If you’re struggling with digestive issues, the symptoms can be both overwhelming and frustrating.
More than many other disorders, a digestive disorder can make it more difficult to do the tasks you need to do and enjoy your daily life.
However, there are naturopathic solutions available for most digestive disorders. The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic can help.
Why Is Digestion Important?
Part of the answer to this is self-evident. You need to digest food in order to live. However, there’s more to it than that.
Optimal digestion is essential to the functioning of all other systems in your body. This includes your heart, lungs, liver, brain, thyroid, pancreas, immune system, and many other parts of your body. They just can’t function without the nutrients they need.
As a result, digestive disorders can be especially impactful on your health. You may feel symptoms in other places in your body before you even feel it in your gastrointestinal tract.
Digestive disorders are commonly linked with a number of chronic illnesses, so any treatment plan needs to involve treatment for your digestive disorder as well as the presenting illness.
Improving digestion inherently helps your body in many other ways. Optimal digestion improves nutrient absorption, improves your body’s detoxification process, and reduces inflammation.
Here are some of the more common digestive health disorders naturopathic medicine has solutions for.
Naturopathic Solutions For IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a diagnosis of exclusion. This means that when there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong from a pathological perspective, but you still have symptoms, you’re given an IBS diagnosis.
There are a number of different symptoms associated with IBS. These include:
- Diarrhea or constipation, sometimes both
- Gas and bloating
- Abdominal cramps
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in colour and texture of feces
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic headaches
- Decreased libido
- Heart palpitations
There are a number of different risk factors for IBS, including a history of gastrointestinal infections, food allergies/intolerances, sleep disruption, hormone imbalances, chronic stress, sex (women are at greater risk), or genetic factors. A naturopathic approach to IBS will take each of these into consideration in order to develop a treatment plan that works best for you.
Naturopathic Solutions For Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction your body has to gluten. Gluten is a protein naturally found in several different grains, including wheat, barley, and rye.
While we do know that there is a genetic component to celiac disease, it isn’t known exactly what causes it. It may be related to experiencing a particularly stressful event, like surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, or a viral infection. This seems to trigger Celiac disease symptoms in some.
A celiac disease flare-up can be painful, but it also causes damage to your small intestines. This can damage your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from the food you eat.
For some, eating a strict gluten-free diet is the only way to avoid flare-ups of celiac disease. During such a flare-up, you may experience the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Reproductive issues
- Menstrual irregularities
- Decreased ability to deal with stress
- Thinning hair
- Dull skin
- Weight fluctuations
- Nutrient deficiencies
Celiac disease has also been associated with a number of more serious health conditions, including multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, epilepsy, type 1 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
While the solution may seem simple – don’t eat gluten – there’s more to it than that. Even if you avoid gluten for the rest of your life, your digestive system’s ability to absorb nutrients may be compromised. As a result, you’ll always be malnourished no matter how healthily you eat. So an effective treatment plan for celiac disease needs to focus on repairing your digestive tract as well as addressing dietary concerns.
Annex Naturopathic’s team of naturopathic doctors are all experienced in providing treatment for celiac disease.
Naturopathic Solutions For GERD
GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s most commonly known as acid reflux or heartburn, though heartburn is just one of the symptoms of this disorder.
The point where your esophagus becomes your stomach is marked by your LES, or lower esophageal sphincter. If everything is working the way it should, your LES will allow food into your stomach but block the contents of your stomach from going the other way. But if your LES isn’t working the way it should, you experience heartburn.
Common symptoms of GERD include:
- Pain in the chest
- Chronic coughing or asthma-like symptoms
- Excessive belching
- Excessive salivating
- Tooth erosion
- Trouble swallowing
If you identify with the above symptoms, you may have GERD. However, it’s often easier to diagnose this disorder than it is to offer effective treatment for it. This is partially because of how many different causes there are related to it.
Many of these are lifestyle related, such as drug abuse or a sedentary lifestyle. Others are related to diet, such as undiagnosed food allergies or intolerances, improper timing and spacing of food intake, or a poor quality diet overall. Still others are connected with other health dis-orders, such as leaky gut syndrome, a hiatal hernia, or chronic stress. Those who are pregnant may also experience GERD, as do those taking certain medications.
Whatever the cause of your GERD, though, Annex Naturopathic has solutions for you. Your naturopathic doctor will work to discover the underlying cause of your GERD, and provide a treatment plan tailored to your unique health needs.
Naturopathic Solutions For Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease belongs to a category of diseases called inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Distinct from IBS, an IBD is a disorder where the intestines become inflamed. It’s thought to be an autoimmune disease, though recent research suggests it may be your immune system attacking a harmless bacteria in your digestive system rather than your digestive system itself.
With Crohn’s disease, the inflammation general occurs at the end of your small intestine and your colon. You may have an acute flare-up followed by no symptoms for a few days or several years. As a result, some of those affected don’t recognize it as a chronic condition.
During a flare-up of Crohn’s, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Blood, pus, or mucous in stool
- Weight loss
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
These symptoms are bad enough on their own, but the larger issue is the complications that can occur from Crohn’s disease. These include:
- Vision problems
- Liver problems
- Kidney problems
- Intestinal abscesses
- Anal fissures
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Certain types of arthritis
- Skin tags
- Skin conditions
- Delayed puberty and other developmental concerns in children
In extreme cases and if left untreated, Crohn’s disease can be fatal. However, there are naturopathic solutions available that can help.
With such a complex disorder, each treatment plan needs to be customized to your body’s unique needs.
Naturopathic Solutions For Ulcerative Colitis
Like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis belongs to the IBD family of disorders. It generally affects your rectum and large intestine.
It’s an autoimmune disease, which means it’s caused by your immune system mistaking a part of your body as a foreign invader. When you have ulcerative colitis, your body’s immune system mistakes the cells that line the inside of your colon as a foreign invader. We aren’t sure what causes ulcerative colitis yet, but it seems to be related to genetics and environmental factors.
If you relate with the following symptoms, you may have ulcerative colitis:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Bowel urgency
- Chronic fatigue
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Canker sores
- Joint pain
- Sensitivity to light
A naturopathic approach to ulcerative colitis involves managing your symptoms and to keep someone in remission using dietary and lifestyle approaches as well as herbs and nutrients. This is because there is no known cure at this point for ulcerative colitis.
But managing your symptoms can help you live a normal, healthy life. And because naturopathic medicine uses the least invasive, gentlest treatments available, it can be used with fewer and milder side effects than traditional medical treatment, can be used to reduce the need for stronger medications, or can work alongside the medications you have been prescribed.
Naturopathic Solutions For Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is a digestive condition that affects the small intestine, like its name suggests.
In a healthy intestinal tract, the vast majority of the bacteria are located in the large intestine, and only a small amount lives in the small. But when you have SIBO, your intestinal bacteria expand and colonize your small intestine as well. This can cause problems that affect your entire digestive tract, as well as your liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.
Interestingly, up to 85% of those diagnosed with IBS also test positive for SIBO, which is a significant number suggesting a close relationship between the two disorders. In fact, while SIBO has been well-researched in the scientific literature, it’s only recently that it has become an accepted cause of IBS.
Some other disorders associated with SIBO include:
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Stress & anxiety
- Pancreatic enzyme deficiency
- Deficiency in iron, B12, and/or magnesium
The symptoms of SIBO are mostly located in the digestive tract, as you may expect, and include:
- Digestive discomfort after eating
- Gas, bloating, and belching
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, Annex Naturopathic has solutions for you.
A naturopathic treatment for SIBO is based on wiping out the bacteria causing your symptoms, as well as supporting your body’s ability to detoxify itself. From there, botanicals and dietary/nutritional guidance can help you tone and strengthen the muscles of your digestive system, as well as support your enteric nervous system, the secondary nervous system located in your gut.
The goal is to create a healthy, efficient system properly colonized by beneficial bacteria in the right spots.
Naturopathic Solutions For Other Digestive Disorders
Naturopathic medicine offers solutions for a number of other digestive disorders as well, including:
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Lactose intolerance
To find out more about your treatment options, contact Annex Naturopathic today.
If you’re new to naturopathic medicine, you can book a FREE 15-minute consultation. During that consultation, you’ll get the chance to sit down with one of our naturopathic doctors who will listen to your concerns and answer all your questions. From there, you’ll find out more about your possible treatment options.
Digestive disorders can be difficult to live with, but you don’t have to suffer in silence.
Speak with an experienced naturopathic doctor to learn how we can support your health goals.