Heartburn is a condition that appears in 10-20% of the western population. It develops when the contents of the stomach refluxes into the oesophagus and leads to troublesome symptoms and/or complications. You may be experiencing heartburn as a burning sensation that rises from the stomach or lower chest up towards the neck. It generally gets worse after eating.
While antacids can provide prompt relief they do not address the underlying issue.
Other signs of reflux:
- Chronic cough
- Bad breath
- Dental erosions
- Chronic laryngitis
Symptoms of heartburn might be easy to identify but contributing factors can include:
Food allergy and intolerances
Imbalances in gut bacteria
Slow gastric emptying
Impaired saliva function
Lower oesophageal sphincter incompetence
Common foods can trigger heartburn by increasing acid secretion as well as causing the lower oesophageal sphincter to relax.
Focusing on foundational eating practices is the starting point to help reduce incidences of reflux.
These include taking time to eat and chewing food adequately as well as not eating food too near bedtime. Further to this analysis of your diet for triggers and investigating the possible causes (outlined above) are all areas for attention.
The foundation of the approach is to identify underlying issues, remove factors that are deemed to be worsening symptoms, and promote a balanced response.
The therapeutic aims are to;
Decrease oesophageal inflammation
Promote oesophageal healing
Address exacerbating factors
Promote antioxidant defenses
Improve salivary gland function/ Oesophageal acid clearance
Support gastric emptying
Support the central nervous system
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IBS and SIBO
IBS is an overarching umbrella term that describes someone’s symptoms. Within this, there are 3 subtypes of IBS. IBS with diarrhoea, IBS with constipation and IBS with a mix between the 2.
Even though these subtypes give a clearer indication of someone’s symptoms, they go no further to inform us what the underlying issue is.
The SIBO tests measure 2 types of gas, hydrogen, and methane. If there are elevations in 1 of these gases, we can name that Hydrogen or Methane SIBO. It’s also possible to have elevations in both gases.
The type of gas that is elevated helps to guide supplement protocols to target the specific organisms that produce that type of gas.
A third type of gas, hydrogen sulfide, can also be produced by the gut bacteria. However, it is not currently possible to test for this gas.
Generally speaking, there are 3 components to a supplement protocol to address the elevated bacteria in SIBO. These can include a combination of probiotics, prebiotics, and antimicrobial herbs.
Depending on the underlying issue (eg. the reasons why the bacteria are there in the first place) additional supplements may be suggested.
SIBO is a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine with several underlying causes. The majority of those with SIBO can have the small intestine rebalance, however, there are also some who either have treatment-resistant or chronic SIBO.
This largely depends on the underlying cause. Particularly, if parts of the small intestine have been damaged, this may lead to reoccurring SIBO.
This SIBO test may be offered through the NHS, however, it’s not uncommon for the waiting time for this test to be several months.
By ordering directly from the laboratory, we are able to have the test sent to your home within 3-5 days. The results will be back 7-10 days after the laboratory has received the samples.
From your first consultation, you will receive a supplement protocol. I like to describe supplements as a form of scaffolding. If a building is in need of support, we erect scaffolding. The digestive system is no different.
The aim is not to be taking lots of supplements forever but to use them in the short term to support, repair and rebalance.
The duration of a supplement protocol will vary on your symptoms, the underlying imbalance and any additional factors that may be contributing to your digestive issues.
Generally speaking, 8 weeks is an average time to be on a specific supplement protocol. Following this, a maintenance protocol may be recommended.
The supplements I recommend vary depending on your specific situation and set of symptoms. Common recommendations include probiotics, specific herbal extracts to help rebalance and modify the gut bacteria as well as beneficial, gut-friendly prebiotics.
Following your consultations, you will receive a link to an online ‘shopping basket’ with the products I recommend. These are generally delivered within 24-48 hours.
I am not a doctor and can therefore not officially diagnose your condition.
However, as with the diagnosis of IBS, labels may not always be helpful. By digging deeper and identify underlying imbalances we can often bring symptoms under control.
It is also important that your GP is kept up to date with any findings. If appropriate, and with your approval, I may write to your GP to request further investigations or assessments.
I am a fully insured registered Nutritional Therapist with membership through BANT and CNHC, the main governing bodies within the UK.
I am also continuously engaged in current research as well as additional educational courses as a form of continuing professional development (CPD).
The initial consultation is 90 minutes long. Here we talk about your symptoms in depth, how and when they started, other contributing factors as well as your current diet.
From this consultation, you will receive your protocol. This will include detailed dietary suggestions, a supplement protocol, recommendations for further testing as well as appropriate lifestyle recommendations.
From this point, it’s beneficial to speak every 3-4 weeks to assess progress and make any adjustments to your protocol.
To make sure this is the right approach for you, please book a free 15-minute consultation with me here.
Without knowing more about your specific symptoms this is a hard question to answer.
However, generally speaking, the majority of those that I work with typically feel 3 consultations, over a 2-month period is all that is required.
I appreciate that it can be frustrating when you’re looking for a quick resolution of symptoms. As with many other health conditions, healing is not always a straightforward path.
There are several dietary templates that often offer symptom relief over a matter of days. While these are not long-term approaches, they can be a way to help ease symptoms and help you feel more comfortable as the underlying issues are identified and addressed.