Gastrointestinal problems are some of the most common complaints functional medicine practitioners face from new patients. However, many practitioners treat the gut with a one-size-fits-all protocol — probiotics, digestive enzymes, gut supplements, and a gut-healing diet that cuts out all the “bad” foods.
Unfortunately, many patients continue to suffer because a cookie-cutter approach doesn’t work for many.
This is because no two cases of leaky gut, dysbiosis, IBS, constipation, or other GI problems are alike. While a one-size-fits-all gut protocol might help, it still might not solve a person’s specific problem.
For example, chronic constipation could be due to:
- Disrupted gut-brain axis caused by a previous head injury.
- Degeneration of the gut’s enteric nervous system.
- The release of gases such as methane in the small intestine that shuts down gut motility.
- Certain medications that impact gut function.
- Dysautonomia affecting the nervous system and gut function.
Instead of a “shotgun” style approach, the answer is to determine the mechanisms behind each individual’s GI issues, and to design a treatment protocol based on the findings.
It’s vital to examine all the different mechanisms from the brain all the way down to the endocrine system, the immune system, the gut microbiome, and more.
In addition, the practitioner should do a full work up to determine if you have a gastric ulcer, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other condition.
By successfully combining these processes, a practitioner can develop a highly effective and personalized clinical strategy and treatment plan.
In the healthcare field there’s the assumption that if you just treat the gut with various supplements, everything should get better. But in real clinical scenarios, especially working with chronically ill patients, that’s just not how it works.
Dr. Kharrazian has a private practice in San Diego, California. He consults with patients from all over the world who are seeking non-pharmaceutical applications. His practice is focused on developing a personalized medical approach using diet, nutrition, and lifestyle approaches.
This story originally published on the Kharrazian Institute’s blog.