As supported by the evidence from scientic research, Naturopathic Medicine practitioners have long considered the digestive tract the cause of many health issues, not only those related to digestion. Aside from digestive issues like bloating, abdominl pain, and IBS, other conditions such as aching muscles, chronic fatigue, joint pains, allergies, asthma, fluid retention, weight gain, slowed metabolism, poor concentration, headaches or skin problems like eczema, as well as depression, behavioural issues and hyperactivity in children may have their source in the “gut”.
“Poor food choices, food intolerances, dysbiosis, yeast and fungal infections, bacteria overgrowth, antibiotic overuse, parasites, environmental contaminants, prolonged stress, just to name a few, all contribute to poor gut health,” says IMI Founding Director Graeme Bradshaw. “This can result in long-term inflammation or a “leaky gut”—the damaged lining of the intestines allows undigested food particles and toxic waste products to leak into the blood stream—which can manifest as many seemingly unrelated symptoms mentioned above.”
Analysis to Take Out the Guesswork
The key to treating these symptoms lies in identifying and addressing the underlying cause, however, some of these cause, e.g. Candida infections or SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, can be difficult to identify. IMI believes that each person is unique, and to best understand the causes of your health issues, we offer a number of Gastro Intestinal Tests in Functional Medicine to take the guesswork out of your individualized treatment program. Your Naturopathic Medicine practitioner may recommend one or a combination of the following tests:
IgG Food Intolerance Test
A simple dried blood spot exam to help identify problem foods that can cause IgG immune responses (Food Intolerances). See here for more information.
Organic Acids Test (OAT)
This urine test provides a snapshot of your metabolism, based on the byproducts your body discards. These organic acid molecules can indicate disorders of metabolism including energy production, the presence of yeast (Candida) or bacterial overgrowth in the gut leading to toxicity. Abnormally high levels of these intestinal microorganisms can cause or worsen behavior disorders, hyperactivity, depression, attention deficits and concentration issues, muscle pain and some movement disorders, fatigue and immune dysfunction. OAT is often recommended as the initial screening test for ADD/ADHD, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression, IBS, Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, etc. If abnormalities are detected in your OAT report, individualized treatments can include anti-microbial herbs or medications, as well as supplements and dietary modification.
Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) Breath Test
About one in every eight persons suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The common symptoms include bloating and abdominal pains along with abnormal bowel habits—some people experiencing stools that are predominantly too loose with occasional diarrhea (IBS-D) and others reporting that they are frequently constipated (IBS-C). Some people experience a mixture of both (IBS-M). The latest research data has shown that IBS has a diagnosable organic basis, with more than half of all sufferers develop infections in their small intestines known as Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Other treatable causes include wheat sensitivity, gluten or lactose intolerance, or parasite infections.
SIBO is best diagnosed through this thorough breath test. It involves drinking a lactulose solution, then breathing into a collection tube every 20 minutes for at least 2 hours. In case of SIBO, the bacteria will ferment the lactulose solution into hydrogen or methane. The presence of these gases indicates the infections. Natural herbal treatments have shown over 80% cure rate for IBS. Treatment might require multiple natural antimicrobial agents, antibiotics, and anti-biofilm agents such as thyme oil, oregano oil and garlic oil.
Comprehensive Stool Analysis
This analysis assesses the levels of key biomarkers such as lysozyme, lactoferrin, white blood cells and mucus, and the fecal levels of elastase, fat, muscle and vegetable fibers, and carbohydrates. The analysis helps to evaluate the status of beneficial and pathogenic bacteria, yeast including Candida, and parasites in the intestines, the efficiency of digestion and absorption, as well as the extent of inflammation associated with potentially life-threatening inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the less severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in order to facilitate appropriate and timely treatment.
Click here to see a sample report.
GI Microbial Assay Plus (GI-MAP)
This FDA-approved DNA-based full quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay is designed to assess your microbiome from a single stool sample. It provides an accurate analysis of pathogens including bacteria, toxins, parasites and viruses, and how they contribute to perturbations in the GI flora and relate to many inflammatory, autoimmune, metabolic, cardiovascular, and other chronic diseases.
Click here to see a sample report.