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How Functional Medicine Gets to the Root Cause Of Your IBS Symptoms

Young female suffering from abdominal pain caused by IBS

How Functional Medicine Gets to the Root Cause Of Your IBS Symptoms

How Functional Medicine Gets to the Root Cause Of Your IBS Symptoms

 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common digestive disorders. It affects your large intestine and causes a range of uncomfortable symptoms including abdominal pain, gas, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. In some cases, IBS can also cause nutrient deficiencies, which can lead to further health complications in the future. Additionally, many patients living with IBS report feeling anxious, depressed, and even hopeless.

 

The good news is that IBS can be managed successfully with the right interventions! As a functional medicine practice, we treat IBS by first identifying and addressing the root cause of the condition. Conventional medicine offers very few solutions for IBS patients, including laxatives or antidiarrheal drugs, antidepressants, steroids, and pain medication. While these treatment methods may improve a patient’s quality of life by masking their symptoms, they are not treating the symptoms at their source. A well-functioning digestive system is critical for overall health, and virtually every system in your body relies on a healthy gut. 


IBS affects up to 45 million Americans, plaguing them with symptoms that are sometimes so severe that they can’t even leave their homes. Some patients even suffer with symptoms for decades before they finally get some relief. Today we’ll talk about how functional medicine gets to the root cause of your IBS symptoms and how you can alleviate your symptoms and take back control of your life.

 

1. The Root Cause of IBS

The main cause of most IBS cases is a gut imbalance. A lifetime of chronic stress, NSAIDS (Advil, aspirin, etc.), antibiotics, gut infections, alcohol consumption, and eating a standard American diet eventually wreaks havoc on your digestive system.

Think of the lining of your gut as a gatekeeper. It is the gatekeeper’s job to decide which particles should be absorbed into your bloodstream, and which particles are harmful and should be turned away. When your gut lining is compromised, the tiny holes that should only allow water and nutrients to pass through grow larger, which allows toxins, undigested food particles, and other potentially harmful molecules to pass through. This triggers an immune response that leads to inflammation, allergies, autoimmunity, mood disorders, and other chronic conditions.

In order to be healthy, you need a healthy gut microbiome. This means that the good bacteria in your gut should far exceed the number of bad bacteria. If the bad bacteria begin to take over, they can accumulate in your small intestine, causing the starches and sugars you eat to ferment. This is a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which is a common root cause of IBS.

However, SIBO is not the only cause of IBS. Food sensitivities, insufficient digestive enzymes, parasites, heavy metal toxicity, and zinc or magnesium deficiency can also lead to IBS. 

As you can see, each patient’s root cause is unique. To treat your IBS symptoms once and for all, we identify your individual root cause and create a treatment plan that suits your health goals, budget, and lifestyle. IBS treatment should never be one-size-fits-all. Here are some of the most common steps for treating IBS.

 

2. Lab Testing

The first step toward treating your unique case of IBS is to get the appropriate lab tests done to determine your root cause. A functional medicine doctor will likely test for immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to identify potential food sensitivities that could be contributing to your symptoms. Some of the most common food sensitivities include gluten, dairy, corn, peanuts, soy, eggs, and yeast. Once you have identified your food sensitivities, you can remove those foods from your diet so you can start feeling better faster. 

If your budget does not allow for lab testing, you can also try your own elimination diet. To do this, you’ll eliminate the above-mentioned foods for 12 weeks, and slowly reintroduce them one at a time to see if any of them cause symptoms or reactions. We work closely with our patients to support them during their elimination diets, and teach them how often to reintroduce, and how to monitor for potential reactions.

 

3. Eliminate Bad Gut Bacteria

Since bad gut bacteria are responsible for many IBS symptoms, it goes without saying that eliminating them is the key to feeling better! Your functional medicine doctor will suggest the safest and most appropriate way for you to eliminate bad bacteria that is causing your IBS symptoms and affecting your ability to live a normal life. Some common treatment options include medications such as Rifaximin, Nystatin, and Fluconzaole to address your underlying gut infections. This process may take a few weeks to complete under the care and supervision of a functional medicine doctor.

 

4. Repopulate the Good Gut Bacteria

Once you’ve successfully cleared the bad gut bacteria from your system, it’s time to repopulate your gut with friendly bacteria that will boost your digestion and alleviate your symptoms! This is where probiotics and prebiotics come in handy. Probiotics are living microorganisms that populate your gut. Prebiotics are “food” for the probiotics to help them thrive and grow to help ward off bad bacteria and keep your digestive system healthy.

Additionally, you may want to use digestive enzymes during meals to help you digest your food more effectively while your gut heals. Some supplements that may aid in this process include glutamine, zinc, vitamin A, and fish oil.

 

Treat IBS at Five Journeys

You aren’t doomed to live with your IBS symptoms forever! At Five Journeys, we develop personalized treatment protocols for each patient to ensure that we are treating their unique root causes and symptoms. If you’re ready to take back control of your health, call us today to schedule a consultation!

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WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test looks for the inappropriate presence of bacteria in the small intestine known as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or “SIBO”.

LOCATION PERFORMED

At home

BLOOD FLUID

Breath

COST

*$109 with insurance, $179 without insurance *This test has an initial fee of $109, if your insurance doesn’t cover the test you’ll be charged the extra $70.

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test evaluates the presence of harmful mycotoxins (toxins produced by molds).

LOCATION PERFORMED

In office

BLOOD FLUID

Blood

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS

Glutathione for 1 week, then bath or sauna.

COST

$99 – $184

INSURANCE

Fully covered by Medicare. Repeat test prices $400.

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test evaluates the genetic profile for multiple health indicators.

LOCATION PERFORMED

In office

BLOOD FLUID

Blood

COST

$319

INSURANCE

No insurance accepted

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This company can test for lyme, babesia, bartonella and additional tick-borne illnesses.

LOCATION PERFORMED

In office

BLOOD FLUID

Blood

COST

$450-$3000

INSURANCE

Fully covered by Medicare. May be reimbursed with PPO plans.

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test evaluates the presence of harmful mycotoxins (toxins produced by molds).

LOCATION PERFORMED

At home

BLOOD FLUID

Urine

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS

Glutathione for 1 week, then bath or sauna.

COST

$299

INSURANCE

No insurance accepted

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test evaluates a wide range of environmental toxins that may be leading to harmful health effects.

LOCATION PERFORMED

At home

BLOOD FLUID

Urine

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS

Glutathione for 1 week, then bath or sauna.

COST

$199

INSURANCE

No insurance accepted $30 discount given if done with mycotoxins.

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test is designed to look at food sensitivities (IgG immune responses). It is available in both a 99 or 184 panel.

LOCATION PERFORMED

In office

BLOOD FLUID

Blood

NOTES

You often have to fast for these tests.

COST

Depending on the test, deductible or copay may apply.

INSURANCE

Depends on insurance coverage, deductible or copay may apply.

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

Glyphosate (“Round Up”) is a pesticide that is widely used and this test indicates the body’s levels.

LOCATION PERFORMED

At home

BLOOD FLUID

Urine

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS

Glutathione for 1 week, then bath or sauna.

COST

$99 ($69 if performed with mycotoxins or environmental toxins).

INSURANCE

No insurance accepted $30 discount given if done with mycotoxins or GPL Tox.

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test evaluates many measures including micronutrients, antioxidants, minerals, detox, overview of gut function, omegas and toxic exposure.

LOCATION PERFORMED

In office

BLOOD FLUID

Urine & Blood

COST

$179 – $400

INSURANCE

Depending on insurance coverage. Fully covered by Medicare.

INSTRUCTIONS

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test evaluates the gut function and indicates microbiome balance, overgrowth, infection, inflammation, parasites and digestive efficacy.

LOCATION PERFORMED

At home

BLOOD FLUID

Stool

COST

$160-$329

INSURANCE

Depending on insurance coverage. Fully covered by Medicare.

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS

No probiotics for one week.

VIDEO INSTRUCTIONS

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test evaluates the full menstrual cycle, female hormones, and adrenal profile.

LOCATION PERFORMED

At home

BLOOD FLUID

Urine

COST

$160-$329

INSURANCE

Depending on insurance coverage. Fully covered by Medicare.

NOTES

Must be off hormones in order to do the testing.

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test is specifically for a tick-borne illness called “Bartonella”.

LOCATION PERFORMED

In office

BLOOD FLUID

Blood

COST

$260

INSURANCE

No insurance accepted

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test evaluates the presence of potentially harmful heavy metals stored in the body.

LOCATION PERFORMED

At home

BLOOD FLUID

Urine

COST

Testing: $138
DMSA: $36

INSURANCE

Not covered by Insurance

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test measures saliva cortisol testing throughout the course of one day and informs us where there might be an adrenal imbalance.

LOCATION PERFORMED

At home

BLOOD FLUID

Saliva

COST

$80

INSURANCE

Only covered by Medicare

WHY DO WE DO THIS TEST?

This test is designed to look at food sensitivities (IgG immune responses). It is available in both a 99 or 184 panel.

LOCATION PERFORMED

In office

BLOOD FLUID

Blood

COST

$99 – $184

INSURANCE

No insurance accepted