Since bowel movements are the way our bodies rid themselves of harmful toxins and waste, people innately avoid discussing their issues with constipation and diarrhea with their doctor. Unfortunately, when individuals finally admit to suffering from these problems to their physicians, the solutions presented by practitioners of traditional medicine are usually ineffective. What effective remedies for constipation and diarrhea do functional medicine practitioners recommend to their patients?
If you suffer from the discomfort of constipation or diarrhea, you are not alone. Data from the National Institute of Health (NIH) indicates that 42 million people report fewer than three bowel movements each week and their stool tend to be hard and dry, which are the primary systems of constipation. Additionally, statistics cited by the NIH assert 179 million individuals report symptoms of acute or chronic diarrhea, ranking this condition alongside the common cold as the leading cause of work and school absences. As with any health condition, pinpointing the underlying cause of an individual’s problems with diarrhea and constipation is the key to effective treatment and curing the condition. The ways in which traditional medicine and Functional Medicine view the causes of constipation and diarrhea explains why traditional medical treatments fail to provide long-term relief, while functional medicine offers safe and effective cures for both constipation and diarrhea.
Three Reasons Traditional Western Medicine Fails to Treat Constipation and Diarrhea Effectively
1). Traditional Western medicine overlooks possible causes of constipation and diarrhea.
As with all health conditions, traditional Western medicine views both constipation and diarrhea in purely mechanical terms describing how the intestines and colon are not working properly. The problem with this approach is that it does not adequately address why these parts of the digestion system are not working properly. While traditional medicine does cite some possible reasons for these problems, they are solely physical causes.
Some examples of the reasons for diarrhea provided by Johns Hopkins Medical School include:
- Food Poisoning
- Food Intolerance
- Bacterial or Viral Infections
- Side Effects of Medication
Possible causes of constipation cited by Johns Hopkins are as follows:
- Insufficient Exercise
- Water and Fiber Intake Deficiencies
- Neurological Disorders
- Hormonal imbalances
As you likely noticed, these reasons only address the physical causes of constipation and diarrhea and they ignore the nutritional, genetic, emotional, and spiritual issues linked to these problems. By failing to consider all the possible causes of diarrhea and constipation, the traditional Western medical treatments are not likely to prove to be effective and some may be potentially dangerous. In fact, a survey conducted by German researchers published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics found only 28 percent of the respondents were satisfied with their current treatment for constipation, which was laxatives as reported by 68 percent of Europeans who participated in the survey.
2) Medications used to constipation and diarrhea often do not work and have potentially harmful side effects.
Many over the counter treatments for constipation, such as sodium docusate and calcium docusate, may damage the colon if used on a long-term basis. These medications, as well as minerals oils, may be initially effective, but they then fail to work over time. Additionally, habitual use of laxatives may result in a person developing a dependency (addiction) to these drugs.
Anti-motility medications, such as bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) and loperamide (Imodium), may offer short-term relief from the loose watery stools and frequent bowel movements characteristic of diarrhea, but they only offer short-term relief. In addition, these drugs do nothing to replace the water and electrolytes people lose during bouts of diarrhea, which lead to dehydration and potential issues with the way an individual’s heart works.
3) Probiotics are not the ultimate solution for irregular bowel habits.
A great deal of advertising promotes yogurt containing probiotics as the cure for constipation, but clinical studies do not provide conclusive evidence that this yogurt or probiotic treatment is effective. A recent systematic review of randomized controlled studies conducted at the University of Copenhagen and published in the journal Genome Medicine found that in the majority of the published research, subjects did not experience a significance difference in their problems with constipation regardless of whether they took probiotics or a placebo. Since everyone’s gut environment differs because of their genetic makeup, a one-size-fits-all dose of probiotics is not likely to address the imbalance of health-promoting bacteria and harmful micro-organisms. In fact, some harmful bacteria linked to symptoms of constipation produce neurotoxins that damage the nerves in the bowels.
Since traditional Western medicine fails to offer safe and effective cures for constipation and diarrhea, how does Functional Medicine differ in diagnosing and treating these disorders? Are Functional Medicine treatments of constipation and diarrhea effective in resolving these problems on a long-term basis?
Functional Medicine Can Effectively Treats Constipation and Diarrhea
Functional Medicine differs from traditional Western medicine in that Functional Medicine takes a holistic approach to diagnosing and treating physical ailments. A Functional Medicine practitioner works in partnership with patients to review not only their medical history but also their lifestyle habits, relationship history, the level of their exposure to harmful environmental toxins, as well as their emotional and well-being. Additionally, doctors that practice Functional Medicine use innovative genetic testing to identify how a person’s unique genetic makeup and gene expression affects the way their body works.
Based on a patient’s profile developed from a comprehensive assessment, a Functional Medicine practitioner may recommend one or more of the following treatments for diarrhea and constipation:
- A regime of Functional Foods and supplement to rebalance your digestive system using the results of your individual genetic testing
- Personal and group coaching sessions to help you let go of long-held negative emotions and spiritual voids that contribute to physiological imbalances, such as the Fight or Flight response, which are linked to constipation and diarrhea symptoms
- Homeopathic remedies that to be proven effective treatments for constipation and diarrhea
- Dietary changes that involve eliminating toxic processed foods from your daily menu that contribute to diarrhea and constipation
One of the many benefits of these treatments is that they not only relieve your symptoms, they also serve as part of the foundation for optimizing your overall wellness. The next installments in this Letting Go and Holding series will explore these Functional Medicine treatments for constipation and diarrhea in detail and how the contribute to enhancing your complete health and sense of well-being.
If you are ready to start your Rejuvenation Journey to end your suffering with constipation and or diarrhea so you can focus on your personal wellness revolution, start with finding out “How Toxic are You” and schedule an appointment for a complimentary Meet & Greet session with Dr. Veronica Anderson today!
Dr. Veronica Anderson is an MD, Functional Medicine practitioner, Homeopath. and Medical Intuitive. As a national speaker and designer of the Functional Fix and Rejuvenation Journey programs, she helps people who feel like their doctors have failed them. She advocates science-based natural, holistic, and complementary treatments to address the root cause of disease. Dr. Veronica is a highly-sought guest on national television and syndicated radio and hosts her own radio show, Wellness for the REAL World, on FOX Sports 920 AM “the Jersey” on Mondays at 7:00 pm ET.