The Enlightened Innards

beakers in a science lab

There was a time when talking about one’s digestive system was pooh-poohed. But those days have been wiped out! If you look on YouTube, you’ll even find Erin Davis talking about farts! Farts and science, not just farts. But still … farts.

Chances are, you know someone who has IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Tens of millions of people have it, two-thirds of them, women. I’m one of those lucky bums. I won’t get into the particulars of how it manifests, but you can probably imagine a symptom or two.

Diagnosing IBS means ruling out everything else. IBS may as well stand for for I’ll Be Speculating, because it just means doctors have run out of specific diagnoses. IBS covers a range of unexplained symptoms. And everyone seemed to be okay with that. Everyone except those of us with the condition.

However, researchers in Belgium think they might have an answer. In short, it’s an immune response. Like a baby allergy.

IBS often sets in after a gastro upset such as a stomach flu or food poisoning. These researchers now believe that whatever was in the intestines during that illness provoked the release of histamines – sometimes described as bouncers in the nightclub of your digestive system. And researchers think the bouncers recognize that same food when it returns to the same area of the gut, so they try to toss it out. That may be how you develop a food sensitivity that results in IBS.

A lot more testing will follow but the theory makes sense. So, how will they convince the bouncers to stop tossing the (insert food here) from your belly? First, take the WANTED poster off the wall, duh. And then, maybe they’ll develop a type of allergy pill – an anti-histamine – as the cure.

None of it is for certain yet, but at least someone in the science community is getting to the, ahem, bottom of it.

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