Digestive Health

If you have been struggling with heartburn, feeling bloated, indigestion and visited many doctors without getting real answers – naturopathic medicine is the answer you have been looking for.

Naturopathic medicine is very efficient in the treatment of functional digestive problems, such as:
–    Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
–    Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
–    Feeling bloated
–    Heartburn
–    Irregular bowel movements whether constipation or diarrhea
–    Indigestion

Looking after our digestive system is of prime importance, as research is now showing that the health of our intestinal bacterial environment determines many factors for our overall health. In fact, intestinal health has been linked to many auto-immune diseases, the development of skin conditions such as eczema and even mental-emotional conditions. A number of different issues can affect the digestive system and lead to functional symptoms.

Poor stomach acid production and low enzyme production in the small intestine
tends to occur after long periods of stress. The excessive cortisol production due to stress and the constant activation of our “fight or flight” state effectively inhibits the adequate production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes. This leads to incomplete digestion of food items in our digestive system. These poorly digested food particles go on to feed certain species of bacteria in our gut, creating imbalances in the strains of our intestinal microflora. Indeed, we have 100 000 billion microorganisms in our intestines, with 2000 different species of bacteria co-existing together. As certain types of bacteria find nourishment in our poorly digested foods, they produce gases such as methane and hydrogen, which can lead to painful or uncomfortable feelings of bloatedness or fullness in the abdomen. This can in turn affect the motor nerve cells in our gut that are typically responsible for transit time, leading to either constipation or diarrhea.

We have the most numerous bacterial population in our large intestine and have smaller populations in our small intestine and stomach. As bacterial imbalances in the large intestine become more pronounced, this can lead to overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, a condition newly recognized and named “SIBO” (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). There are now effective breath tests which can be diagnostic for SIBO and which can then help customize an adequate treatment plan.

The 100 000 billion bacteria in our gut work closely with our immune system and this is why the health of our digestive system is so closely linked with our overall immunity. Imbalances in gut flora, antibiotic usage and stress all contribute to irritating the delicate mucosa of the small intestine. This can lead to “leaky gut”, which is when this normally semi-permeable membrane lets partially digested particles through into the blood stream. Those food particles trigger the immune system to produce antibodies against those particular foods. These antibodies can be detected via a food intolerance test. Unfortunately, these same antibodies can cross-react with healthy tissues, contributing to the development of auto-immune illnesses (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis etc..).
In children, food intolerances can create excessive mucus production leading to recurrent EENT issues (ear infections, colds/flus etc..). Changing the dietary habits of children can help boost their overall immunity and break the cycle of such repetitive infections or chronic allergies.