Slow Guts Need Tenacity

256px-Pieter_Lastman_-_Jonah_and_the_Whale_-_Google_Art_ProjectTenacity.  Word for the day.  Word for a season.  Word for life.  I can hear mom’s voice even now, “Oh, Terrrr-rrrri.  You have a one-track mind.”  She said it like it was a bad thing!  Pshaw.  But, tenacity got her to buy me some black parachute pants; I think it’s restoring my gut too.  I’ve worked very hard to get this gut moving.  Very.  I’ll be laying out all that I can think of that I tried and how I think it affected my gut and me.  There is no ONE thing that worked for my colon regularity and stool consistency.  Geesh.  What would I have to write about if it was that easy?  I’ve turned down more cookies, cakes, and cheese platters than you can even imagine.  I’ve made myself go to bed early more than I’ve ever made my kids go to bed early.  I’ve attacked my gut on all fronts that I can.  Tenacity.

I’m starting out by writing about the supplements I’ve tried.  That does NOT mean that the supplements are the most important.  Just that I’m postponing talking about acupuncture and gargling and chakras.  I’ve already mentioned vitamin K2 in the last post.  These posts will just keep rolling.  So let’s continue.  Don’t use this as medical advice.  It’s my story.  If it gives you ideas to try, talk about them with your doctor.  Be SAFE.

Iodine

I’ve taken iodine for about two years now. I don’t have much in the way of a reliable iodine source in my diet, so I supplement. Iodine comes to a conventional diet via egg yolks, dairy, seafood, and iodized salt.   Iodine didn’t seem to have any particular impact on MY constipation, although other people have reported to me that when they started taking iodine it did seem to improve their constipation; I experienced other positive benefits from taking iodine. I was able to have my thyroid labs followed to make sure I was safely supplementing. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) causes constipation. I was never categorized as hypothyroid. However, iodine supplementation did slowly drive my TSH down over time, which was medically interesting to watch.

Bottom line for me: Iodine did not seem to make my constipation better, but it helped other things for me. I think that a TSH needs periodically checked and symptoms need closely monitored if a person is going to take iodine.  In case you’re counting, this is the second supplement I take routinely.

Probiotics and Probiotic Foods

I’ve tried dozens of probiotics. Not A DOZEN—but DOZENS. There is no probiotic that makes my motility improve directly. I’ve tried soil based. I’ve tried VSL. I’ve now tried the Japanese kind. I’ve tried Klaire Labs. I’ve tried pickles, pickle juice, sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice and kimchi. I’ve made my own fermented pickles, sauerkraut, and beets. I’ve tried 24 hour homemade yogurt. I’ve tried homemade coconut yogurt. Tenacity.  There is one probiotic source I haven’t tried, but I’d like to try: Mutaflor. It has studies showing it helps constipation. However, it’s only available in certain countries, and the USA isn’t one of them.

Probiotics aren’t the “cure” for my STC.  I’ve tried many kinds, and I’ve tried driving up the doses.  Tenacity.  In fact, for a couple of months this summer, I even stopped probiotics completely!!!!  I suffered no ill GI effects and my gut still moved! Why did I stop them? I think that I have a mild case of small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO).  (Why not test?  1) I already eat a tailored diet.  2) Things are improving.  3)  I’ve tried antibiotics before for it, and it came right back.  And now, I won’t take antibiotics because I’m nursing.  4)  My case isn’t that bad.)  I now waffle between probiotics and no probiotics.

What is SIBO?  This is where the bacteria from the colon track up into the small intestine in larger numbers and/or with different species than those that should be there. It leads to significant bloating, distention, bowel movement changes, fatigue, and other symptoms. There is a dispute in the SIBO arena about whether one should take probiotics with this disorder. Having no vested interest and an open mind, I could see both sides. So since I’d tried probiotics like crazy for years, I thought I’d try without. (Another aside: I have not always had SIBO symptoms. They started at about age 35. I think it was a result of chronic non-movement of my gut.  I think to effectively treat SIBO, a person HAS to address the underlying issues.)

Bottom-line for me: I tried coming off my probiotic. My gut still moved off the probiotic! However, my gut also moved normally for a couple of months before I got pregnant a couple of years ago and I was ON a probiotic. So for my body, I’m not yet sure whether it prefers a probiotic or not.  LOTS of people swear by probiotics for constipation.  I have been trying to utilize normal portions of Bubbie’s pickles, Bubbie’s sauerkraut, and eating my home-grown produce.

Butyrate

Butyrate has kick-started my gut twice in my life now. In 2013, I started taking it after a big dose of magnesium and immediately I had normal bowel movements daily. I then titrated up resistant starch using potato starch (which leads to natural butyrate production) and came off of the butyrate pills. I then titrated up food sources of resistant starch (green bananas, plantains, cooked and cooled potatoes and rice, raw potato and sweet potato sparingly) and stopped the powder forms of resistant starch.

BINGO. I thought I was a diet-controlled constipetic and the story was over! (I always told God I was going to stop blogging when my constipation was cured.  Never tell God what to do or what you think YOU’RE going to do.  Instead, when you hear “Jump.” from the Big Man, you say, “How high?”  Got it?) But I got pregnant in 2013 and I’ve been chasing GI rainbows ever since. Finally, late this summer of 2015, I decided to get back on butyrate. I took a good dose of magnesium to try to propel that butyrate deep into my intestines (just in case that would help, you know).  BAM.  My gut has been doing pretty well since then. Knock on wood. And I’m working on building back up my food sources of resistant starch again and working on other areas I’ll elaborate on through these posts (like stress management, core strength, etc). THIS IS NOT A SIMPLE QUICK-FIX JOURNEY. You want that? Go somewhere else.  Tenacity.

I KNOW butyrate does NOT work for all people. They’ve told me. More people have told me that butyrate did NOT help them than people have told me that butyrate DOES help them. I’d like to also point out that during pregnancy and post-partum, my gut kind of stopped working and I was on high dose magnesium. Butyrate did not work at this time—even though this summer I tried again and it did! This leads me to suspect that hormones play a huge role in constipation—which I already suspected and this simply pounded into my heat that I need to make sure and learn about this (and hopefully write it up too—although I must say the other day in my research, I saw a new review article that was downplaying hormones…).

Many people write to ask what butyrate I take. I simply tell this as part of my story. Listen. I do not support this brand, other than it has worked best for me out of all the ones I’ve tried. I don’t pretend to think this brand or even butyrate will help you. Heck, it may even set YOU back, while it sets me forward.  I use Body Bio Mag-Cal Butyrate 600 mg (two three times daily, usually, but not always with a meal). If you decide to try this, flash it to your doctor so he/she can make sure it’s going to be fine for you. A commenter, Vicki, has noted that Body Bio has received some reprimands. You may read about this by scrolling down to the comments and looking for an interchange between Vicki and me.  Sometimes, I have a strange feeling that some bottles work better than others.  I don’t know, though.  I have NO proof of that.

Bottom-line: Butyrate has some good evidence supporting its role in promoting gut motility.  I have many posts on that in my butyrate series.  Some people have tried it and found that it helped their food intolerances and gut motility. Others have tried it without success—and with a loss of hard earned cash.  If your’e counting, this is the third, and final, supplement that I currently take routinely.

Magnesium (Natural Calm)

What did I take during pregnancy and post-partum when hormones gripped my gut so tightly? I took three tablespoons of Natural Calm magnesium citrate in a tall glass of water nightly–every night. This is WAY too much magnesium. I am well aware that most of us are magnesium deficient, but this is a lot much! One electrolyte at a high dose is not good for the other electrolytes and their balances.  So even though this got things moving (diarrhea), this is not a good place to live for the rest of my life if I can help it.  Tenacity.

I tried some different forms of magnesium because the taste of this, although the unflavored is really okay, is becoming repulsive after four years or so of using it. The other forms, both topical and oral types of magnesium, just don’t work. And Epsom salts bath, although relaxing, don’t do anything at all for my GI.  This is the only brand of magnesium that has worked for me.  Again, I’ve no vested interest in this supplement, and I’m not saying it will work for you.

At my best right before pregnancy and also the last two months now, I was able to get off of the magnesium.  I still had/have to use it about once a week, and usually at a much lower dose– a heaping tablespoon.  But I only use it when I skip a day or things are too hard.

Bottom-line: Calm magnesium citrate now can keep my gut going (although with diarrhea) through thick and thin. Before I changed my eating and lifestyle four years ago, high dose magnesium did not work. So the fact that it works is great! But I still want off of it entirely! I am currently down to about once a week.  So I guess, if you are a nickel and dime counter, we would call this 3 and 1/2 regular supplements—since I only have to take it as needed and this only about once a week now.

Closing

I am going to stop now.  I have LOTS more to say.  You will be so bored by the time I finish.  You’ll think I talk and think about nothing but moving GI tracts. But, finish I will.  Tenacity.  Get those parachute pants.

Terri

Click here for Slow Guts Need Care, the first post in this series.

 

23 thoughts on “Slow Guts Need Tenacity

  1. Phil

    Thank you Teri,

    I have a similar story.

    After reading all of the great reviews for certain probiotics, I was ready to celebrate. I tried Miyarisan…nothing but a few gurgles, which were promising if I ate 50% over the recommended dose. Then onto various Bifidos: lactis, infantis, etc. They seem to clean up my cecum, less bloating (your mention of SIBO seems familiar), but if I don’t eat potatoes or corn it seems pretty good down there anyway. But none of them gets through the plug. Have wondered about Mutaflor as well. E. coli. Pretty important player. Thousands of strains.

    I have also gone on/ off butyrate and have just started back on. Once again, as soon as I went back on the butyrate my asthma decreased in less than a day. The last time I was on butyrate I was able to pet cats and dogs of all breeds (that is a joy). Oct and Nov I tend to just have some background asthma which sometimes lasts deep into winter. This year it came back when I stopped butyrate, and now is receeding again as I started taking it. Will see how that works out in the days to follow.

    I must admit, my STC is at worst in the 5 – 6 day range, rarely concrete. But it used to be accompanied by a blow-out, usually on the 4 – 5th day. That no longer happens. So maybe the probiotics are doing something, calming it down, but the last step, the blessed last step is illusive except when I use butyrate.

    K2 is now on the list. Iodine is complicated, will read more.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you,

    Phil

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi, Phil! Good to hear from you again. I tried the Miyarisan after we last interchanged. I didn’t have any luck with it, but I wanted to! Ah, well. No better or no worse for me than any other, though! LOL—there’s still Mutaflor to try…

      So interesting still to me about the eczema and allergies, and that they are reproducible when you stop/start the butyrate. Very interesting! Keep me posted, if you can, occasionally on that butyrate and anything that seems to help you eventually.

      Iodine IS complicated. I agree. K2 not so much, although, I just don’t know (like I feel with butyrate) that that’s a big thing in my gut—BUT, I know it could be. I don’t know. GAPS talks about people getting better with their constipation with high fat dairy; maybe it’s the butyrate/K2 component??? I have some issues with most dairy, so I don’t use it much.

      Well, I’d better sign off. I have some interesting, easy things coming up in this long write-up that are silly, but cheap, easy, and safe to try.

      Terri

      Reply
      1. Bert

        Hi Terri,

        Diabetic for who knows how long, metformin for 5 years, HBP, overweight, I discovered the Resistant Starch story before I found your column. I love how you are so precise and your information is wonderful in an easy to read manner!

        I started with 2T potato starch and 1 1/2 tsp PSYLLIUM together in 10 ounces of water, 30 minutes before breakfast and dinner. Low carb (very little cold potatoes, yam, lentil or barley, sprouted bread, one apple/day) lots of veggies (w/butter) and lean protein usually cooked in Coconut oils low heat. Only drink water and coffee with my B12 in the morning – 500mg magnesium after dinner with Omega 3 and 2000 IU Vit D.

        Nothing else in the beginning.

        In one month and after being overweight, sick and tired for 20 years, I have lost:
        – 15 lbs
        – Generalized pain and stiffness
        – Fatique (very bad – often falling asleep while driving)
        – Depression
        – Anxiety/PTSD
        – heart papitations
        – tingling in hands and feet (took the longest)
        – and I am off my metformin testing around 7 (Canada…not sure the mol/ml)

        I have piles of stamina and energy and can do all kinds of work without getting sore muscles and can bear so much more weight. (Things I could not lift before now feel light!)

        Very similar approach except the psyillium husk. The 3 tsp/day (combined) is below the amount recommended on the container. Just curious…you never mention it (have not read every part but from 4 – the end)…have you tried adding it to the potato starch?

        I have recently started using inulin added to soup or if I want to cheap (reducing NET carbs) and 1/4 tsp glucomannan.

        Interested to hear your thoughts 🙂

        Sincerely, Bert

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Wow, Bert. That’s an amazing turn-around. Congrats.

        In May or so, I tried using psyllium husk powder (used to take it bout 15-20 years ago too) with inulin/FOS/beta glucan. Not the potato starch, though. Your success is inarguable. I had ho-hum results (but I wasn’t taking it with potato starch). I wish I had tried the psyllium SEED powder since I seem to do well with butyrate-producing products (and the seed produces more than the husk).

        But, hey, I’ve got both husk powder and potato starch around, maybe I’ll try your combo for a week trial. I’m doing pretty well in all regards now (supps are iodine, prenatal due to nursing, vitamin K2 and magnesium as needed about 2-3 times weekly), but I still would be considered as a constipated person and mildly bloated with some minor joint pains. I can see where the psyllium husk powder would act as a “protector” of the potato starch’s RS, allowing it to make it better to the colon, maybe.

        I like inulin (What makes me say that? Seemed to help bloating.) and have been thinking I really need to get more of it. Glucomannan gave me a little cramping. Overall, I like to try to get my fibers from food, but sometimes supplements definitely allow for faster, more focused healing/progress allowing me to ease on into food sources.

        Huh. That was a very-unscientific response. Ha! Ugh! Oh well. At least I know what I’m having for breakfast now–something that goes well with PS and psyllium powder.

        I will try to update this comment in a week or two to say how this combo did.

        Terri

      3. Bert

        I also use inulin but it is 65% or 70% LCFA and 30% – 35% SCFA and the SCFA burn hotter and produce more butyrate that I find gives me huge health benefits.

        I add inulin to my food (as opposed to mixing with water and drinking on an empty stomach 30 minutes before eating as I do with the pysyllium/PS mix) to add diversity. Yucan syrup, green banana flour, tequila also get thrown in the mix. Worried about overpopulating…you understand…

        Somewhere in this cautionary article during testing that produced negative results, it says “except for one subject who was also taking psyllium”. Being a LCFA, it tends to carry on and feed the left side/distal part of the colon whereas PS only feeds the right side. I cannot find it at this moment and am in a bit of a hurry.

        And…I do not understand this stuff as well as you do or make as much sense of it as you do but you might find this article interesting:

        http://thegutinstitute.com/2014/12/high-dose-potato-starch-can-make-you-fatter-insulin-resistant-by-lowering-glp-1-and-especially-if-you-are-missing-bifidobacteria-longum-and-akkermansia-mucinophila-aka-sad-microbial-fingerprint-pa.html

      4. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Dear Bert,

        1. I hope you had a good New Year’s Eve and day! Will you please clarify for me what you mean when you mention the LCFA and SCFA of the inulin: “I also use inulin but it is 65% or 70% LCFA and 30% – 35% SCFA and the SCFA burn hotter and produce more butyrate that I find gives me huge health benefits.” I keep reading the acronyms “LCFA” and “SCFA” as “long chain fatty acid” and “short chain fatty acid” which are not present in inulin, although the SCFAs will be produced by the bacteria’s use of it.

        2. Tell me about the tequila. I’m new to that one.

        3. I will read Grace’s article. I have printed it as I type this to go read.

        4. Yes, I see that the psyllium husk carries on, as it is not a carbohydrate used by the bacteria so it’s kind of “inert,” whereas the PS and its amylopectin carbohydrate would be used by the bacteria in the colon readily (or sooner if there’s a SIBO problem probably).

        5. The key thing is you are seeing results, and now I’m wondering if you can transition your results as gradually as you want to real food with good prebiotic content and keep the same progress. That’d be awesome.

        6. I’m taking the PS and psyllium. Nothing remarkable for me which doesn’t occur with plain PS. I do well overall with just adding in sources of RS from food, which is lucky for me. But I decided to give it a week just to see.

        7. That’s it, I think! Got an article to read and a baby to feed. Have a good one!

      5. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Dear Bert,

        1. I hope you had a good New Year’s Eve and day! Will you please clarify for me what you mean when you mention the LCFA and SCFA of the inulin: “I also use inulin but it is 65% or 70% LCFA and 30% – 35% SCFA and the SCFA burn hotter and produce more butyrate that I find gives me huge health benefits.” I keep reading the acronyms “LCFA” and “SCFA” as “long chain fatty acid” and “short chain fatty acid” which are not present in inulin, although the SCFAs will be produced by the bacteria’s use of it.

        2. Tell me about the tequila. I’m new to that one.

        3. I will read Grace’s article. I have printed it as I type this to go read.

        4. Yes, I see that the psyllium husk carries on, as it is not a carbohydrate used by the bacteria so it’s kind of “inert,” whereas the PS and its amylopectin carbohydrate would be used by the bacteria in the colon readily (or sooner if there’s a SIBO problem probably).

        5. The key thing is you are seeing results, and now I’m wondering if you can transition your results as gradually as you want to real food with good prebiotic content and keep the same progress. That’d be awesome.

        6. I’m taking the PS and psyllium. Nothing remarkable for me which doesn’t occur with plain PS. I do well overall with just adding in sources of RS from food, which is lucky for me. But I decided to give it a week just to see.

        7. That’s it, I think! Got an article to read and a baby to feed. Have a good one!

  2. andthreetogo

    My gosh Terri, you are such an amazing woman. Your focus, tenacity and fortitude are an example for me… I have been such a lazy bones about food lately. And supplements… let’s not even go there.
    Chad and I are going to start clean eating next week. Well, we cannot really cut out beer (he distributes American beer here in Phuket, it would look bad if we went to an event and didn’t have a little of our product), but I am so sick of all the processed crap in our house. Even organic, non-GMO processed crap. 🙂 I will let you know how it goes. Am planning a menu and getting a grocery list ready for then… ack!

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Go, go! With what you’ve mentioned before, some people (in addition to simply cleaning up) have success with also taking out the top “allergens” (wheat, corn, nuts, peanuts, dairy, eggs, soy, and shellfish) temporarily and then slowly adding them back in one at a time. We discovered my husband had food issues that actually have a name and diagnosis (beyond my line, “Well, I just feel better. I can get out of bed today and my gut moves so I’ll keep eating this way…”) Because he followed along with my diet (and felt better), he controlled this special kind of acid reflux he has that we didn’t even know he had. Then, we went on vacation (where I let my family drop the bar), and boy, his condition flared up bad with too much daily ice cream. (He misses ice cream.) Ouch! Anyhow, I’m telling you all this to tell you he can still have beer. 🙂 Geesh. I really need to practice not talking so much.

      Well, I’ll get that post written. I’m starting to “diurese” as we say in medicine—I’m starting to mobilize posts after a busy fall.

      Much affection and highest regards to you—

      Terri

      Reply
      1. andthreetogo

        You never talk too much! I like that idea, cut out all that stuff and then add back in! Will do, or at least try my darnedest! It’s not going to be easy over here… Finding clean eats is pretty rare…:)

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        I think some of the best inspiration is that which sticks in our heads and won’t leave. So—

        Sheryl Crow: No one said it would be easy…no one said it’d be this hard…

        Rolling Stones: You can’t always get what you wa-ant. You can’t always get what you wa-ant. (Repeat one more time)—–but if you try sometime—you just might find (repeat)—you get what you NEED—[insert some hooting or whatever they do…]

        Giggle. Good luck!

        Terri

  3. Jhanis

    About 4 years ago, our company doctor suspected I had hyperthyroidism. I had all the symptoms, she said. Fatugue, hand tremors (I still have those), anxiety, palpitations, weight loss, yada, yada, yada. She sent me for some tests. I never went. I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW. My thyroids (How many do we have?) have been swollen since forever, well I think it’s my thyroids. I have a hard time swallowing and I choke on the smallest tablet. I even choke on my own saliva, WTH?

    Soooo this means I should lower my consumption of Iodine, right? But can’t help it. I like seaweeds. I make some for my kids, they hate it so I eat it for them. And we use iodized salt at home because you know, for the kids.

    Maybe I should go see a specialist? I’m scared!! LOL I want those parachute pants.

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      You would look hot in parachute pants, girl!

      And you need your thyroid checked. Pronto. Like 4 years ago. The screening test is an easy, fairly painless blood draw. Then you would know and you could move on (to other things that need evaluated). If it’s not your thyroid, then you could chow on seaweed guilt-free. Jhanis, my brave, fearless, strong friend, go. I never would have imagined this response from you. Determine what you’re dealing with. Then I’ll start talking to you again.

      PS: You have one thyroid gland, shaped like a butterfly on the front of your neck.

      Go.

      🙂

      Reply
      1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Too worried about how good your parachute pants looked, I guess. When I was in elementary school, they were THE RAGE.

        Got your appointment scheduled? I know it’s night, but don’t they have on-line scheduling? 🙂

  4. Pingback: Maybe Slow Guts Need Poked | The HSD

  5. katpotter

    Long time reader, first time replier.
    Just wanted to give a +1 to your thoughts about iodine and K2– hesitatingly saying that maybe these supplements seem to be correlated to better times… Glad that someone else thinks this. I will keep on them.
    On the edge of my seat about your experience with gargling. I’ve attempted to get into a routine of doing this to help with vagus nerve connections, but it’s only lasted at most 2 days- ha! Did it maybe possibly do anything for you?!

    Reply
    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Really? Very fascinating! (On K2 and Iodine!)
      I’ve been gargling and gagging (LOL!) since about last March or so. I’ll keep at it. Try to do it at least once a day. I also do it with ileocecal valve massage. (Oh, man. This all sounds so strange.) How can I argue with a culmination of pretty normal bowel movements after decades of none and much improved bloating? So, I’m laughing, but I’ll say, “Sure. Maybe it helped.” 🙂

      Welcome, katpotter! If you remember to try more than 2 days 🙂 let me know what you think!–Terri

      Reply
  6. Pingback: Do Slow Guts Need Loved? | The HSD

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