Our GI doc was extremely excited about a “new” medication last time we saw him and wanted Em to try it. In actuality, this med is not new – it has been well known and widely used in Germany for decades but has only been available in the US for a few years and has largely flown under the radar here. Apparently he went to a conference recently and became a devout believer in Iberogast – the scientific studies and positive results won him over and he is recommending it to his patients.
I was more than happy to try this herbal concoction instead of another anti-depressant which had been suggested previously but I just wasn’t sure how Em was going to view it once she had it in her hands. From the research I did as we were waiting for it to be delivered, I knew it was going to have a strong herbal taste and I had little faith that she was going to be willing to take it: It is hard to take something so strongly flavored when you are so nauseated. However, I also knew there would be a good chance that if she would actually take it, it just might help significantly.
She turned her nose up and gagged and spit it out on the first try, although it truly wasn’t that bad and she had herself convinced it was going to be horrible. It sat on the shelf for a couple weeks before she tried it again. The second try didn’t go much better than the first.
We did eventually find a couple important clues to being able to take it. One is to take it in something the flavor doesn’t fight, something that works with the herbal taste and not against. She also eventually found that the key was for her to put the drops in herself so she could see just how little actually is used. (There might have also been a little bribery to convince her to take it, she is not above being bribed with a new pair of shoes she wants. Although, even with the blantant attempt at bribery, she also needed cajoling and gentle encouragement from various family members to give it a try.) She has been drinking it in hot tea – she is slowly working up to the full amount (20 drops) one little drop a day. At this rate, it might be next year before she ever gets the full dose…
However, the good news is, even with a partial dose, she is seeing a big difference in her GI symptoms. She doesn’t hurt as much, she can eat more. She is actually feeling hunger for the first time in a long time – she is unfamiliar with the sensation and perceives it as painful most of the time. And inconvenient because hunger needs to be addressed.
Another interesting side effect seems to be a calming effect and an almost immediate relief of anxiety. Again, it is hard to tease out the effects of the Propranolol on her anxiety and the effects of the Iberogast. In reading this page about Iberogast it is clear that one of the ingredients has a calming, sedative effect so she probably is feeling calmer when she takes it. Having the constant pain and nausea relieved probably doesn’t hurt either.
Anyway, once she actually tried it, she found it is pretty amazing and is hooked. She is working up to 20 drops, 3 times a day – before meals. She is up to 15 drops, I think. It does seem to be having a significant impact and that is a welcome change. It is a natural, herbal based supplement – so while there are no side effects like we might see with pharmaceuticals, one does need to be aware of the ingredients. If you are allergic to or sensitive to any of the ingredients, you would want to steer clear of it. Otherwise, it seems to be a pretty mild, very effective way to address the pain and suffering that come along with the GI symptoms of EDS. My biggest concern about it, at the moment, is that Em has had a mast cell reaction to tea in the past and that seems to be the only thing she can tolerate the Iberogast in at the moment. But, I do think that she is seeing such an improvement that she will find a way to take it should she end up unable to tolerate the tea.
Iberogast is rather inconvenient to incorporate into life – I can’t really imagine her being able to take it if we went out to eat or ate anywhere but home. She is able to make some tea and take it with her in an insulated cup but I don’t know how practical that is in all situations. However, I think if we were to be out and about, she might be able to just take a peppermint oil capsule in those situations and it might be enough to get her by if the Iberogast is unavailable or unpractical.
We really are at the beginning of figuring out how to use it and make it part of her daily life but it definitely seems to be worth the trouble. I would highly recommend getting a bottle and giving it a try if you have troublesome GI symptoms. It seems like a pretty easy and effective way of addressing the symptoms and the trade off of minor inconvenience is worth it.
If you take already take Iberogast, what do you take it in? What are the best ways to hide the taste for someone who can’t tolerate strong flavors (or is just freaked out by the idea of it)? What are your experiences with it? Comment to share your experiences.