All About Irritable Bowel: Solving it Naturally, Who Needs Drugs?


Irritable bowel is a common medical issue in both animals and humans. By looking at the cause of the issue and then strengthening the gut, one can actually bring the case to cure. The intestinal tract provides about 70% of the immune system’s support. It also is intricately controlled by the nervous system. Moreover, the GI tract depends significantly on the live flora or naturally occurring bugs or bacteria in the gut. Treating the GI tract naturally allows the body to reboot itself and regain intestinal health. On the other hand, not allowing the body to fight its own battle is a set-up for chronic conditions and lifelong dependence on drug therapy with all its side effects and long-term damage.
Just to review the GI anatomy, we first have the mouth with the salivary glands and the physical mastication of the teeth and jaws. In humans, saliva plays an important part in that it contains amylase, which helps convert starch to the simple sugar maltose. Unlike the saliva of humans, the saliva of dogs and cats really only supplies lubrication for the passage of food and does not have any significant enzymatic activity. In addition to supplying lubrication, the saliva helps in removing heat from the body, as does the panting process. Another important part of the GI tract is the esophagus, a muscular tube that propels the food, after the swallowing, from the mouth to the stomach. With the peristalsis wave, the bolus is pushed through the relaxed lower esophageal sphincter into the stomach, and then the sphincter is closed to prevent reflux.
Within the stomach digestion begins. Gastric juices, which are mucoid and highly acidic, contain pepsin (a protein-digesting enzyme) and gastrin (a hormone that operates a feedback mechanism). They are secreted onto the food, and the churning begins on all portions presented, resulting in chyme. In dogs, the food will churn for four to eight hours before moving on to the pylorus. In humans, the time in the stomach can be a half hour. The more processed and preserved the food, the longer the churning.
As chyme goes into the small intestines, further digestion takes place and the absorption of nutrients begins. From the duodenum to ileum to jejunum, different aspects of digestion occur. With added bile from the liver (gall bladder), there is an alkalinization of the contents and there is fat absorption. The pancreatic enzymes come from the pancreas’ exocrine function, which is responsible for acid neutralizing bicarbonate and enzymes like lipase and amylase. The endocrine pancreas regulates the blood glucose levels by secreting insulin in the appropriate amount to keep the blood sugar in balance. The food is absorbed through the finger-like projections called villa, each of which has a massive surface area made up of microvilli. The microvilli perform multiple functions including absorbing nutrients, producing digestive enzymes, and blocking absorption of waste materials. Protein is digested into long chains of amino acids, which are absorbed into the mesenteric veins and transported to the liver where they are utilized by the body. The chyle, a lymph material mixed with chylomicrons which are droplets of triglyceride fat, are absorbed into the lymphatic system. Chyle passes into veins (via the thoracic duct) where it is mixed with blood.
The large intestines, or colon and rectum, is not as long as the small intestines. It has no villi for absorption but has mucus-secreting cells. The colon acts as a reservoir for storage, and intestinal flora provides the digestion. Absorption is limited to fluids, electrolytes, fatty acid (produced as the bacteria ferment dietary fiber), and vitamins A, B, and K. Segmentation slows the peristaltic contractions. The principal stimulus for motility in the large intestines is distention by the contents of undigested material in the colon. The colon contents both stimulate the segmental contractions that limit the speed of transit and the propulsive peristaltic activity that speeds transit time. By adding fiber, you aid both diarrhea and constipation. For constipation, adding more bulk will stimulate mass propulsive activity so that evacuation can occur. With segmental contractions, transit time slows down due to more bulk; more fluid can be absorbed so diarrhea is controlled.
So what about leaky gut? This term has been used to describe a dysbiosis in the gut, dys meaning bad, abnormal, or difficult, and bios meaning life or living organism. This imbalance occurs because of the entire immune system, not just a particular protein. In healthy digestion, proteins are broken down into amino acids that can be absorbed into the blood stream. The larger protein particles are held in the lumen until they can be digested further. With leaky gut syndrome, the cells of the gut wall loosen their normal tight attachments and food proteins are absorbed before they are fully broken down. The body’s immune system regards these proteins suspiciously and classifies them as foreign invaders. The body protects itself by causing the diarrhea to get rid of the invaders. Without the proper nutrition being absorbed, you have Candida overgrowth, with arthritis, skin and other allergic disorders, and general malaise. This condition will totally weaken the animal as more nutrients are lost and the circle of conventional antibiotic antacids, antidiarrheals, and steroids are layered on to this fragile, out-of-balance digestive system.
At this point we can bring this system back into balance by understanding the way the body tries to heal, working within the framework of rebooting the immune system, and considering the layers of health according to the Laws of Hering and homeopathy. The deepest layer of the body is the mind and mental with all the emotional pieces. The next layer is the deeper organs, like the pancreas, liver, lungs, adrenals, and kidneys. The third layer is the intestine, bones, joints, and bladder. The fourth layer is the skin and all the external associated organs, like the ears, nose, and eyes. Allowing the problem to come to the skin allows the animals to actually heal. If one can look at the irritable bowel cases in hindsight, usually one can see an episode of suppression of something in the skin or an activation of the sycotic miasm. There are four main miasms in Homeopathy: Psora (itchiness); Sycosis (overproduction); Syphillitic(destructive; and Tubucular (like tubuculosis).
First, we need to get the nutrition on track by bringing back a diet that the dog’s immune system has thrived on for millions of years of evolution. A raw diet consists of raw ground meats and bones and raw pureed vegetables. Initially, the grinding of the vegetables will increase the surface area of the food and will give the added probiotics and intestinal flora a chance to break down the food even further. Getting fresh intestinal chyme from another animal would speed up the process but is not always available. One can get green tripe to assist in this process. Giving a high quality probiotics with multiple genera and species of flora, such as lactobacillus salivarius, Bifidobacterium longum, and Saccharomyces spp, is a necessity. Higher quality probiotics usually are refrigerated. I use a lot of RX Vitamins. One of these products is Nutrigest, which has a good balance of probiotics with added ingredients that we will discuss. I also give digestive enzymes like amylase, lipase, papain (from pineapple). Do not give any added sugars. Products like Prozyme are also helpful, as is giving a live cultured unsweetened yogurt or kefir.
I also recommend using Nutriceuticals. For example, Standard Process uses raw glandulars, which are portions of small intestine and pancreas and liver, in the products like canine or feline enteric support. The Concept of feeding the organ systems that are weak and need support is done by injesting the particular tissue. Also, DMG dimethyglycine (50-250 mg) and glutamine (250-3,000 mg) are very good immune stimulants. Another good product is Vetri Liquid by Vetriscience. N-acetylglucosamine (250-1,500) provides fuel for synthesis of protective glycosaminoglycans that are lost from the mucosa of the inflamed bowel. Antioxidants like Vitamin C at 10 mg/lb two times daily up to 250-3000 mg) and Vitamin E at 5iu/lb two times daily help to acidify the gut, providing a hostile environment for pathogens and yeast. Vitamin B complex, especially B12, provides the flora as well as the liver with a needed nutrient. Bovine Colostrum, an immune stimulant, is a way to provide added antibodies and nutrition. We use Flex GL (from Vitaflex), which is glucosamine, a natural anti-inflammatory, with the Vitamin C. A good quality Omega 3,6 fatty acid is also recommended. We use Rx Vitamins Ultra FA. It has been tested for mercury. We work up to double the dosage for about six weeks then go to a lower maintenance.
The following herbal remedies are also beneficial. Demulucent herbs sooth and protect the digestive tract membranes; these herbs include slippery elm bark (Ulmus fulva), plantain and licorice, aloe, marshmallow, flaxseed, and psyllium husk. Calendula raspberry leaf, goldenseal, and chamomile help reduce the inflammation and tonify the intestinal mucosa to provide an additional barrier against microbes. Mexican Yam (Dioscorea villosa) acts as an anti-inflammatory and spasmolytic. Boswellia and peppermint have also been used. Also Cat’s claw, evening primrose seed oil, hops, kudzu, licorice, sarsaparilla, and yarrow are useful. Use extra phytonutrients like spirulina and alfalfa. The alfalfa is with the Vitamin E in the Vitaflex E product.
I also recommend the following specific products. Rx Nutrigest which contains: Pets Probiotic cultures, LGlutamine, Cats claw, N-acetlyD, glucosamine, calcium pantothenate, ginger, Fructooligosaccharide, oregon grape, garlic, psyllium seed, aloe extract, licorice DGL, and Vitamin A. Use one-half to one capsule for small dogs and cats; one to two capsules for medium; and two to three for large dog given two times daily. Prozyme contains: Alpha-Amylase Aspergillus oryza, Lipase, Cellulase, Protease, and bromelain. Two other beneficial products are New Zealand Bovine Colostrum and Cell Advance by Vetriscience . Also, the formula by Greg and Mary Tilford is two parts slippery elm or plantain, one part marshmallow root, one part licorice, one part fennel For dogs, give one tablespoon of fresh dried herbs, one milliliter of low alcohol tincture combination or two tablespoons of a strong tea fed twice a day. Cats get ½ dosage. Horses should be fed two to four cups of dried herbs or four to eight cups of fresh herbs.
Homeopathically, I often try to clear out some of the sycosis that is present by putting the pet on an LM1 Thuja (arborvitae) for twenty days. The number of succussions varies in accordance with the animal’s constitution. Specific homeopathics are really important. If the animal is irritable and aggressive and has been loaded up with many conventional drugs, Nux Vomica may be needed. Giving one dosage at 200C to help start the case is an option or to give a lower potency of 30C daily for a few days. If the animal is anxious and restless, giving Arsenicum alba is a choice. If there is a lot of gas and flatulence, one may use Carbo Veg. If there is association of some aggressiveness, Lycopodium may be a choice. If there are episodes of bloody diarrhea, then giving Veratrum Alba is a good choice. Another good holistic acupuncture. Certain acupuncture points, like GB 20,LI 11,LI 4 ,BL20 18 SP6, promote normal flora and reduce the yeast and abnormal flora overgrowth. ST 36 ST25 points have always seemed to help, as does using PC6 if the animal has nausea too. Another beneficial alternative treatment is ozone therapy. Rectal insufflation of ozone goes directly to the caudal mesenteric artery and to the liver. It also will promote the normal flora and reduce yeast and abnormal flora. Rectally we give about 2cc/lb of pure ozone for dogs. Cats will get about 30 cc. This is at a concentration of 20-30 gamma with a max of 40 gamma. Subcutaneous fluid therapy with ozonated saline about 2-3cc/lb for medium or larger dogs and 3-4cc/lb for smaller dogs and cats. The concentration 40-70 gamma with max of 75 gamma.
Finally, consider the dog’s diet. Using a more simple raw protein, like fish and chicken and eggs, is a starting point. If there are any skin issues pending or part of the issue, giving cooler foods like fish should be the first option. Cooking the carrots at first will provide the Fructosaccharides. When introducing the raw food, first start with an almond-sized piece of raw meat mixed in the accustomed foods and slowly over five days start increasing the raw meat until the meat is a full meal. If you are to mix raw and processed food, it is good to give the raw at a different feeding as they are digested at different rates.

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