Struggling with gas, abdominal pain, or diarrhea? Do you have uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating or constipation? You may have an imbalance/overgrowth of gut bacteria, yeast, or parasites causing your symptoms. But do not fear! At Natural Balance, we see and treat this every day. We understand that these symptoms can negatively impact your quality of life and we are here to tell you, it’s going to be okay! We have successfully treated hundreds of patients with these same issues.
Let’s do a very basic recap of how digestion works. The mouth is the beginning of the digestive tract. When you chew, your food mixes with saliva and then travels down into the esophagus and subsequently into the stomach where it mixes with digestive enzymes and acid. This helps break down the food and makes the nutrients more available for absorption. Food then moves into the small intestine and colon where it is further digested, and nutrients are absorbed. Optimal transit times for food are between 14-30 hours. Slower or faster transit times may indicate sub optimal digestion.
The fascinating thing about digestion is that we have a bunch of bacteria in our gut called the microbiome that helps us with the breakdown of our food, making vitamins, minerals, and amino acids more readily available for us. They not only help us digest our food, but help us make our neurotransmitters, help maintain hormonal balance, and regulate our immune function. Now most people may think that bacteria are bad, but in reality, it is having the right bacteria in the right balance that generates optimal health. When there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast or parasites, this is when it becomes a problem and can cause a myriad of uncomfortable digestive symptoms. If left untreated, this can lead to nutritional deficiencies, mood disorders, disrupted hormones, and a deregulated immune system.
Unfortunately, many healthcare practitioners prescribe medications to cover up your symptoms which may help bring reprieve for a short amount of time but down the line can cause a lot of health issues. This can leave you feeling frustrated, hopeless and thinking you have to cope with these symptoms forever. At Natural Balance, we are here to reassure you that there are successful treatments available for gastrointestinal disorders outside the realm of conventional care.
How do we treat GI disorders?
Treating and remodeling the gut is a multi-step process. Now fair warning, this is not a comfortable process since we are really doing some heavy-duty work here. First, we kill the bad bacteria/yeast/or parasites using natural kill agents which include a variety of herbs such as turmeric, garlic, oregano, and ginger. If required, we do use antibiotics or antifungals as they are a very effective way of eliminating overgrowth of pathogenic organisms. We combine the best of conventional and functional medicine in our treatment plans. This phase tends to be the hardest on patients since there can be a lot of symptoms from the die off of the bad bacteria. Typical symptoms include but are not limited to fatigue, headache, bloating, and irritability. This is temporary and will resolve.
Once we have effectively killed the bad bacteria, we want to restore the health of your gut and gut lining with multiple probiotics and healing agents. Of note, it may take a couple months after you have completed the GI remodel for your own body to reestablish its natural balance.
How do we test for GI disorders?
Comprehensive Stool Analysis- this test looks at the balance of bacteria in your gut microbiome. It provides information regarding pathogenic bacterial, yeast, ova, and parasite overgrowth.
Hydrogen/Methane Breath Test- If Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is suspected, we will check this test as well. This non-invasive test is performed typically after 12 hours of fasting and requires ingesting a precise amount of sugar and measuring your breath every 15 minutes for 3 hours. If bacteria are present within the small intestine, they end up fermenting the sugar, producing hydrogen, methane, or both, which are absorbed into the bloodstream, and breathed out (which is measured). (Link to SIBO article)
Urine organic acids testing- This test evaluates one urine sample for byproducts of yeast and bacteria. If out of range, it can indicate yeast or bacterial overgrowth.
What are some common symptoms?
- Abdominal Pain
- Abdominal Cramping
- Constipation (less likely)
- Malodorous stools
- Weight loss
- Depressed mood
- Joint Pain
- Food Sensitivities especially to gluten, dairy, and fructose
What are some risk factors our clinic looks for?
- Previous surgery causing structural changes in the intestine
- Antacid use
- Faulty ileocecal valve
- Immune suppressive medications
- Celiac Disease
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Diets high in sugar, alcohol, processed foods, and carbohydrates
- Gastrointestinal motility issues (such as with Diabetic Gastroparesis)
If left untreated, GI disorders can lead to many health conditions such as:
- Depression due to improper absorption of amino acids, vitamins and minerals (all of which are required to make your neurotransmitters)
- Iron deficiency
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Leaky gut
- Autoimmune issues such as joint pain and rashes
- Memory Loss
If a gastrointestinal disorder is something you think you are struggling with, feel free to contact our office and we would love to schedule an appointment with you. We care about you getting to the root cause of your symptoms so that you can enjoy the quality of life you deserve!
To schedule your New Patient appointment or if you have any questions, please contact Lili Boggess at (734) 929-2696, extension 11.