FGID’s – Part 2

Stress, Distress and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGID’s).

The response to stress is an integrated and coordinated physiological process that can result in adaption or pathological maladaptation.

Protective and damaging effects of stress mediators: central role of the brain

The mind involves the whole body, and two-way communication between the brain and the cardiovascular, immune, and other systems via neural and endocrine mechanisms. Stress is a condition of the mind-body interaction, and a factor in the expression of …

I have previously discussed the term ‘allostasis’ which is described as the process by which stability is maintained in the face of stress. When the environment that we live in starts to exceed our capacity to keep up and our attempted adaptation fails, we start to experience a myriad of symptoms.

Digestive disturbances and disruption to the brain gut axis can commonly occur. The individual may also experience symptoms such as exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, weight gain, low immunity, hormonal problems, brain fog, insomnia and so forth.

The brain gut axis is a complex and bidirectional communication between the:
~ enteric nervous system (gut sensation, secretion, motility, permeability)
~ autonomic nervous system which is made up of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and the
~ central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).

The connection between stress and Irritable Bowel Syndrome has been studied extensively.

Researchers have found that:
~ Those with IBS experience heightened levels of anxiety and depression
~ The anxiety symptoms are more frequently related to the IBS symptoms and not necessarily considered to fall into the category of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
~ Those exposed to chronic or sustained stress, early life stress or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are more vulnerable to the development of FGID’s such as IBS
~ The presence of at least one chronic life stressor at the onset of IBS is thought to impact the response to treatment and delay it by as much as 16 months.
~ Early recognition of stressful triggers may help to proactively institute therapeutic interventions and prevent the development of IBS and/or decrease the severity of symptoms.

Current research suggests that the treatment of IBS is multimodal and may involve dietary modifications, probiotics and herbal therapies, pharmacological interventions, psychotherapy and acupuncture.

Irritable bowel syndrome: modern concepts and management options. – PubMed – NCBI

Am J Med. 2015 Aug;128(8):817-27. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.01.036. Epub 2015 Feb 28. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Review


Wishing You Wellness,

Mary Clark