The IBS / Digestion Vicious Circle

To date there have been a few suggested reasons for the onset of IBS / Digestion Disorders but we do know most digestive disorders originate from problems with the enteric system – inside the intestines (also known as the gut). This system is actually referred to as ‘the second brain’ of the human body because it has over 100 million neurons meaning it is more sophisticated than the brain of a cat. It is believed by many experts that the intestines plays a role in health and happiness as well as in discomfit and distress. The intestine is able to function on its own without much brain control and it sends and receives neurotransmitters which affect our emotions the same as those in our brain. Think about the power of our ‘gut feeling!’.

The intestine has its own system which responds to stress. By stress we mean the physical, mental or emotional response that occurs when pressure exceeds perceived ability to cope and results in us thinking and feeling negatively. Stress stops balance being restored which prevents the body’s self-healing ability. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, “Up to 90% of the doctor visits…may be triggered by a stress-related illness”.

When under stress the nervous system releases stress hormones that prepare the body for fight and flight and the enteric system contacts nerves that are stimulated by the chemical surge (experience of butterflies is this type of response). Studies have shown that people with IBS /Digestion issues have an overactive sympathetic nervous system which is the system activated during stress.

Most people with IBS / Digestion issues find that their condition gets worse with mental, emotional and physical stress and most experienced the onset in one of the following three ways:

  1. Some had a period of pressure which was difficult to cope with, either physically, emotionally or mentally. In situations like this the pressure will start to have a biological effect on the body as the stress response become abnormal.
  2. Others come from fairly difficult family backgrounds where there was a lot of stress. In situations like this, stress responses become abnormal from a young age, meaning biologically that you do not cope with stress wel. Eventually this can lead to conditions such IBS / Digestion disorders. Studies vary, but it is believed that a large proportion of patients treated for chronic gastrointestinal diseases experienced early childhood traumas.
  3. Some people experienced a food intolerance, toxin or infection which led to the condition developing. It is very likely that they were already suffering from abnormal stress responses when this occurred or they became stressed because of the illness.

Regardless of exactly how the development of the issue took place, the fact that there is a parallel between stress and the symptoms worsening means stress is a major factor in the illness. When the body is under too much stress, we cannot heal.

IBS / Digestion Disorders are conditions where stress keeps you stuck; your body has an imbalance meaning you can no longer handle any stress without the condition worsening. Even the slightest negative thought is keeping you ill!

  • Your body has lost balance due to stress
  • Abnormal stress hormones are firing in your body meaning you cannot cope with ANY, EVEN A LITTLE, physical, mental or emotional stress without the abnormal stress hormones firing.
  • Your thoughts are low, as are your feelings and you physically feel bad because you are ill.
  • Your low thoughts, low mood and physical illness activate abnormal stress hormones which sets up an IBS / Digestion Disorder Vicious Circle between your body and mind.
  • Your body has learnt through its ‘implicit memory’ to remain ill without you consciously being involved.
  • You have lost control to the condition.

Now that you understand about the Vicious Circle, read on to find out how you can positively intervene on the next page Why How to Heal Works.