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Caught in the Vicious Cycle of GI Inflammation?

Q. Hi, I would appreciate any advice you can give me. I have colitis, candida, sibo, h-pylori, erosive gastritis and chronic diarrhea. I am severely underweight–86lbs–5’4″ –skin and bones. How does one treat so many problems. Probiotics make the diarrhea worse as does everything I take to treat the infections. Have severe burning throughout the whole digestive tract—inflammation!! What does someone in my situation do to gain weight and be able to absorb nutrients and food??

I have tried everything under the sun–but always end up with a flare of the colitis. Cannot tolerate any of the prescriptions for colitis–I have adrenal fatigue and most days can barely function. How does one gain weight on this diet?? Is there a protein drink that someone with so many problems can take—-is there a paleolithic protein drink? Please help me out if you have any ideas at all. I do not know how much more weight I can lose without ending up dying from the malnutrition. Thank you–Julie

A. Hi Julie, First of all I suggest you find a good doctor who practices functional medicine. As I’m sure you know, the diarrhea and excessive loss of weight can be serious if it goes on for an extended amount of time and must be addressed. A competent functional medicine practitioner could give you intravenous nutritional support, which it sounds like you probably should have at this point.

It’s also important to be aware that the colitis, gastritis, diarrhea and severe burning are a result of the  unfriendly organisms, – SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, H pylori and candida. The goal in relieving those conditions is to reduce those organisms.

Killing the organisms that cause the gastrointestinal symptoms you are experiencing creates more oxidative stress and inflammation and triggers the sympathetic nervous system, all of which typically exacerbate symptoms. Many people get caught in the vicious cycle of increased GI inflammation, autonomic nervous system dysfunction and oxidative stress that can develop when one attempts to eradicate them and this can be very challenging to work around.

When the gastrointestinal tract is so inflamed, everything you put in it is going to cause symptoms. A worsening of diarrhea or other symptoms with probiotics is not a bad sign; it actually means that the probioitcs are working. There is a battle going on between the friendly and unfriendly microorganisms. This is temporary and should pass as balance in the flora begins to occur.

There is typically some degree of worsening for most people as unfriendly organisms are eradicated. This is called die off. One must try to ride it out for a period of time. However, if the die off and the exacerbating symptoms are too severe, then one must cut back on their dosage or frequency and go slower. If die off is too severe, it will overload the body’s detoxification abilities and toxins will keep recirculating instead of being eliminated.

For example, take a lower dosage of probiotics – a quarter of a capsule or even a pin drop size if needed. Again, since you are losing so much weight and having diarrhea, I suggest you do it under the care of a physician. This same principle should be applied to any medication, nutritional supplement or herbal remedy that may be used. Cut the dosage down until the die off symptoms are bearable. Some remedies are too aggressive for some people so they may have to experiment and find ones that are a little gentler.

On the other hand, sometimes diarrhea that occurs with a probiotic can be a sign that the strain of organisms in that particular type of probiotic are not compatible with the person’s body.  You can try a variety of different types to see if you find one that doesn’t produce diarrhea, to see if this is the case. I am not a fan of probiotics that contain unusual forms of bacteria like enterococcus faecium and B subtilis, as many people have negative reactions to these. I say stick with the more well known forms like acidophilus and bifidus.

Digestive enzymes should be used to help the body absorb the most nutrients that it can. Enzymes should consist of both plant and animal based, as both have benefits that the other does not and compliment one another. If one is not producing enough hydrochloric acid, then betaine HCL with pepsin should be used as well. However, if HCL produces more burning, then it is not needed.

The first step is try to reduce some of the GI inflammation so that more helpful substances can be tolerated. I personally used Mastica and colostrum for H pylori and found that both of them produced instant relief for the burning in the gastrointestinal tract. So, if you haven’t tried those yet, they could be considered. Saccharomyces Boulardii is effective for many people against SIBO and Candida. I am told that Bee propolis is also effective against H pylori for some.

Taking an abundance of antioxidants like C, E and CoQ10 is also very important for reducing the inflammation that results from high levels of oxidative stress.

A protein powder would certainly be helpful in replenishing some of the nutrients you are likely to be missing, if you can find a tolerable one. Yes, Jay Robb has a protein powder derived from egg whites that would be an appropriate fit for the Paleolithic diet. However, many people with digestive issues are sensitive to egg whites, so if you have a known egg sensitivity this would be counterproductive. Although not technically part of the Paleo diet, whey protein powder can also be used if one is not sensitive to whey.

Read this post, Managing Weight Loss on the Candida Diet for some additional information on trying to increase weight on the Candida diet.

Heavy metal toxicity is a frequent contributor to digestive issues as well, because they disrupt and inhibit the gastrointestinal system, thus resulting in maldigestion. So this should be ruled out with a hair analysis.

It’s pretty common for adrenal fatigue to occur with the overgrowth of unfriendly organisms like yeast and bacteria, as the toxins they emit overburden the adrenal glands. However, there are many other contributing factors to adrenal dysfunction like emotional stress, structural stress, toxic stress, metabolic stress, spiritual stress, hormonal stress, neuroendocrine stress, etc. Each of these factors must be addressed to improve the health of the adrenal glands. I talk about this in great detail in my adrenal recovery basics video.

Additionally, the emotional stress that one experiences when facing such a complex situation and so many interconnected conditions can feed into the whole vicious cycle of GI inflammation as well. On one hand, it further depletes the already weakened adrenal glands, but it also inhibits digestion. When we are under stress, digestion is the first thing to be shut down automatically by the body. The regular practice of deep breathing exercises, mindfulness and mindfulness based meditation are very helpful in this process.

Best Regards,

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