Gut health is intimately tied to brain health and impacts the overall health of the body, which is why Dr. Nicole Anderson takes a holistic approach with every patient who comes to her for help with digestive issues. Exploring problems related to digestive health typically involves investigating other systems and symptoms—and vice-versa. This is because a wide range of chronic issues, from anxiety to arthritis, can be related to—or even caused by—a problem with a patient’s digestive health. Conversely, many conditions, such as chronic inflammation, can cause constipation, diarrhea, and other problems with digestive health. At Bothell’s Anderson Natural Medicine, the goal is for all patients to achieve healing and lasting relief from whatever condition is ailing them. This is best served by truly rooting out the source of the problem, as opposed to simply treating the symptoms.
Whether poor digestive health is the culprit behind other symptoms or a sign of something going wrong elsewhere in the body, the approach is the same: Identify and resolve the underlying issue, then allow the body to heal and function as it is supposed to.
Unlike allergies, which can quickly impact different systems—such as peanuts causing breathing problems—food intolerances can cause initial reactions in the digestive system itself or may even present as joint pain, cognitive difficulties, fatigue, eczema, or other skin conditions. Examples include gastrointestinal distress after consuming lactose. Dr. Anderson uses both antibody and cell reactivity testing to get the most accurate picture of what could be causing symptoms that negatively impact digestive health and overall health.
A healthy diet is the first step to maintaining good digestive healthWhile celiac disease shares symptoms with food allergies, it results in damage to the lining of the small intestine. This response is triggered primarily by the consumption of gluten, a protein molecule found in products made from grains like wheat, barley, and rye. While definitive testing for this condition traditionally involves a biopsy, Dr. Anderson recommends that patients showing symptoms first remove gluten from their diet to see if that makes a difference. If it does, they can then work with Dr. Anderson to determine what to do next to improve their digestive heath. If the symptoms improve, there may be no need for an invasive procedure to confirm the diagnosis.
The large and small bowels are more commonly known as the large and small intestines, which absorb nutrients and water from food after it leaves the stomach. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that can cause abdominal discomfort or pain, constipation or diarrhea, and similar chronic digestive health problems. Dr. Anderson works with patients to discover which foods or other conditions may be triggering IBS to reduce and prevent irritation.
Crohn’s disease is chronic inflammation of the bowel. This persistent immune response can cause a range of digestive health issues, including cramping, pain, loss of appetite, and diarrhea, as well as chronic fatigue, mouth sores, and fever. It can even cause skin, eye, and joint problems. As with all cases of ongoing immune responses, relieving the symptoms requires addressing what is causing the inflammation, which can impact any part of the bowel, from the colon to the small intestine, and beyond. Different dietary changes, supplements or medications, including low dose naltrexone (LDN) can be used to treat Crohn’s disease.
Another form of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, specifically impacts the lining of the colon and rectum, where sores can form and contribute to rectal pain and bleeding, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, weight loss, and other digestive health problems. Beyond the digestive system, symptoms can include fatigue and fever. As with Crohn’s, naltrexone can help with the inflammation, and testing can point toward the potential cause.