IBS, or is it?.... Jean Grainger

Jean Grainger describes her 20 year battle with a ‘non-existent’ digestive problem.

I have been suffering with gut related problems for over 20 years and like so many others have had to battle on by myself. It isn’t like a broken arm that everyone understands.

I had a thorough hospital investigation some 16 years ago and was told by a delighted specialist that I had nothing to worry about. Obviously a relief but I walked out of his surgery with my problem intact - whatever it was.

I had studied the progress of research into IBS but I didn’t quite fit into the categories - spastic colon was the nearest I could get.

I have managed my condition by becoming aware of my sensitivity to an increasing number of foods and excluding them together with the use of codeine phosphate to stop the continuing rolling, diarrhea and, of course, exhaustion. I went to every doctor in 3 practices over the years but none of them had any understanding of food sensitivities. As others will know well it is a lonely place to find oneself. I have spent a small fortune on alternative practitioners and medicines. How thankful I have been that they have been there for me.

Foods Matter has been a blessing. I read about *Healthcheck and the AMI (Apparatus for Measuring the Internal Organs machine) and have had 3 consultations with Jacqueline Young, who helped to develop the machine in Japan. These included obtaining results from the machine. I learnt a great deal about how my organs were performing, about my posture and how it affected the gut and how to manage my condition with rotation diets and homeopathic remedies. I attended an osteopath regularly instead of a chiropractor because osteopaths are trained to work with the whole patient. This all helped me to manage my condition and to continue with my work as an educational consultant.

In 2002 I read an article in Foods Matter by **Michael Franklin about the importance of ensuring that there are no inappropriate bacteria in the gut. I sent samples and it was discovered that I did have a problem that was causing night sweats and this was quickly cleared up. This particular bacteria was not screened for under the NHS.

In the summer of 2002 I began to deteriorate. My gut was becoming more sensitive, I was using codeine phosphate more often and my energy level was very low. I returned to my doctor and asked to be referred to a specialist. His comment was ‘How could God give us food we cannot eat?’ and ‘I am not expecting the hospital to find anything but I will refer you for your peace of mind’.

The usual thorough tests proved negative but as an after thought the specialist asked me to carry out a ‘pancreolauryl’ test at home. This is a very simple test where urine is collected for 2 days following consumption of a different coloured dye pill for each day. The laboratory result was clear - my pancreas only produces about a quarter of the enzymes needed to digest my food.

The specialist indicated that this condition is very unusual except for alcoholics. At this point she peered at me over her spectacles! I have a migraine if I consume more than a glass of wine each day but I don’t know if she believed me.

This story should then have had a happy end but it was not quite that simple. I was prescribed Creon 10000 but had a violent reaction after only one day. I left it for a week and then tried again with the same result. I talked to my local chemist about the contents of Creon 10000. It was made from pig enzymes.

I have been sensitive to pig and pig products since I was a child. Investigation by the very helpful chemist showed that all the enzymes available on the Health Service are porcine based. I went to the local Muslim chemist but was told that Muslims are allowed to eat pig products if prescribed for health reasons.

I searched the internet and had conversations with chemists from America and Australia but the situation is the same there because the pig enzyme is the most similar to the human enzyme. My specialist couldn’t help me.

I have now found a product made by Solgar from papaya and pineapple enzymes called Pancreatyn. These are coated to allow them to reach the pancreas intact and not be affected by stomach acids. These are not strong enough but are certainly helping. I am undertaking acupuncture to support my body to cope with the condition itself and taking pills to boost my immune system as this is very low. I am feeling much better and am able to continue and enjoy my life.

Incidentally my doctor has refused to pay for the enzymes even though the specialist has acknowledged that they are helping me and I have been able to gain a little weight.

I would like to thank Foods Matter for their very helpful articles and contacts. I would like to hear from anyone (please write to Jean c/o Foods Matter - 5 Lawn Road, London NW3 2XS
info@foodsmatter.com) who knows of pancreatic enzymes either available or being planned that are not made from the pig.

Finally if you have been diagnosed as having IBS, don’t give up on your search for an understandable answer to your condition.

January 2004 Update

I am now working with ***Dr John Briffa (www.drbriffa.com)who is going down the line that it is lack of acid in my stomach that is the problem so we are building up the stomach wall for a month (his theory is that it will be thin because it has not needed to be otherwise with little acid) and then introducing an acid supplement in second week of January. I had a test at Bio-lab which indicated that the pancreatic enzymes had increased so the Solgar Pancreatyn may have made my body work more effectively.

I have learned so much, so I hope others will - at least what the conditions may be that can create poor digestion.

* Jaqueline Young (Inside Story March 2001) can be found at Healthcheck on 020 8449 7771. You could also look at the acupuncture section of the BBC health website which Jackie put together at www.bbc.co.uk/health

** Micheal Franklin (Inside Story October 2002) practises at the Gut Disorder Centre with branches in Oxford and London. You can contact them on 01865 459553 or on 0845 4560944 or via www.nutritionalmedicine.org.uk

*** Dr John Briffa (Foods Matter May 2003) can be contacted via his website - www.drbriffa.com


First published in 2003

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