logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Finding the Cause of IBS

Although irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been considered psychosomatic, new evidence points to a bacterial origin for this distressing condition.
Finding the Cause of IBS
Bad bacteria

IBS as Mystery Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS has long been a mystery to doctors. It causes the sufferer cramps, constipation or diarrhea and a lot of other digestive distress. Until now gastroenterologists could find no reason for the symptoms and considered IBS largely psychological. They call it functional bowel disorder, and it afflicts nearly 40 million Americans.

Possible Cause of IBS

Now there is both a non-psychological explanation and a test for the condition that may help with treatment. Dr. Mark Pimentel has found that toxins produced by a bacterial infection such as a bout of food poisoning can harm nerves vital to digestive system function. They can also trigger an ongoing immune system reaction long after patients have recovered from the infection itself.

A New Test for IBS

Now Dr. Pimentel and his colleagues have developed a test for antibodies to the toxins. The test was validated in a study of almost 3,000 people with and without IBS or other digestive disorders.

PLOS One, May 13, 2015

Rate this article
4.8- 23 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
Get the latest health news right in your inbox

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

Screenshots of The People's Pharmacy website on mobile devices of various sizes
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.