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About IBS


The causes of IBS are not entirely understood.
Historically, researchers believed a combination of physical and psychological health problems could lead to IBS.  

What Causes IBS
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What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is generally a long-term or recurrent disorder of gastrointestinal functioning. Usually starting during adolescence or early adulthood but sometimes later in life, IBS causes abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation, and stool formation changes.  


Approximately 10 to 15 percent of Americans suffer from IBS. Females are affected more often than males.


While the causes of IBS have largely been unknown, recent studies have pointed to unique food allergies that trigger IBS.

What is IBS

Symptoms of IBS

IBS symptoms include recurrent abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits, including at least two of the following:

  • Bowel movements that occur more or less often than usual

  • Stool that appears looser and more watery or harder and more lumpy than usual

  • Increasing or improving abdominal pain with a bowel movement


To be diagnosed with IBS, symptoms must occur at least once a week for the past three months with a total duration of symptoms of at least six months.


Other IBS symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea — loose, watery stools three or more times a day and feeling urgency to have a bowel movement

  • Constipation — hard, dry stools; three or fewer bowel movements in a week; or straining to have a bowel movement

  • Feeling that a bowel movement is incomplete

  • Passing mucus, a clear liquid that coats and protects tissues in the gastrointestinal tract

  • Abdominal bloating

  • The need to find a restroom fast


IBS-80 food allergy patch testing may help if you meet the diagnostic criteria for IBS or have some of the symptoms listed.

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Possible Causes

Food Allergies  – Food allergy is a potential cause for IBS, but efforts to accurately identify specific food allergies have been unsuccessful until the recent advances we have made. Studies published in peer-reviewed dermatology journals (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3) show that specific food allergies can be identified in some individuals with IBS or IBS-like symptoms by simple, painless skin patch testing.


Brain-Gut Signal Problems – Signals between the brain and nerves of the small and large intestines (the gut) control how the intestines work. Problems with brain-gut signals may cause IBS symptoms, such as changes in bowel habits and pain or discomfort.


Gastrointestinal Motor Problems – Normal motility, or movement, may not be present in the bowel of a person who has IBS. Slow motility can lead to constipation, and fast motility can lead to diarrhea. Spasms, or sudden and involuntary muscle contractions that come and go, can cause abdominal pain. Some people with IBS also experience hyperreactivity, an excessive increase in bowel contractions in response to stress or eating.


Hypersensitivity – IBS patients may have a lower pain threshold to a stretched bowel caused by gas or stool than those who do not have IBS. The brain may process pain signals from the bowel differently in people with IBS.


Mental Health Problems – Mental health or psychological problems such as panic disorder, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common in people with IBS. The link between these disorders and the development of IBS is unclear. 


Bacterial Gastroenteritis – Some people who have bacterial gastroenteritis—an infection of the stomach and intestines caused by bacteria—develop IBS. Researchers do not know why gastroenteritis leads to IBS in some people and not others, though the gastrointestinal tract lining may be a factor.


Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) – Normally, few bacteria live in the small intestine. SIBO is an increase in bacteria or a change in the type of bacteria in the small intestine. These bacteria can produce excess gas or cause diarrhea and weight loss. Researchers believe that SIBO may lead to IBS, and some studies have shown antibiotics to be effective in treating IBS. However, more research is needed to prove a link between SIBO and IBS.


Hormonal Effects – Younger women with IBS often have more symptoms during their menstrual periods. Post-menopausal women have fewer symptoms compared with women who are still menstruating. These findings suggest that reproductive hormones can worsen IBS symptoms.


Genetics – It is unclear whether IBS has a genetic cause, meaning it runs in families. However, the reason could be an environmental or heightened awareness of gastrointestinal symptoms. Studies have shown that IBS is more common in families with a history of gastrointestinal problems.

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IBS-80 testing is a skin patch test that identifies food allergies that may cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The IBS symptoms may improve or disappear by eliminating these foods from the diet.

The theory behind IBS-80 is that an allergic reaction similar to what happens on the skin from the food patch test occurs in the intestine’s lining when the same food is eaten, causing IBS symptoms. The allergic reaction in the skin is called a "type 4" delayed hypersensitivity reaction or allergic contact dermatitis (similar to poison ivy). The IBS symptoms may improve or disappear upon eliminating the food(s) from the diet.

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Lining of Skin

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Lining of Intestine

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Other tests like skin prick testing and RAST blood testing search for type 1 allergies, which involve antibodies and histamine. Type 1 allergies cause hives and anaphylaxis and are caused by foods such as peanuts and shellfish. Foods that cause type 1 allergies typically are different from foods that cause type 4 allergies. Type 1 allergy testing has been studied and is generally not helpful in evaluating IBS.

The IBS-80 process is easy.


In published studies with long-term follow-up, IBS-80 testing improved the lives of over 60% of patients, including more than 30% who experienced total or near-total relief from symptoms.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a complicated condition that could have many causes.

IBS-80 does not work for everyone. But, if you are an IBS food allergy sufferer, you may find substantial relief.

How Does it work

No Needles with IBS-80 


This testing uses food patch tests on the skin surface to look for a different type of food allergy not detectable by skin prick tests or antibody blood tests. When foods identified by the patch testing are avoided in the diet, IBS symptoms often improve or completely go away. It is theorized that an allergic reaction similar to that in the skin from the patch test occurs in the gastrointestinal tract when the same food is eaten, resulting in IBS symptoms. These observations represent a significant advance in the understanding of at least one cause of IBS.


Important Details

  • Avoid direct sun exposure on your back for four weeks before testing. A suntan may decrease your reaction to the test.

  • Avoid taking any cortisone-containing or other immunosuppressive medication for the week before your IBS test and through the testing period.

  • Shave off any hair on the upper and middle sections of your back two days before your test.

  • Take a bath or shower the morning you come in for your first appointment, but do not apply any lotions or other products after showering.


Not all Patients are Eligible for the Patch Tests

Inform your medical provider about any known food allergies and what type of reaction you have when you touch or eat the foods. Note: You should not test for any foods that have caused you to develop a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).


In addition, you should not have the test if you are:

  • Breastfeeding or pregnant

  • Taking some immunosuppressive medications

  • Undergoing chemotherapy

Have more questions?  Visit our patient FAQ page

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