A bizarre new principle concerning the underlying causes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) means that the situation might outcome from the physique’s lack of ability to resist gravity.
IBS is a gastrointestinal dysfunction that impacts 10 p.c of the world’s inhabitants. People with it show a big selection of signs and reply to a spread of remedies, however the underlying causes of the situation are nonetheless unsure.
Disparate theories exist to elucidate the assorted signs of IBS, however Brennan Spiegel, director of Health Services Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, has informed Newsweek that these is likely to be linked by a single unifying issue.
“The abdominal contents are heavy, like a sack of potatoes that we are destined to carry for our entire lives,” Spiegel mentioned. “To meet this demand, the body evolved to support the abdominal load using a set of mechanisms that hoist the viscera [large internal organs in the abdominal cavity] in an upright posture.
“It seems that some individuals are higher designed to hold the stomach load than others, and variations between our bodies can affect [gastrointestinal] well being.”
Gravity has had a profound effect on our evolution, from how we stand up to how we pump blood around our bodies.
The digestive system is no different: to support our digestive organs, we have evolved an internal suspension system, called the mesentery, that holds up our intestines and prevents them from collapsing into the pelvis.
“Some individuals inherit a mesentery that’s too stretchy, inflicting the gastrointestinal tract to droop down,” Spiegel said.
“The stomach cavity additionally retains its form due to musculoskeletal helps…[which] act collectively like a crane to stabilize and droop the gastrointestinal system.
“If something goes wrong in this system,” Spiegel added, “then the crane can sag under the influence of gravity, causing the intestines to droop, leading to slowing of the materials inside, overgrowth of bacteria, and gas formation.”
The disruption of those gravity-resisting methods might due to this fact be accountable for the signs of IBS.
“I’ve been studying IBS for years and published extensively on this topic, but until recently, I never once thought of gravity in relation to this condition,” Spiegel mentioned. “That changed when a family member recently began developing [gastrointestinal] distress.
“She has been in an assisted residing facility and spending increasingly time mendacity flat in mattress. At about the identical time she began mendacity down, her intestine points emerged in lockstep.
“That got me thinking: We’re not designed to lie flat. We evolved to be upright,” Spiegel mentioned. “I imagined the abdominal contents like a functional stack that is suspended and arrayed in a precise manner that works with and through gravity, and that lying down throws it off.
“As I investigated the literature on this topic, which is vast, I started to see a common thread among all the symptoms of IBS. Not just the [gastrointestinal] symptoms, but also lightheadedness, palpitations, tremors, fatigue, joint pains, backache, and vertigo, among others, could all be traced to difficulty managing gravity.”
To assist this principle, IBS sufferers typically reply effectively to bodily remedy and train, which might probably outcome from a strengthening of those inner assist methods.
Spiegel mentioned that he had seen potential proof for this principle in his personal sufferers: “Some people may have bodies evolved for certain pressure levels, or certain altitudes.
“I’ve had some sufferers who say their IBS is horrible at sea stage, however a lot better within the mountains. I’ve at all times assumed it was as a result of the mountains are peaceable and exquisite, however it would possibly simply be as a result of air strain is totally different because of gravity itself.”
In his paper, published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology, Spiegel wrote that many gastroenterologists had reported seeing unusually twisted intestines in IBS patients during colonoscopies, which could be a result of this inability to resist gravity.
“In circumstances the place the intestine turns into compressed, kinked, misshapen, or pressurized via gravity misalignment, the intestines could wrestle to transit luminal contents effectively,” Spiegel said.
“Dysmotility results in stasis and microbiome overgrowth, which can trigger elevated leakiness of the intestine, irritation within the intestines, gasoline formation, strain buildup, diarrhea, or constipation.”
If gravity actually is the underlying reason for the situation, how would IBS sufferers fare in area?
“We know that many astronauts suffer from [gastrointestinal] issues while in microgravity orbit,” Spiegel mentioned. “It may be that we need gravity to thrive, but that too much, or too little, could cause negative effects in certain people.”
Further research might be required to check this speculation. “The paper lays out 30 different research studies that could be conducted to test the ‘gravity hypothesis’ of IBS,” Spiegel mentioned.
“Do IBS patients have different physiologic responses to changes in altitudes compared to other patients? Do people with IBS have differences in their connective tissue elasticity in their gut support structures? Do they have differences in their diaphragm attachments, mesentery, colon length, or spinal curvature?… The list goes on and on.”
Determining whether or not IBS actually is a results of the physique’s lack of ability to handle gravity might assist inform future remedy choices for sufferers with this often-debilitating situation. Spiegel additionally hopes that this paper will encourage individuals to alter how they give thought to IBS.
Is there a well being difficulty that is worrying you? Do you may have a query about IBS? Let us know through well [email protected]. We can ask specialists for recommendation, and your story may very well be featured on Newsweek.
Spiegel B, Gravity and the Gut: A Hypothesis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Am. J. Gastroenterol., December 1 2022, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14309/ajg.0000000000002066