Many people today have symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. Nearly 20 million adults are newly diagnosed with digestive disorders each year and over 100 million individuals now suffer daily from digestive disorders such as: GERD, gastritis, peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease and colitis. Also research now links your digestive dysfunction to conditions outside your digestive tract such as: chronic muscle and joint pain, arthritis, headaches, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, ADHD, autism, asthma, allergies, eczema and many more. How can this be?
About 80% of your immune system exists within your gastrointestinal tract. Within a healthy digestive tract there should be over one hundred trillion beneficial bacteria, more than 10X the number of cells in your body. The total weight of this healthy gastrointestinal bacterial flora is around 3 to 6 pounds. It is a healthy mix of these beneficial bacteria in the absence of unwanted microbes; helps keep your immune system functioning properly. Research is showing that an imbalance in your gut bacteria, called Dysbiosis, is a contributing factor to many chronic and degenerative diseases, partly by causing an imbalance in your immune system function. This gastrointestinal dysbiosis is best understood as 'an over abundance of non-acute non-infectious GI microorganisms and/or a lack of beneficial bacteria, adversely affecting the human host'.
This definition is vital to understand, the imbalanced microbial growth does not have to come from an acute infectious "Bug" to cause you chronic gastrointestinal and/or system wide symptoms. Because of the high concentration of your immune system residing within your G.I. tract, non-acute non-infectious non-beneficial bacteria and their toxins in large numbers can activate your immune system. This can cause inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract and/or increased inflammation throughout your body. There are numerous factors in our modern lifestyle that can lead to this dysbiosis or imbalanced gut bacteria, chief among them are overuse of antibiotics, poor diet, decreased digestive enzymes and maldigestion. If these factors can be eliminated or at least reduced, natural treatments aimed at ridding yourself of dysbiosis will be more successful.
When you suffer with pain and inflammation, whether gastrointestinal or systemic--that has been particularly chronic and difficult to overcome--it's vital to consider that your inflammation is being triggered or enhanced by the presence of dysbiosis. It is my experience in practice that three out of four patients with inflammatory disorders or chronic pain have dysbiosis. This has been verified via Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) through a specialty laboratory. In my clinic a CDSA is completed on any patient with any G.I. symptoms or symptoms of an inflammatory disease such as chronic muscle and joint pain. Research has verified these findings. In one study a little more than half the patient's with multiple arthritic joints had intestinal bacteria identified as a causative agent of their inflammation and arthritis. If you have chronic pain and inflammation and dysbiosis has not been found, it may be that no one has been looking for it! It is easy enough to find, all you need do is have your clinician properly run and interpret a CDSA through one of the labs specializing in this testing, such as Genova Diagnostics, Doctor's Data, Inc. or Metametrix Clinical Lab.
High fiber diets with no simple carbohydrates have been shown to improve the quality and quantity of beneficial intestinal bacteria. Sugars and simple carbohydrates have been shown to feed the growth of unwelcome bacteria and yeast. There are also specific antimicrobial herbs that can be used to directly kill or strongly inhibit unwanted intestinal microbes, such as Berberine sulfate. Herbs for dysbiosis are frequently continued for one to three months, and must be administered with very concentrated probiotics or good bacteria, taken three hours away from the antimicrobial herbs. Don't let pain get in the way of having a fantastic summer this year! For a better understanding of dysbiosis and its role in your health, call my clinic or see my book Why We Hurt, specifically chapter 16.
About Dr. Greg Fors
Dr. Greg Fors, D.C. is a Board-certified Neurologist (IBCN), certified in Applied Herbal Sciences (NWHSU) and acupuncture. As the clinic director of the Pain and Brain Healing Center in Blaine Minnesota he specializes in a functional medicine approach to fibromyalgia, fatigue, brain fog, digestive disorders, depression and anxiety. He is a sought after international lecturer for various post-graduate departments and state associations. Dr. Fors is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “Why We Hurt” available through booksellers everywhere.