Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized by chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and alteration of bowel habits. Diarrhoea or constipation may predominate, or they may alternate.
A latest study has found that lower levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of rota-viral diarrhoea.
Rotavirus is a transmittable virus that infects the gastrointestinal tract of almost all young children by the age of 5. Older children and adults can seldom become infected with rotavirus. Common symptoms associated with it are severe diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain. Extreme dehydration and loss of appetite can also occur, which poses the greatest threat to the health of young children.
Since, vitamin D plays a dynamic role in the immune system, researchers targeted to determine whether a relationship exists between low vitamin D levels and rotaviral diarrhoea. For this, they tried comparing the vitamin D levels of 70 patients with rotaviral diarrhoea to the vitamin D levels of 67 healthy controls.
The researchers observed that vitamin D levels were significantly lower in the patients with rotaviral diarrhoea as compared to the healthy controls, with average vitamin D levels. Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency was associated with 6.3 times the odds of having rotaviral diarrhoea.
The researchers concluded, “This study proves that low vitamin D is associated with rotaviral diarrhoea.”
According to Sprake EF, Grant VA and Corfe BM, Vitamin D3 can be used as a novel treatment for irritable bowel syndrome as reported in a BMJ Case Rep. 2012 Dec 13;2012.
Their report was as follows:
“A 41-year-old woman with a 25-year history of severe, diarrhea-predominant IBS reported significant improvement in symptoms, following initiation of high-dose vitamin D3 supplementation approximately 3 years ago. IBS diagnosis was first made in general practice approximately 20 years ago. Drug treatments included antispasmodic therapies, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and antibacterial and antiprotozoal agents, but these were reported to provide little relief.
A lactose-free diet, gluten free diet, and other diets provided some relief but regular flare-ups continued to occur. Alternative therapies including counseling, hypnotherapy and colonic irrigation were also undertaken, as well as trials of other supplementary therapies including caprylic acid, garlic oil, peppermint tea, aloe vera and probiotic drinks. Again, these provided the subject with minimal relief from her symptoms. The patient identified vitamin D3 as a potential therapy via social media.
The patient now takes 2000–4000 IU vitamin D3 daily. Dosage varies according to season, 2000 IU in summer and 3–4000 IU in winter. Since commencing this supplementation regime, the subject experienced significant improvement in symptoms and now experiences near normal bowel habits. In 3 years of supplementation, relapses only occur if supplementation is ceased. Furthermore, the subject reports resolution of comorbid symptoms of depression and anxiety disorder.”
After this incidence, the authors did something notable and extraordinary. They went on the internet and recognized important websites and forums that specifically had patients commenting on the use of Vitamin D to cure IBS.
What they found out is that around 37 IBS sufferers identified and their personal experiences with Vitamin D and reported them on a website. Out of them, around 70% remarked that Vitamin D supplementation did benefit their condition.
One woman on the internet reported that she was suffering from IBS from the past four years and her doctor then advised to take Vitamin D in specific doses for about 6 months once a week. During that time duration, her condition got better as her symptoms went away almost completely. The symptoms became rare gradually over the period of time.
Another patient reported that he had IBS for time duration of more than 20 years. Later, he began taking specific amount of Vitamin D gradually under the supervision of doctors and he instantly started to observe that his bowel movements were becoming normal and his unexpected urgency to pass stool have ceased considerably. After a considerable amount of time as he continued his course of Vitamin D for treating IBS, he found out that Vitamin D has helped him a lot in treating this syndrome as he was able to overcome his problems related to abnormal bowel disorders.
The authors were then further quick to point out that not every patient reported that their IBS responded to vitamin D in an effective manner and that those who did not respond were likely not to post on internet forums.
This report is of a crucial importance in highlighting the need to communicate effectively and precisely on the web and through social media channels.
For those with IBS, bulk forming agents such as high fiber diets and both pre and probiotics remain important in treatment.
Thus, looking at the above research case studies, it can be said that Vitamin D may aid in alleviating the severe condition of IBS, although, more research needs to be carried out in this area for conclusive statements.