Thursday, July 14, 2016


I've written ad nauseam about my digestive problems and food, and while I won't go into those again, I'd like to report I have answers, from a naturopath and not gastroenterologists, about the cause of the problems.

To begin with the naturopath did a full suite of tests on stools, looking at 9 different indicators, such as yeast, bacteria, parasise, microbes, pancreatic output, etc. and did real and complete Small Intestive Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) test.

The gastroentrologist prescribed the SIBO test in February 2015, but the clinic did the wrong test, looking at lactose and gluten, not SIBO,  which the gastroenterologist didn't see, but even that test indicated a possible problem, which was ignored.

In addition the gastroenterologist looked for three known infectious bacteria in the stools, but not non-infectious bacteria and not for the amount of normal flora, meaning in short, they didn't do enough to rule out biological causes.

The naturopath also found I have a low level of pancreatic exocrine and a far higher level of inflamation immune markers, meaning I don't produce enough pancreatic enzymes to fully digest food and the system is overreacting to inflation in the small and large intestine.

The SIBO test showed I don't have SIBO but an overgrowth of three "opportunistic" non-infectious bacteria which are always present in the digestive system but kept in check by the immune system and other bacteria.

When the body can't keep them in check, then they proliferate in the system to replace "good" bacteria and causes an array of adverse reactions in the small and large intestine, the symptoms I've been having since November 2014.

The naturopath prescribed 3 herbal drugs known to fight the three non-infectious bacteria. She didn't prescribe antibiotics (naturopaths in Washington State can prescribe "common" antibiotics) because there are none for non-infectious bacteria overgrowths, only infectious bacteria in digestive system.

That would mean prescribing a universal antibiotic, which destroys all the bacteria in the digestive tract and rebuilding the bacteria after the period of the antibiotic. She chose to focus on herbal drugs which focuses specifically on those bacteria first, and will only prescribe antibiotics if they fail to work.

Anyway, that's the status to date, a month on 4 herbal drugs to fight the bacteria and flush it out of the system, hopefully leaving opportunity for all the good bacteria to rebuild the digestive process to normal and resume a wider diet of foods.

So I'll see what happens over the next month, but the good news is that I have answers, which the gastroenterologists didn't provide, and a treatment plan with options. It's up to the body now to do the work with herbal drugs to bring the overgrowths in check and improve the pancreatic enzymes.

What this whole process has taught me is that traditional medical professionals look for the obvious first, which makes sense since many medical condition are solved and treated from obvious symptoms and tests.

If that fails they go through the list of the less obvious in some order of common sense, experience, knowledge or learning, but there often comes a point or time they run out of answers, not for the want of opportunities to search, but for lack of interest.

It's sometimes easier for some to simply rely on what they know than explore what they don't know. This is true in gastroenterology when their knowledge with the biological side of the digestive system is limited, often by choice of the professional, to refer the patient than explore options.

This is what I experienced. They knew a lot of the physical side of the digestive system and searched for answers with tests they already knew, and lacking results, simply stopped looking, or worse, resorted to the obvious, "Take probiotics."

And that in the case of bacteria overgrowths is the worst thing you can do, add more bacteria to an overloaded digestive system. That and prebiotics or digestive enzymes which can worsen the problem than help it.

It also shows me the lack of resources for traditional medical science to treat less serious, but often equally adverse, conditions which don't fit into the text books. This is why gastroenterology has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, which to me is short for "It Beats the Shit" out of me.

And there is "Leaky Gut" syndrome and other conditions gastroentrologists are only beginning to address as they discover most digestive problems are biological in origin, the physical side being symptoms than causes.

But it's also why some, maybe many, gastroenterologist don't get into the biological side. It takes more work, time and interest to explore and learn, something many don't seem to want to do when they can simply prescribe a drug or do a proceedure to "cure" the patient.

This is where it's better to find a naturopath which has the knowledge and experience with the biological side of the digestive system. Many are now covered by health insurance plans, although treatment and herbal drugs aren't usually covered.

Anyway, that's the story to date.

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