Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

This syndrome is characterized by disruptions in normal bowel function. Individuals with this disorder will swing back and forth between diarrhea and constipation. Over 40 million Americans have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, and surveys have shown that as many as 73% of FMS patients have it. IBS is frequently associated with stress, depression, and anxiety. Studies show that 54–94% of IBS patients meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, anxiety, or panic disorder.

Research has shown that the causes of, IBS are related to neuroendocrine immune system dysfunction (brain and stomach hormones). This connection is largely mediated by the neurotransmitter serotonin. The brain and gut are connected through the neuroreceptors 5hydroxytriptamine-3 (5-HT3) and 5-hydroxytriptamine-4 (5-HT4). These serotonin receptors regulate the perception of intestinal pain and the GI motility (contractions that move food through the intestinal tract). Serotonin controls how fast or how slow food moves through the intestinal tract.

There are more serotonin receptors in the intestinal tract than there are in the brain. This is one reason people get butterflies in their stomach when they get nervous.

Poor sleep, increased pain, sugar cravings, depression, anxiety, and IBS are all signs of low serotonin.

Warning: Prescription Medications for IBS

Some of you are taking prescription medications for their IBS. These medications include smooth muscle relaxants (Bentyl, Levsin, and Levsinex), antidepressants (Prozac, Paxil, etc.), anti-diarrhea meds (Immodium, Lomotil), bulk forming laxatives (Metamucil), or Zelnorm, which modulates 5-HT3 and 5-HT4. These medications range from innocuous to life endangering.


(Tegaserod) is a 5-HT4 agonist. This medication is used for short-term constipation associated with IBS. The side effects include severe liver impairment, severe kidney impairment, bowel obstruction, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, headaches, abdominal adhesions, gallbladder disease, and back pain.


(Alosetron), a 5-HT3 agonist, is prescribed for diarrhea associated with IBS. Within 8 months of being on the market, reports of ischemic colitis (a life endangering situation in which the blood supply to the intestines is blocked) began to grow each day. Lotrinex was responsible for at least four deaths. Many who took the drug reported severe abdominal pain from constipation. The drug was taken off the market. It is now being approved with strict prescribing guidelines. An editorial in The British Medical Journal suggests that as many as 2 million Americans will be eligible for the drug under the new guidelines. According to previous reported side effects, this would result in 2,000 cases of severe constipation, almost 6,000 cases of ischemic colitis, 11,000 surgical interventions, and at least 324 deaths.
Why in the world would someone prescribe this crap? (No pun intended.) This is typical of what is wrong with “cookbook” (symptom-focused) medicine. It is absurd to suggest that high doses of vitamins and minerals are dangerous while at the same time promoting life-threatening medications that only cover up symptoms.

IBS Protocol

I’ve found that IBS symptoms usually disappear within two weeks of taking 200–300 mg. of 5HTP, a digestive enzyme with each meal, and a good optimal daily allowance multivitamin/mineral formula with at least 500mg of magnesium. Once a person gets their serotonin levels up, IBS often goes away, never to return. This can be life-changing for many of my patients.


What if I’m taking 300mg of 5HTP, digestive enzymes, a good multivitamin and still have constipation?

Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant (relaxes the colon), so too much will cause loose bowel movements. My multivitamin/mineral formulas contain a minimum 500mg of magnesium chelate. This is usually enough to promote normal daily bowel movements. However, some individuals will need to increase their dose of magnesium in order to overcome problems with constipation. If you continue to have constipation, increase magnesium (use magnesium citrate or chelate) by 140–150 mg. daily (at dinner) until you begin to have normal daily bowel movements. Then stay on this extra magnesium. You find that after a few months of taking the supplements I recommend for FMS and CFS, you’ll be able to discontinue the extra magnesium.

What if I continue to have loose bowel movements?

Low serotonin will cause loose bowel movements. Make sure you’re taking 300mg a day of 5HTP either at bedtime or with food I don’t reduce magnesium until the patient has been on 300 mg. of 5HTP for at least two weeks. If after two weeks of taking 300mg of 5HTP you continue to have daily loose bowel movements, then its time to explore the possibility that your taking to much magnesium. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant. It helps the bowels move, but if too much is taken, loose stools become a problem.

If you’re taking 300mg of 5HTP, digestive enzymes, and one of the multivitamin/mineral formulas and continue (or start) to have loose bowel movements then decrease the amount of magnesium you’re taking. To do this, simply cut your daily dose in half. If you’re taking one of the multivitamin formula packs, take one instead of two. If you’re taking 6 of the Basic Multivitamin/Mineral tablets a day reduce to 3 a day.

If the problem persists then start taking 3 probiotics a day on an empty stomach for 2-3 months. Please read more about probiotics below. I recommend you stay on one pack of CFS/Fibromyalgia Formula or an optimal daily dose multivitamin. The amino acids, vitamins, and especially the fish oil in the formula will help normalize your intestinal tract. Individuals with persistent IBS will need to treat their leaky gut. If you suspect you have a yeast overgrowth, you’ll need to treat this condition as well.