As this is my first post, I would like to introduce myself and let you know a little of my own story and journey with IBS. My name is Caitlin Wheat and I am a Naturopath from Australia.
Stage 1: As a child
For as long as I can remember I never felt right with my digestive system. As a child I would go to the bathroom more than others and spend longer in there. I had diarrhea regularly and bloating. I was an anxious child as well and would worry about this kind of thing.
I was surviving but always felt self-conscious about it but I didn’t know any different or if there was actually a problem. I thought bloating was something normal that happened after you ate.
Stage 2: My symptoms got a lot worse
I did an exchange program in Belgium. I was in French-speaking Belgium, so we mostly ate French food including lots of bread, cheese, and of course Belgian chocolate. This was also a very stressful time for me as it was the first time I’d been overseas, the first time away from my family and the first time immersed in a new language. So my digestive system went crazy. I constantly had diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, reflux, gas, and I was constantly embarrassed about it all but didn’t know what to do.
When I returned to Australia, it continued and just got worse and worse until I was fed up and went to the doctor. He did a mountain of tests and could find nothing wrong, so he referred me to a gastroenterologist. I then did an endoscopy and colonoscopy. Again, could find nothing wrong and was given a diagnosis of IBS and a few pamphlets and basically told to deal with it and maybe a dietitian would help. I went to a dietitian and was put on an elimination diet for salicylates and amines, which didn’t give me any results either (FODMAPs wasn’t around at this time).
Stage 3: The big change and treatment
So I was at a loss. Everything I ate seemed to react, I was constantly in the bathroom, I had bad acne, depression and anxiety. I decided that something needed to change, and that I would have to work it all out for myself. This was back in the early 2000s and there weren’t really any great forums like this one, but I researched as much as I could. I started to come across more and more articles and people talking about natural medicine. Now, I grew up in a family that didn’t use any kind of natural therapy. We were relatively healthy so just visited the doctor when we needed to but never really thought much about our health, unless we were sick. So this was a whole new world for me. Of course in the beginning I was very skeptical. But I went to see a Naturopath. She explained about food intolerances, leaky gut and more. I was lucky enough to find a Naturopath who was also a counsellor, so we also dealt with my stress. I followed an elimination diet and came away from that knowing that I had intolerances to gluten and dairy. We did a lot of gut repair, which included things like probiotics, turmeric, slippery elm among others. We worked on stress and anxiety and I also got into yoga and meditation.
Stage 4: Feeling amazing and helping others
So, at the age of about 23 I finally knew what it felt like to be healthy and with a properly functioning digestive system. It was amazing! I was so interested in everything that I was learning about myself and natural therapies that I decided to go back to university and study it for myself so I could help other people.
I look forward to sharing more about natural medicine and naturopathy with you all.