by Tim Mount, CN, CCMH
Digestive disturbances like ulcers, GERD, leaky gut, Chrohn’s Disease, gastritis, and Celiac seem to be on the rise. Drugs that suppress acid reflux symptoms accounted for over $13 BILLION in yearly sales. America’s digestive tracts are in pain, and I’ve always said that digestion is the most important system in the body and the basis for life. Think of it this way – even the most simple, brainless life form eats. A jellyfish is nothing more than a blob that consumes food from the environment. It has no brain, no skeleton, and only simple sensory organs, yet it is “alive” because it can digest external resources.
I’m going to take off my NeoCell hat for a moment and take you back to my work as a natural health practitioner. In almost all my clinical cases someone complained of digestive symptoms as a part of their overall health concerns. Digestion was always the place I started first. If a person can’t absorb nutrients, my health plan (and their food) would simply pass through them and be a waste. Or even worse, the under-digested food particles and supplements would pass through the intestines and cause additional internal damage and destruction.
I want to share a very general gut protocol that formed the basis of my digestive support plan.* Everyone is different, so a plan should be individually customized to that person, but this article should provide some guidance and theoretical understanding for people in distress.
In general, there is a 3 step process:
- Remove the cause of the digestive disturbance
- Relieve the acute symptoms
- Support the digestive healing process
REMOVE THE CAUSE
Nothing else in this article matters if a person doesn’t stop causing ongoing damage to their stomach and intestines. It will all be a Bandaid that makes no lasting impact. There are many different allergies and lifestyle choices that are the culprit, so it is up to the individual to figure out what that is for them.
Ok, I say that, but really I mean that there are a few extremely common problems that affect large percentages of the population. If someone doesn’t know where to begin, this is a good place to start.
- GLUTEN – nobody wants to hear it, they freak out at the idea of quitting drinking beer and whiskey, eating pizza and hoagies with their friends, and slurping spaghetti dinners with their family. It sucks – but so does persistent diarrhea, barfing up acid, and being chronically nutrient deficient which leads to the development of life-threatening diseases. I can’t go off on a gluten rant, but know that I am a Certified Gluten Expert through a state-accredited California continuing education program for MDs and other licensed doctors. I’ve seen the actual peer-reviewed studies (not just the “broscience” on the Internet, here is one of dozens) and without a doubt in my mind I can tell you unequivocally that most – and I think EVERYONE in America – has a gluten allergy or intolerance. There are alternative out there – Omission beer is amazing, Udi’s and Rudi’s bread is better than regular loafs, Smart Flour is some of the most delicious pizza I’ve ever eaten, and most brands of gluten free spaghetti are indistinguishable from regular stuff.
- Gluten again – stop, stop, STOP!!! I can’t emphasize this point enough.
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications – sometimes it is impossible to wean off of essential medications, but if there is any chance a person can stop the drugs (even things like Aspirin) it will help immensely.
- Other food allergies like dairy, but that is a distant third to gluten and medications. Try a food allergy test at HealthLabs.com.
For the most part, I recommend the Suggested Use on the labels of all products I mention below.
RELIEVE THE SYMPTOMS
Digestive issues are no fun. Most times people need immediate relief, which is what many medications, and even natural products focus on – relieving burning and discomfort quickly. My favorite natural products are:
- Thayer’s Slippery Elm Lozenges – suck when in pain, especially for stomach issue (as opposed to intestinal issues)
- Licorice Root Tea – good for coating the gut and providing a soothing barrier
- Aloe – effective for many people, irritating to some. I recommend short term use of aloe products internally, if used at all
SUPPORT NORMAL DIGESTION
It’s important to start digesting and absorbing foods again, especially after prolonged digestive issues because nutrient deficiencies can lead to short term symptoms like fatigue and more severe long term medical problems. It’s important to be careful of these products because most people are low in stomach acid, but some people can be high. If there are gut “holes”, especially in the small intestine, it’s important not to irritate any exposed digestive tissue and make the issue worse.
SUPPORT TRUE DIGESTIVE HEALING
This is the real key, the place we’re hoping to get to. Besides removing the offending substance causing the issue, these suggestions can help support quick healing to get you back to normal. Here are my recommendations, in order of priority.
- NeoCell Super Collagen + C Liquid Pomegranate – Have you ever bitten into a sausage? That “snap” is from biting through the collagen casing, which comes from animal intestines. Collagen forms the barrier lining of the stomach and intestines, so if it is damaged bad things happen. Think stomach ulcers and leaky gut. The liquid version of this collagen product is particularly useful because it can coat the stomach and provide direct contact to internal cells that produce new collagen and heal the damaged tissue. You can’t heal the underlying smooth muscles in the digestive tract until the protective collagen barrier is intact. A collagen supplement should be a person’s first priority. Currently, a famous internal surgeon in Dubai is conducting clinical research with her patients because she has found an overwhelming benefit to her patients when using this product.
- Goldenseal & Echinacea plus Propolis – in most, if not all cases of ulcers H. pylori is present. Consider a “Urea Breath Test” (although I’m generally against ingesting radioactive things). I personally don’t believe it is the cause, just like an infection in the cut of the skin isn’t the cause of the cut – the infection is there because there is damage to the collagen tissue that already exists and the bacteria invades the damaged area. Regardless, it may be necessary to clean up the infection. These herbs are superstars. I recommend using these for short term support, long term use is not advisable.
- Comfrey Root – there is controversy over whether this should be recommended internally. I’ve used it personally and as a Certified Master Herbalist, I find it to be appropriate in many cases. This herb is excellent for “tightening” up tissues and supporting the healing process. Check with your trusted health practitioner before making a decision.
- Glutamine – an important amino acid that fuels the cells within the digestive tract.
MAINTAIN DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Once you are back to normal it’s time to keep your gut healthy. A probiotic with multiple strands and a high active culture count can help.
- Yogourmet homemade live culture yogurt or a supplement like Ohhira’s – there are a lot of excellent probiotics out there and it’s essential to have a robust gut flora
I hope this helps provide a stepping stone for people with digestive distress. As always, if you have a medical condition, work with a trusted health professional to develop a plan right for you.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Federal Drug Administration. The products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.