11
Nov

Guest Post: Everything Leads Back to the Gut

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If you’re reading this blog, you are already taking the steps you need to achieve intestinal (gut) health by cutting out grains and processed foods. Sadly, many people aren’t aware of the brain:gut connection or that an unhealthy gut can adversely affect other areas of health. So I’ve asked my Naturopath, Dr. Melody Wong to guest post regarding gut health today. When I was in one of my worst flares, Dr. Wong helped me immensely by identifying trigger foods for me and placing me on a strict protocol of gut healing supplements and things to balance out my intestinal flora. Please welcome Dr. Wong to the blog today and feel free to leave any questions you have as she will be doing one more guest post as a Q&A. If you missed her introduction to Naturopathy last time, you can find it here.

 

Here are a few types of patients I commonly see in my practice.  Do you identify with any one of them? If so, which one sounds like you?

Patient A: Frequent colds and flus : As a child – colds or ear infections came on one after another, causing many missed school days. As an adult- frequent colds turn into sinus infections leading to numerous antibiotic intakes

Patient B: Over worked, fatigue and exhausted : Career driven. Has long working hours. Doesn’t have time to cook. Eats out daily. Doesn’t eat on time nor eats well. Possibility of having type A personality; a perfectionist who is frequently overly anxious and stressed out

Patient C: Food and environmental allergies : Has seasonal hayfever symptoms such as itchy eyes, nose, throat, or red watery puffy eyes. Reactive to common food items such as dairy and wheat. Symptoms can include indigestion after eating, abdominal pain, irregular bowel movements, etc.

Patient D:  Difficult to concentrate and too tired to get through the day : Craves carbohydrates. Experiences Mind fog, fatigue, headaches, itchy rashes/eczema.

Patient E: Nervous Stomach : Colicky baby can’t seem to keep milk down and grows up looking pale with dark circles under the eyes. Any food intake doesn’t quite agree with the stomach. Irregular bowel movements. Never feels satiated nor has the appetite

 

What do all of these patients have in common?  Whether these patients get ill frequently, are not taking care of themselves, have a history of all kinds of allergies, unresolved eczema, or stomach issues: most will end up having some kind of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions.  All of which may include symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, belching, stomach aches, heartburn, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, etc.  Now does this start to sound more familiar? Is this happening to you? If so, you may now wonder how symptoms from the immune, nervous, endocrine, respiratory, and skin (integumentary) systems, lead back to the digestive GI system. Or perhaps does it start from the gut?

 

It’s really hard to say which came first.  But nonetheless, healing and treating the GI is my primary focus in many of these cases.  The GI tract makes up about 60-70% of the immune system.  Once the immune system is compromised, it starts a chain of reactions.  Initially, the nervous and endocrine systems will be overworked producing too much cortisol (an adrenal hormone), and later will produce too little. Neurotransmitters (excitatory and inhibitory chemicals) become imbalanced and indirectly cause a nervous stomach.  Under stress, the GI system can become inflamed causing leaky gut, indigestion, and malabsorption of nutrients.  Since histamine is stored and released in the gut, over production of histamine can cause inflammation and allergy symptoms in the digestive, respiratory and the skin systems.  With all of these overlapping symptoms, patients frequently will have more than one GI condition.  Here is a list of common GI conditions and symptoms I see in my practice.

 

 

Besides listening to the patients for signs and symptoms, there are specific GI tests to differentiate between the types of GI conditions.  Gastroenterologists would perform endoscopy and or colonoscopy to diagnose a patient for ulcers, IBS, IBD, or celiac disease, etc.  Furthermore, the following lab tests are commonly done in a Naturopathic practice to provide possible causes and guidance to the appropriate treatments.

 

 

Conventional medicine typically will use pharmaceutical medications to manage the GI conditions some of which are antacid or H2 blockers for acid reflux or immunosuppressant for IBD.  Naturopathic treatments that I would usually recommend, but not limited to, are the following:

 

 

There are a plethora of supplements available for GI support, but I have put together a list of the most common ones I use for my patients.

 

 

This is plenty of information to digest and absorb in one sitting.  I hope breaking it down in a chart format will give you a clearer picture.  Ultimately for the best outcome, you need to find, treat, and heal the underlying cause of your symptoms.  It is important to not self diagnose and treat. The Internet is a wealth of information, however, too much information may be confusing or even conflicting.  I highly recommend seeking professional care from a licensed practitioner where you can be diagnosed and treated appropriately.  I will be coming back as a guest one more time to answer your questions in a Q&A format, so please feel free to leave them below in the comments section.

 

About Dr. Wong

Upon graduating from the renowned Naturopathic Medical School, Bastyr University, I returned to California and have been in practice for ten years. I believe the body has an innate ability to heal itself with the proper natural guidance.  Most common conditions I treat in my practice are food and environmental allergies, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and asthma/ eczema in pediatrics.  Please refer to my website, www.banmc.com, for more information.

  • Jessica

    A very informative post! The charts were helpful. There are a lot of great questions posted that I would like to see answers to…and I do have my own.
    I started having allergies for the first time at the age of 26, ten years ago. A year later I was diagnosed with asthma and could not smell or breathe through my nose. I had nasal polyps and they were removed surgically in 2006 and again in 2007. I just had my third surgery removing the polyps a couple weeks ago…..and already my DR says they are growing back. I just learned of good nutrition practices a few years ago, so yes, I ate the SAD for many years. I desperately want to smell and breathe, which means getting rid of the nasal polyps, besides get rid of the allergy problems. I take zyrtec and singulair every day, year round and have for the past 10 years. If I stop taking them, I start coughing all the time, runny, dripping nose constantly and my face/nose/throat itches like crazy. The only obvious digestion issue that I deal with would be constipation occasionally.
    Any suggestions?

  • Kimberly

    Goodness gracious! I am all five as well! Although, my problems have forced me to eat fairly well at least to the best of my abilities! My goodness.

  • MP

    I loved your information about digestion. My main question would be how long do you take the various supplements such as L. Glutamine, Zinc etc. and also the enzymes? Also I have been taking the above and feel that it is helping but then that leads to constipation. How do you alleviate that issue when taking your vitamins and supplements? If I stop then I feel symptoms return.

    Thank You

  • Kerry

    Thanks Dr. Wong, My question is about healing crises. A few months back after years of gluten and dairy-free I went Paleo. About a month ago I added the AIP. I was feeling better than I have in a very long time, and then whammy. I’ve been told by my conventional doctor I’m probably having a relapse of MS, but I truly wonder if it isn’t a healing crisis. How do I tell the difference? How would you define a healing crisis?

  • kristin

    Great post! My daughter, 6, has been battling ulcerative colitis for almost a year now. We practice SCD 95% of the time (it’s really hard for a 6 year old 100% of the time). It has been a two steps forward, one step back process so far. I was wondering if some of the supplements you recommend would not be suitable for a child. She takes a daily probiotic but I have been thinking of introducing L-glutamine and possibly aloe. Her bathroom visits are not normal right now since she ate two peices of Halloween candy but it is not out of control either. Can these supplements be introduced during a flare period or should her stools be somewhat normal. Thank you for all the information you can give.