Letters

Food intolerance may play a part

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6986.1067a (Published 22 April 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:1067
  1. Peter J Lewis
  1. Complementary physician Southampton SO15 2DT

    EDITOR,—In his review on the irritable bowel syndrome Michael J G Farthing ignores the evidence that symptoms can, in many cases, be reliably attributed to food intolerance.1 As early as 1771 the King's physician, Sir George Baker, presented to the Royal College of Physicians a patient whose abdominal symptoms improved with a diet of “sea biscuits and salt meat.”2 During the first half of the 20th century several reports of patients with abdominal pain that responded to dietary modification were published from the United States.3 Studies have shown that as many as 70% of patients with abdominal pain and diarrhoea may be successfully managed by diet3 4; double blind challenges have provided objective evidence of food intolerance. As follow up of patients shows that most of them remain well on diet for long periods the value of successfully identifying food intolerance should not be dismissed. In addition, use of antibiotics (with consequent changes in the gut flora) may be an important factor in the development of the syndrome.5

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