Reprinted with kind permission from Life Extension, October 2013
By William Faloon
This will be a short article. It deals with a problem suffered by about 20% of Americans.1-3 It is seen in young adults as well as the elderly and results in enormous lost productivity.1
Life Extension® long ago published a solution to this debilitating condition, but mainstream physicians have not caught on. Some of our members have also overlooked what we previously wrote on this topic, so I’m going to make this simple and to the point.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic disorder of the large intestine that causes belly pain, cramping, bloating, diarrhea or constipation.1,2 The “syndrome” is poorly named because it includes patients who almost never have diarrhea, but instead are unable to fully evacuate their bowels.
Backed up feces creates chronic discomfort, bloating, and pain. These individuals view diarrhea as a good event because it enables them to evacuate feces that otherwise would remain impacted in their colon and rectal areas.
A primary cause of this type of irritable bowel syndrome is insufficient or ineffective peristalsis.3 This means there is either not enough colon contractile activity or the contractile activity is disorganized and does not occur in the necessary rhythmic pattern needed to completely evacuate one’s bowels. The term peristalsis refers to a series of organized muscle contractions that moves food through the digestive tract.4
Insufficient peristalsis is one of the main culprits behind much of today’s constipation epidemic. The encouraging news is that if one drinks the proper nutrients on an empty stomach (usually first thing in the morning), a surge of peristalsis will occur within an hour that cleans out most or all fecal matter. I will describe how easily one can implement this strategy.
In 1983, vitamin consumers were clamoring for higher potency vitamins, but did not want to swallow a lot of pills. A book about living longer became a best-seller, and its authors advocated taking nutrients in powder form to obtain more potency at a lower cost.
Life Extension was at the forefront in offering consumers a wide variety of powdered nutrients, some that are still popular today.
The most common customer complaint was that the vitamin powders were causing diarrhea. We worked closely with these individuals to lower the dose and advised that they take the nutrient powders only after they had consumed a meal. Some were able to slowly increase the dose of nutrient powders until their bodies developed a tolerance so that diarrhea would not be a problem. Others had to switch to capsules or tablets that released more slowly in the stomach, and thus did not generate an acute wave of peristalsis caused by the powdered nutrients.
Not everyone who experienced diarrhea complained. A number of members called us to state they had suffered chronic constipation most of their life, and taking these nutrient powders on an empty stomach completely cleared them out. They stated they had never felt better.
So for nearly two decades, we were recommending various nutritional “colon cleanses” to be done several times a week, always on an empty stomach to ensure more complete bowel evacuation. This approach was vindicated when published studies found that the failure rate for fiber was quite high in chronically constipated people.5-8
The medical profession and the public are rightly fearful of exposing their digestive tract to harsh synthetic laxatives on a routine basis. On the other hand, ingesting nutrients that provide systemic beneficial effects enables people to ingest low-cost vitamins, minerals, and amino acids with the intended effect of promoting peristalsis and thorough fecal evacuation.
How to Implement this Regular Colon Cleanse
There are questionable ingredients contained in synthetic and natural products that claim a “colon cleaning” effect. You don’t have to experiment with these.
By taking nutritional powder mixes containing vitamin C with magnesium and/or potassium on an empty stomach, you’re likely to see immediate results within an hour or two. Vitamin B5 powder works this way too, but the taste is not tolerable.
Some people find a flavored powder mix of arginine, vitamin B5, and a lower amount of vitamin C produces the same results as high-potency vitamin C with magnesium mix.
It is important to drink lots of water after taking these powdered nutrient mixes as they will draw water from surrounding tissues into the colon to facilitate passage of feces. By increasing the volume of water in the intestine, stools are softened, intestinal muscle contraction is stimulated, and bowel evacuation is prompted.
Until an individual dose is ascertained by trial and error, these nutrient powders will create temporary diarrhea for many users. Those with chronic constipation can learn how to dose their powdered nutrients to achieve optimal individual relief.
PROMOTING RAPID INTESTINAL CONTRACTIONS
- The speed of intestinal muscle contractions is a major factor in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Research shows that in people with diarrhea-predominant IBS, colon contractions are too fast, whereas in those who suffer constipation-predominant IBS, colon contractions are too sluggish.3
- A variety of nutrient powders (such as magnesium and vitamin C), when mixed with liquid and taken on an empty stomach, can promote rapid intestinal muscle contraction. The result can be immediate relief from constipation-predominant IBS.9 (Those with diarrhea-predominant IBS should avoid these powders.)
Understanding Constipation and Laxatives
Constipation develops when intestinal peristalsis is slow or not occurring at all.3 Feces are either temporarily or permanently trapped in the colon-rectum, in rare cases requiring surgery.
Constipation affects more women than men.10 The term irritable bowel syndrome describes a wide variety of intestinal ailments. This article only addresses constipation-predominate irritable bowel syndrome.
Constipation sufferers find it painful and difficult to have a bowel movement. Sometimes this is because the stool has hardened, but the underlying problem in many cases is insufficient peristalsis that can lead to long-lasting fecal impaction. Gastroenterologists are only beginning to understand this. Instead of recommending low-cost nutrients likevitamin C and magnesium powder, they are prescribing drugs like polyethylene glycol.11
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is used in both industrial manufacturing and medicine.12 You can find it on the shelves of most pharmacies without the need for a prescription. The question for those with unrelenting constipation is would you rather ingest an ingredient (PEG) used in detergents and organic solvents, or nutrients you may already be taking in tablet or capsule form for their health benefits? The medical establishment prefers you take polyethylene glycol (PEG).11
Why Fiber Does Not Always Help
Doctors thought they had stumbled onto a great innovation when they started recommending fiber to constipated patients. Those who suffered insufficient peristalsis, however, do not always benefit from fiber. One reason that fiber fails is that it creates more fecal bulk than those with insufficient peristalsis are able to easily evacuate.
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Obtaining Immediate Constipation Relief
Irritable bowel syndrome of the constipation type has several causes, but the underlying insufficient peristalsis is what this article is addressing.3
Instead of reverting to chemical laxatives, the proper nutrients taken at the right time can support soft fecal consistency and induce colonic peristaltic action without serious adverse effects.13-16
There are convenient powdered formulas available that contain magnesium and potassium mixed with ascorbic acid that induce an evacuation of bowel contents within 30-90 minutes. Depending on the person, a few teaspoons (or, in some cases, 1-2 tablespoons) of a buffered vitamin C powder can produce a powerful but safe laxative effect.
Another approach is to use several teaspoons (or 1-2 tablespoons) of vitamin C and magnesium crystals that will evacuate the bowel within 30-90 minutes if taken on an empty stomach with several glasses of water. One of these powdered formulas provides 4,500 mg of vitamin C and 250 mg of magnesium in each teaspoon. The dose needs to be individually adjusted so it will not cause day-long diarrhea.
The suggested number of times these nutritional colon cleanses be used is about three times a week. Excess use may create tolerance and require higher dosing, which may not be bad for those who benefit from the nutrients.
Nutritional laxatives such as ascorbic acid mixed with magnesium are becoming more popular with enlightened individuals who have constipation that is resistant to fiber. Yet a search on Google reveals that polyethylene glycol (PEG) is the most highly recommended by the medical mainstream.
WHY FIBER IS NOT THE SOLUTION FOR MOST PEOPLE
Physicians and lay people often recommend fiber supplements to relieve constipation. Yet published studies show that a significant number of chronically constipated people do not find relief from fiber supplements.
An example of fiber not working was a trial that showed that 80% of patients with slow transit did not respond to dietary fiber treatment. In 85% of patients without these disorders, fiber was effective. This study showed that slow gastrointestinal transit (which is another term for insufficient peristalsis) and/or a disorder of defecation may explain a poor outcome of dietary fiber therapy in some patients with chronic constipation. This study showed why nutritional laxative therapy may be an important option.7
Another example of fiber not working was a trial with 73 consecutive constipated children whose mean fiber intake was the same as in healthy controls, although energy and fluid intakes were lower. The conclusion was that the amount of dietary fiber played no role in chronic constipation.21
Still another study evaluated whether laxatives and fiber therapies improve symptoms and bowel movement frequency in adults with chronic constipation. Fiber and laxatives decreased abdominal pain and improved stool consistency compared with a placebo. The conclusions were that both fiber and laxatives modestly improved bowel movement frequency in adults with chronic constipation. The results of this study showed that there was inadequate evidence to establish whether fiber was superior to laxatives, or if one laxative class was superior to another.22 Clearly, fiber is not the solution to chronic constipation for many people.
Epidemic of Constipation
Chronic constipation is the number one gastrointestinal complaint in the United States, particularly among the elderly.17 Constipation accounts for more than 2.5 million physician visits a year and is among the most frequent reasons for patient self- medication.17,18
The American Family Physician journal reported that constipation affects as many as 26% of elderly men and 34%of elderly women.19 Constipation is one of those health problems that has been related to diminished perception of quality of life.
Most individuals with uncontrolled constipation develop a variety of symptoms, ranging from large bowel pain, rectal discomfort, abdominal fullness, nausea, anorexia, and a general feeling of malaise. These people feel like they never completely evacuate their bowels. Severe chronic constipation may be accompanied by fecal impaction resulting in unexpected episodes of diarrhea, ulceration of the colon, and intestinal obstruction.20
The good news is that there are natural solutions that can provide immediate relief.
Effervescent Vitamin C-Magnesium Crystals
Up until now, those who chose to use healthy colon cleanses had to drink powdered mixes that were not particularly palatable.
After decades of trial and error a low-cost effervescent formula consisting of vitamin C and magnesium has been developed. This effervescent formula provides 4,500 mg of vitamin C and 250 mg of magnesium in each teaspoon with lower acidity, so it’s gentler on the stomach.
Mixing one or more teaspoons in eight ounces of water and drinking it on an empty stomach, followed by additional glasses of tea, juice, or water, can provide immediate rapid relief from sluggish bowel function that causes so much discomfort.
In the process of achieving rapid fecal evacuation, beneficial nutrients will be ingested that are often lacking in typical Western diets.
According to one study, 68% of American adults consumed less than the recommended daily allowance ofmagnesium. 23 Women with the lowest magnesium intake have a 37% greater risk of sudden cardiac death.24
Critics of the judicious use of nutritional laxatives fail to realize the ancillary benefits that aging humans can attain with higher intakes of vitamin C-magnesium that promote desired peristalsis and fecal consistency.
By turning this page, you can learn about a new low-cost effervescent vitamin C-magnesium crystal formula.
For longer life,
- Grundmann O, Yoon SL. Irritable bowel syndrome: epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment: an update for health-care practitioners. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2010;25:691–9.
- Hungin AP, Chang L, Locke GR, Dennis EH, Barghout V. Irritable bowel syndrome in the United States: prevalence, symptom patterns and impact. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Jun 1;21(11):1365-75.
- Available at: http://www.jhu.edu/jhumag/0497web/gastro1.html. Accessed June 24, 2013.
- Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002282.htm. Accessed June 24, 2013.
- Voderholzer WA, Schatke W, Mühldorfer BE, Klauser AG, Birkner B, Müller-Lissner SA. Clinical response to dietary fiber treatment of chronic constipation. Am J Gastroenterol. 1997 Jan;92(1):95-8.
- Ho KS, Tan CY, Mohd Daud MA, Seow-Choen F. Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Sep 7;18(33):4593-6.
- Foxx-Orenstein AE, McNally MA, Odunsi ST. Update on constipation: one treatment does not fit all. Cleve Clin J Med. 2008 Nov;75(11):813-24.
- Zuckerman MJ. The role of fiber in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: therapeutic recommendations. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2006 Feb;40(2):104-8.
- Available at: http://www.lef.org/protocols/gastrointestinal/irritable_bowel_syndrome_08.htm. Accessed May 6, 2013.
- Available at: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-constipation. Accessed June 24, 2013.
- Savino F, Viola S, Erasmo M, Di Nardo G, Oliva S, Cucchiara S. Efficacy and tolerability of peg-only laxative on faecal impaction and chronic constipation in children. A controlled double blind randomized study vs a standard peg-electrolyte laxative. BMC Pediatr. 2012 Nov 15;12:178.
- Available at: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/704983/POLYETHYLENE_GLYCOL. Accessed June 25, 2013.
- Available at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/guidetocancerdrugs/magnesium-citrate. Accessed June 25, 2013.
- Tatsuki M, Miyazawa R, Tomomasa T, Ishige T, Nakazawa T, Arakawa H. Serum magnesium concentration in children with functional constipation treated with magnesium oxide. World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Feb 14;17(6):779-83.
- Available at: http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/articles-health/a-natural-cure-for-constipation. Accessed June 25, 2013.
- Available at: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/constipation. Accessed June 25, 2013.
- Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation/. Accessed May 3, 2013.
- Sweeney M. Constipation. Diagnosis and treatment. Home Care Provid. 1997 Oct;2(5):250-5.
- Schaefer DC, Cheskin LJ. Constipation in the elderly. Am Fam Physician. 1998 Sep 15;58(4):907-14.
- Available at: http://www.ombudmhdd.state.mn.us/alerts/bowelobstruction.htm. Accessed June 25, 2013.
- Mooren GC, van der Plas RN, Bossuyt PM, Taminiau JA, Büller HA. The relationship between intake of dietary fiber and chronic constipation in children. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 1996 Oct 12;140(41):2036-9.
- Tramonte SM, Brand MB, Mulrow CD, Amato MG, O’Keefe ME, Ramirez G. The treatment of chronic constipation in adults. A systematic review. J Gen Intern Med. 1997 Jan;12(1):15-24.
- King DE, Mainous AG 3rd, Geesey ME, Woolson RF. Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Jun;24(3):166-71.
- Chiuve SE, Korngold EC, Januzzi JL Jr, Gantzer ML, Albert CM. Plasma and dietary magnesium and risk of sudden cardiac death in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Feb;93(2):253-60.