Who has had gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation? Everybody out there have their hand raised? Of course you do.
It's important to to maintain a healthy gut. You can do that by consuming natural herbals that keep the "bad guys" in check and by taking the right probiotics (by "bad guys," I mean some bacteria, fungal organisms, parasites and even viral infections). By doing both you can often avoid the need for antibiotics, and help prevent recurrence of those bad guys once they're eliminated.
So let's talk about how to optimize gut health. I'll start with some simple natural things that are easy to add in, and then tell you about some medications if they're needed. In addition, you'll learn a simple trick to tell whether your gut problems are bacterial or fungal.
Your Natural Gut Police Force
There are some excellent natural tools to help keep the bad guys in check, so your gut bacteria can restore and maintain a healthy balance. Here are some of my favorites:
Ultra MFP Forte
Ultra MFP Forte is an herbal supplement that's a powerful mix of:
- Grapefruit seed extract. This is one of the premier natural antifungals.
- Olive leaf extract. This soldier is effective at keeping a host of bacteria in check. It can help not only with bacteria in your gut, but throughout your entire body.
- Berberine. This comes from the herb goldenseal. Being low-cost, it's often ignored. But it's actually one of my favorite herbs (after curcumin). It's very effective at keeping a wide range of bacteria and parasites in check. Like many herbals, it has "side benefits" instead of side effects. These include helping your body maintain healthy levels of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- Burdock root. This helps soothe sensitive mucous membranes.
- Black walnut. This versatile plant contains Juglone, which helps keep bacteria, Candida, and viral overgrowth at bay.
As you might guess, this is a very potent combination of herbals. If you have gut issues, I recommend taking two Ultra MFP Forte capsules twice a day in the beginning to help restore balance in your gut. For those of you who are sensitive, start slowly, taking just 1 capsule a day for 3-4 days to confirm that your gut is comfortable with it. It can cause a significant die off (Herxheimer reaction) as it kills off bacteria and fungi. Then raise the dose to 1 twice a day for a week, and then 2 twice a day if well tolerated. Take this until you complete 1 bottle. Then you can lower the dose to what is needed to maintain the benefits, or take it as needed. It can also be taken in combination with antifungal medications
Caprylex™ is an excellent form of caprylic acid, which can be very helpful for addressing Candida issues. The dosing is one capsule twice a day about 30-60 minutes before meals. Take it for six weeks, then as needed.
Once you help your body shed the bad guys, it's important to load your gut with good guys to keep them from coming back. Begin with the Colon and Bowel Probiotic (by EuroPharma). It has 20 billion live, active probiotic bacteria per capsule! Take 1 a day for a month (it comes in a box of 30) and then switch to Pearls Elite (by Enzymatic Therapy) 1 daily for extended use. After 6 months, you can lower the dose to 1 pearl every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each small Pearl Elite pearl contains 5 billion good guy bacteria. Meanwhile, the pearl coating protects the bacteria from stomach acid, and keeps the bacteria from being released until they get closer to the colon where they belong (more on this below).
Treating Gut Infections
Gut symptoms are a normal part of fibromyalgia, and an important contributing factor to the illness. These come from several key causes. Two of the most important infections are:
I always assume Candida overgrowth is present when I treat someone for fibromyalgia. It's a major contributor to fibromyalgia symptoms, and also a major cause of nasal congestion, postnasal drip, sinusitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Treatment basically means avoiding sugar and taking 6-8 weeks of the medication Diflucan. In addition, there is a compounded prescription sinus spray that people find to be very helpful. I recommend adding something to prevent resistance to the Diflucan from occurring (Caprylex™, Nystatin or Ultra MFP Forte are good for this).
Your stomach empties into your small intestine, which is supposed to be fairly sterile. Further downstream your small intestine empties into the large intestine. This is where it's important to have trillions of healthy bacteria. When bacteria migrate upstream into the small intestine, called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), they cause gut symptoms. For this, the medication rifaximin can be very helpful (550 mg 3 times daily taken for 10 days). If not covered by insurance, you can substitute neomycin (500 mg 4 times a day for 10 days).
How can you tell if it's bacterial or fungal? Bacterial overgrowth causes your gas to have a sulfur smell. Not sure what that is? Just think of the little kids back in grade who would pass noxious gassy emissions that we called "silent but deadlies." The bacterial overgrowth occurs because movement through the intestine is sluggish. To prevent recurrence, it's critical to optimize thyroid function, which stimulates gut function.
Many of you have had gut symptoms so long that you've forgotten what healthy digestion feels like.