The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 962: Taming the Beast in the Belly (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)

Inflammatory bowel disease can be devastating, but it is treatable.
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Taming the Beast in the Belly (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)

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More than a million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are usually considered autoimmune conditions, although it is not necessarily clear what may trigger the immune system to attack the lining of the digestive tract.

Find out about the symptoms of IBD and how it is distinguished from IBS, irritable bowel syndrome. What role do microbiota play in this condition, and is this bowel flora amenable to changes? How could prebiotics, probiotics or fecal transplants help?

We will discuss the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and find out how physicians could tailor treatment for each individual patient. We take your calls.

Guest: R. Balfour Sartor, MD, is the Midgett Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology & Immunology at the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, NC, and Director of the UNC Multidisciplinary Center for IBD Research and Treatment. He is co-director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease, and was formerly chief medical advisor of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. The website is

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Macaroons for IBS- The coconut in the cookie has caprylic acid which kills fungus in gut, but the sugar feeds fungus. Check for fungal infection.

You are wonderful…Please keep this going on and on and on……
All of your articles are interesting and I do appreciate the comments from those who have the problems. Unfortunatley or fortunatley doctors are human and do not know a lot about the meds they give to their patients…sad..but true. So, thank you for all your knowledge in this field. I do not get your radio show but I do love you on my PC. THANK YOU.

Thank you Barbara!

FYI: I discovered this past year that reducing my weight from 160 to 140 has had the fabulous side effect of alleviating my years-long IBS and acid reflux.

Great show! You guys are great. Love the new website. Commenters are the awesome!

Did you notice that “treat” is used rather than “cure” when talking about IBD, etc?

And so many physicians say what we eat makes no difference. Maybe someone needs to teach them in their training that food DOES make a difference.

If I miss the show, I really can’t follow up; I’ll add my vote for needing a transcription. There are computer programs that read dialogue and put it in print form. A quick review for spelling and other errors is all that would be necessary.

Perhaps there are copyright issues with the guests on the show, but it really would be helpful if we could read the text, rather than have to go back and listen.

Unfortunately, transcripts are not something we are able to offer at this time.

The problem with computer transcription software is that even if they can be somewhat accurate for everyday speech, they often do not do well with medical terms or vocabulary. In addition, they cannot automatically discriminate between voices, nor can they automatically enter punctuation.

For best results transcription software needs to be trained to a specific voice for maximum accuracy. This is not possible because we have new guests (and sometimes more than one guest per show) every week.

We do have an alternative option, however. Our shows are always made available to listen to for free from our website or for download as a podcast for one month after the broadcast date. We also have CDs for sale of all of our previous shows for you to review and replay at your leisure. (We are still working on updating our CD catalog into our new online shopping cart, but hope to have it completed soon.)

Another idiopathic condition! Can you believe it? I don’t. What I do believe is that this is another one of Big Pharma’s dreams come true. Billions of dollars in prescriptions restricted to only treating symptoms, and nary a mention of prevention. It makes me want to scream! But I do believe it is better to light a candle than curse the dark.

So here are a few candles that just might illuminate the problem a little. The first link goes directly to a possible CAUSE of IBD. It has to do with a little gatekeeper called, of all things, Zonulin. Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? Anyway, it’s all about how Zonulin opens gates in the epithelial layer of the gut which allows protein fragments to pass through, which can drive the immune system crazy. Yes, that’s right, the same immune system that’s going nuts in the gut, causing IBD. Gee, do you think there might be a connection? I do. The title of the paper is: “Zonulin and Its Regulation of Intestinal Barrier Function: The Biological Door to Inflammation, Autoimmunity, and Cancer”: . The second link is a youtube video by IHMC, titled: “Larry Smarr – The Human Microbiome and the Revolution in Digital Health”: . If you want to know how little we know about how the gut actually works, you should find this video very interesting.

I sincerely hope you find this helpful,

Extremely helpful, Thank you so much for sharing!

I visited an exceptional raw milk dairy in Eastern Washington last week and the farmer handed me a copy of “Devil in the Milk” by Keith Woodford. It’s about the beta casein molecule in most milk and how it is connected to common diseases and conditions. The author describes the health and politics of A1 and A2 milk. It’s worth a read.

I wish I could have called in to this episode to add this to the conversation: SSRIs and SNRIs can cause severe, nearly untreatable diarrhea in some people. For some reason, gastroenterologists don’t seem to know this.

Before I understood the antidepressant connection, I sought treatment from my internist, who sent me to the gastroenterologist, who never found a reason for my crippling diarrhea. He had me go through lots of expensive testing, diagnosed me with cellular colitis, and prescribed Asacol and an opium-based anti-diarrheal. He also recommended Imodium and lots of fiber. None of these worked. The opium stuff put me to sleep, the fiber made my life even worse, the large quantities of Imodium made me feel sick, and the Asacol did nothing at all.

I don’t remember exactly how I discovered the connection to the anti-depressants, but once I realized what was going on, I tried a number of different ones, but my digestive issues never got any better. Stopping the anti-depressants is not an option, not yet.

My psychiatrists are always residents, so I get a new one every year. I would tell every young, new psychiatrist about my intestinal dilemma, but they never had any suggestions, other than go back to the gastroenterologist. Finally, one day, a new one said, “You know, there are drugs for IBS, different than the ones you were prescribed for colitis.” She gave me the name of a drug to ask for from my internist.

Lo and behold, it helps a lot. It is an anti-spasmodic. It works especially well when I take it along with an Imodium Multi-Symptom. It’s name is Bentyl. It is so cheap, my insurance pays the entire price. It has no side effects. It has been around for years and years. Why did it take me five years to find out about it?

I wanted to ask every caller in to the show, “Are you taking anti-depressants?” Every doctor should be aware of this side-effect, especially gastroenterologists and psychiatrists. There are more serotonin receptors in the gut than in the brain. Of course SSRIs and SNRIs are going to affect the intestines. I think this side-effect is far more common than doctors realize.

As with the reader above, my hearing loss is so great that I can hear only a word now and then on the CD I bought, and the Podcast download would be useless to me. The information on the Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Show 962, “Taming the Beast in the Belly” has extremely valuable information on a disorder that I have suffered with for years. It would mean a lot to me to have that information, as I have suffered for years, to the point that I only leave my home now to go to a doctor–they usually do more harm than good. I, too, have read the book that was mentioned and have gone by the diet which has helped. I also found help in the book, “Fast Tract Digestion,” relief without drugs, by Norman Robillard, Ph. D. I realize that transcribing the words on your Saturday morning probrams might not be practical. Just wanted you to know there are those of us who can’t make out the words.

I’ve had IBS for years. It began after I had contracted food poisoning at a local restaurant. Unfortunately, I also began to have acid reflux after that same illness. An endoscopy showed quite a bit of acid erosion. I’ve been able to manage the heartburn and colon issues pretty well by avoiding certain foods that are triggers for me. I also found that lactobacillus acidophilus GG (the active ingredient in Culturelle) has really helped! I’ve been taking one capsule of it each day, along with one Fibercon tablet (usually after my evening meal). This combo has made a huge difference in how I feel.

I have one question about probiotics: Culturelle has only the one type of probiotic (lactobacillus acidophilus GG with inulin, a prebiotic) but it has really worked well. Is it true that probiotic pills that have six or even eight different types of probiotics are better than just one? Should I be using something else?

While I have GERD, I’m unable to take Prilosec, Nexium, or other prescription heartburn remedies. That’s because after taking Nexium for five years, I suddenly developed a serious heart arrhythmia. My cardiologists felt it was caused by the Nexium, because daily use of these PPIs can cause a lack of magnesium. The heart is a muscle and needs enough magnesium.

So, I’ve had to stop taking all heartburn meds except for one or two OTC antacids (generic Rolaids) a day. I manage quite well by eating carefully. Taking Nexium and additional magnesium didn’t work. I tried that. So when I see that Nexium is now sold with added magnesium, I just want to warn people that taking additional magnesium with Nexium doesn’t help everyone. Three years ago, I stopped taking Nexium. A month later, the arrhythmia was gone. Mind you…I was having about 8500 skipped ventricular beats daily. And it was all because of Nexium. Worth knowing.

About the use of peppermint for IBS: If you also have acid reflux (or GERD), be careful. you may want to avoid mint. It is one of the worst heartburn triggers. Maybe the enteric coated peppermint works, though, for some. It didn’t work for me. I got heartburn from it. I have to really avoid mint of any kind.

Love your radio show!


Four years ago, this month (Sept.), I reconnected with friend from many years back. As we got caught up on where we’ve been over the years, she revealed that she had been suffering from severe ulcerative colitis for about 20 years. It was so severe at times, she nearly bled to death. Desperate to help her with this serious health issue, I called on my own experience with digestive disease, searched the People’s Pharmacy, and did other research on alternative treatment options. I have been controlling my own digestive disorder since 1977 by simply avoiding food and food combinations that promote acidity in the digestive system, and instead, replacing those foods with foods that promote alkalinity, including lots of fresh vegetables. I also eat fish and chicken in place of pork and beef products, which to me are poison.

I recommended my diet to my friend, the number one thing was to completely eliminate red meat from the diet. Since that time, she stopped eating red meat, began eating shredded coconut on a daily basis, along with walnuts and yogurt, eats foods that promote alkalinity, and reduced alcohol consumption. For 3 and a half years, now, she has been in complete remission and has her life back.

I don’t know that any one thing would have put her in remission. But, this relatively simple change of diet has made a world of difference in her life. The People’s Pharmacy can take partial credit. It was here that I first heard of the coconut remedy.

I should add to my story that my friend’s doctors did little more than treat her ulcerative colitis symptoms. In twenty years, they offered no real solution to her condition, other than to put her on steroids for 3 years. She was thinking of going ahead with colectomy surgery when we reconnected. Thank goodness we reconnected when we did.

My first symptom of ulcerative colitis (UC) was 30 years ago and I’ve battled it both traditionally and naturally. After a colonoscopy 15 years ago, traditional medicine “specialists” unanimously recommended removal of my entire large intestine and put me on pharmaceutical drugs that didn’t help. Since they couldn’t tell me what caused the problem, said diet had nothing to do with it, and didn’t know how to treat it, I turned down their offer. I first bought Elaine Gottschall’s book to learn about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and that helped me for the most part, but any straying from that strict diet caused flare-ups. So over the past 15 years, I’ve tried many natural treatments and here are the ones that have made the most difference:
1. Diet – limiting foods that are known to cause inflammation in the body (e.g. sugars, grains) and adding more daily fiber (e.g., psyllium, vegetables) helps most.
2. Vitamin D3 – after reading about a promising UC rat study using D3, I found that keeping my blood level around 100ng/mL has made a significant difference (and I haven’t gotten a cold or flu since!).
3. L-Glutamine – taking powder twice daily helped get me out of trouble, so I continue taking it daily.
4. probiotics with high bacteria count (e.g., Ultimate Flora 50 or 80 billion) – taken daily
5. homeostatic soil organism probiotics (Primal Defense tablets) – taken at any start of a flare-up for a week to 10 days helps stop it.
6. extra virgin coconut oil – taken daily at start of flare-up helps (Archway macaroons have too much sugar/high fructose corn syrup)
7. reducing stress (I had to change careers to do this)

How does H. pylori come into play in IBD?

Can you please comment on the FODMAP diet for ibs?

Does alcohol cause a problem for people with IBS?

I’m new at learning about IBS….are there food and beverages I should avoid.


Hi there, I am hearing impaired and am unable to listen to your podcasts. Do you have transcripts available? I would like a copy of this one if possible.

We are not able to provide transcripts of our radio show at this time. We do however offer a wealth of health knowledge in print form through our website, our free email newsletter, our nationally syndicated newspaper column, books and inexpensive downloadable guides. Please explore the site, check out our search function, and our drug and herb library.

If we’ve covered a health topic on our radio show, we may also have written about the same topic in our newsletter or in our newspaper column. Thanks for your interest!

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