Why See a Naturopathic Doctor For Digestive Symptoms?
Common digestive conditions that may be helped by seeing a Naturopathic doctor include:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Chroh's disease and ulcerlative colitis
- Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity
- Candida / yeast overgrowth
- Food allergies
- Ulcers including H. pylori
- Acid reflux (heartburn) and GERD
- Gas, bloating and poor digestion
- Gall bladder symptoms and cholecystitis
If you have any of these conditions what does Naturopathy have to offer?
Problems with conventional medicine in treating the digestive system
Some medications may help to control digestive symptoms. However, it has nearly nothing to offer in terms of restoring health to the digestive tract.
For example, flair ups of Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be treated with steroids. But what does this have to do with the underlining problems causing flaire up?
The answer is next to nothing. Furthermore, many of the medications used to control symptoms are toxic in themselves. Conventional medicine is about disease management, not health restoration
Another example is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is not well understood by conventional medicine and patients are given little, if anything at all to help. On the other hand A Naturopathic doctor has extensive training about the underlining causes of IBS (poor digestion, liver function, gut dysbiosis including Candida and possible parasites, emotional stress, hormonal interactions and more).
The bottom line is that while conventional medicine excels at emergency procedures and at times has medications for symptomatic relief. As the whole it is a model of disease care. It is not focused on prevention, nor does it address the underlining cause of most digestive symptoms.
Naturopathy is a holistic system of true health care. While steps are taken to palliate symptoms, the larger focus is on addressing the root cause of disease.
Treating symptoms vs working on the whole person
There is much advice availeble online, and in books about how to treat common digestive system symptoms.
Besides dietary advice, common supplements include:
- Probiotics - often recommended for virtually and digestive system problem.
- Digestive enzymes stimulte digestion
- Gltuamine - for gut inflammation
- "Natural antibiotics" such as oregano oil to kill off bad guys such as candida
It's easy to find people promoting the best supplement for some condition. But this is not individulised for each person:
Just because a supplment is good, or good for other people, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be best for you. For example oregano oil can be great for one person, but too irritating or warm for another person based upon their constitution.
Supplementation for symptoms tends to be palliative - not curative. Even if it works well, this can lead to taking a lot of supplements for a long time.
- There are so many supplemnets available today, it's hard to know where to start.
Why see a Naturopathic doctor?
A Naturopathic doctor does much more than simply match up common supplements with various diseases. What you'll get instead is a comprehensive review of your case, with an individualized treatment plan.
What follows it is a simplified outline of what I may do with a client during initial visit:
Comprehensive health history:
- Review of all current symptoms.
- Review of all previous symptoms (often past illnesses show how current illness developed and may help to guide protocols).
- Triggering event(s). Major illness's are often triggered by a physical or emotional stress.
- Review of systems – (ie. respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, etc...)
- Current medications and supplements.
- Current supplements.
- Psychological history when applicable. Emotional stress. Work hours.
- Review of all conventional lab work. Often patients are told their lab work is all “normal,” when it is not. Additionally, there may be signs of nutritional status on underlining functional issues on lab work that Medical doctors are not trained to look for.
- In office exam – there are many simple, non-invasive in office tests that give clues to overall health:
- Visual signs – skin, fingernails, skin
- Basic testing for minerals (such as Zinc taste test)
- Kinesiology testing – Muscle tests can be used to indicate weakness in organ systems. There are many systems that have grown out of Applied Kinesiology (AK). This can also be used to address emotional issues (see netmindbody.com for more information).
- Functional lab tests if needed:
- Digestive system testing.
- Food allergy tests.
- Test for toxicity (porphyrin testing).
- Hormone testing (typically cortisol).
Based upon all this information an individualized protocol is developed. This may contain review of dietary and lifestyle habits. Nutritional supplements can be recommended along with specific herbals and homeopathics.
Instead of supplements which may be good for a certain condition, care is taken to recommend what is most specific for the individual.
Naturopathic medicine is not about treating symptoms with supplements. It is about understanding the cause of symptoms and then using therapies that aid the body's own self healing mechanisms.