25.10.06

Acidophilus Magnificus

Some of you know I've had gastrointestinal issues for years. Around 1998, I believe I became lactose intolerant. I can still eat yoghurt and cheese, products that have been cultured, but more than a dribble of milk and real ice cream will send me straight to bed with a terrible stomach cramp and gas. When I started eating a vegetarian diet in 2000 it was mostly an ethical choice but it also served to relieve some of the pain I had been experiencing almost daily. A couple years ago I also realized how hard beer was on my system. Some people get angry on tequila or maudlin on whiskey, well I become a fighting drunk on beer and experience bad intestinal effects. That was a very sad realisation as I really love the taste of beer and considered myself somewhat of a (amateur) connoisseur, even brewing it in my parents' basement with The Duchess for a year or two.

So it has come to this: I cannot eat milk, ice cream, meat, or beer for fear that they will leave me incapacitated with pain and antisocial. Recently I started seeing a physical therapist for pain in my hip flexors. The first visit includes an extensive assessment and a checklist of all and anything that could be wrong with me. The doctor noticed I had checked off gastrointestinal issues on the list and asked me about it. When I told her what was working for me (i.e. the things I was avoiding and why), she told me she had experienced very similar discomfort. Now she takes acidophilus tablets every morning which seems to do the trick.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a probiotic that occurs naturally in the human stomach but can be thrown out of balance when the digestive system is stressed. Taking it in pill form supplements the body's natural capacity for producing the probiotic and can reset the system. Some resources say that after balance has been reestablished the patient can stop taking acidophilus as a supplement as the body takes up the slack again and produces more of the probiotic naturally.

What do I say? I say I've found a whole new freedom! In the past month I haven't experienced any major instance of gastrointestinal pain except twice: once I forgot the pills at home when we left for a weekend away, and once I tested my new found freedom by having a night on the beer (too much beer, for sure). Other than those two episodes I suspect I feel very much like most people walking around who rarely think about their gastrointestinal system at all. I will keep taking them for now as it doesn't seem that my body is back in balance yet, but I'm so pleased to have found something that works, and that occurs naturally in the body. I don't really feel like I'm self-medicating because those little critters live in every one of us, just in different quantities. My medical doctor encouraged me to take them when I suggested it to her and said there are no side effects so long as I follow the dosage suggested on the bottle.

From here:
To put it into perspective, there are approximately 100,000 billion viable bacteria in the digestive tract and about 1,000 billion on the skin. The total number of cells in the body is approximately 10,000 billion, meaning that we have more bacteria in our body than we have cells! In the large intestine, there are at least 400-500 species of bacteria.
Ewww!

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Later:
My mom just sent me an article from the Globe and Mail that appeared the same day I posted this blog entry. Have a read if you're interested.

2 comments:

  1. I am going to take that for my ulcerated colitis. I have to find out if I can take it while I am nursing, I am thinking yes.I am hoping it will help, nothing else is right now but I can't change to stronger meds while nursing. I am glad to hear it is working for you.

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  2. I've taken acidophilus with antibiotics to prevent the baaaad side effects. It totally works! Oh, and there's a family conspiracy about bulgaricus ha ha.

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