Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO Small intestinal overgrowth

Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO

Small intestinal overgrowth (SIBO) is a common gut health issue characterized by bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. It is normally diagnosed through a breath test identifying hydrogen or methane produced by the overgrown bacteria. The problem is that this breath test is unable to detect a less talked about form of small intestinal overgrowth, hydrogen sulfide SIBO.

The good news is that working with a functional medicine practitioner, you can find out if your symptoms are due to hydrogen sulfide SIBO and if so, treat it naturally through a low-sulfate diet.

In this article, you will learn what SIBO and hydrogen SIBO are. You will learn how they are different, what are their symptoms, and how to diagnose them. I will explain why a low-sulfur diet is the best solution for hydrogen sulfide SIBO and how to follow a low-sulfur food plan.

You will also understand how working with a functional medicine doctor, like myself, can help you overcome hydrogen sulfide SIBO.

What Is SIBO

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a gut health condition that affects the small intestine. It happens when certain bacteria, normally grown in other areas of your gut, start growing in your small intestine leading to overgrowth.

Symptoms of SIBO

If you have SIBO, there are a variety of symptoms you may experience. These SIBO symptoms may include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Indigestion
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Cramps
  • Feeling of fullness and quick satiety
  • Weight loss

What Is Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO

If your doctor is suspecting SIBO after going through your symptoms, health history and performing a physical exam, she or he will use a breath test that can detect hydrogen and methane in your breath. Since excess bacteria in your small intestine can lead to the release of these gases, this certainly makes sense and helps to identify most forms of SIBO. However, it doesn’t take hydrogen sulfide SIBO into account.

Hydrogen sulfide is a third form of gas that is commonly present among patients with SIBO. The problem is that hydrogen sulfide cannot be measured with a SIBO breath test. Hydrogen sulfide is produced by a very specific type of bacteria that can overgrow in your small intestine.

The interesting thing about hydrogen sulfide is that in small amounts, it can be beneficial and anti-inflammatory. However, when it occurs in high amounts due to a bacteria overgrowth in your small intestine, it becomes very problematic. High amounts of it in your large intestine can also result in health problems. Therefore to handle this overgrowth and to resolve your symptoms, we have to bring the healthy balance back to your small intestine, your whole gut, and body.

Diagnosing Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO

Since SIBO breath tests are not looking for hydrogen sulfide, you may wonder how can you know if you have hydrogen sulfide SIBO. That’s a great question. Let’s see how functional medicine doctors, such as myself, can help to diagnose hydrogen sulfide SIBO.

As you’ve already learned, breath tests only look for hydrogen and methane, not hydrogen sulfide, and can only diagnose traditional SIBO, not hydrogen sulfide SIBO. One study has found that people with traditional SIBO also have a higher risk of hydrogen sulfide SIBO.

However, another study has found that people who test negative for the SIBO breath test have a higher likelihood of having hydrogen sulfide SIBO. This is why it is important that you are working with a doctor who is familiar with hydrogen sulfide SIBO and is willing to dig deep to find the root causes of your symptoms and gut health issues. Working with a functional medicine doctor, like myself, is a great option.

First, your doctor will go through your symptoms. Symptoms of hydrogen sulfide SIBO may be different than the symptoms of SIBO. Sulfur-like, rotten egg smelly gas or belching are generally a good indication that you are dealing with hydrogen sulfide SIBO. You may also be more likely to experience diarrhea and nausea. You may also have other symptoms as well, such as rashes and pain. Once your doctor understands your symptoms, they can run some more complex GI tests other than the breath test to look for bacteria overgrowth and other gut imbalances. Lastly, if going on a low-sulfur food plan helps to relieve your symptoms, it is a good indication that hydrogen sulfide SIBO was the culprit behind them.

Low-Sulfur Food Plan for Hydrogen Sulfide SIBO

Traditionally, people with SIBO are often recommended to follow the low-FODMAP diet.

However, research has found that low-FODMAP is actually not beneficial for hydrogen sulfide overproduction. If you have hydrogen sulfide SIBO, a low-sulfur diet is a much better idea.

When you eat sulfur-containing food, they go through a process to naturally occurring sulfate in your body. While in a small amount, sulfate is good for you, too much becomes a problem. If you are dealing with hydrogen sulfide SIBO, following a low sulfur food plan can help your body regain its balance and get rid of your symptoms.

What to Eat and What Not to Eat on a Low Sulfur Food Plan

Vegetables to avoid:

  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Bok choy
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Daikon radish
  • Collard greens
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Horseradish
  • Onion
  • Leek
  • Radish
  • Peas
  • Scallion
  • Swiss chard
  • Sauerkaut
  • Spinach
  • Split peas
  • Turnip
  • Soybeans
  • Watercress

Fruits to avoid:

  • Dried fruits
  • Dried coconut
  • Grapes
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple

Dairy and dairy alternatives to avoid:

  • Cow, sheep, and goat milk
  • All cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Whey
  • Eggs
  • Coconut milk from a carton
  • Soy products
  • Animal protein to avoid:
  • Red meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry white meat

Legumes to avoid:

  • All legumes, including beans, lentils, bean sprouts, soy, etc.

Herbs to avoid:

  • Chives
  • Curry
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish
  • Turmeric

Other things to avoid:

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Lemon and lime juice
  • Frozen potatoes and french fries
  • Peanuts
  • Quinoa
  • Tamarind
  • Vinegar
  • Wine
  • Tamarind
  • Wheat germ

Supplements to avoid:

  • ALA
  • Bromelain and papain
  • Chlorella
  • NAC
  • MSM
  • Milk thistle
  • Turmeric
  • DMSO
  • Dairy source acidophilus
  • Cysteine

Vegetables allowed:

  • All squash
  • Artichokes
  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Bell pepper
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Tomato
  • Water chestnut

Fruits allowed (up to ½ cup a day):

  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Cantaloupes
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Melons
  • Kiwi
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Mango
  • Pear
  • Pomegranate

Herbs allowed:

  • Anise
  • Bay leaves
  • Basil
  • Caraway
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Dill
  • Lemongrass
  • Lavender
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Other foods allowed:

  • Almond, rice, and hemp milk
  • Nuts, including almonds, cashews, and macadamia
  • Seeds, including pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
  • Gluten-free bread
  • Beet, corn, or parsnip chips
  • Basmati and jasmine vinegar

Final Thoughts

Hydrogen sulfide is the third most common gas in those with SIBO, yet, there is less research on it making diagnosis and treatment more difficult. If you have hydrogen sulfide SIBO, I recommend that you try a low-sulfur food plan, and notice a reduction in symptoms within a couple of weeks.

If you suspect that you have SIBO or hydrogen sulfide SIBO, I recommend that you contact a functional medicine doctor, like myself, for diagnosis and treatment. I can help you to address the underlying causes of your hydrogen sulfide and other types of SIBO, as well as other gut health issues using a system-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. As an experienced functional medicine doctor with integrated expertise of both Western medicine and traditional Eastern practice, I can assess all the factors, including diet, lifestyle, stress, toxicity, allergies, sleep habits, and medication, that may affect your gut health. Then I will prescribe a personalized and effective plan to improve your gut health condition, repair your body, and regain your health and well-being.

If you would like to get more information about hydrogen sulfide SIBO and gut health treatment or to schedule a functional medicine consultation, please call my office at 212-696-4325.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15747080

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9448181

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19709217

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5023273/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1016/S0378-1097%2803%2900748-1

https://www.fasebj.org/doi/abs/10.1096/fasebj.29.1_supplement.598.10

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23898195

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5023273/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23898195

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 3: Dysbiosis

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 3: Dysbiosis

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 3: Dysbiosis

Defined as fewer than three stool movements per week, constipation can be uncomfortable or downright painful for anyone. Feeling stopped up, bloated, uneasy, full or as though everything isn’t passing when going to the bathroom can distract from your day and negligence can lead to worse health issues.

Constipation shouldn’t be taken lightly. When stool doesn’t pass fully through your digestive system it’s preventing new food and nutrients from fully entering digestive system.

If you regularly suffer from constipation, you’re not alone. Constipation is the most common gastrointestinal problem in the United States, literally impacting nearly 20 percent of the population.

Even though constipation is an incredibly common condition, many still don’t know how important it is to obtain a proper diagnosis to treat their condition long-term.

When you’re suffering it’s easy to reach for fast relief through laxatives or stool softeners. But these quick fixes could cause you to overlook an underlying condition that may have future health consequences.

In this six-part series, we are looking what causes constipation in order to find you true constipation relief. In the first two parts, we looked at low hydrochloric acid and low bile blow.

In part three of this series, we are going to look at a condition called dysbiosis – a microbial imbalance in the gut. We will examine what causes dysbiosis, suspicious symptoms that may indicate dysbiosis, and constipation remedies when it’s caused by dysbiosis.

Part 3: Dysbiosis

While nearly everyone experiences constipation at some point in their life, constipation becomes a problem when it happens for longer than 10 days or more and when it’s a chronic or recurring condition. How to get rid of constipation completely, depends on correctly identifying the underlying cause.

Dysbiosis refers to when there is a microbial imbalance somewhere in the body, which can be internal or external. In the case of constipation, dysbiosis is referring to an imbalance of your gut microbiota – or your gut flora.

Constipation caused by dysbiosis is most commonly caused by small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or small intestinal fungal overgrowth (SIFO) but it can occur anywhere in the intestinal tract where colonies making up your microbiota are thrown out of balance.

Your gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms. Comprised of over 1000 species of known bacteria, which together contain three million genes (150 times more than human genes), your gut microbiota can weigh up to four pounds!

When your gut microbiota is thrown off balance it can lead to a cascade of health problems. Constipation is a common indicator of an unbalanced microbiota that needs attention.

The Importance of Your Gut Microbiota

Your gut microbiota is so important to your overall health, that it is now considered an organ. Interestingly, babies are not born with a microbiota at birth. We acquire this organ as we grow. From the moment you are born, your gut microbiota begins to develop. Colonizing from the birthing process, breastfeeding, and through life exposures. By the age of three, your gut microbiota is similar to an adult’s but it continues to evolve throughout life.

Everyone has a unique microbiota composition but each are composed of similar elements and responsible for the same physiological functions. Some of the most important functions of your gut microbiota include:

  • Aiding in food digestion, especially items your stomach or small intestine haven’t been able to fully breakdown
  • Production of vitamins, in particular vitamins B and K
  • Combat invading microorganisms
  • Maintaining the integrity of your intestinal mucosa
  • Acts as a barrier in the immune system
  • A key factor in an overall smooth digestion process

When your gut microbiota is off balance, you can experience a myriad of uncomfortable and sometimes life impacting symptoms, such as:

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms – belching, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, greasy stools, abdominal pain, indigestion, heartburn
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Mental fog
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Low libido
  • Joint pain
  • Sugar and alcohol cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Skin problems
  • Yeast infections
  • Thrush
  • Poor nail health
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Iron deficiency
  • Malnutrition

When your constipation is caused by dysbiosis – an unbalanced gut microbiota – not only are you directly uncomfortable due to the constipation but it’s probably causing other conditions. Additionally, dysbiosis can also contribute to nutritional deficiencies, even if you’re eating all the right things.

If you are experiencing constipation, it’s important to find out the underlying cause through a diagnosis. If your constipation is caused by dysbiosis, rebalancing your gut microbiota is the only way to truly treat your condition permanently.

Causes of Dysbiosis

 Since dysbiosis occurs when your gut microbiota has become unbalanced, the causes can be anything that would interfere with healthy bacterial and fungal growth of the gastrointestinal tract, including:
  • Antibiotics
  • NSAIDS use (Ibuprofen, Aspirin, etc.)
  • Stress
  • Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates or low in nutritional quality
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Intestinal infections
  • Parasite infections
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Exposure to different bacteria or viruses from overseas travel
  • Environmental exposures such as mold, fungus or heavy metals

If you suspect your constipation is caused by gut microbiota imbalance, this should be taken seriously – make an appointment with your certified functional medicine doctor to accurately diagnose the cause of your constipation so it can be properly treated and relieve your symptoms once and for all.

Home Remedies for Constipation Caused by Dysbiosis

What helps constipation completely depends on the underlying cause. Keeping this in mind, here are several natural remedies for constipation caused by dysbiosis that you can incorporate into your habits immediately, including:

Eliminate sugar and simple carbohydrates (completely – at least for a period of time)

Stop drinking tap water because of the fluoride and chlorine damages the good microbes

Avoid antibiotics whenever possible

Don’t casually take medications such as Advil and Aspirin

Add gut healing foods to your diet such as bone broth, raw cultured dairy, fermented vegetables and variety of root vegetables

These changes are a great way to support a healthy gut microbiota but doesn’t replace the advice of a functional medicine doctor. Your doctor can help you incorporate new habits, foods, and supplements so as to fully heal your gut flora. If you experience long lasting or chronic constipation take care of it early, so you can prevent the myriad of illnesses that can occur when dysbiosis goes unchecked.

When to See Your Certified Functional Medicine Doctor for Constipation

Treating symptoms does not tackle the underlying cause of constipation. Taking stool softeners or laxatives may work temporarily but can leave you struggling with discomfort and other health consequences down the road. If your constipation that lasts longer than a couple of weeks, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a certified functional medicine doctor. We emphasize the fact that a functional medicine doctor should be certified because it means they’ve fully completed their training.

If diagnosed with dysbiosis, your doctor will walk you through the Four R Program – Remove, Restore, Repair, Renoculate. Here’s how this program treats dysbiosis:

Remove – First, it’s important to remove everything that’s contributing to your dysbiosis to give your gut flora a chance to heal. This includes sugar, simple carbs, alcohol, antibiotics, and anything else that may throw your microbiota out of balance. This step may require a proper gut flora restoration treatment — “Weed and Seed”

Restore – Through adding dietary changes and supplements, you can begin to restore your gut.

Repair – Through vitamins such as A,C, and E, zinc, fish oil, and the amino acid glutamine you can support your GI tract as it begins to repair itself. In my practice I use healing the gut treatment — “Heal and Seal”.

Renoculate – Probiotics and prebiotics will help your gastrointestinal tract rebuild it’s microbiota and return the needed balance for a healthy gut.

Constipation caused by dysbiosis is a serious health condition that can complicate other areas of your health. Your functional medicine doctor will work closely with you to identify the exact cause of your constipation and create a comprehensive treatment plan.

Click here to read more about treatment of dysbiosis on our blog. 

Click here to view a video about dysbiosis.

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 2: Low Bile Flow

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 2: Low Bile Flow

Your Complete Guide to Causes of Constipation and Finding Relief – Part 2: Low Bile Flow

Constipation is incredibly uncomfortable for those who suffer from being stopped up. Often you feel uneasy, bloated, full, as though everything isn’t coming out, and even nauseous.

But constipation is more than discomfort. Stool that doesn’t pass fully through the digestive system actually rots and prevents absorption of nutrients from new food. Defined as fewer than three stool movements a week, it’s the most common gastrointestinal problem in the United States.

When you’re suffering from constipation, it seems easy to take over-the-counter laxatives or stool softeners – but you’d just be treating the symptom, not the underlying cause.

If you only treat the symptoms, you might continue to struggle with constipation for the rest of your life. How to get rid of constipation depends on the underlying causes, which we aim to help you identify in this guide.

In this six-part series, we are looking at the different causes of constipation in an effort to find you true constipation relief. The first part of the series, we discussed low hydrochloric acid or stomach acid levels, an often-overlooked cause of constipation.

The second part of this series, we are going to take a closer look at low bile flow, what causes it, and what helps constipation caused by low bile levels.

Part 2: Low Bile Flow

Bile is a digestive fluid created by your liver and stored in your gallbladder. Bile is important in digestion and absorption of fat in the small intestine. Bile’s makeup includes:

  • Water
  • Bile acids (also called bile salts)
  • Bilirubin
  • Fats (cholesterol and fatty acids)

Fat is digested differently than carbohydrates and proteins, it requires the help of bile to break it down after it passes through the stomach. When fat reaches the small intestine, it looks like large fat droplets. Your bile then breaks down these large fat droplets, with bile salts, which emulsifies (breaks)  them into fatty acids and monoglycerides. These particles are then small enough to pass through the intestine wall. Bile is also important in breaking down bilirubin (old blood cells byproduct) and cholesterol.

When your liver isn’t producing enough bile or it is too thick to flow freely (peanut butter vs water-like) fat can build up in the intestinal wall and cause slower movements via digestive tract therefore cause constipation. If your constipation is due to low bile flow, symptom treating medications won’t help you in the long run. Identifying low bile flow as the cause of your constipation brings you one step closer to lasting relief.

The Importance of Bile Flow

Why is bile so important? Bringing to mind a yellowish, green slime, it’s a common reaction to think of bile as vile, but it’s critical to gut health and smooth digestion. Bile is important in a number of critical roles, including:

  • Aid in fat digestion and absorption (and some digestion of proteins and starches)
  • Emulsify fats (the detergent-like reaction done by bile salts)
  • Assist in absorption of fat-soluble substances, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Helps regulate your intestinal microflora
  • Encourages fecal matter movement through your digestive tract
  • Serve as a route of excretion of bilirubin
  • Help your liver rid your body of waste products
  • Aid in destroying unwanted organisms that invade the body through the digestive system

When your body isn’t making enough bile, you can experience several uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux
  • Acne
  • Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Gall bladder disease (stones and inflammation)
  • Migraines
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Jaundice
  • Poor gut microflora
  • Impaired liver function
  • High cholesterol
  • Greasy, foul smelling, and light colored stools

If your body has low bile flow, your constipation is also probably contributing to nutritional deficiencies, even if you’re eating healthy. This is why it’s so important to find the cause of your constipation instead of reaching for a quick fix.

Nutritional deficiencies can lead to conditions that may appear unrelated to your constipation. If you experience regular constipation it’s important that you share that information with your functional medicine doctor.

Causes of Low Bile Flow

Since bile is produced in the liver, any impairment to the liver can cause low bile flow. Impairments of the liver include:

  • Jaundice
  • Bleeding in the liver
  • Infection of the liver
  • Liver inflammation
  • Vitamin D deficiency

Additionally, because bile is stored in the gallbladder, any impairment of the gall bladder could lead to low bile flow, including:

  • Gallstones
  • Cholecystitis
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Gallbladder polyps
  • Abscess

Other causes of low bile flow could include:

  • Obesity
  • Having a high-cholesterol diet
  • Diabetes
  • Old age

If you suspect you are suffering from constipation caused by low bile flow, it should be taken very seriously – schedule an appointment with a certified  functional medicine doctor to get your constipation cause pinned down and be on your way to smooth digestion.

Home Remedies for Constipation Caused by Low Bile Flow

Remember, what helps constipation best is determined by the underlying cause. With that in mind, there are several natural remedies for constipation caused by low bile flow that you can take at home, including:

  • Lemon juice – Lemon juice activates the liver and stimulates digestion. Try this in warm water on an empty stomach in the morning.
  • Healthy, raw oils – Fish oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados are good sources.
  • Promote good gut health – By reducing sugar, processed foods, and grains you’ll be encouraging a healthy gut.
  • Foods believed to stimulate bile production – Add garlic, beets, radicchio, kale, endive, arugula, celery, and radish to your diet.

There’s also Betafood and Cholachol, two additional natural remedies that your functional medicine doctor may recommend.

  • Betafood** – This is an extract derived from organic beet root and tops. It mobilizes the bile and transforms it from a thick, peanut butter consistency, to a water-like consistency.

With as much as 10 percent of the population suffering from gallstones, this is a great supplement that helps prevent and reduce gallstones and aid in fat metabolism.

  • Cholacol** – These are purified bile salts, which are great for stasis and gallbladder relief. If you’ve had your gallbladder removed, these are a necessity. You’re missing the bolus bile release that occurs during normal food digestion. Those without a gallbladder suffer from fat digestion and therefore lack nutrients that are fat absorbent such as vitamin A, K, D, and E (and many others).

If you’ve had your gallbladder removed (cholecystectomy) and were left disabled in your ability to digest fats and other nutrients, you are not alone. Every year about 700,000 people have their gallbladder removed and require purified bile salts to aid in normalizing digestion.

These foods and supplements are a great way to start supporting your bile production. Be sure to see your functional medicine doctor in the early stages of your constipation issues. By seeing your doctor when constipation starts, prevents low bile production from going untreated and potentially leading to a cascade of conditions.

**To order these products you can call our office at 212-696-HEAL(4325)

When to See Your Functional Medicine Doctor for Constipation

As with many conditions, treating symptoms ignores the underlying cause. Additionally, waiting to see your doctor about your constipation can make diagnosis more difficult and the treatment more complicated. If you experience constipation that lasts longer than a couple of weeks, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your functional medicine doctor.

By working closely with a functional medicine doctor, you can discover constipation remedies that helps stimulate bile production and relieve your constipation discomfort for good.

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you choose the right course of action to identify the root cause and relief your unsettled symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).
If you want more information about Functional Medicine, contact us to receive a FREE copy of Dr Klimenko’s E-book.
Acne

Acne

How Functional Medicine can help treat acne.

For most people, acne occurs during their teen years due to hormonal changes, but disappears soon after this stage. Some people, however, may struggle with acne for most of their adult life. Conventional medicine provides little more than face creams that hardly ever seem to work. Is there no solution for acne?

Fortunately, functional medicine provides another option. The underlying philosophy of functional medicine states that the way to relieve symptoms is by focusing on combating the root cause of the issue, not the symptoms. In this case, acne may just be recurring symptom of a bigger issue.

When one system of the body is out of balance, it may throw other seemingly unrelated systems out of balance as well. This is why it is important to find a practitioner that will explore possible imbalances in your whole body, to achieve long-lasting results. There are many possible causes for acne, beyond what conventional medicine tends to believe. These include hormonal imbalances, liver toxicity, gastro-intestinal issues like dysbiosis, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or food sensitivity.

Certified Functional Medicine practitioner Dr. Elena Klimenko, will work with you to discover the underlying cause of your particular condition and restore the balance to your body systems. She uses safe, natural approaches such as homeopathy, nutrition, light therapy and excellent skin care treatments to help you on the road to a healthier and beautiful you.

Find out what Dr. Klimenko can do for you by calling 212-696-4325

The Butterfly Inside You: The Tiny, Mighty Thyroid Gland

The Butterfly Inside You: The Tiny, Mighty Thyroid Gland

A busy butterfly lives just below your Adam’s apple that is responsible for the regulation of your inner state of balance, or homeostasis. Like a butterfly, the thyroid quietly goes about its business without getting much attention until your doctor checks it with her hands during a routine exam. Unless something unusual is found at that time (e.g., swelling) or symptoms manifest that indicate a problem, there won’t be much further ado about your thyroid.

Let’s take a moment to find out what the thyroid does, how to know if there’s a problem, and how to keep your thyroid healthy.

The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which includes the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, thymus, pineal gland, testes, ovaries, adrenal glands, parathyroid, and pancreas. It makes hormones (e.g., T3, T4) that travel through your bloodstream and regulate your metabolism, brain and heart function, and reproductive and menstrual cycles.

When the thyroid is not functioning properly, a chain reaction of hormonal events takes place that involves many other glands/hormones of the endocrine system and the bodily systems they regulate. The end result is one of two primary types of health conditions: hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism results when the thyroid is overactive. Think of hyperthyroidism like a butterfly that can’t stop fluttering its wings. Everything is on overdrive, including metabolism, frequency of bowels, emotions (anxiousness), increased sweating, and–for lady butterflies only–very light menstruation or cessation of the menstrual cycle. This butterfly often feels hot and can’t maintain a healthy weight. There are also bouts of exhaustion from trying to maintain this intense state of arousal.

Hypothyroidism results when the thyroid is underactive. This butterfly just can’t get its wings to go. It’s gained weight, feels sluggish, and has brittle hair and nails. It feels cold and tired, is kind of depressed, and suffers from constipation. The lady butterflies usually have irregular, heavy menstruation.

5 Ways to Keep Your Thyroid Healthy

  1. Eat from the sea. The sea provides many natural sources of iodine, a building block of the thyroid hormone. Salt has a high concentration of iodine, but it can raise blood pressure. Instead, opt for saltwater fish, or try seaweed in a salad. Cod and halibut are high in selenium, which protects the thyroid gland during periods of stress and helps regulate hormone synthesis. Fish oil provides essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation, which plays a role in causing autoimmune diseases.
  2. Eat from the earth. Eat foods high in B vitamins, which are precursors to thyroid hormones and influence cell energy. Balance your diet with poultry, nuts and seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Red meat provides iron, zinc, magnesium, and other minerals essential for thyroid hormone function, and the health of other bodily systems affected by thyroid disorders (skin, hair, metabolism).
  3. Relax. A daily relaxation practice, such as just 10 minutes a day of silence and deep breathing, can make a difference in the state of mind and body.
  4. Move it! Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Yoga is particularly good for thyroid health, including poses such as butterfly, fish pose, shoulder stand, and child’s pose.
  5. Get supplemental insurance. Our diets aren’t perfect, so supplementing with a vitamin/mineral or botanical (herb) regimen can provide extra insurance against exposure to stress, toxins, and perhaps your own family history. Be sure to consult with your wellness practitioner about the best nutraceutical products for you.

Resources

Probiotics

Probiotics

With 80% of your immune system located in your gut, having balanced intestinal flora is a major factor in defending your body against disease. Balanced gastrointestinal (GI) flora is critical to the functioning of the immune system, synthesis of nutrients, and detoxification. Balanced GI flora is also necessary for regular and normal bowel movements.

Flora imbalances can be caused by poor diet, illness, infections, use of antibiotics, and stress. Symptoms can include persistent gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. To maintain or rebalance GI flora, consider adding probiotics to your diet.

Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms naturally found in your GI tract. The most common probiotic bacteria come from two groups, lactobacillus or bifidobacterium, although many other types of bacteria are also classified as probiotics. Scientific evidence shows these boost the immune system by enhancing the production of antibodies; support the synthesis of vitamins and other nutrients; relieve the effects of, and treat, intestinal illness (diarrhea, constipation, IBS); prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections; and may reduce the risk of colon or bladder cancer.
Two ways to boost healthy GI flora are to take a probiotic supplement or add probiotic-containing foods to your diet. Probiotic supplements come in liquid and capsule forms and many are sold refrigerated. However, not all probiotics are the same. Studies show that some strains are effective in specific medical issues and some are completely ineffective. That is why it is important to take clinically proven types of probiotics which are not always available in the retail stores. Check with your functional medicine health practitioner to be sure you select a product that meets your personal health needs. It is important to follow the storage instructions for your supplement–failure to do so could kill off the live, healthy bacteria it contains.

If you shop for adequate probiotics in the retail stores look at the label. Ideally three main criteria should be met:

1. Look for multiple species organisms presented in a single dose – 4 to 8 types of bacteria and beneficial yeast.

2. Look for the units specification: professional grade probiotics are measured in colony forming units (CFU).

This is a unit of measurement of live bacteria at the time of EXPIRATION. Mediocre probiotics will have different measurement measure and refer to that “at time of manufacturing”. As you understand it is different from the above.

3. Look got adequate quantity of probiotics, it should be around 10 to 20 billion in a single dose (sufficient in most cases).

Probiotic-boosting foods include vegetables, fermented foods and cultured dairy products. Be sure the food labels state “fermented” or, for dairy, “live and active bacterial cultures.”

Resources

American Gastroenterological Association. “Probiotics: What They Are and What They Can Do for You.” Revised May 2013.
Kiani, L. “Bugs in Our Gut: How Probiotics Keep Us Healthy.” Cambridge Scientific Abstracts: Discovery Guide (October 2006).
Mayo Clinic. “Do I Need to Include Probiotics and Prebiotics in My Diet?” October 15, 2014.
What Your Bowel Movements Reveal about Your Health?

What Your Bowel Movements Reveal about Your Health?

While discussion of poop is probably not a hot topic in your household, in our home it is the most important topic of discussion. “Honey,how was your poop today? Did you have a good one?” Jokes aside, composition of what you deposit into the toilet has important implications for health. Did you know the features of fecal matter–such as the size, color, shape, odor, and consistency indicate how well the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is functioning? Those same features also provide clues about how your body is (or isn’t) faring against threats of infection and more serious diseases like celiac disease, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, malabsorption disorders, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), pancreatitis, and cancer.

To give you an idea of what healthy, normal stool looks like, check out the Bristol Stool Chart (see attached picture and diagnosed yourself). The healthy range for fecal matter is of a consistency that is not too hard, not too soft, and mostly solid–as opposed to lumpy, pellet-like, or liquid. Normal stool color is in the light-to-medium brown range and is not offensively odorous. Also, bowel movements (BMs) should pass easily from your body to the toilet.

5 BMs that Require Medical Attention (Unless you are aware of dietary changes or a medication that could produce the following types of stool, it’s advisable to seek medical attention if you observe the following changes in BMs).

Stool that is hard to pass, requires straining, or is accompanied by abdominal pain.

Black, tarry stool might indicate infection or GI bleeding, while bright red stool could indicate infection and/or bleeding in the GI tract or anus. Seek immediate medical attention.

White, pale, or grey stool could indicate problems with the liver, bile ducts, or pancreas.

Yellow stool could indicate serious infection or gallbladder problems.

Mucus in the stool can indicate inflammation, infection, or even cancer.

How Often Should You Go?

How frequently you have a BM is important, too. And, what’s typical for you may be different for other people in your family. For most people, daily BMs are considered the norm. No matter how often you poop, you should not have to strain or experience pain while excreting. Additionally, be aware that the appearance and frequency of BMs will vary based on what’s in your diet, sleep and exercise patterns, hormonal changes, travel, stress, hydration level, medications or supplements you are taking, and exposure to toxins (from nicotine to industrial toxins).

How Low Should You Go?

There’s also evidence that the position you take to evacuate the bowels has health implications for the physical structures of the GI tract. So much so that some scientists indicate sitting to poop is a contributing factor in the development of colon and pelvic diseases. Before potty training, young children squat to poop in their diapers–they don’t sit. Yes, there’s a difference between squatting and sitting. The modern toilet places the thighs at a 90-degree angle to the abdomen, whereas squatting has a much deeper angle that gives more motility to the intestinal muscles and organs. Evacuating the bowels is much easier on the body in the squatting versus seated position. Toilet position should be a consideration for everyone over the age of five, but is especially important for the elderly, the disabled, and individuals with compromised mobility.

You can learn more about proper toilet position in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P8L0r4JVpo

Resources

Mercola, J. “What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health.” Accessed February 2015.

Monastyrsky, K. “Gut Sense: What Exactly Are Normal Stools?” Accessed February 2015.

Sikirov, D. “Comparison of Straining During Defecation in Three Positions: Results and Implications for Human Health.” Abstract. Digestive Diseases and Sciences 48, no. 7 (July 2003): 1201-5.

Step and Go. “Step and Go Ergonomically Correct Toilet Position.” Accessed February 2015.

 

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth SIBO

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth SIBO

Have you been bloated and gassy lately? No matter what you eat you feel like your stomach swells like a balloon few hours after you have eaten?

Pay attention: you might suffer from condition called SIBO – small intestine bacterial overgrowth.

Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine, otherwise known as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), is a digestive disorder that causes chronic bowel problems and intolerance to carbohydrates. Its main symptoms include excess gas, abdominal bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation, and abdominal pain shortly after meal.

Both the small intestines and colon naturally house bacteria, creating a balance within your digestive system. The types and amount of bacteria that reside in the small intestine and colon are very different. The colon contains roughly 100,000 times more bacteria than the small intestines. SIBO occurs when the bacteria from colon migrate to small intestine and because there is a lot of not fully digested food in small intestine, the bacteria multiply and overgrow uncontrollably.

Since the main purpose of the small intestine is to digest and absorb food, any disruption in its role affects the absorption and utilization of nutrients into the body. Thus, if SIBO is left untreated for too long – various nutritional deficiencies may occur. It can manifest as anemia, various vitamins deficiencies (vitamin D and B), calcium malabsorbtion causing weakening of the bones, etc.

SIBO is often overlooked as a cause of these digestive symptoms, because it so closely resembles other disorders. In fact, SIBO is theorized to be the underlying cause of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), since up to 84% of IBS patients have tested positive for SIBO. SIBO is associated with many other disorders as well, either as an underlying cause or as an aftereffect of the pre-existing condition. This includes parasites, pancreatic problems, and Crohn’s.

The two major factors contributing to development of SIBO include insufficient gastric acid secretion and lack of intestinal motility (movement of intestinal content through the lumen). Since both of these mechanisms naturally decline with age, those over 70 years old are especially susceptible. Anything that slows down motility can contribute to overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, because there is no outlet for the waste.

Gastric acids (hydrochloric acid of the stomach) is another important factor. It helps to break down food and activate digestive enzymes. Without the production of hydrochloric acid or pancreatic enzymes, we can’t digest and sterilize food sufficiently. To help with gastric acid secretion, supplementation with betaine hydrochloride during meals is recommended. People who chronically taking gastric acid suppressing medications are at higher risk to develop SIBO.

If you think you may be suffering from SIBO, please call our office for evaluation. Together we can determine if your condition warrants further assessment. Depending on your particular condition there are several options for treatment: specific diet, probiotics and natural or pharmaceutical antimicrobials. The longer SIBO is left untreated, the more damage can be done to your body. Although a serious condition, it is treatable once properly diagnosed.

3 Ways You Can Recover from Leaky Gut Syndrome

3 Ways You Can Recover from Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS), also referred to as increased intestinal permeability, is a condition where the junction between the cells of intestinal wall lining becomes loose. This allows substances from the digestive tract penetrate through the intestinal wall into the blood, therefore bypassing the normal pathway, which is going through the cell. That would not be a problem, except, the substances that end up in the blood stream, like microbes, undigested food particles and even toxins, should never be there. As a result, the intestinal wall gets inflamed and cannot perform it’s important function which is nutrients absorption. Therefore, one can start suffering from malabsorption and malnutrition. We often see it as low levels of common vitamins and minerals in the blood test.

Most commonly LGS may present with symptoms of bloating, gas, stomach aches and food intolerance or sensitivity. The substances that end up in the blood may also set off the beginning of the autoimmune diseases like celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid diseases, like Hashimoto or Graves disease, multiple sclerosis and many others.There is an established link between LGS and some mental symptoms (brain fog, poor memory, intellectual sluggishness) and even psychiatric diseases (attention deficit disorder, depression, anxiety). We often refer to it as “leaky gut = leaky brain”.

Interestingly, Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) is not a diagnosis necessarily taught in traditional medical school programs so strictly conventional doctors may not acknowledge the existence of this condition. Therefore, they don’t always suspect it in their patients or don’t know how to treat it.However, more and more research data confirm the link between this condition and development of multiple chronic medical conditions, especially related to gastrointestinal diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) like Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

My continued studies after traditional medical education, in alternative science-based medical practice and recent certification in functional medicine have taught me the tremendous effects of a leaky gut on people’s overall health.

The factors contributing to LGS are: stress, alcohol, toxins, some pharmaceuticals meds, poor diet, gut bacterial imbalance (dysbiosis).

Three ways you can recover from Leaky Gut Syndrome are:

Find out if you actually have LGS

Change the way you eat

Learn to deal with stress

Find out if you actually have Leaky Gut Syndrome

First, determine whether you actually have LGS. Find a functional medicine physician in your area who can help you (go to www.functionalmedicine.org). As a result of extensive training in alternative and functional medicine I go beyond traditional methods and take a full health history. I use special laboratory testing to get to the very root of medical problems rather than simply charting symptoms and writing prescriptions to suppress them.

Change the way you eat

During the process of investigating your illness, I can help you establish a new customized diet, which is likely to improve your health, regardless of the final diagnosis. A diet in this sense is not meant to restrict your caloric intake but refers to the types of foods you are eating. Natural and unprocessed foods should be eaten in variety with lots of green leafy vegetables and lean protein as main parts of your food intake. Certain supplements might be recommended that will help to heal the intestinal lining and make the cell junctions tight again.

Learn to deal with stress

Leading a high stress lifestyle will result in greater risk for developing chronic diseases and LGS is one of them. Learning how to deal with stress and identifying stressors in your life will be a part of any treatment plan that will re-balance and heal your body long term.

Autoimmune Diseases - A Functional Medicine Approach

Autoimmune Diseases – An Integrative Medicine Approach

As one of the most prevalent and chronic illnesses in the country, autoimmune diseases affect 23.5 million Americans with severe pain, disability, and even death. Recent studies from the National Institutes of Health over the last decade now report that more people suffer from this collection of chronic illnesses than from cancer or heart disease. Although these alarming rates continue to rise, there is a lack of awareness that inhibits necessary treatment. Many people affected by autoimmune conditions suffer without realizing their condition is treatable through functional medicine.

Autoimmune disease arises from an abnormal immune response against the tissues and organs of the body. This can be restricted to certain organs, such as the thyroid gland or kidneys, or can involve tissues in different organ systems, such as the basement membrane in the lungs. These harmful diseases arise from consistent exposure to toxins in the environment, a diet void of nutritional value, and the chronic use of harmful medication.

Among the wide variety of treatment options, prevention is the first step to reversing the chronic diseases that arise from autoimmune conditions. Many of the first symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, muscle and joint paint, or simple bodily discomfort can be warning signs of a larger and more complex problem. With simple blood tests, autoimmune disease can be diagnosed at an early stage, giving doctors the ability to naturally balance your immune system before any irreversible damage is done to the brain, joints, thyroid, blood vessels, or other vital organ systems.

As an experienced functional medicine expert, I can assess the numerous factors that can affect your immune system – potential environmental toxins, lifestyle, stress, diet, medication, allergies, and sleep habits – to uncover the root cause of your autoimmune diseases. If you would like to get more information or schedule a consultation, call our office at 212-696-4325.

 

Elena Klimenko, MD is New York City’s leading integrative medicine physician, providing treatment for autoimmune disease with an effective approach through functional medicine.