If You Poison Us, Do We Not Die?

industries_health_research and development_ Tarantula venom could provide relief from Irritable Bowel Syndrome_bannerTARANTULA venom is being used to help develop pain relief medications for people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Researchers from The University of Adelaide in South Australia found that a specific peptide in the spider venom could be used to understand how people sense pain. Two toxins were found to specifically target Nav 1.1, a voltage-gated sodium channel in the nervous system to initiate the electrical impulses that signal pain.

Associate Professor Stuart Brierley said the study demonstrated that Nav 1.1 contributed to mechanical, but not thermal, pain signalling.

“Using the highly specific peptide in the spider toxin we were able to work out how pain nerve fibres signal in a healthy situation and also in chronic abdominal pain such as what you see in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS),” Assoc Prof Brierley said.

“We found that the spider toxin was able to cause a lot more pain in the IBS state than what it was in the healthy state. It’s important to note that because of the studies we should be able to develop treatments for IBS based pain – blockers for Nav 1.1 that only target the peripheral and don’t go to the central nervous system.”

106. cure #1

The causes of IBS are still unknown but it affects about 10 per cent of people globally (and lots of FMS patients). Chronic abdominal pain is the predominant symptom of IBS.

Assoc Prof Brierley said that until recently there had not been much research into the role of the Nav 1.1 channel subtype on the peripheral nervous system.

“Over a long period of time we were able to work out that one particular compound was in the venom that you could isolate, separate out and acted on this Nav 1.1 channel,” he said. “It gave us a highly specific and highly selective tool to look at its role in pain.”

Many nociceptors or pain sensing nerve fibres use Nav channels to initiate the electrical impulses that signal pain. Although the study focused on the peripheral nervous system, the findings also pose potential implications for central nervous system diseases such as epilepsy (and FMS)

The study was a collaboration between the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), the University of Queensland, The University of California, John Hopkins University and the Medical College of Wisconsin. It was published in Nature last week.

take it

Paleolithic Man

I’ve been hearing a lot about the Paleo diet…anyone heard of it? Anyone trying it?

While no definitive research has proven that elimination of certain food groups is an effective treatment for our condition, there are many FM patients who have claimed relief with the Paleo diet (or so we hear on many FB pages). Whichever way, there’s no harm in adapting your diet to include healthier and less processed snacks (except that would mean an end to my current Smarties obsession!)

“There aren’t many good studies that have looked at how diet can affect fibromyalgia symptoms. But I think we can gather a lot from anecdotal evidence – from what patients tell us,” says Ginevra Liptan, MD, medical director of the Frida Center for Fibromyalgia in Portland, Ore., and author of Figuring Out Fibromyalgia: Current Science and the Most Effective Treatments.

Some recipes from The Paleo Recipe Book

from The Paleo Recipe Book

1dut4fi-the-perfect-cookbook5The Paleolithic diet usually works with one simple rule in mind: if cavemen didn’t eat it, neither should you. In other words, eliminate foodstuffs such as refined sugar, processed foods and oil, dairy, grains, wines, condiments and legumes (yes, all gluten is eliminated!). Instead, fill your diet with meals stuffed full of fruits, fish, meat, roots, nuts, seeds, fowl and vegetables.

There will be some major sugar withdrawals for some people (that would be me) which could result in a tough couple of days. 5qivwv-paleo-dessertsLike any detox, the unpleasantness is temporary.

This diet has shown results in improving many auto-immune diseases, including arthritis, MS and Lupus. These are all illnesses which share the same cause: damage to the lining of the intestines, allowing undigested particles into the rest of the body.

Although FM is not an auto-immune disease, it is still associated with elevated gut permeability. In fact, it’s often seen dancing hand-in-hand with IBS in over 80% of patients. With such encouraging evidence showing the positive effects of good nutrition, the Paleo diet might be worth a try. I would really like to hear feedback from some of you guys, please.

The Paleo Diet has been known to improve sleep, stabilise blood sugar levels, strengthen the immune system and provide additional energy to help through the day. These can only assist us to keep up a positive attitude, maintain higher energy levels and to sleep deeply at night.

honeycomb-700x899

Other stuff to know:

  • This diet emphasizes meat and fish. It is impossible to follow a Paleo Diet without eating meat, seafood, or eggs. Excellent vegetarian sources of protein, such as beans and other legumes, are not allowed.
  • Eating a lot of meat and fish can raise your grocery bill.
  • You can do this diet on your own. If you want to connect to your fellow Paleos, there are Paleo Diet forums online.

More Reading

The Paleo Recipe Book

Trans-POO-sions

I haven’t spoken about poo in a while, have I? So, here’s a new use for poo…

WHAT? you say – there is only one use for poo and that’s to go down a toilet. WRONG!

798035-fecal-transplants

Faecal Microbiota transplantation has been viewed by many doctors as the crack-pot end of medicine but a recent study has suggested it might have a use.

What I’m talking about is a healthy person, with no nasty infections, donating their poo to have it mushed up with saline and then inserted via a tube into the intestine of the recipient. The idea is that medications like antibiotics kill off the natural bacteria in our bowels and that the usual probiotics containing lactobacillus may not replace the full range of natural organisms we need for health.

To explain the process simply, stool is put in a blender with saline (salt water), and poured into a syringe. The sick patient is then given the freshly homogenised human stool via a colonoscopy, which is done through the rectum.

The transplants are currently used to treat gut bacterial conditions such as colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Clostridium difficile, or C. diff – an infection which causes diarrhoea so severe that it kills thousands of people every year.

Tests are also being done in Europe to look at what else FMT can be used for – it is thought to be effective in treating metabolic issues, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and neurological conditions including Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinsons.

“Contrary to popular belief, stool has no waste in it – it’s a mass of good bacteria,” says Professor Borody, director of the Centre for Digestive Diseases , who does one to six transplants a week in his Five Dock clinic.

“The incoming bacteria are capable of killing bad bacteria and recolonising your gut, restoring your body’s balance and leading to a resolution of your symptoms.”

While it might sound gross, the results speak for themselves. Prof Borody has had people flying in from as far afield as Paris to undergo stool transplants in his surgery.

Many of his patients are C. diff sufferers who have been plagued with recurrent diarrhoea for years, but are cured within days.

So if FMT is so successful, why isn’t it more widely available?

“Some people just can’t get past the ick factor,” says Prof Borody. “It’s similar to any new theory or practice when it’s introduced – is very hard to get old dogs to learn new tricks. Little interest has been shown within the pharmaceutical industry. Young doctors are very much on board with FMT, it’s the old farts who are holding us back.”

Some enterprising individuals have taken up doing the job of doing it on their own by recruiting stool from their spouse or family. Some have had surprisingly good results as far as combating Crohn’s or Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms (but all the links I found in regards to this had been deleted – so, perhaps you might not want to try this one alone.)

Exciting Toxins

According to a new study in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, monosodium glutamate (MSG) in food may exacerbate our symptoms.

It was only a small study of 37 people: it included women with FM and IBS. Participants first avoided MSG and other excitotoxins (see below,) such as aspartame. Thirty one of the participants said that their symptom load was reduced by more than 30%.

excite

Next, participants were given either orange juice with added MSG or plain juice (as a placebo,) three days a week, for two weeks. Those getting the MSG had a significant return of symptoms when compared to those who didn’t.

MSG also appeared to decrease quality of life when it came to IBS symptoms, and symptoms such as watery stools and abdominal bloating were higher in the MSG group.

Researchers recommend further exploration of what could be a relatively simple and low-cost, non-drug method of alleviating symptoms.

Avoiding Excitotoxins

It can be tough to avoid excitotoxins in your diet. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used in a wealth of products. It goes by the brand names Equal, NutraSweet, AminoSweet, etc. but should always be listed as aspartame in the ingredients list. Check your ‘diet’ products closely.

MSG is harder to identify and avoid, as it lurks in dozens of ingredients. The organization Truth in Labelling has a list of ingredients that do or may contain MSG: List of Ingredients Containing MSG.

 

Poo! Poo! to That!

2010-09-29-beetleAm I the only one who talks about poo?

One of our favourite (NOT!) symptoms of FM is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). New research has shown that IBS may be tied to abnormal brainstem function. UCLA researchers used functional MRI to monitor women’s brainstems while using a balloon-type device to cause rectal distention. Before distention, they’d give the women a visual cue.

The women in the control group had a significant drop in brain activity after the visual cue, which the researchers say is a “down-regulation of pain-signalling systems.” You know how you prepare yourself for an injection – this is how your body prepares itself for pain it knows is coming and also knows isn’t dangerous.

However, the brains of women with IBS didn’t have the same activity drop-off, which researchers say shows they can’t stave off expected pain like most people can. The IBS group also had stronger brain reactions during distention.

It was concluded that the brains of some pain patients react differently to pain than ‘normal’ people, though (once again) they say more research needs to be done. “If we can identify receptors and genes associated with these abnormal brain responses, we should improve both identification of predisposed patients and development of effective remedies,” says Emeran A. Mayer, M.D., who worked on the study.

Researchers say their findings could also help uncover underlying causes and possible treatments for fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions.

 

Obsessed with Poo!

poo 1After another uncomfortable visit to the toilet, I decided to Google ‘Focal Nodular Hyperplasia’ and ‘IBS.’ I found absolutely nothing that linked the two but I did find another study that shows that nearly all patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Diarrhea (IBS-D) actually have a different condition!

It was found that patients thought to have IBS-D – a condition which affects up to 15 per cent of the US population (35 million Americans (US study so US statistics – I’m sure the figures apply to other countries, too)) – may in fact have a different condition altogether.

This was the largest study to date and indicates that doctors may use IBS-D as a blanket diagnosis, rather than cite a collection of separate medical conditions.

According to the study, 98 per cent of participants were found to have a diagnosis different from the initial presentation of IBS-D. This study refutes the existence of IBS-D as a single medical entity and implies that this diagnosis is simply a catch-all diagnosis. The findings also revealed that 68 per cent of the participants actually had conditions related to treatable (that means that 68 per cent of us could actually feel better!) bile acid induced diarrhea as a result of gallbladder dysfunction.

A dysfunctional gallbladder that produces an abnormal amount of bile causing chronic diarrhea can be very treatable, as opposed to IBS, for which physicians and patients often search for treatment to alleviate the discomfort, often to no avail.

bird_pooAccording to the study, once patients were accurately diagnosed, 98 per cent experienced a favourable response (that is, the elimination of urgency and incontinence for at least three months). Wouldn’t that be nice? The end of a lifetime of discomfort, unease and frustration!

“The results of this study demonstrate quite convincingly that many patients may needlessly be going through the physical and emotional pain of IBS and functional diarrhea when, in reality, they may be afflicted with something else that is easily treatable,” said Saad F. Habba, M.D., gastroenterologist at Overlook Hospital and the study author.

Test results

  • 41 per cent were found to have Habba Syndrome (a relatively new entity relating dysfunctional gallbladder with chronic diarrhea , which is successfully treated with bile acid binding agents);
  • 23 per cent of the study subjects were diagnosed with post cholecystectomy diarrhea;
  • 8 per cent had lactose intolerance; and
  • 7 per cent had microscopic colitis.

Doesn’t quite add up to the 98 per cent – but it still shows that there is some hope!

 

And It All Comes Back to the Poo!

***This is NOT dinnertime reading! Do NOT read if you are easily offended, nauseous, or just don’t like to talk about bowel movements***

Isn’t it funny, we all go to the toilet, but we don’t like to talk about it, particularly number twos.

Today, I had a ‘normal’ bowel movement – but what is considered to be a ‘normal’ bowel movement?

A bowel movement should be soft and easy to pass, though some people may have harder or softer stools than others. In general, stool should be brown or golden brown, be formed, have a texture similar to peanut butter, and have a size and shape similar to a sausage. In many cases, a stool that varies a bit from this description is no cause for alarm, especially if it is an isolated incident.

It seems that most of us, especially those with IBS issues, never have a ‘normal’ bowel movement. In fact, our ‘normal’ is more likely to be those ‘really difficult to push out rabbit droppings type,’ or the ‘rush to the closest toilet explosion,’ or even the ‘my ass is dribbling type.’

Most of us who live with FM also have IBS. FM and IBS are co-diagnosed in up to 70% of FM patients. IBS (also known as irritable colon, spastic colon, mucous colitis, or spastic colitis) is a disorder of the bowel, or large intestine. It is characterized by severe abdominal pain and cramping, changes in bowel movements, and a variety of other symptoms.

It has been estimated that as many as two-thirds of all IBS patients have FM, and as many as 70% of FM patients may also have IBS. These statistics differ greatly from the corresponding rates in the general population, where only 10%-15% of individuals are estimated to have IBS. It is unknown if the two conditions are related symptomatically or causally, or if their frequent co-occurrence is merely a coincidence.

Adding pain killers to the mix can be frustrating and painful.

Now, the ‘really difficult to push out rabbit droppings type’ tends to be a constipation. Constipation means different things to different people. For many people, it simply means infrequent stools. For others, however, constipation means hard stools, difficulty passing stools (straining), or a sense of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement. This is called fecal impaction, a condition in which stool hardens in the rectum and prevents the passage of any stool.  According to reports in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, constipation or infrequent stools occur in 30% of FM sufferers.

Constipation also can alternate with diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is an increase in the frequency of bowel movements, an increase in the looseness of stool or both. It is caused by increased secretion of fluid into the intestine, reduced absorption of fluid from the intestine or rapid passage of stool through the intestine. This is the other two types of (what I refer to as) our ‘normal.’

My point to all this crap (Ha! Ha! Lol!) is that I get used to the IBS stuff: I have cramps, I take Buscopan; I have diarrhoea for too long, I take Immodium; and, if I’m constipated, greasy fish and chips seems to do the trick. But when I have a ‘normal’ poo, it feels like it is dragging all my insides out with it. It’s tiring and it’s physically draining. It leaves my body feeling empty (but not in a good way!).

So, is this what ‘normal’ feels like?

Further Reading: