I believe the gut is the corner stone of health. We often hear “death begins in the colon”, which I think can be expanded to “health begins in the food tube” which is from the mouth all the way to the anus. I have treated people with all sorts of GI disorders from simple gas and bloating to chronic pancreatitis. Some of the more common and chronic GI concerns are IBS which is an acronym for irritable bowel syndrome, SIBO which is an acronym for small intestinal bacteria overgrowth, and ulcers which can be in the stomach or small intestines and is usually due to a chronic H. Pylori infection or use of NSAID medication. Stress can contribute to all of the above. Heart burn, change in appetite, constipation, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, belching, gas, bloating, gallstones, distress from eating fatty foods, undigested food in the stool, ulcers, stomach or abdominal pain, irritability if a meal is missed, tired after eating, hiccups, bad breath, hemorrhoids, fissures, black stool, blood in stool, itchy rectum are all signs of gastrointestinal distress.
A naturopathic approach to treating someone with a gastrointestinal disorder quite often entails a “gut restoration program”. Although each program is uniquely specialized to meet the needs of the individual, I use the 4 ‘R’ frame work to organize the treatment plan for each individual. The 4 R’s stand for Remove, Replace, Reinoculate and Repair. In the remove phase, I may prescribe a specialized meal plan that removes, gluten, dairy and eggs, or other inflammatory foods or potential food sensitivities. I may also prescribe anti-microbials to remove the bad bugs from the gut. In the Replace phase I may prescribe digestive enzymes to replace depleted one. In the Reinoculate phase I may prescribe good bacteria to establish health flora in the gut. In the Repair phase I may recommend glutamine or arabinogalactans to repair damages tissue in the gut. There is no “cookie cutter” plan that fits all situations, so each plan is different and may or may not include all phases of the 4 R program.