and Functional Medicine
Remember that tummy ache as a kid? Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go away with adulthood. Digestive disorders afflict nearly 70 million people in the U.S. and are commonly treated in a symptom-only fashion allowing for ongoing concern. 1
There are many different conditions that afflict the population including acid reflux, stomach ulcers, celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease. The best that most are hoping for is to manage the symptoms into a lifelong frustration. A functional medicine approach has a different perspective of hope and resolution by gearing towards probable root causes.
Reflux or GERD
Heartburn or reflux is amongst the more common digestive conditions. When the valve or sphincter between the esophagus and stomach leaks acid back to the esophagus it causes burning and sometimes regurgitating up food. This burning can be felt in the chest or just above the abdomen. The acidity in the stomach is generally not tested. Instead it is commonly assumed that it would be caused by too much acid in the stomach, but some evidence suggests that it’s not enough acid.2
If there is not enough acid in the stomach and it is treated with proton pump inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium) or H2 blocker medication (Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac) then further problems can ensue.
Low stomach can appear as bloating or fullness, belching, heartburn, nausea, fatigue, inflamed or itchy rectum, loose or hard stools, undigested food in the toilet, intestinal infections, food sensitivities, skin problems, brittle nails fatigue, muscle weakness, AUTOIMMUNE PROBLEMS, bone loss or even vitamin deficiencies.
Low stomach acid can be caused by chronic stress induced states such as smoking, excess processed foods and carbs, medications, H. Pylori infection, alcohol/caffeine, normal aging, hypothyroid, mineral deficiencies, bulimia.
The functional approach towards improving heartburn is to balance stomach acidity by addressing the underlying factors that are creating the acid imbalance.
Stomach ulcers can be as severe as blood in your vomit or stools or as simple as slight appetite changes. But there usually develops abdominal pain or bloating. Other symptoms may include belching, nausea or sudden weight loss. Relief of pain by taking antacids or even eating or drinking is a good clue.
The ulcers are usually caused by infection of H. pylori and over the counter medications like chronic NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) use like aspirin, ibuprofen but also antibiotics. Bacteria has a difficult time growing in a normal acid environment, but in a low acid environment infection can occur. The infection can create a hole or ulcer in the stomachs protective lining. This allows the acid to damage the deeper layers of the stomach wall and cause potentially severe problems.
Creating remission requires killing the infection, healing of the mucous layer and restoring normal acidity in the stomach.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
When the IMMUNE SYSTEM in the intestines responds to a foreign invader whether it’s a bacteria, virus, yeast, toxic chemical or even a food it creates inflammation. Hence, inflammatory bowel. That is a normal response. But, when the source of the immune reaction never leaves the inflammation never stops and creates a chronic vicious cycle. A chronically inflamed bowel creates more immune exposure. That’s when it seems like you react to everything you eat. This is when running to the bathroom at inopportune times seems inevitable.
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are the more common examples of this. Abdominal pain and diarrhea are usually what we notice. Sometimes there’s bleeding, bloating, and anemia.
There are many factors that can lead to an inflammatory bowel. Microorganism imbalance is a major factor. 5
The root cause method of addressing this problem requires the right steps in the right order which may be unique to the individual. This involves lowering the inflammation, using nutrient based protocols that heal the lining then building up the normal microbiome again. The longer someone can be in remission the more stable it becomes. Following a carefully outlined protocol the addresses one unique challenges is the key to success.
Gluten was a word that almost no one had heard of 20 years ago. Now it’s a household word. And for a very good reason. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease have exponentially grown. One of the challenges is that a celiac is not diagnosed simply with measured gluten reactivity alone. It must include extensive destruction of the colon. Imagine a shag carpet that’s normal. Then imagine it shaved to the floor. That’s essentially what the fingerlike lining is required to look like before diagnosis. This leads to many people continuing to eat gluten as it makes it worse. Healing with celiac requires not only eliminating gluten but directly healing the intestinal lining and balancing the microbiome to make the condition more resilient to setback.
Functional Medicines Root Cause Focus
Digestive problems are rapidly growing in the United States. The Raleigh, NC area is vastly included. FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE protocols are similar with most digestive conditions. Find the cause of the inflammation or damage, reduce the inflammation, heal the intestinal and mucous lining of the intestines and make sure the bodies reactivity is minimized. There are often feels like there are too many confusing variables to discover a solution. That is why appropriate root cause ROOT CAUSE TESTING testing can be so valuable. It can be the difference between continued suffering and living a normal life.