Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Gut or Gastrointestinal Problems are Common:
These are some of the most common problems I see in my practice. They can include gas, bloating, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Heartburn, Reflux and something we often see, Yeast Overgrowth or Candida Overgrowth Syndrome. These problems are usually not isolated to just the gastrointestinal system and can cause problems elsewhere in the body.
By ”elsewhere in the body”, I mean that these issues don’t only affect the GI tract. The reason for that is that the gut is one of the most important detox mechanisms and essentially makes up around 70% of the immune system. This is because the gut is very rich in lymphatics, this is referred to as GALT, Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue. When the gut is stressed or not working properly, there can be many symptoms in tissues outside the gut. If you can’t detox well through the gut and get rid of wastes efficiently, it can cause fatigue, pain in muscles or joints, poor healing, brain fog. It can lead to a situation called leaky gut syndrome.
What is “leaky gut syndrome”?
This is a situation where the gut has been so stressed that there is actually damage in the lining of the gut at a microscopic level from inflammation and irritation due to a poor functioning. What happens is the cells lining the gut are not tightly packed and healthy anymore. The “grout”, so-to-speak, between the cells is loose and falling apart. This leaves little spaces between the cells where toxins, food particles, bacteria, inflammatory proteins and so forth, “leak” back through these cracks in the gut wall back into the blood stream where they need to be circulated again (and maybe again and again) through the detoxification process of the blood stream, lymphatics, liver and kidneys. This is a waste of energy and resources plus the symptoms I mentioned earlier.
So what can be done about this situation?
At the NHIC, we use a number of supplements and diet. I mainly use a program called the “4R” program developed by the Metagenics company. The 4 parts of this program are:
- Remove offending substances (food allergens, wheat, gluten (wheat, barley and rye), cow’s milk dairy, toxins, food high in sugars, trans fats, dyes, additives and GMO foods (genetically modified organisms – for more info go to www.nonGMO4Michigan.org)
- Replace digestive enzymes and healthy foods
- Re-inocculate with beneficial bacteria (lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidophilus)
- Repair the damaged lining of the gut and digestive function
Then we see the miracles start to occur:
I’ve seen some of the wildest things happen. I’ve seen depression go away…about 70% of our serotonin is made in the gut. Often, chronic diarrhea and constipation improve or go away, headaches stop and more. I had a fellow in his 40’s, with atrial fibrillation, that’s an irregular beating of the heart. He noticed that when he pushed on an acupuncture point for the gall bladder, the irregular heart rhythm went away, but it tended to return. That was UNTIL we figured out that he had Candida overgrowth syndrome. When we treated the Candida with diet, beneficial bacteria (known as probiotics) and did the “4R” program, the irregular heart rhythm went away…and it’s been 2+ years! I had a very similar situation with an elderly woman in her late 70’s. She did a detox with a product from Metagenics called Ultraclear Plus, and I put her on the probiotic, Ultraflora Balance with a very special strain of lactobacillus acidophilus and she’s literally had a new lease on life with more energy, less anxiety, better sleep and a normal heart rhythm.
What are probiotics and why are they so important for the body?
Probiotics are good bacteria, the most recognizable being acidophilus. There are many misconceptions about how probiotics work and what they do and don’t do. One of the most interesting areas of biology is the study of how interdependent all life is. The bacteria and other microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts are an example of symbiotic relationships – different organisms living together for mutual benefit. Our digestion depends on the presence of a complex soup of trillions of individual microorganisms that help us digest the food we eat. Without them, we would die. Modern medical science still has much to learn about this ‘soup’ of microorganisms that live inside us. But we do know some of the problems that can develop and interfere with good digestion. The human digestive tract contains an ecosystem. The various forms of life compete in the system for space and for resources like water and nutrients. They also help to break down food, create some vitamins, and produce waste materials and other chemicals. The chemicals we ingest (food, drink, and other things that make it into our digestive system) feed the organisms in this ecosystem. Our intestinal wall provides both a place for microorganisms to grow and a barrier to prevent invasion into the rest of our body.
Our immune system is exceptionally active in the digestive system, allowing needed nutrients to pass into our bodies, while working to prevent unwelcome guests. When the ecosystem in our gut gets out of balance, we often develop digestive symptoms and sometimes other health problems. When we don’t have enough of these beneficial bacteria the following occurs: loss of the array of benefits associated with their fermentation byproducts, loss of antibiotic-like activity, loss of vitamin production, loss of detoxification function, loss of healing function, loss of cleansing function, loss of protection from chemical and antibiotic exposure and unchecked overgrowth of harmful species (bacteria, yeasts, parasites and viruses).
There are many forms of acidophilus out on the market today. Many are inadequate or may have lost their potency in the shipping process, if not shipped on ice and stored in a refrigerator before sold. So remember, take your acidophilus and check with your health care practitioner to make sure you are getting the right kind and amount of probiotics for your individual situation.