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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Specialist

Preventive Medical Center of Marin


Integrative Family Medicine located in San Rafael, CA

More than 10% of American adults live with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and suffer from disruptive symptoms, including abdominal pain, gas and bloating, and diarrhea. Many people have digestive complaints like these and do not have IBS. At Preventive Medical Center of Marin in San Rafael, California, Elson Haas, MD, and his team of integrative health specialists treat patients with IBS and other gastrointestinal problems. They work to uncover the factors contributing to your IBS and general digestive complaints, which may often arise from consuming certain foods and/or the presence of abnormal microbes (bacteria, yeast and parasites). PMCM offers natural therapies to restore your digestive health with an integrative approach to wellness. Call the office to schedule an appointment today.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Q & A

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic digestive disorder that can last for years and contribute to a variety of health conditions when left untreated. Some of the common signs of IBS include:

  • Gas and Bloating
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Changes in bowel movement frequency and consistency
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Mucus in bowel movements
  • Sudden and urgent need to use the bathroom

In addition to these digestive symptoms, IBS can also cause frequent urination, bad breath, headaches, muscle pain, and fatigue. Many people with IBS often develop depression or anxiety because of the disruptive, painful, and embarrassing nature of the symptoms.

IBS symptoms often come and go, can change over time, and they may flare up after eating. The condition also varies between patients, both in terms of the symptoms experienced and their severity.

What causes IBS?

Medical researchers and physicians haven’t identified a single, specific cause of IBS, but there are several known contributing factors. For example, your diet, the bacteria in your digestive tract, and inflammation can all contribute to IBS issues. How our microbiome (the intestinal environment) affects our overall health is a popular research area currently.

Your digestive tract is home to microbes and bacteria that assist with the digestive process. However, if your bacteria levels are too low or high, it can lead to inflammation and increase your gut permeability, which interferes with your digestive process and contributes to IBS and other GI problems. 

The Standard American Diet is another significant contributing factor for IBS. Sugar, salt, fat, and preservatives are hard for your body to digest and metabolize, and these foods, as well as potential allergens, can irritate and inflame your intestines.

How is IBS diagnosed?

At Preventive Medical Center of Marin, Dr. Haas and his team provide comprehensive testing to diagnose IBS and identify its cause. In addition to a thorough exam, they order blood and stool tests to check your gut bacteria levels as well as screenings for food allergies or sensitivities. Your provider also asks for a food diary to identify any triggers for your symptoms.

How is IBS treated?

Once your provider identifies the factors contributing to your IBS, they work with you to create a customized treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms and heal your gut. While every patient receives unique treatment, IBS treatment plans are often multidisciplinary and may include any of the following therapeutic options:

  • Dietary changes
  • Nutritional supplements, including probiotics to regulate your gut biome
  • Stress reduction treatments and practices
  • Acupuncture

Dr. Haas and his team are committed to healing your digestive tract, and rarely prescribe medication because it merely masks your symptoms and often causes intolerable side effects. Other issues may be present as well, such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) where there is pain, gas and bloating, often affected by certain foods or microbial imbalance, or SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) and this is a current concern and can be treated with antibiotics and natural remedies.

If you’re concerned about IBS and your digestive health, call the office to schedule an appointment.