Does Dr. Oz Give Good IBS Advice?

Dr. Oz December 11, 2015
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People seem to be very divided on the subject of Dr. Oz. Some people love him, while other people criticize his promotion of products that are not backed by research. I haven't watched enough of his shows to have a strong opinion myself, but I do admire the fact that he takes some of the mystery out of the human body for the average person. Knowledge about medical issues can do a lot to reduce anxiety and to prompt people to seek out medical care as needed.

Given that there is a lot of misinformation and a lot of myths about IBS, I thought it was worth taking a look as to what Dr. Oz is saying about the disorder. I was able to find three video clips of Dr. Oz covering the subject. Let's take a look to see if what he has to say is in line with the current state of knowledge regarding IBS.

"Could You Have IBS? (10/27/2011)"

In this 5 minute video segment, Dr. Oz provides an overview of the things that trigger and contribute to IBS symptoms. He shows a graphic of IBS symptoms, but interestingly leaves out pain, which is IBS' hallmark symptom! I also have some quibbles about his description of causes - he over-emphasizes stress (with no mention of dysbiosis, FODMAPs, SIBO) - and blames bloating on trapped air (again no mention of gut bacteria or FODMAPs).

His list of dietary triggers - dairy products, coffee, fatty foods, and artificial sweeteners - is pretty on target, again with the glaring exception of FODMAPs.

As for treatment, he offers simplistic, but not necessarily bad, advice - more fiber for IBS-C and peppermint oil for IBS-D.

To see the video, click here:

"DR OZ QUESTION: How to manage IBS  (Publish date Feb 26, 2013)"

In this segment on FOX 5, Dr. Oz answers a question about a veteran who has IBS.

First, let me say that I LOVE that he raised the topic of veterans and IBS. So many of our returning service personnel are coming home with IBS. Dr. Oz recommends that the vet try to eliminate gluten and dairy from his diet - sound advice in my opinion. He also discusses getting treatment fo the anxiety that stems from PTSD, also good advice. He may not have had the time, but no discussion of IBS in veterans feels complete without bringing up the topic of post-infectious IBS (IBS-PI), as military personnel are exposed to strange bacteria while in a stress-filled setting - the perfect storm for IBS-PI.

Click below to watch the video:

"Foods That Wipe Out IBS (3/14/2014)"

Although this was his most recent coverage of the subject, in this episode he is most off the mark. The circus-like atmosphere may or may not be typical for his show, but to me, it trivializes the devastating impact that IBS can have on a person's life. Once again, he over-emphasizes stress as a cause, ignoring the other known contributors that I mentioned above.

His list of trigger foods is down to chocolate and artificial sweeteners, not a very comprehensive list by any means.

His management recommendations in this episode are ridiculously oversimplified. He recommends two servings a day of seeds for constipation, not a bad idea. Where he is way off the mark is recommending carob powder for people who have diarrhea. No mention that carob powder at a serving of more than 1 heaped teaspoons is high in FODMAPs!

The show then gets completely absurd when he recommends that people carry around a balloon as a way to breathe deeply for stress relief! As if people who have IBS are not already feeling self-conscious!

To watch this play out for yourself, click on the following two links:

I will give Dr. Oz kudos for covering the disorder.Unfortunately, he minimizes the very real challenges that people have in trying to get the disorder under control. This can contribute a common belief among people who have IBS that they are a failure for not having control over their bowels. This minimization of the challenges of IBS may also cause family and friends to be less understanding and supportive of the needs of the people in their life who have the disorder.

The bottom line is that he is wrong about IBS approximately half of the time and he gives simplistic and magical solutions for a complex disorder. He should be able to do better. People with IBS deserve better!

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