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I've been to numerous specialists during my now 2+ year battle with IBS.They all seem to agree on one thing: they claim IBS is an "emotional problem" and not a physical one.I'm trying to understand this claim and come to terms with it.I understand IBS can be triggered by emotional issues but there are definitely proven, obvious physical symptoms so there cannot be any imaginary component here! These specialists claim that once I deal with the emotional component my symptoms will improve,but I feel I've done all I can do. True I was under emotional duress when my IBS first begun, but since then I've changed my life drastically and if I get any more relaxed people will think I'm sedated!
And yet my symptoms persist.What do you fellow IBS sufferers out there think?
 

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Well I don't know what experts you are going to but at the Functional GI clinic where I go they are clear it is PHYSICAL and emotional triggers it.Now changing how your mind/brain talks to your gut can make the symptoms ramp down, but you didn't just decide one day to be sick and forced your gut nerves to break for no reason other than you just needed to be sick or punish yourself.Yes, working on the mind and how our patterns of thought run can make a huge difference in health (and not just IBS, it makes all the things they believe are physical much much worse as well, but for some reason they like to make IBS patients feel bad about having IBS, which never seems to help).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
but for some reason they like to make IBS patients feel bad about having IBS,.
Isn't that true! It's as though it's become downright embarrassing to be diagnosed with IBS. I feel like I have the lable "mental patient" plastered on my forehead! I really do personally believe IBS is triggered by the emotional but then becomes a physical reality. My question is, after the gut nerves are damaged is there really anything that can be done to repair them? I've even tried hypnotherapy (Mike's audio tapes).
 

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Well things like hypnotherapy and CBT seem to help give the nerves the feedback they need to know what to do (like when I cut a nerve to the end of a finger it took awhile to heal up and then it took a few days for it to get the feedback as what was the appropriate volume for normal stimuli--at first everything was full volume pain, even putting on clothes).A lot of it seems to be time. I'm not sure if any supplements help, but getting good quality nutrition with healthy fats you need for nerves/brain (the whole fish fats are brain food thing) probably wouldn't hurt.
 

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My IBS is very clearly emotionally based. The reason I know this is because changing my diet does nothing to reduce my symptoms. And yet, when I get anxious or stressed out, I can pretty much count on a flare of my IBS. The timing can sometimes be delayed. I might get upset about something today, then two days from now I am doubled over with pain and D, but it almost always happens. I don't think that doctors telling you that it's emotional issues means they don't believe you have real symptoms (some may, but I wouldn't assume that all do). More than ever it's becoming clear that constant stress is damaging to our physical health in many, many ways. The thing that's frustrating for me, and I am hearing you say the same thing, is that I have changed my life drastically and I am still having lots of physical symptoms. In my opinion, one reason that happens is because of repression. We don't even realize we are upset about something, but it's in our unconscious mind so it's still impacting our physical wellness. For instance, just two weeks ago I had a flare that came seemingly out of no where. I didn't feel stressed, everything seemed to be going along pretty well, my gut was even relatively good - then bam! I am literally doubled over with cramps and on the toilet and curled up the rest of the day in bed. When I spent time reflecting on what might be on my mind, I realized that I had a lot of lose ends. Several things: waiting to hear about a loan, waiting to hear about a job I interviewed for, trying to sort an issue out with the IRS (minor error on their end). Even though I felt like I was managing my stress with these issues, apparently they were bothering me more than I thought. I felt out of control in thinking about them - I am confident this caused my flare.Another reason we may still have emotional issues causing IBS is the way we view the world. I have a tendency to have high expectations for everyone. When people inevitably don't live up to those expectations, I get upset, frustrated, angry - and so does my gut. Therapy really is helping me with that. Unfortunately it's a bad habit dating back to my childhood years (and learned from my father). I highly recommend a book called "The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mind-Body Disorders" by Dr. John Sarno. It's his belief that our personalities and personal traumas live on in our unconscious mind, setting us up for all sorts of chronic health problems. It is fascinating reading. I think healing IBS is very, very slow. I've had it pretty much all my life and in some ways I think I may be wired to have slightly less than optimal digestion. My mom said even as a baby I was constipated. But I also remember putting ALL of my worries into my belly, causing me more than my share of tummy aches as a kid. My new way of thinking is to keep working toward improving my views of the world, to understand, acknowledge, and deal with the things that bother me, reprogram my response to stress through meditation and yoga practice, and finally (and perhaps most importantly) be willing to accept the fact that I may never feel perfect in my stomach or gut, but I can choose not to let it rule my life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for your response jlfc. That sounds like a really interesting book!Strange I don't feel that stress makes matters any worse in my case and I don't feel stressed in general, but who knows, maybe there's some ongoing response that's not letting me get better.Good luck with your plan!
 

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I think it's both. When I am super stressed I can feel the pain start up. Physical stuff makes it worse too, bouncing around makes me sore, doing certain motions or certain types of lifting while doing physical activity definitely makes it worse. I was getting worse pain with BM's, and that is what made me realize my pain really was intestinal, so I went on Librax 2 weeks ago and almost have my life back. I am now trying not to do too much and restrain myself from doing too much heavy lifting which is hard with all my animals and my work. I have learned I do have to pay someone now to do some of the things around here I can't anymore unless I want to be in pain.
 

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Either condition can result in this. There are linkages which exist between adrenaline (produced during times of stress and anxiety), histamine release, and resultant inflammatory responses, which include D. Once those inflammatory responses develop, they can then be triggered by both foods and further stress.In my case, I smoked my way into this, a purely physical cause of inflammation. There are any number of other physical causes for this. Once that inflammation is in place, both food and emotions acted as my trigger. I don't think it is profitable to try and pin down all IBeezers to one cause. Better to spend your time figuring out your particular circumstances.Mark
 

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Either condition can result in this. There are linkages which exist between adrenaline (produced during times of stress and anxiety), histamine release, and resultant inflammatory responses, which include D. Once those inflammatory responses develop, they can then be triggered by both foods and further stress.
I always wondered if adrenaline was a cause. It seems my pain gets worse when my adrenaline gets pumped up, whether it's from a good cause where I am really excited about something, or a stressful situation.
 

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I've been to numerous specialists during my now 2+ year battle with IBS.They all seem to agree on one thing: they claim IBS is an "emotional problem" and not a physical one.I'm trying to understand this claim and come to terms with it.I understand IBS can be triggered by emotional issues but there are definitely proven, obvious physical symptoms so there cannot be any imaginary component here! These specialists claim that once I deal with the emotional component my symptoms will improve,but I feel I've done all I can do. True I was under emotional duress when my IBS first begun, but since then I've changed my life drastically and if I get any more relaxed people will think I'm sedated!
And yet my symptoms persist.What do you fellow IBS sufferers out there think?
I think that this is both a physical and a mental condition. I think that the mind influences the bowel and the bowel affects the mind. There is no doubt that our mental state affects the IBS. If certain emotions can make the IBS worse then other emotions can make the IBS better. I do not think that an over sedated state will necessarily help with the IBS as much as the over excited state (stressed) is probably not the best for the IBS. I think that you can create a state which will help with the IBS. The state is somewhat what might be called paradoxical. It is relaxed activated. It is probably a mental state that anti depressants can help induce. Do you follow what I am saying?
 

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I've had IBS for 22 years. When I had my son I breast fed him for the first year, and got severely run down as a result. I also started to get panic attacks going into shops. I know now that this was because I was undernourished and exhausted, so my adrenaline was working overtime. Couple this with being married (at the time, but not now) to an alcoholic and it was a recipe for IBS.I believe that for me it was a combination of physical and emotional, but definitely you can't rule out the role of hormones, particularly for women. Most women with IBS will say it's worse around their period. It always was for me and interestingly I didn't get PMS until after my son was born either. But afterwards it was terrible!Recently I've wondered if all this focus on digestion and bowel movements doesn't just make it all worse. I'll bet for most people things are okay when they 'forget' themselves and their IBS. As soon as they think 'oh, I've been okay recently', or start to think about when their next flare up might be, they'll get one. Think on this though, what if there is no 'normal'? What if we are already 'normal', and are simply existing on a scale of normality from one end to the other? I have a friend who doesn't have IBS. He explains that he simply has a sensitive digestive system that he listens to. It rids itself of toxins very quickly. It reacts to stressors very quickly and he listens to it and acts accordingly. He says that if we ignore the 'gut feelings' then we do so at our peril. It would seem that our instincts and responses are not all about what we think, either consciously or unconsicously with our brain but are about what our body tells us. I am so good at not listening to my body!
 

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I've had IBS for 22 years. When I had my son I breast fed him for the first year, and got severely run down as a result. I also started to get panic attacks going into shops. I know now that this was because I was undernourished and exhausted, so my adrenaline was working overtime. Couple this with being married (at the time, but not now) to an alcoholic and it was a recipe for IBS.I believe that for me it was a combination of physical and emotional, but definitely you can't rule out the role of hormones, particularly for women. Most women with IBS will say it's worse around their period. It always was for me and interestingly I didn't get PMS until after my son was born either. But afterwards it was terrible!Recently I've wondered if all this focus on digestion and bowel movements doesn't just make it all worse. I'll bet for most people things are okay when they 'forget' themselves and their IBS. As soon as they think 'oh, I've been okay recently', or start to think about when their next flare up might be, they'll get one. Think on this though, what if there is no 'normal'? What if we are already 'normal', and are simply existing on a scale of normality from one end to the other? I have a friend who doesn't have IBS. He explains that he simply has a sensitive digestive system that he listens to. It rids itself of toxins very quickly. It reacts to stressors very quickly and he listens to it and acts accordingly. He says that if we ignore the 'gut feelings' then we do so at our peril. It would seem that our instincts and responses are not all about what we think, either consciously or unconsicously with our brain but are about what our body tells us. I am so good at not listening to my body!
Hi Anjgi, No doubt we are all different and have different experiences and conditions. As far as ignoring our bowel, I think that if you are stressing about it and what you eat night and day then you will make it worse. It is pretty simple try both ignoring it and focusing on it and see which works better for you. I believe that it is better to ignore the bowel but you must eat healthy and live healthy. I think that the mind and body are creating a feedback cycle which is causing some people to worsen their IBS.Live Well!
 

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Hi,I'm new here - glad I found it. I have also been told about the mind/gut connection and anxiety can trigger a gut problem. But like Kathleen said - it is not like it is chosen- or that we can talk ourselves out of it. I too find it frustrating to hear that, but realize mine seems to get triggered by stress (and probably a combo along with diet), but once the stress stops I still have pain...very frustrating. The ONLY thing that has helped me (it has been a blessing) is acupuncture. I don't know if it is the particular acupuncturist I go to, or it in itself, but it is amazing. I joined because I am starting to flare again and I see the acupuncturist Monday...she puts the needles right in the belly area.
 

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In my case, I believe it is primarily physical. Based on circumstances almost exactly a month before sudden onset, the most likely cause, I think, is low level PI that I wasn't aware of until IBS hit. No known family history, no long personal history of gut problems that many IBSers report, excellent physical and mental health for years, excellent diet and lifestyle habits, no abuse history, no recent trauma or prolonged stress. It was excruciating basically 24/7 for a year or so with all kinds of GI and related non-GI symptoms and almost no quality of life despite 2 matching diagnoses within days of onset, and very proactive self education and advocacy. Been there and done that with almost every reputable conventional or CAM treatment option appropriate to my situation. 95% of my stress was and probably still is because of IBS. When my symptoms finally improved significantly, which was very gradual, (lots of hypno, TCM, Provex CV) a lot of the stress went away, not the other way around.My symptoms aren't "typical," so my concerns aren't either. I have had to be a advocate my entire life, and did it professionally for several years. I continue to do it now for IBS. I don't have a lot of the anxieties many IBSers do about telling people or asking for help. My family knows, my health care providers know, my friends know, many colleagues and acquaintances know, many people in the IBS community know my real name. Most of them try their best to be supportive, but it's wearing on them too. Fortunately, major urgency is an intermittent thing, so I don't worry too much about where the bathroom is. I have *never* worried that I have cancer. In over 2 1/2 years of daily symptoms, probably only 6-7 times total have I seen a clear spike in overall symptoms that was clearly triggered by a stressful situation-- and it was never the same trigger. When I looked into professional CBT, rather than the self-help kind, I called a *lot* locally after consulting informally with several of the major experts in this for IBS for referrals, but I never found one who knew what to do with me or if it would help since I'm not IBS-D with the usual textbook stressors.In short, I've done almost everything humanly possible that IBSers are told to do to help ourselves and more, including putting myself out there publicly on a regular basis to raise awareness and advocate-- quickly, diligently and as consistently as I have been able from the very beginning of this illness. I don't claim to be perfect, but I really don't know how to cope any better, and many acknowledged experts in the IBS community don't have much else concrete to suggest that is new to me. But while the intensity of my symptoms has gone down a lot, they are still always there, every waking hour. If it's not one cluster of symptoms, it's another, and no, I don't have any other diagnosis that would explain why I have all these symptoms I never had for decades of my life. I know about brain-gut dysfunction, and I don't deny that it's in the equation somewhere, but some of us are more brain and some of us more gut. I'm told that when I was first scoped shortly after my initial diagnosis, before anyone had told me IBS is a chronic, incurable condition and when I fully expected to "recover" soon, that my colon was observed moving in an IBSy way under *general anesthesia*. If it was doing that when I was completely out, it's physical. If I still have this level of symptoms no matter what, it's physical.
 

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In my case, I believe it is primarily physical. Based on circumstances almost exactly a month before sudden onset, the most likely cause, I think, is low level PI that I wasn't aware of until IBS hit. No known family history, no long personal history of gut problems that many IBSers report, excellent physical and mental health for years, excellent diet and lifestyle habits, no abuse history, no recent trauma or prolonged stress. It was excruciating basically 24/7 for a year or so with all kinds of GI and related non-GI symptoms and almost no quality of life despite 2 matching diagnoses within days of onset, and very proactive self education and advocacy. Been there and done that with almost every reputable conventional or CAM treatment option appropriate to my situation. 95% of my stress was and probably still is because of IBS. When my symptoms finally improved significantly, which was very gradual, (lots of hypno, TCM, Provex CV) a lot of the stress went away, not the other way around.My symptoms aren't "typical," so my concerns aren't either. I have had to be a advocate my entire life, and did it professionally for several years. I continue to do it now for IBS. I don't have a lot of the anxieties many IBSers do about telling people or asking for help. My family knows, my health care providers know, my friends know, many colleagues and acquaintances know, many people in the IBS community know my real name. Most of them try their best to be supportive, but it's wearing on them too. Fortunately, major urgency is an intermittent thing, so I don't worry too much about where the bathroom is. I have *never* worried that I have cancer. In over 2 1/2 years of daily symptoms, probably only 6-7 times total have I seen a clear spike in overall symptoms that was clearly triggered by a stressful situation-- and it was never the same trigger. When I looked into professional CBT, rather than the self-help kind, I called a *lot* locally after consulting informally with several of the major experts in this for IBS for referrals, but I never found one who knew what to do with me or if it would help since I'm not IBS-D with the usual textbook stressors.In short, I've done almost everything humanly possible that IBSers are told to do to help ourselves and more, including putting myself out there publicly on a regular basis to raise awareness and advocate-- quickly, diligently and as consistently as I have been able from the very beginning of this illness. I don't claim to be perfect, but I really don't know how to cope any better, and many acknowledged experts in the IBS community don't have much else concrete to suggest that is new to me. But while the intensity of my symptoms has gone down a lot, they are still always there, every waking hour. If it's not one cluster of symptoms, it's another, and no, I don't have any other diagnosis that would explain why I have all these symptoms I never had for decades of my life. I know about brain-gut dysfunction, and I don't deny that it's in the equation somewhere, but some of us are more brain and some of us more gut. I'm told that when I was first scoped shortly after my initial diagnosis, before anyone had told me IBS is a chronic, incurable condition and when I fully expected to "recover" soon, that my colon was observed moving in an IBSy way under *general anesthesia*. If it was doing that when I was completely out, it's physical. If I still have this level of symptoms no matter what, it's physical.
Hi journ 3,You know, I have worked in the medical field for 20 years...and when I started as a new grad there was this odd pain that a few of my patients (I'm a physical therapist) had that no one could figure out. I gave them good...by-the-book physical therapy...I tried everything I could. They would eventually get told it was psychological. Years later, the pain I saw back then is now called fibromyalgia. It is funny...if the medical system does not know how to treat something...it does tend to get labeled as psych based. Maybe years from now there will be a treatment for IBS- or some test and they will find it is physically based. All I know is - the pain is REAL. It hurts like heck. Yes, stress may aggravate it or set it off- but if you have any medical problem stress can aggravate it...diabetes, high blood pressure etc. Now that I think back each time I had the pain I also took some form of advil - that's certainly physical. I think you have something there. And yes, the pain can certainly cause stress and anxiety...unrelenting constant pain will do that.I lost 70 lbs in 5 months - it was awful...terrible. I really am lucky the acupuncture helped me. Highly recommend it.
 

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Hi journ 3,You know, I have worked in the medical field for 20 years...and when I started as a new grad there was this odd pain that a few of my patients (I'm a physical therapist) had that no one could figure out. I gave them good...by-the-book physical therapy...I tried everything I could. They would eventually get told it was psychological. Years later, the pain I saw back then is now called fibromyalgia. It is funny...if the medical system does not know how to treat something...it does tend to get labeled as psych based. Maybe years from now there will be a treatment for IBS- or some test and they will find it is physically based. All I know is - the pain is REAL. It hurts like heck. Yes, stress may aggravate it or set it off- but if you have any medical problem stress can aggravate it...diabetes, high blood pressure etc. Now that I think back each time I had the pain I also took some form of advil - that's certainly physical. I think you have something there. And yes, the pain can certainly cause stress and anxiety...unrelenting constant pain will do that.I lost 70 lbs in 5 months - it was awful...terrible. I really am lucky the acupuncture helped me. Highly recommend it.
Cuppa, yes, I'm fortunate to have a highly qualified acupuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine practice (previously affiliated with the integrative medicine units of 2 internationally known teaching hospitals in a nearby city)very close to my home and I have been under their care for almost 2 years. It's one of the 2-3 interventions out of 50+ that actually helped noticeably in my case. Unfortunately, my insurance doesn't cover acupuncture for this diagnosis, and while they are also one of the least expensive local practices, the out of pocket adds up. At this point, I don't know if they are improving things further or just trying to maintain, but I'm also a bit leery about what might happen if I stop.I get very tired at times of going around in circles with the same advice to please work with our doctors, tell our loved ones, change our diets, manage our stress, take this med, understand brain-gut dysfunction, understand visceral hypersensitivity, reassure the patient that it's not life threatening. I get all that and I know at least some of the people who say that are trying to help, but if a lot of the "typical" assumptions don't apply to me, they don't apply to me, and if most of this advice doesn't work for me, it doesn't work. It's not from neurosis or refusal to follow reasonable instructions properly.
 

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Cuppa, yes, I'm fortunate to have a highly qualified acupuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine practice (previously affiliated with the integrative medicine units of 2 internationally known teaching hospitals in a nearby city)very close to my home and I have been under their care for almost 2 years. It's one of the 2-3 interventions out of 50+ that actually helped noticeably in my case. Unfortunately, my insurance doesn't cover acupuncture for this diagnosis, and while they are also one of the least expensive local practices, the out of pocket adds up. At this point, I don't know if they are improving things further or just trying to maintain, but I'm also a bit leery about what might happen if I stop.I get very tired at times of going around in circles with the same advice to please work with our doctors, tell our loved ones, change our diets, manage our stress, take this med, understand brain-gut dysfunction, understand visceral hypersensitivity, reassure the patient that it's not life threatening. I get all that and I know at least some of the people who say that are trying to help, but if a lot of the "typical" assumptions don't apply to me, they don't apply to me, and if most of this advice doesn't work for me, it doesn't work. It's not from neurosis or refusal to follow reasonable instructions properly.
That is great to here you found relief too from acupuncture. I hear you about the cost- I was blessed because my Mother got so tired of watching me be so sick she offered to pay the first 10 visits. She is an MD who trained in China for acupuncture- just wonderful- and very local. My insurance doesn't cover it either...so yes, it is hard to manage. I got a little over-confident and ate a few extra foods and had that dumb advil, so I think I triggered it again...at least that's my guess. What are the other 2 things you have found helpful? (I'm so sorry if this is off topic from the opening thread!)I noticed my trigger "foods" seem to be different from what I see on some lists on the internet, but I might learn more here. All I know is I felt blessed to find "Boost" when I was at my wit's end. That helped me from losing more weight and kept the pain at bay. I don't blame you for getting tired of the same advice and it not working. I have been there too. I also didn't have stomach problems my whole life. This type of pain only over the last 3 years and I am 41. I also have UC (just the last 9 or so years), so I swore this pain must be an extension of that or Crohn's, but that was all ruled out. Very frustrating indeed:( I actually had never had a problem until after I delivered my son, I hurt a pelvic nerve...things just seemed to snowball from there. Very strange.
 

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What are the other 2 things you have found helpful? (I'm so sorry if this is off topic from the opening thread!
Cuppa, hypnotherapy (Mike's CDs/IBS Audio 100 and a couple of his other programs not specific to IBS) was very helpful to me. See the Hypnotherapy/CBT forum here or contact Marilyn (Cookies4Marilyn,) one of the moderators here, who works with Mike and can answer your questions. Statistically, hypnotherapy tends to help a lot more people, at least to some extent, than most other IBS interventions, so chances are it will help you as well if you have fairly typical IBS symptoms (if there is such a thing), though it may take some patience. It reduced the 24/7 excruciating pain and some other symptoms a lot for me. However, because I also have several symptoms for which the program was not designed, I needed other types of interventions too, one of which was acupuncture.For the past year or so, I have also taken Provex CV and a few other supplements from the same company. Ask Mark (Overitnow) in this thread about that, or search for some of the previous threads. I sought that out primarily because I have wildly fluctuating energy levels and Mark reported that this really helped with his own fatigue. Unfortunately, I can't say it's been a clear and consistent upward arc toward near remission as it has been for him, but it appears that it helps somewhat. I hope this information helps. Good luck.
 

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Cuppa, hypnotherapy (Mike's CDs/IBS Audio 100 and a couple of his other programs not specific to IBS) was very helpful to me. See the Hypnotherapy/CBT forum here or contact Marilyn (Cookies4Marilyn,) one of the moderators here, who works with Mike and can answer your questions. Statistically, hypnotherapy tends to help a lot more people, at least to some extent, than most other IBS interventions, so chances are it will help you as well if you have fairly typical IBS symptoms (if there is such a thing), though it may take some patience. It reduced the 24/7 excruciating pain and some other symptoms a lot for me. However, because I also have several symptoms for which the program was not designed, I needed other types of interventions too, one of which was acupuncture.For the past year or so, I have also taken Provex CV and a few other supplements from the same company. Ask Mark (Overitnow) in this thread about that, or search for some of the previous threads. I sought that out primarily because I have wildly fluctuating energy levels and Mark reported that this really helped with his own fatigue. Unfortunately, I can't say it's been a clear and consistent upward arc toward near remission as it has been for him, but it appears that it helps somewhat. I hope this information helps. Good luck.I ho
Thanks SO much! I have been hypnotized before and it worked very well for me so I will look into that - as well as the supplement. Excellent...I thank you for the info:)
 
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