Conventional Approaches to Treating Gut Issues
Have you already seen your primary care doctor about your chronic gut issues, only to be given a prescription to deal with the symptoms and told to come back in 4 weeks if things aren’t better?
Perhaps you are dealing with regular bloating, acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), diarrhea, stomach cramps or even fatigue and brain fog as well?
Most likely your doctor recommended antacids (like tums, pepto-bismol) or proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) to deal with “overactive” stomach acid or some other medication to deal with the symptoms.
While some medicines may slightly ease symptoms in the short term, they can seriously harm you in the long-term because you never found out why you have the bloating, diarrhea or heartburn in the first place!
The conventional approach involves “naming it, blaming it, and taming it” – diagnosing the disease, blaming the disease for the symptoms, then treating the symptoms with a medication. This is considered going downstream, as opposed to functional medicine, which takes the upstream approach to find the root cause.
There are so many reasons for chronic digestive distress that just treating the symptoms only barely touches the surface. Unless you understand the true root cause of what’s ultimately leading to the observed digestive symptoms, you don’t know how to fix it for good.
That’s why the conventional approach to chronic digestive disorders is really frustrating for both patients AND doctors. Patients never get to truly resolve their digestive issues and instead just manage their symptoms, while primary care doctors really don’t have the time in a typical insurance-based visit that is 7 minutes long to truly make lasting changes to a patient’s health, and so they are frustrated as well!
Getting To The Root Cause Of Symptoms
There are many symptoms of gut diseases (bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain), but they have numerous causes that are unique to each individual.
That’s why it’s not ideal to just treat the symptoms with over-the-counter remedies or prescription medication without investigating the true root causes.
In the 1990’s, we made incredible advances in understanding that our health is deeply linked to our microbiome, and more research supporting this is coming out in multiple scientific journals . The microbiome is a collection of microbes including bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses that live on and inside the human body.
The bacteria in our gut microbiome help digest our food, protect our immune system, fight harmful bacteria or viruses, and produce important nutrients like B12, thiamine (B1) and riboflavin.
They also produce important neurotransmitters that allow for proper brain function. This is why people with poor gut health oftentimes report brain fog!
Unfortunately, new advances in science usually take around 17 years to find their way into conventional doctors’ practices. In contrast, in a functional medicine practice like CMass Health and Wellness, MD, we use the most up to date scientific knowledge and testing available to figure out how to restore your health.
The Functional Medicine Approach to Treating Gut Issues
The functional medicine approach to healing the gut relies on advanced lab testing, followed by a customized and personalized protocol to restore your body’s innate healing potential so we can bring your body back into balance. Since the gut impacts our health on so many levels, it’s the first place we focus on when we explore a patient’s case – determining whether they have leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO).
The lab tests help us arrive at a precise diagnosis, so we understand how to address the underlying dysfunction for good – whether it’s unresolved stealth infections, environmental toxins, food allergies or other endocrine or system-wide issues.
Sadly, conventional doctors aren’t equipped to untangle these complex, interdependent issues because there’s simply not enough time to do so in a standard 7-minute visit. Plus, standard medical school training has primarily focused on pathology and disease in separate systems. Now, we realize that this is just the beginning and it takes more detective work and understanding how the systems work together to figure out how to fix the underlying cause.
Oftentimes, I’ve heard patients say “I have a sensitive stomach” and have just learned to live with it by taking medications that may control their symptoms.
But what it could actually mean is a serious gut imbalance that might have far-reaching consequences for your overall wellness.
Don’t just chalk it up to having a “sensitive” stomach or “getting older”… seek out care from a functional medicine-trained provider to avoid compromising your long-term health.
At CMass Health and Wellness, MD, our expert team is trained to investigate the symptoms and causes of your chronic digestive disorder and assemble an effective treatment plan that’s supported by the appropriate lab tests.
If you have been experiencing chronic symptoms that may be connected with digestive problems and are looking for answers, feel free to schedule a Discovery Call with Dr. Massinople. We look forward to hearing from you, and healing with you!