I sometimes wonder if new patients to WholeHealth Chicago think we’re overly preoccupied with their digestion, gut health, nutrition, and even the consistency and quality of their stool when they scheduled that appointment for a seemingly unrelated problem. We certainly treat a large variety of health concerns: anti-aging and disease prevention, dermatologic problems, chronic fatigue, mood, menopause, PMS and thyroid issues, joint and muscle pains, autoimmune disorders, long COVID, and even supportive care for cancer.
The naturopathic and functional medicine physicians summarize our approach well, “Everything begins in the gut.” Everything?! All you need to do is click to this picture to appreciate why we, at WholeHealth Chicago, are so preoccupied with that 30 foot tube connecting your mouth to your anus and the contents inside. In fact, it helps if you imagine yourself as a 30 foot long earthworm with all the rest of you–your brain, eyes, ears, heart, lungs, arms, legs as biological afterthoughts. You’re a motile tube slithering along, seeking food and capable of reproducing when you meet another attractive motile tube on matchworm.com.
Referring back to our simple picture:
Your “fatigue” might be traced to poor nutrition, poor digestion and absorption of low quality food, a weakened immune system, poor production of hormones (premature aging), and neurotransmitters (mood disorders, depression, anxiety).
Your “joint pains” or “autoimmune disorders” may be leaky gut (intestinal hyperpermeability), excessive inflammation, food allergies or intolerances.
Your “digestive symptoms” might be any of the above, combined with motility disorders (like Irritable Bowel Syndrome), small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), an unhealthy microbiome, overlooked intestinal parasites, H. Pylori.
“Chronic infections”, like Lyme reactivation, candida, long COVID, again can be traced to the immune dysfunction found with poor gut health.
When you do arrive at WholeHealth Chicago with your health problems, you’ll be asked questions about your digestion. Because the functional test we use (GI Effects) is not fully covered by insurance (usually about $300), we don’t order this on everyone. Here’s what the test result looks like. Your report will be interpreted either by your practitioner or by our nutrition provider, Tam Dickson-Meyer.
With our without the GI Effects, very likely you’ll be asked to start your path of healing with our “Gut Rehab” protocol, 14-28 days (depending on the severity of your symptoms, of dietary changes and supplements to facilitate healing of your intestinal lining.
As a final note, this weekend I watched the 6 hour PBS documentary “Cancer: Emperor of Maladies”, produced by Ken Burns and mainly underwritten by the American Cancer Society and several Big Pharma companies. After going into detail of the history of cancer and plenty of talking head-type interviews with various cancer researchers each describing their projects but acknowledging their disappointments, you’d be surprised (or not) that the single most effective means of reducing cancer over the past 25 years has been getting people to stop smoking. This got about five minutes. The final episode devoted sixty seconds to the known link between obesity and both breast and ovarian cancer. Although you got to watch one man with metastatic melanoma getting immunotherapy, there was no mention of using sunblock or vitamin D for prevention. Regular exercise as a known tool for cancer prevention was not mentioned at all.
David Edelberg, MD