Monthly Archives: May 2009

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or “IBS” for short – This seems to have been a “buzzword” for quite some time now.  I remember first hearing it and thinking to myself, “sounds like an unknown that needs a label!”  Well, I think most people have heard this term now, but the following are the symptoms associated with IBS:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal Pain or Discomfort

This is really an umbrella term, with many different conditions and diagnoses associated with it.  The most common are:

  • Lactose Intolerance
  • Fructose Malabsorption
  • Coeliac (Celiac) Disease

Having one or more of the above conditions can be a roadblock to your health and wellness, if not addressed properly.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is not only a well known condition but very common.  It is where a person doesn’t have appropriate levels of lactase, the enzyme required for the breakdown of lactose (milk sugar).  For people with lactose intolerance, eating lactose can cause symptoms of bloating, stomach cramps, loose stools, diarrhoea, nausea and flatulence.  Avoiding dairy products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream will decrease the amount of lactose in the diet and therefore decrease the symptoms.

Fructose Malabsorption

Lesser known, but making more headlines lately is Fructose Malabsorption. It is similar to lactose intolerance but with Fructose Malabsorption, a person has impaired ability to absorb fructose, (fruit sugar). This results in fructose passing through the intestines and being fermented by bacteria, causing both gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal bloating/cramps, constipation, loose stools, diarrhoea or flatulence) and increased proliferation of certain intestinal bacteria and yeast which metabolise fructose.

The most common fruits with high fructose that should be avoided are:  apples, pears, guavas, mangoes, watermelon, lychees, pawpaw.

Note, Fructose Malabsorption is not to be confused with Fructose Intolerance.  Fructose Intolerance is a hereditary condition in which there are deficient liver enzymes to break fructose up. In patients with Fructose Malabsorption, the small intestine fails to absorb fructose properly. This results in excess hydrogen caused by an overgrowth of otherwise normal intestinal bacteria.

Coeliac Disease

Coeliac Disease is from an intolerance to gluten.  It is a disease of malabsorption  (nutrients not absorbed properly) as well as having an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. Coeliac Disease can be hereditary.  The small intestine is unable to absorb nutrients from food.  Diagnosis can be difficult because of the similarity of other symptoms, but blood tests are used to help in the diagnosis.

With all of these, Lactose Intolerance, Fructose Malabsorption and Coeliac Disease, you may start by being your own detective and making a food diary; noting which foods trigger which symptoms can be very helpful.  This can help strengthen the practitioner-patient relationship.

Let me encourage you if you have any of these symptoms to start listening to your body and taking note.  Then seek a health practitioner to assist in the proper diagnosis and management to get you on the path of health and wellness.

Chiropractic treatment has helped in many cases to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms, allowing patients to lead more active lives; however chiropractic cannot cure these diseases.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

You may ask, what is this?  Or you may know someone who has suffered from this.  It is a rare condition that has been described as, “the worst pain in the world”.  Trigeminal Neuralgia is also known as, “tic douloureux“.  It is very difficult to understand because people look normal, and like a lot of painful conditions, no one can appreciate how painful something is unless they go through it themselves.  Now this is not something you would wish on your worst enemy.  Until I had an actual patient with the condition, did I take some extra time to learn more about it.

When I studied chiropractic in university, it was one of the conditions that we learned.  We were also told that it wasn’t something we would see every day in practice.  While that proved to be the case, it was most important to the patient experiencing the pain of the condition.  So I did some extra research myself to best understand and help to manage as best as I could professionally.

The trigeminal nerve is a cranial nerve that is responsible for sensation in the face (sensory) and supplying the jaw muscles used in chewing (motor).

Classic Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) Symptoms:

  • Abrupt very sharp pain that comes and goes; not a constant ache.
  • 95 to 98% of pain is limited to one side of the face:  left nerve affects left side; right nerve affects right side.
  • Confined pain to the area distributed by one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve.
  • Usually provoked by a light breeze or touch of the face, or a movement such as yawning, talking, eating.
  • Runs in cycles usually, and can disappear for weeks, months, even years before returning.

More Than Just The Face…

The pain is excruciating enough, but there are other factors that result from TN:

  • Very tiring living with sharp and chronic pain
  • Strain on emotions
  • Stressful to the point of anxiety
  • Strain on families and relationships
  • Increased levels of frustration
  • Anger
  • Depression

Other Causes Of Face Pains:

  • Trigeminal Neuritis
  • Temporal Arteritis
  • Cluster Headache
  • Facial Migraine
  • Myofascial Pain
  • Atypical Odontalgia (toothache)
  • Sinusitis
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
  • Occipital Neuralgia

There is no lab test to diagnose TN, so when seeking treatment the most accurate description of the pain is crucial to come up with the proper diagnosis.  It is a team effort – between the patient and the practitioner.

I recommend you educate yourself a bit first – there are books and/or internet articles.  Remember there is a lot of information out there, so try not to get too overwhelmed.  Pick a few that seem to grab your attention and make sense to you.  Doctors aren’t always right, so communication is the key; along with patience and understanding from both the patient and practitioner.  This ensures better outcomes.

There are many different treatments including:  prescription drugs which are usually very heavy duty narcotics or local anesthetic injections.  There is the potential to experience serious side effects due to the strength of the narcotics.

Alternative treatments

These alternatives can be used alone or in combination with more invasive treatment.  This is not a comprehensive list:

  • Acupuncture
  • Hot Pepper Creams
  • Magnet Therapy
  • Vitamin B12 Treatments
  • Nutrition Therapy
  • Herbal Therapy
  • Low Level Laser Therapy
  • Chiropractic Care

Last Resort:  Surgery

My professional opinion is that surgery should always be the last resort.  As you have read, there are quite a few alternative therapies to try and different medicines to treat TN.  A lot of patients have reported combinations work well too, not necessarily just one therapy.

Physical relief is just one way to deal with TN.  On the other side of the coin, there are coping strategies to help better tolerate the pain:

  • Keep busy – constructive and distracted from the pain
  • Positive attitude
  • Live in the present
  • Treat yourself – don’t forget how to have fun
  • Relax
  • Visualise

To conclude, here are some day to day tips from TN sufferers to fellow TN sufferers to consider:

  • Cover the face when outside
  • Cold compresses
  • Heat treatments
  • Hot creams
  • Facial massage
  • Massaging the ears
  • Flexing the neck
  • Clever sleeping strategies
  • Get proper rest
  • Limit other “stressors” in your life
  • Cut out nicotine
  • Exercise
  • Be your own detective – keep a pain diary

San Churro Chocolate

While researching for my last post on dark chocolate, I found a website that really grabbed my attention.  The website was about a specialty chocolate and coffee shop, called a chocolateria.  The presentation of the website caught my eye.  As I was reading, I was curious where this shop was and to my wonderful surprise, there was one in Perth!  Actually, in Fremantle which is south of Perth.  The shop was called San Churro.  They specialise in the Spanish donut, ‘the churro’ and different chocolates.  They serve coffee and the famous, Spanish hot chocolate.  I was so excited that I could experience these Spanish delights here in Perth!  There are other shop locations as well in Australia.  The week after I found this website, I was meant to meet a friend in Fremantle for breakfast.  I suggested we go there to try their coffee and churros.  She knew exactly where it was and was pleased to say she had been there before and really enjoyed it.

It was Wednesday morning, when we met at 9am at San Churro on Market Street, Fremantle.  The churros are made fresh on the premise.  The aroma was filling the air as the morning churros were freshly being made.  After we placed our order, we had a chance to look around the shop.  There were different chocolates from all over the world.

Making the Churros

Making the Churros

The real bonus for me was the dipping options for the churros.   Choices between white, milk and dark chocolate and the fourth option was “dulce de leche”.  This brought back fond memories of my trip to South America, in particularly Argentina.  This delicious caramel is like peanut butter is to the United States and vegemite is to Australia.  We chose the dulce de leche and dark chocolate due to its health benefits.

Churros

Churros

There are also handmade chocolate truffles for the true chocolate connoisseur termed the “Coleccion Afrodisiaca” which translates to the Aphrodisiac Collection.  There are unique flavours for a really special treat.

If you’re not in the mood for churros, there are different cakes, cookies, biscuits to choose from.  And what  really impressed me was they offered gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, vegetarian and low-fat options.

So really, there seems to be something for everyone.  We browsed through the shop items that offered various chocolates from different parts of the world.  Great gift ideas for the chocoholic!

We sat down on a comfortable leather lounge at the side of the shop with a wooden coffee table to have our coffee and churros on.  The coffee was one of the best cappuccinos I have ever had.  The chocolate on top of the froth was their special shaved chocolate.  That was a treat in itself.

Cappuccino

Cappuccino

I highly value presentation and service.  San Churro gets a thumbs up from me in both areas as well as their products.  A delightful experience I just felt I had to share.  :-)