Virtual Clinic for Women's Hormonal Health & Digestion in Ontario

A NATUROPATHIC APPROACH TO

Digestive Health

IBS or other Digestion issues? Get to the root cause and get well.

Digestion problems? We can help.

Dietary, mechanical, hormonal and microbiological factors can lead to many digestive symptoms.

Your digestion should not be bringing you down or having any major impact on your day. Are you planning your outfits based on your expectations for bloating? Are you planning your travel route so that you know where the bathroom is in case you have diarrhea? Are you uncomfortable every day because of constipation? This is not okay and not sustainable. You need to determine what is the cause of your digestive concerns and uproot it. We can help.

How the Digestive Tract Works

Brief overview of the importance of digestive health and how it affects overall wellness

Digestion is the centre of health. Without the proper absorption of nutrients in the gut, none of our other organs can fully operate as intended. Ensuring that both the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) as well as the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) are delivered to our body systems is the first step towards optimal health.

Determining what you eat is part of the equation, but actually properly absorbing it is vital as well. Not only is proper digestion required to avoid negative symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, heartburn/reflux, and abdominal pain, but it’s needed to properly fuel your body. There’s no benefit in eating well if you’re not absorbing well.

Explanation of the role of a naturopathic doctor in addressing digestive concerns

Licensed naturopathic doctors (aka naturopaths) are very knowledgeable about gut health and how it impacts the rest of the body. We help you identify food intolerances, digestive enzyme deficiencies, any disruptions in your gut microbiome, as well as any motility issues. We do not see the gastrointestinal tract as operating in a silo. It is the entry point in the body for our fuel and the hub of the immune system. Ensuring that the GI tract is operating smoothly is integral to overall wellness.

Dietary, mechanical, hormonal and microbiological factors can lead to many digestive symptoms:

IBS + IBD (crohn’s + colitis) | Bloating | Constipation | Diarrhea | Abdominal pain | SIBO | Heartburn + GERD

Digestive Concerns treated by Naturopathic Doctors

We rely heavily on evidence-based medicine, meaning that we are constantly checking recent scientific publications to be sure that we are using as up to date interventions as possible. We find comfort in knowing that our suggestion has a foundation of proof, confirming that not only is it effective but also safe.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

We like to say that a diagnosis of IBS is BS! Being labelled with a diagnosis that just names your symptom does nothing to help resolve the issue. Yes your bowels are irritable, sometimes swinging to constipation, sometimes to diarrhea, but WHY?! We need to push that word aside to really get down to what is causing your concerns. Is it a food intolerance? A gut bacterial imbalance? Is it a stress response? Let’s figure it out and repair your digestive process.

Inflammatory bowel disease - Crohn’s and Colitis

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a complex condition that involves an abnormal immune response in the gut related to a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors. In people with IBD, the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in the gut, leading to chronic inflammation. This inflammation can damage the lining of the digestive tract, causing symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. Research suggests that certain genetic mutations may make a person more susceptible to developing IBD, but environmental factors such as diet, stress, and gut microbiome also play a role in triggering the immune response. Patient have reported that their gastroenterologist has said that diet has no impact on their IBD and this is simply NOT TRUE. Not only would the proper nutrition help heal the affected intestinal cells, but the wrong foods will exacerbate the GI’s inflammatory cascade. Though a “flare diet” and a “maintenance/flare prevention diet” look very different, it’s absolutely necessary to address diet to manage and abate crohn’s and colitis.

Constipation

Naturopathic doctors would consider constipation to be less than 1 daily bowel movement. Not only does this cause uncomfortable symptoms of bloating, discomfort, hemorrhoids and heartburn, but it also reduces the body’s ability to effectively purge waste products from the body which can lead to systemic symptoms. Causes of constipation can range from hypothyroidism and dehydration to methane-positive SIBO and food intolerance. Determining the actual cause of the constipation is the only way to eliminate it.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is the worst. Nobody likes it. Not only is it often painful and socially awkward to manage, but when chronic, leads to nutrient deficiencies that cause systemic symptoms.  Luckily there is often a simple solution! The culprit is normally a gut infection, a food reaction or a stress response. Once we determine the source, we can begin to uproot the cause and return to normal digestion and systemic fuelling.

Gas + bloating + Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

Humans don’t make gas, but! we do house huge colonies of bacteria that can turn us into a fermentation chamber. This can occur if we’re repeatedly consuming a food we’re unable to break down, or if we are not pumping out enough digestive enzymes to keep the gut bacterial populations in control, or our gut motility can be compromised. Thankfully often it is just a small dietary change that is needed to reset the system and resolve the gas. Sometimes we need to do testing to see exactly what is going on in the gut tube (breath or stool testing), and then use herbs and supplements to kill off the microbiotic imbalance.

Heartburn/acid reflux/gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)/gastritis

Reflux can be painful, and damaging to your sensitive esophagus, your teeth and even your sleep! It occurs when acid secreted in the stomach migrates up into the esophageal tube. Normally this is prevented by the closing of a functional lower esophageal sphincter, but stress, infection, food reactions or mechanical disruptions can prevent it. The standard medical treatment is to prescribe a medication that suppresses the secretion of stomach acid, but this is an imperfect solution because that stomach acid is REALLY important for the digestion of food as well as the sterilization of our food. When the stomach acid is turned off for a long period of time and ingested bacteria is able to freely enter the system, inevitably we end up seeing a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. A better path forward is to isolate the trigger of the reflux and eliminate it, retrain the lower esophageal sphincter to close properly, and concurrently coat the entire upper GI mucosa so that it is able to heal.

Gut Health

Our gut is where we absorb the nutrients that act as building blocks for almost all of our biological processes. It is also where the majority of our immune system is parked, so that we can best identify and eliminate pathogens. The gut can also be an area of great discomfort and annoyance if things are not operating smoothly. 

We see a lot of digestive concerns in our practice. This can be due to an unidentified food reaction, to an imbalance in the gut microbiome, or to an enzyme deficiency, which is often secondary to chronic stress. To complicate things, the gut plays a big role in hormone elimination, so a disruption of digestive function can compound a hormonal concern.

Clinical Intake + Lab Testing

The first visit with one of our naturopathic doctors is up to 90 mins! This is so long because you are complicated and it usually takes that much time to hear your whole story. We need to ask you about your sleep, energy, mood, food choices, digestion, exercise, stress, etc. We need to take the time to look into all of the nooks and crannies and not miss a detail, as so often there is one tiny clue that really pulls the whole case together. Symptoms alone are often not enough to guide a proper treatment plan. Having a good look “under the hood” by testing is always valuable. These tests include SIBO breath testing, comprehensive stool analysis, parasitology, stomach acidity testing, etc.

Deep Dietary Dives

We eliminate obvious allergens, and focus on boosting not only the nutrients in the diet, but the body’s ability to absorb those foods by boosting digestive enzyme secretion (including pancreatic, liver and gallbladder function).

Repair the Microbiome

Once we’ve determined if there is too much bad bacteria, not enough good bacteria, or both, we create a plan to correct for the imbalance using fibre and prebiotic foods, fermented food, probiotics and antimicrobial herbs and supplements. 

In some resistance cases, bacterial or yeast biofilms are involved which can be addressed as well.

Uproot the Source

The last step is to sort out what caused the issue in the first place. Is there an underlying cause of slow GI transit (like hypothyroidism)? Is the stress response crippling the digestive tract? Is there autoimmunity? Traumatic brain injury? Diabetes? Infection? Mold toxicity? Adhesions?

Getting started:

Natural Remedies for Digestive Concerns

We are not looking for a way to manage your digestive concerns, we are aiming to uproot the underlying cause of your belly aches. We will create a temporary intense plan to reset your digestive system, but ultimately aim to have you on a more reasonable long term maintenance plan centered on diet and stress reduction. The tools that we use include:

  • Dietary changes
  • Stress reduction
  • Demulcent herbs
  • Digestive herbs + bitters
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Probiotics, probiotic foods and prebiotics
  • Mechanical therapies: castor oil packs, osteopathy, pelvic floor physiotherapy, movement in general
  • Acupuncture

No Judgement       |        Cost Transparency       |      Your Health, Your Decisions

How your digestion works

Your digestive tract is a specialized tube with each section playing an irreplaceable role in the breakdown and absorption of food. We must ensure that each section is fully functioning and symptom-free.

Digestion in the Mouth

Digestion actually begin prior to putting the food in our mouth. Once we see, hear, smell or even THINK about food, the salivary glands in our mouth start to secrete digestive juices which begin to break down the sugars in our food. It also lubricates the food as it is mashed up into a bolus to be easily swallowed and passed down the esophagus into the stomach.

Digestion in the Stomach

When the stomach receives the signal that food is on it’s way it secretes acid that serves two purposes:

  1. Sanitation of microorganisms entering on the food
    • Stomach acid kill many bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites hitching a ride on your meal. This keeps the upper GI tract low in microbial diversity and prevent invasion of lower GI regions by harmful bacteria.
  2. Digestion
    • The churning and acid of the stomach act to break down food, especially helping to breakdown proteins in our meal. The rest of our body is protected from the burn of acid as the stomach seals off the its contents from the rest of the body with two sphincters (circular muscle); the lower esophageal sphincter at the top of the stomach, and the pyloric sphincter at the bottom. If the upper sphincter does not close properly, some acid can splash into the esophagus causing pain (heartburn/gastroesophageal reflux). The stomach itself is protected from being harmed by acid because it is coated with a thick mucous layer. Some bacteria (H. pylori) can damage this mucous layer making the stomach lining sensitive to harm.

Digestion in the Small Intestine

The small intestine is where nutrient absorption occurs. The pancreas, liver, gallbladder and intestinal cells themselves aid in the last stages of food breakdown. So essentially, at the end of the small intestine the original food no longer exists. It is now the end product as protein, carbohydrate, fat, and fibre. In a highly coordinated manner the first three components are absorbed into the blood stream to be built back up into many different things that our bodies need. The fibre and any remaining nutrients then pass along to the large intestine.

Digestion in the Large Intestine

This is where we house a huge amount of bacteria. The bacteria digests any remaining nutrients and some of the fibre, and they help us in a couple of ways:

  1. Vitamin production — including K and Bs
  2. Immune system regulation — these bacteria interact with our immune cells to keep us on our immunological toes. This dance helps us to remember when to react and when to relax. When this balance is off we can develop allergies and even autoimmunity.

Personalized care, from a doctor who listens

Feel heard with a natural path to wellness

We serve naturopathic patients all across Ontario!

Our service area includes:

Ottawa | Toronto | Hamilton | Kitchener | London | Oshawa | Windsor | St. Catharines | Barrie | Guelph | Kingston | Milton | Brantford | Thunder Bay | Sudbury | Peterborough | Belleville | Sarnia | Sault-Ste-Marie | Northbay | Cornwall | Timmins | Carleton Place

… And all small towns and rural areas in between! As we offer virtual appointments, our naturopathic patients have the flexibility to see us from the convenience of their home or office. And we rely on local laboratories (Lifelabs and Dynacare) to complete the testing required to do a complete assessment.

Our gut is where we absorb the nutrients that act as building blocks for almost all of our biological processes. It is also where the majority of our immune system is parked, so that we can best identify and eliminate pathogens. The gut can also be an area of great discomfort and annoyance if things are not operating smoothly. 

We see a lot of digestive concerns in our practice. This can be due to an unidentified food reaction, to an imbalance in the gut microbiome, or to an enzymes deficiency, which is often secondary to a chronic stress. To complicate things, the gut plays a big role in hormone elimination, so a disruption of digestive function can compound a hormonal concern. 

How we address this:

Work with us to determine what needs to be done to improve your digestion and overall health!

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FREE CHAT

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