least 3 times per month for 3 months with no other diagnosable disease present.
There are four main types of diagnosable irritable bowel syndrome:
- IBS with Constipation (IBS-C)
In irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, hard, lumpy stools are present at least 25% of the time.
- IBS with Diarrhea (IBS-D)
In irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, loose, watery stools are present at least 25% of the time.
- IBS with Mixed Symptoms (IBS-M)
A diagnosis of IBS with mixed symptoms means both diarrhea and constipation are experienced at least 25% of the time. There may be a week where you have frequent bowel movements that are practically uncontrollable and another week where you are so constipated; you can’t have a bowel movement at all!
- IBS Untyped (IBS-U)
With mixed IBS, symptoms are varied and can change from day to day. One day you’re running to the bathroom with loose stools, the next you feel bloated and constipated.
The Second Brain and the Hidden Cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Since irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by a sudden change in bowel habits, conventional doctors often don’t know what to make of it. The most common feature in IBS is stress. Most people with irritable bowel syndrome have no idea that there is a second brain in their gut. Dr. Michael Gershon first coined the term “second brain” when he came out with his book of the same name in 1996. It was realized that the vast majority of people who suffer from depression, anxiety, ulcers, and Parkinson’s disease show measurable alterations in their digestive tract.