Digestive Health

Digestive Health

Digestive Health services offered in Portland, OR

Digestive Health focuses on digestive system disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ilana Gurevich, ND, LAC, MSOM, FABNG of Open Wellness PDX, is a board-certified naturopathic physician and acupuncturist who is a fellow of the American Association of Naturopathic Gastroenterology.  She specializes in Digestive Health. To find out how you could benefit from Dr. Gurevich’s expertise, call the office in Portland, Oregon, or book an appointment online today.

Digestive Health Q & A

What is the digestive system?

The digestive system begins when you chew and swallow food, which starts the digestive process. The food passes down your esophagus into your stomach, where powerful acids break it down.

Then, the broken-down food passes into your small intestine and through to your large intestine (bowel), where your body extracts nutrients, and finally forms stools in your rectum that pass out of your body through your anus. Organs like your liver, pancreas, and gallbladder are also part of your gastrointestinal system.

Numerous symptoms can affect your gastrointestinal system, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, flatulence (gas), vomiting, and heartburn (acid reflux).

What is naturopathic GI-focused medicine?

Naturopathic GI-focused medicine is a holistic approach to treating digestive disorders. Dr. Gurevich understands the links between gastrointestinal issues and health problems like:

  • Chronic pain
  • Fatigue
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Autoimmune conditions

The naturopathic approach to GI health is to address the root cause of your condition rather than simply controlling the symptoms. This approach is more likely to result in long-term success.

What are the symptoms of digestive health problems

Some of the most common digestive symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Feeling full or heavy
  • Bloody stool
  • Acid reflux
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Difficulty swallowing

What are some common digestive health conditions?

Leaky gut aka intestinal hyperpermeability

Intestinal hyperpermeability aka "leaky gut" is a digestive condition in which the lining of the small intestine becomes more porous.  In that process, it allows substances that would normally be too large to cross the GI barrier to easily pass through the intestinal barrier and enter the bloodstream. The small intestine has a crucial role in absorbing nutrients from food while preventing harmful substances, such as bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles, from crossing into the bloodstream.

Food allergies and intolerances

Food allergies are the body’s immune response to a certain food. For example, if you have a peanut allergy, you may suffer from severe reactions like anaphylaxis or hives when in contact with food that contains peanuts. Those with severe food allergies typically know about their reactions and carry an EpiPen® as a preventive measure. Food sensitivity is more difficult to recognize and diagnose than an allergy. If you have a food sensitivity problem, such as gluten sensitivity or fructose sensitivity, your symptoms can be delayed for days after consumption. You may feel lethargic, bloated, gassy, or struggle to concentrate.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

The presence of an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine characterizes SIBO. It can cause severe diarrhea, weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and malabsorption. 

H. pylori

H. pylori is a type of bacteria that can invade your digestive tract and cause ulcers and sores in your stomach lining or upper area of your small intestine.

Small intestinal fungal overgrowth

Candida overgrowth occurs when you have too much yeast in your digestive system. This often leads to bloating, diarrhea, and chronic fatigue.

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency AKA enzyme deficiencies

There is often a link between food allergies and sensitivities to enzyme deficiencies. This means your body doesn’t produce enough of a certain enzyme to properly break down and absorb nutrients. 

How does a naturopathic GI help with digestive disorders?

Naturopathic GIs offer an effective, comprehensive approach to treating digestive disorders. Dr. Gurevich uses a combination of traditional therapies that have been in use for hundreds of years and the most current clinical science.

She starts by discussing your medical history and performing a physical exam. You might also need blood or other lab tests to determine the underlying cause of your illness. Dr. Gurevich then gives you a personalized treatment plan that helps you obtain optimal health.

The treatments Dr. Gurevich uses for gastrointestinal disorders combine natural remedies with modern medicines. Treatment options vary according to the nature of your condition but could include:

  • Herbal medicines
  • Minerals
  • Supplements
  • Chinese medicine
  • Neural therapy
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Pharmaceutical therapies, when indicated

Naturopathic GIs can also work as part of your primary or specialist healthcare team. Dr. Gurevich understands that patients receive the best care when they have the support of a complete team on their healthcare journey.

This collaboration often involves your primary care provider, gastroenterologist, and naturopathic physician. At Open Wellness, the providers communicate with your entire healthcare team to optimize your recovery.

To learn more about available gastrointestinal-focused treatments, call Open Wellness PDX today, or book an appointment online.