Irish Blue Peter star Zoe Salmon-Corrie (36): The product that cured me after decades of excruciating IBS attacks
‘The excruciating pain of IBS attacks is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced’
The former star of BBC’s Blue Peter has opened up about her two-decade long battle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and the excruciatingly painful attacks that she has struggled with since she was 17.
Zoe Salmon-Corrie (36) was diagnosed with the disorder when she was a teenager and said the pain that accompanies an attack is unlike anything else she’s ever experienced.
“I was 17 when I had my first IBS attack and it was very scary,” Zoe told Independent.ie
“At the time I was studying for my A-levels and I was working in a shop. One afternoon I just doubled up in pain, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I collapsed with the pain and I didn’t know what was happening to me.
“I went to my GP the next day and he thought it I may have eaten something I was intolerant to, perhaps MSG. But a few months later it happened again. I had another attack at my sister’s birthday, in a Chinese restaurant. I thought it was food poisoning but every few months I’d have another attack and I was eventually diagnosed with IBS.
“Since then I have had excruciating attacks every couple of months, where I felt as though I had been stabbed in the abdomen because the cramps were so bad. I’ve never had pain like it,” she said.
The presenter, who hails from Bangor Co. Down, revealed that IBS has been responsible for some of the most embarrassing events in her life, but the extreme symptoms that come with it, including bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and crippling abdominal cramps are difficult to cope with.
“I’ve been walking down the Vegas strip and had to urgently hail a cab because of the onset of a cramp.
“Once I was at a friend’s dinner party and within minutes I got an attack. I had to lock myself in the bathroom. I was in so much pain I could hardly even speak, and I hadn’t told any of my friends that I had IBS. With IBS, the symptoms can be so extreme, it’s hard to overcome them.
Zoe reveals her worst attack came on in Amsterdam airport, as she was preparing to catch a flight back to Belfast following the Island Challenge with Bear Grylls.
“I was the only one flying to Belfast and when I got an attack that lasted 10 hours. There was absolutely no way I could get on that flight. If you paid me €1m I couldn’t have done it, even though it was such a short journey. People don’t understand what it’s like for people with IBS,” she said.
Earlier this year Zoe wed her long-term love William Corrie in Barbados and the presenter revealed she was desperate to prevent an attack on her wedding day.
“I began taking Alflorex in February. Although I was sceptical, the fact that it is an all natural culture really appealed to me and I felt like I had nothing to lose. I hate taking medication, even for a headache, so that was a really big plus for me. It’s been a hugely positive experience.”
“For years, I was removing certain things from my diet, believing they triggered my IBS, but I was still having attacks regularly. My diet is still relatively dairy-free.
“Since I began taking Alflorex, I’ve been eating exactly what I want. I love chillies and jalepenos so I’ve been quite liberal with them, something I wasn’t able to do before,” she said.
Zoe believes that Alflorex, a precision probiotic which claims to protect the naturally occurring cultures in the digestive system and target problems in the digestive tract, has completely alleviated her symptoms. The product claims to relieve abdominal discomfort, aid the passage of gas and regulate bowel habits.
Zoe says she hasn’t had one IBS attack since February, and thoroughly enjoyed her honeymoon pain-free.
“I got married in April and I was so worried that I would have an attack. I just wanted to eat what I wanted and enjoy my wedding day. I really just wanted to relax and enjoy myself with my husband and I was so delighted for that time to go by without an attack, and I truly believe that it’s because of Alflorex because normally I would have had one, particularly while abroad.
“For the first time in my adult life IBS isn’t in the back of my mind,” she said.
The presenter revealed that there is still a taboo surrounding IBS and its symptoms and by sharing her experience, she hopes to relieve the embarrassment that can sometimes surround the disorder.
“With IBS, everyone’s pattern is different and there are so many people who are undiagnosed out there, or people who have been misdiagnosed. Many people don’t put two and two together.
“There wasn’t a lot of information when I was growing up so I hope that by talking about the symptoms it will make people more aware of the disorder and help other women and men who are suffering,” she said.