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DIGESTION

Celiac Disease • Constipation • Diarrhea • Gas & Bloating • Heartburn • IBS • Ulcerative Colitis

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Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a genetic intolerance to gluten contained in wheat, rye, spelt, and barley. The immune response to gluten damages the lining of the small intestine leading to decreased absorption of food and nutrient deficiencies.

Celiac Disease affects 1 in 133 people.

Since it is genetic, if a family member has Celiac, chances are another family member could be affected and should be tested.

Testing for Celiac

Your physician can order blood tests that measure antibodies to gluten. If the antibodies are positive, a biopsy of the small intestine will be recommended. In order to get an accurate test result, gluten must be eaten for 4-6 weeks before and during testing.

Celiac Disease is Increasing

A recent study posted in the Annals of Medicine in 2010 found that people could lose their tolerance to gluten as they age. These people are not born with the genetic intolerance commonly seen with Celiac disease but are developing the intolerance later on in life.

The Symptoms

Celiac Disease can affect any body system and often patients experience symptoms for 5-10 years before a proper diagnosis is made.

Some common symptoms include, skin rashes, congestion in the throat, ears, or sinuses, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and body inflammation such as fatigue foggy brain, and aching joints.

What Does it Mean to be Gluten Free?

There are no medications to treat Celiac disease. Elimination of gluten in the diet is the only treatment. Often a diagnosis of Celiac Disease is overwhelming and patients need additional support. Local Support Groups offer a safe forum to discuss common concerns and a way to make new friends.

Natural Medicine Has A Lot to Offer the Celiac Patient…

  • Provide education about a nutritious gluten free diet. (CHECK OUT MY GLUTEN FREE COOKBOOK)
  • Testing for nutrient deficiencies commonly seen with Celiac disease.
  • Offering relief of Irritable Bowel Syndrome by identifying other trigger foods and eliminating them.
  • Natural support of the digestive lining to enhance absorption.
  • Promote individualized care so each patient gets what they need

WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT CELIAC DISEASE? CHECK OUT MY BLOG POSTS:

Why is Celiac Disease on the Rise?
Interview with John Wells, MD on Celiac Disease
Interview with Dr. Stuart Treister, Celiac Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Celiac and Autoimmune disease
The Relationship Between Celiac Disease and Gluten
Should I Be Gluten Free
A Gluten Free Cake, Is Still a Cake
Gluten Free, The Latest Fad Diet
Digestive Health = Total Body Health

Constipation

Constipation is not just an uncomfortable nuisance; it actually can cause more serious health effects when waste products marked for excretion are recycled within our system. Our large bowel or colon is an organ of elimination mainly dedicated to dehydrate the waste products metabolized by our liver and allow them to leave our body. Any and all waste products processed through the liver will be eliminated through our colon.

Reasons for constipation include:

Sluggish bowel
Genetics
Poor lifestyle choices

You can shift your bowel health by ensuring that you drink at least 2 liters of water daily, exercise, and focus on adding more fiber to your diet.

Natural medicine can help constipation immensely. Using a combination of food, fiber, minerals, and herbs constipation can be reversed gently and effectively. Without causing bowel dependence commonly caused with laxatives.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be divided into two categories, acute and chronic.

Acute

Acute diarrhea is usually the result of an acute infection or an acute trauma that causes an imbalance in digestive bacteria, causing the delicate balance to be upset. This results in the inability of the colon to properly dehydrate stool, have increased peristalsis or contractions, and occasionally decreased tone of the anal sphincter.

Acute situations should be treated immediately, to ensure that the problem is corrected quickly and efficiently. If this is not the case, acute diarrhea can then become chronic. In these cases, the longer the chronic condition persists the more difficult it becomes to treat as prolonged diarrhea can cause damage to the mucosal tissue lining the colon.

Chronic

Chronic diarrhea is usually the result of the situation stated above or due to an inflammatory process targeting the digestive system and bowel. These inflammatory syndromes and diseases will be discussed in the next section.

Gas & Bloating

You do not have to suffer with gas and bloating. It is possible to live completely gas free! Gas and Bloating usually occur in response to decaying food matter that is sitting in your intestine too long causing putrification and fermentation. It can also be caused by an imbalance of intestinal flora or constipation. In any event, elimination and digestive processing need to be enhanced so that this troublesome and embarrassing condition can be reversed.

Good health depends on adequate digestion. The stomach produces a variety of substances that promote digestion and assimilation; gastric juice contains hydrochloric acid and pepsinogens (precursors of the family of proteolytic enzymes called pepsins). Parietal cells produce both stomach acid and intrinsic factor, a protein required to bind vitamin B12 prior to its absorption in the small intestines.

Inadequate production of hydrochloric acid can result in impaired uptake or deficiency of all B-vitamins, potentially leading to muscle weakness and neurological deficit.

Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is a strong mineral acid which functions to maintain gastric pH between 1.5 and 2.5. This acidity serves three important roles; low pH kills microorganisms in food, it activates pepsinogen, and it denatures proteins, making them more accessible to proteolytic degradation.

While impaired digestion may result from mechanical means, such as improperly chewed food, it is far more likely to be the result of poor diet, nutritional deficiency (as a direct result of antacids and similar medications), or inadequate Hydrochloric acid production.

The incidence of low stomach acid increases with age, with studies estimating it impacting 30-60% of people over the age of 50. Among other things, functional deficits of HCL have been associated with gas, bloating, indigestion, malodorous breath and sweat excretions, anemias resulting from nutrient deficiency, leaky gut, food allergies, joint inflammation, hair loss, and environmental sensitivities.

Heartburn

BEAT THE HEARTBURN BLUES!!!

Heartburn is also know as gastric reflux disease.

According to a recent article in the October 10th, 2005 edition of the Wall Street Journal; 100 million Americans suffer from heartburn every month.

Heartburn, many people have it and most ignore it. Symptoms of heartburn are numerous and include burning, chest pain, nagging cough, hoarseness, and a sour taste in the back of the throat. Symptoms arise when digestive juices from the stomach reach the esophageal tissue. Esophageal tissue is not made of the same durable tissue as the lining of the stomach and is subject to inflammation by stomach acids.

Left untreated Heartburn can progress to esophageal cancer of which survival rates are poor. Modern day convenience diets and lifestyles are contributors to heartburn: Pre-disposing factors include: Stress, weight gain and obesity, fast fatty foods, carbonated drinks, and certain medications (anti-inflammatories, blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications.)

Current treatment revolves around using acid-suppressing drugs, to decrease stomach acid production. Common acid suppressing drugs include the proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, Protonix, and Prevacid. Proton pump inhibitors are the second most popular drug type, and accounted for 93 million prescriptions last year.

Some concern is now showing up in the research that long term use of ant-acids changes the environment in the digestive tract enough to allow changes at the cellular level that promote cancer cell growth. In addition, just shutting off acid production in the stomach may not prevent acid damage in the esophagus even though symptoms may be reduced or eliminated.

Furthermore, more concern exists around changing the composition of the stomach acid from acid to alkaline. Either end of the spectrum is not good; something that is too alkaline can be just as caustic as something too acidic, so instead of acid flushing the walls of the esophagus we now have alkaline liquid flushing the walls.

A Three-Fold Approach

By suppressing stomach acid the underlying problem is not being addressed. In order to properly resolve the symptoms and restore digestive health, a three-fold approach must be used.

First the causative agents must be identified and eliminated
Second, the mucosa must be repaired and soothed
Third, the stomach secretions and digestive health must be restored to their original state.

When all three are addressed heartburn symptoms will go away, and digestive health will be restored.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or I.B.S. is a syndrome, which means that it encompasses a whole array of symptoms that cannot otherwise be described. If you have digestive complaints, involving the abdomen, the bowel, the esophagus, gas/bloating, belching, have digestive “attacks”, and it can not be attached to any other diagnosis then you are given the label IBS.

Conventional treatments for this condition are at best palliative and never address the underlying cause of the condition. If you suffer with I.B.S., natural medicine can offer significant reduction in the symptoms and in many cases can completely eliminate them allowing you a much improved quality of life.

Ulcerative Colitis/ Crohns Disease

These conditions fall under the category of inflammatory bowel disease and are usually a more serious diagnosis than IBS. These two conditions have different presentations and symptoms associated with them. The item they have in common is the fact that the conventional medical system has absolutely no success with halting or reversing the damage caused by these conditions. At best conventional treatment offers medications to offset the symptoms and slow down disease progression.

Considering the severity of this diagnosis and its ability to completely interfere with quality of life permanently, it is in the best interest of the patient to seek out naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathic medicine can not only reduce symptoms and slow down the disease process, but it can additionally stop the disease process from continuing and heal the tissue damage that resulted from the condition. Of course this is all done without the side effects, resulting from drugs or surgery.