Gastrointestinal disorders are extremely common and can make normal life very challenging. Many people suffer from exceptional amounts of gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, or general discomfort. A holistic approach to treating any health-related issue always considers the gut. The integrity of the digestive tract is essential in order to supply our bodies with the vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and protective phytochemicals needed for us to function and fight off disease. You aren’t necessarily what you eat, you are what you absorb. Inflammation in the digestive tract can not only hinder absorption, it can cause chemical messengers to travel far and wide through the body, resulting in “itis” (inflammation) in unlikely places: sinusitis, rhinitis, otitis, arthritis, migraine, and skin inflammation such as eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
When addressing functional digestive disorders, there are a number of important steps to consider. Most importantly, any obstacle to cure must be removed. In other words, any factor that is inhibiting normal function makes it impossible to completely heal. Obstacles to cure include food sensitivities and allergies, lack of digestive enzymes, overgrowth of harmful microorganisms such as parasites, yeast/fungi, ongoing stress, poor nutrition, smoking, and some medications.
Stress is a common problem for the digestive tract. Between the extremes of Addison’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome recognized by medical literature, there are functional problems of adrenal fatigue and adrenal stress. The main hormones that carry us through stress, cortisol and epinephrine, shut down normal secretions of digestion and absorption and interfere with normal motility. What is commonly called “butterflies in the stomach” is a perfect illustration of the mind-body connection. Our thoughts do have an effect on our body, and digestion is often the first system to be compromised. Naturopathic doctors use functional laboratory and physical testing to see how stress may be interacting with the gut.
Chronic inflammation and intestinal permeability can be initiated by sensitivities, allergies, intolerances, and overgrowth of harmful microbes. Allergies are narrowly defined as IgE mediated immune reactions, usually involving histamine release, which causes immediate inflammation. Sensitivities can involve any of the non-IgE immunoglobulins (IgG and IgA are common), or other cytokines released by the immune system that can cause delayed inflammation. While mainstream medicine mostly ignores sensitivities, they may be causing a majority of inflammatory digestive problems. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and IBD (inflammatory bowel disorders like Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis) are often caused by sensitivities to commonly eaten foods. In the West, we frequently see food sensitivities or allergies to wheat, dairy, corn, and soy. Intolerances are different: when the digestive tract doesn’t make the enzymes necessary to break down large food particles into absorbable nutrients, what is left unabsorbed can ferment or rot in the gut. A common example is the lack of lactase enzyme, which breaks lactose sugar from milk and other dairy products into simple sugars like glucose. Harmful microbes can range from microscopic to visible parasites, or the overgrowth of common bacteria, yeast, and fungus. Nearly everyone has H.pylori in their stomach, and we all have some yeast like Candida species growing in our intestines, it is just a matter of how much: when they overgrow, we have problems. Naturopathic doctors Pollack and Nearpass employ functional blood tests for food sensitivity and allergy antibody levels, bio-energetic testing for sensitivity/allergy reactions, digestive health panels for stool and salivary antibody measurements of enzyme levels and microbe growth in the gut. Why use drugs and surgery if you don’t have to? Naturopathic doctors are the Nation’s leading experts in functional testing and treatment with nutrition, botanical medicine, and other natural therapies.
The doctors at the Mountain-River Naturopathic Clinic in Frisco would like to thank you for the opportunity to provide naturopathic services to our community for nearly fourteen years. Look for Dr. Justin Pollack and Dr. Kim Nearpass at MountainRiverClinic.com, call (970) 668-1300, visit MountainRiverClinic.com, or stop by their clinic and retail shop, the Backcountry Herbal Apothecary at 507 Main Street, Frisco.
About Justin Pollack and Kim Nearpass: