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Tag: constipation

Can Constipation Make You Crazy?

“Many neurologic and psychiatric disorders are associated with constipation,” noticed a neurology department in Copenhagen, Denmark, in a paper published in the Journal of Neurology and Neuropsychiatry.

Funnily enough, I have noticed the same thing in my own clinic.

Man sitting on the toilet

In fact, in my experience, dysfunctional bowels seem to accompany almost every neurologic and psychiatric issue as well as most-if-not-all autoimmune disorders.

But I have to disagree when the authors of the study conclude: “The physiology of the gut and the pathophysiology of constipation is very complex, and as the bowel function is mostly autonomic, the possibilities of specific treatment are limited.”

The secret to treating constipation is to look at is as a sign of inflammation rather than a deficiency in water, fiber, exercise, or laxatives.

Constipation or diarrhea, or both alternating… These are the signs of inflammation in the gut.

Non-injury-related inflammation can be correlated with white blood cell activity. White blood cells carry the inflammatory response through the bloodstream, making inflammation a system-wide condition. This means that inflammation levels in the gut correlate to inflammation levels in the brain.

Inflammation in the brain can alter moods, emotions, or behaviors. It can damage the myelin sheaths surrounding the nerves in the brain, as in Multiple Sclerosis. It can interfere with senses such as vision (optic neuritis), or thought processes (psychosis), or motor functions (Parkinson’s Disease). Constipation is a symptom of inflammation.

In fact, the connection to Parkinson’s Disease was seen from the beginning. “James Parkinson recognised gastrointestinal features in his original monograph published in 1817.”

It’s inflammation.

That’s why my Inflammation Influence protocols work not only to right a wayward bowel, but also improve neurologic and psychiatric issues as a welcome side effect.

Interested in seeing if you are a good candidate for finally taking control over your chronic constipation and/or diarrhea? Grab a complimentary naturopathic health assessment today and get ready to start enjoying more regular bowels!


Is Diet Involved In Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Hell yes! YES, what we eat directly affects how our gut reacts and how our bowels perform. How could it not?

Human digestive system

It always blows my mind that doctors ignore diet when treating issues of the stomach and bowels, but that is the current medical standard of care. There is a direct anatomical path from the mouth through the esophagus to the stomach, and then through the intestines to the colon and exiting out through the anus. How could we not recognize that the foods we select to send down that path could be the culprits when it comes to issues along that route such as bloating or gas, cramping or acid reflux, diarrhea or constipation?

A lot of medical research seems to focus almost myopically on the cellular level so much so that doctors can’t see the forest for the trees. According to Dr David Johnson, professor of medicine and chief of gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia, doctors talk to patients “about medication compliance, about taking their tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha antagonists, about immunosuppression, but we rarely talk to them extensively about diet.”

Why is this? Maybe because the concepts of nutrition and diet aren’t covered extensively –or often, not at all– in medical schools, not even for gastro-intestinal specialists. Allopathic doctors are taught to be suspicious of all ideas about health and healthcare that were not presented in medical school or published after large, “Phase 3” placebo-controlled clinical trials, and these are not the best ways to study dietary or nutritional interventions in individuals. Even long-term population-based data on diets can be be misleading because of the impossibility of separating out a single ingredient and correlating it to a health outcome by ignoring the rest of a person’s or population’s food intake. The fields of diet and nutrition have been relegated to the “less-than-doctor” status of Nutritionist or Dietician or even Coach, leading doctors to give food even less credibility when it comes to health.

Or maybe doctors don’t talk to patients about dietary factors because they simply don’t believe in health solutions without pharmaceutical aids. Immunosuppression, or shutting down the immune system’s natural reactions through steroids or other chemical means, is a key medical strategy for addressing gut health issues. It’s tragic because, while steroids can decrease the inflammation and the associated pain, they do not address the root of the problem to begin with.

Even more tragic is the other popular medical solution to continued pain and discomfort along the digestive tract: cut it out. Gallbladders, intestines, colon… you have the right to fight to keep your body intact and functioning! Every part of our body has a function, and once it’s gone, that loss will affect you for the rest of your life. It makes me want to shout from the rooftops: “Before you let someone remove part of your body unnecessarily in order to deal with gut issues, reach out to me and let’s talk about your diet first!”

Dr. Johnson hopes medical officials will start recognizing that “…we have biologic evidence that this makes a difference. It is time for us to start taking a good diet history and treat patients with IBD appropriately. Start looking at diet; it has a key role in the pathogenesis of IBD and may offer a tremendous opportunity in its treatment.”

Dr. Johnson is off to a good start by suggesting that patients with gut dysfunction should begin by eliminating artificial additives and preservatives. He lists carboxymethyl cellulose, polysorbate-80, maltodextrin, and carrageenan as ones to avoid. As I mention in my TEDx talk, these synthetic ingredients are pervasive in our food supply, and avoiding them is easy to do by simply reading labels and learning where they show up most often. I would add food dyes and colors, artificial fragrances, and all artificial sweeteners to this list, along with other chemicals.

Where Dr. Johnson and most other well-meaning doctors fall short is in understanding the best diet to recommend for an individual patient. While he notes that the Mediterranean Diet is preferable to the Standard American Diet, he doesn’t understand that the optimum diet is unique for each individual. This is crucial to understand whether someone is dealing with debilitating gut or bowel function as with Crone’s Disease, or with run-of-the-mill acid reflux or IBS. From my decade of experience designing customized anti-inflammatory diets through my nationwide food sensitivity clinic, I believe the best way to do this is by using the Mediator Release Test (MRT) followed by LEAP Dietary Therapy.

Doctors are uniformly skeptical of this approach (due to the reasons listed above), but I tell them the same thing I tell all of my clients: “You have to eat anyway, so you might as well choose the foods that are not inflammatory for you. What have you got to lose?”

What have you got to lose? In just two weeks you could be feeling markedly better and on the road toward better health, simply by adjusting your food choices.

Contact me for a free initial phone consultation to see if a customized anti-inflammatory diet could help you feel better and live a better life!

Chronic Constipation Cures

Let’s talk about natural ways of dealing with chronic constipation.

Man sitting on the toilet

Chronic constipation leads to impaired digestion and may not only make you uncomfortable now, but can lead to malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, colon cancer, and even autoimmune disorders later down the road. It’s crucial to act sooner rather than later to avoid more serious health issues.

Buddy Bears   Though these plant-based chewable laxatives are made for children, they work great for people of any age without any drugs or side effects. Take two Buddy Bears before bed to help ease constipation overnight. Repeat as necessary as this is not habit-forming. (Update: ReNew Life, the company that makes Buddy Bears, has re-named and re-formulated this product as Gentle Move Kids Colon Support. I am not certain the new product works as well as the original did, but it’s worth a try.)

Lacie Le Beau Super Dieters Tea  Lacie Le Beau is a senna-based tea in various herbal flavors that works fairly reliably to produce a bowel movement when the brewing directions are followed correctly. However, you may experience cramping and/or violent movements after drinking this tea. For best results, drink before bed and expect a bowel movement in the morning. BEWARE as senna can be habit-forming, so don’t use this more often than once a week and be sure to follow the suggestions below.

Water In the Morning   Start your day by chugging 18-24 oz. of room temperature water as quickly as possible. Practice visual imagery by imagining opening a fire hose and shooting water down through your bowels in a whoosh. Speed and gravity will help the rush of water clear clogged bowels and help instigate a bowel movement within the following hour.

Establish a Daily Pooping Time   Being “regular” means, by definition, following a schedule. In order to train your bowels to evacuate regularly, you’ll need to at least sit on the toilet for the same five-to-ten minutes every day. For most people, this will be in the morning within the first hour of waking and drinking water. Others may find their mornings too rushed and stressful and may choose a time before dinner, for example. The important thing is to be consistent and sit on the toilet even when it doesn’t feel like you need to go.

Avoid Hemorrhoids Don’t push or strain constantly during your pooping time; rather, try to relax and allow your colon to use peristalsis (muscular contractions of the colon) and gravity to move the stool to the anus. If you are unproductive within the allotted time, leave the bathroom and try again the next day during your regular pooping time.

If any of these suggestions have worked for you, please leave a comment below!

Does Parkinson’s Disease Start in the Gut?

A fascinating study funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research looks at the microbiome (the population of bacteria in the human gut) in people who have Parkinson’s Disease. Lo’ and behold: research is showing a link between gut function and Parkinson’s Disease.

What you eat and how you digest affects the way your brain works.
What you eat and how you digest affects the way your brain works.

Who would’ve thought there could be a connection between your bowels and the degenerative, capricious symptoms of Parkinson’s?

Notice that the study found that gut dysfunction usually predated disease onset? “Nearly 80 percent of people with PD have constipation, and this condition often predates the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s by several years.”

In my own practice I also see that gut dysfunction (constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, bloating, etc.) not only accompanies but usually predates almost every autoimmune disease and/or chronic condition.

Fix the gut and often disease symptoms improve or even disappear no matter what the disease.

Contact me to schedule a free initial phone consultation on how to fix your gut.

Do You Have IBS?

The term Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, gets tossed around so frequently that I find many who think it means something profound about their condition.

I hate to break it to you, but a diagnosis of IBS doesn’t mean much in the medical world.

For starters, anything that is called a “syndrome” is by definitiona group of signs and symptoms that occur together and characterize a particular abnormality”. If the signs and symptoms don’t appear to be related to a clear cause, a condition is called a “syndrome” rather than a “disease”. The signs and symptoms of IBS could include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation.

So, when you receive a diagnosis of IBS from a doctor, what he or she is really telling you is that they simply don’t know what is causing you to experience these signs and symptoms, but they’re going to group them together and call them “IBS”.

In my humble opinion, IBS is a cop-out diagnosis that does not identify the cause of the IBS symptoms in the first place. If you don’t know the cause of the distress, then how can you heal the body so that the symptoms disappear?

A few common causes of IBS symptoms:

Food and chemical sensitivities. We accept that there are people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to wheat, but did you know that you yourself may be sensitive to such seemingly harmless foods such as broccoli, chicken, rice, or honey? IBS symptoms may appear up to four days after you’ve eaten a food, which can make identifying the culprits difficult to impossible. MRT food sensitivity testing and following a LEAP diet is a fast and easy method of finding relief from IBS symptoms.

Parasites. You can be infected by parasites during foreign travel, camping, swimming in lakes or rivers, or simply from eating sushi or drinking water. At one point the city of Milwaukee was infected with cryptosporidium through the municipal water supply. Luckily, a good herbal parasite cleanse can get rid of most of these buggers and then your bowels will be happy again.

Bacterial imbalance. A course of antibiotics can destroy your natural gut biome and replenishing the good bacteria will help your digestion. The trick can be finding the right pro-biotic supplement for your body.

Digestive enzyme deficiencies. Chronic inflammation can lead to a desensitization of the villi whose job it is to analyze the contents of your stomach and call for the correct formula of digestive enzymes to break it down. The intestinal lining cannot absorb nutrients from food that is not broken down enough by the stomach. An enzyme urinalysis can pinpoint exactly what’s being digested or not in your bowels, and then you can supplement accordingly with the right plant-based digestive enzymes.