Gastrointestinal disorders encompass Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, gastritis and gastroesophageal reflux, food allergies, parasites, dysbiosis, and a number of less common entities. Patients may present with abdominal pain, cramps, gas, bloating, food intolerances, changes in bowel habits. There are often additional symptoms such as fatigue, muscle and joint pains, headaches, memory and other cognitive problems, depression, insomnia and reduced libido.
Leaky gut occurs in many patients: the intestinal lining is inflamed and damaged by food allergies, toxins, drugs, or pathogenic organisms, and substances are absorbed that should not be. These materials pass through the blood stream to the liver and other organs, causing toxic reactions. Intense fatigue, arthritis, and constitutional symptoms may progress to the point of virtual disability. Many illnesses are influenced by gastrointestinal pathology. Autism and migraine headaches are examples of the gut-illness relationship.
Standard medical evaluations include upper and lower endoscopy, ultrasound and C-T and MRI scanning. These procedures, however, often fail to establish the cause of symptoms, or provide a rationale for treatment. Patients are offered symptomatic therapies, often antidepressants and sedatives, which may alleviate symptoms but provide no cure. Often patients go on for years without significant relief.
We test for food allergies, abnormal gut bacteria, parasites, Candida, abnormal digestion and absorption, markers of gut inflammation. We evaluate liver detoxification. Tissue transglutaminase IgA antibody tests for celiac disease. We measure heavy metals, red cell fatty acids, trace minerals, urine organic acids, vitamin and mineral levels. These tests often provide guidance for appropriate therapy.
Nutritional supplements frequently help. Zinc, glutamine, peppermint, essential fatty acids, phospholipids, butyrate may provide improvement where no prescription drug has helped. Sometimes antibiotics in special combinations and dosages are useful. Probiotics and prebiotics, beneficial bacteria and their supports, are mainstays of treatment. Elimination of dairy, gluten and soy may be important, especially in autistic children.
Sometimes maintenance drugs such as aspirin, NSAIDS, steroids, statins, and antidepressants are responsible for unresolved gastrointestinal ailments, and eliminating them can provide a cure.
At times it becomes possible to avoid or eliminate potent immunosuppressive agents. Recommended surgeries may become unnecessary, especially removal of the gall bladder. Certain diets can actually eliminate gall stones.
Detoxification, heavy metal removal, liver rejuvenation are all part of digestive rehabilitation.
Through a rational and systematic approach, gastrointestinal illness can be resolved, even after years of difficulty. Other health problems, thought to be unrelated, may then improve, as if by magic.