Opioids and Narcotic Bowel Syndrome: Here’s What You Need to Know

Opioids and Narcotic Bowel Syndrome: Here’s What You Need to Know

Narcotic bowel syndrome (NBS), also referred to as opioid-induced central hyperalgesia, is becoming increasingly prevalent due to the use of narcotics to treat pain associated with chronic disorders and as a consequence opioid dependence. The symptoms of NBS include abdominal pain, constipation, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and if left untreated, may lead to long-term gastrointestinal (G.I.) issues.

What Is NBS? 

NBS is a subset of opiate bowel dysfunction. It occurs due to long-term narcotics use and causes abdominal pain that worsens as the effects of narcotics wear off.

Although morphine, oxycodone, and other opioids may be prescribed to help an individual alleviate pain, these narcotics may actually cause pain, particularly for people who are already dealing with G.I. disorders. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) notes narcotics slow the transit through the bowel, and when this happens, an individual may experience bloating, constipation, and nausea. In some people, narcotics also sensitize the nerves, resulting in increased pain.

How Is NBS Diagnosed and Treated? 

For an NBS diagnosis, these criteria are taken into consideration:

  • Chronic or recurring abdominal pain after treatment with narcotics
  • Abdominal pain is not related to a current or past G.I. diagnosis
  • Abdominal pain gets worse after continuous narcotics dosages, when narcotics dosages are stopped, and/or there is a progression in the duration, frequency, and intensity of abdominal pain
  • Abdominal pain has occurred for three consecutive months, with initial symptom onset at least six months earlier
  • Abdominal pain occurs most days

Researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) have developed a treatment protocol to help individuals address NBS. The treatment protocol involves the simultaneous reduction of narcotics use and substitution of narcotics with alternative medications. That way, an individual can manage pain and bowel symptoms while removing narcotics from his or her system.

UNC researchers indicated the NBS treatment protocol usually requires an individual to stay in a hospital for one to two weeks. However, several weeks or months may be necessary to achieve complete elimination of narcotics dependence. And in one study, UNC researchers found about 46% of NBS patients resumed taking narcotics within three months of the treatment protocol’s completion.

Can Bovine Colostrum Help NBS? 

Let’s face it – narcotics can be a double-edged sword, especially when taken for chronic pain. They can do more harm that patients realize. Doctors commonly prescribe narcotics to treat pain, despite the fact that they may cause a variety of G.I. issues. Perhaps worst of all, narcotics can be extremely addictive. In fact, recent “National Survey on Drug Use” data showed prescription pain relievers are the most common cause of a subsequent substance use disorder.

Bovine colostrum supplements may provide a viable alternative to narcotics and other pain relief medications. In the case of an acute injury, such as car accident, back strain, or fall, colostrum contains anti-inflammatory components that may help reduce swelling and pain. The growth factors (insulin-like growth factors, transforming growth factors) may help to repair and regenerate musculoskeletal tissue (muscle, cartilage, bone) to support faster healing for injuries. If patients can recover quicker and are able to return to their normal daily activities, narcotics use may not be necessary or minimized and then terminated before dependence sets in.

If a patient experiences chronic G.I. pain, colostrum’s epithelial growth factor helps support intestinal healing from damage caused by various prescribed G.I. medications, such as antacids, steroids, opioids, as well as over-the-counter pain meds and acid-reducing medications. Years of intestinal damage contribute to leaky gut and development of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, which incidentally, bring additional pain. But by healing the gut lining, the crossover of toxins into the bloodstream is reduced and the immune system’s inflammatory response is curtailed. Lower levels of inflammation result in less tissue damage and less pain.

Colostrum-LD® from Sovereign Laboratories is a bovine colostrum supplement that is clinically proven to provide support for leaky gut, and it delivers colostrum’s bioactives directly to the cells and tissues. Colostrum-LD® is rich in immune and growth factors which may help address pain from two different angles for maximum relief. As such, Colostrum-LD® may help reduce damage caused by pain medications and potentially provide a safe, natural, and effective replacement for these medications.

This article was brought to you by Sovereign Laboratories, a world leader in the development of liposomal delivery to maximize the bioavailability of our dietary supplements.