Hippocrates once said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Good digestive health is imperative to maintaining optimal health and preventing chronic disease. If you have symptoms such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, inconsistent stool patterns, heartburn, fatigue, or any other symptoms related to poor digestion, then you may be able to benefit from naturopathic medicine.
Below are some digestive conditions that I commonly treat in practice.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects up to 1 in 5 Canadians, and up to 78 percent of individuals diagnosed with IBS may test positive for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO, as its name implies, is an abnormal overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. SIBO occurs when bacteria inappropriately migrate from the large intestine to the small intestine. This can lead to numerous health issues.
Research has shown that diet and lifestyle changes can significantly improve both IBS and SIBO symptoms and overall quality of life. When treating these conditions, I use an evidence-based approach that incorporates laboratory testing, personalized nutrition, medicinal herbs, and acupuncture to:
Reduce abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and nausea
Eliminate the bacterial overgrowth
Normalize stool consistency and motility
Reduce chance of relapse
Improve associated symptoms, including disordered sleep and fatigue
Autoimmune Digestive Conditions
Autoimmune digestive diseases occur when the body’s immune system wrongly attacks part of the gastrointestinal tract. These conditions include inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis), celiac disease, pernicious anemia, and many others.
Receiving a diagnosis of autoimmunity can be isolating and scary, and it not uncommon either. Canada has one of the highest incidences of Crohn’s and Colitis in the world, and the incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids has doubled since 1995. Similarly, while the prevalence of Celiac disease in Canada is only 1 percent, researchers estimate that it goes undiagnosed 87 percent of the time.
I support patients with autoimmune digestive conditions by working collaboratively with other medical doctors in their circle of care, requisitioning additional laboratory testing if indicated, providing clinical nutrition counselling, and utilizing anti-inflammatory medicinal herbs.
Acid Reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Naturopathic treatment focuses on identifying food triggers that aggravate acid reflux/ heartburn as well as the use of vitamins and botanical herbs to help correct vitamin deficiencies - such as B12 and iron due to long-term use of proton-pump inhibitors - and reduce reflux episodes. Several dietary and lifestyle factors can impact reflux, including:
Large meals and high-fat meals
Lying down after a meal
Various foods such as alcohol, chocolate, citrus fruits, and coffee
Treatment plans are individualized and address the root cause of reflux as well as symptom management.
Saha L. Irritable bowel syndrome: Pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and evidence-based medicine. World J Gastroenterol. 2014;20(22):6759. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i22.6759.
Ghoshal U. Irritable bowel syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: Meaningful association or unnecessary hype. World J Gastroenterol. 2014;20(10):2482. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i10.2482.
Crohnsandcolitis.ca. (2018). Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada. [online] Available at: http://crohnsandcolitis.ca/Crohns_and_Colitis/documents/reports/ccfc-ibd-impact-report-2012.pdf [Accessed 20 Sep. 2018].
Jamnik, J., Villa, C., Dhir, S., Jenkins, D. and El-Sohemy, A. (2017). Prevalence of positive coeliac disease serology and HLA risk genotypes in a multiethnic population of adults in Canada: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 7(10), pp.bmjopen-2017-017678.
Lam, J., Schneider, J., Quesenberry, C. and Corley, D. (2017). Proton Pump Inhibitor and Histamine-2 Receptor Antagonist Use and Iron Deficiency. Gastroenterology, 152(4), pp.821-829.e1.