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Exciting Developements in the Understanding Between Gut Health and Inflammation

I am so excited after seeing one of my patients today! 

She’s someone who recently started acupuncture with me, and is recovering from very serious illness after the side-effects of a medication that they have now found can cause blood cancer and other serious blood disorders. In Chinese medicine, we say that once something has gotten to the level of the blood, it is among the most serious of imbalances or diseases.

This patient is now having inflammation throughout her entire system.

But a wonderful thing just happened and I was so excited that I had to share it with everyone. 

Functional Medicine approach to inflammatory diseases

Many of us in the alternative medicine world recognize the correlation between gut health and inflammation, and know that when someone has inflammation throughout their body, rather than isolating each area and trying to treat them separately, we need to heal the gut and restore healthy gut flora.  When people use acupuncture, herbs, nutrition, and supplements to achieve this, like magic, the pesky and confusing inflammation begins to vanish.

But when  patients come to see me with inflammatory conditions, I’m hard pressed to find even one whose doctors mentioned this correlation between gut health and inflammation.

Western medicine approach to inflammatory diseases

Instead, a person is sent to a different specialist for every different area in their body where this inflammation is showing up, rather than one doctor looking at the big picture, relating it back to the factors that have destroyed gut health, and healing the inflammation from there — for example, advising people to go on an “low inflammation” diet, taking probiotics and prebiotics, other herbs and supplements to heal the digestion, and avoiding things like OTC pain pills.

So when I try to explain these correlations to patients, while some of them “get it”, in many cases I think they just aren’t convinced that these things can really cure them of their conditions because their doctors never even mentioned it.

Because it couldn’t be that simple, right?

It makes it very frustrating that many of us alternative practitioners have the answer right there in the palm of our hands, yet patients are hesitant to reach out and take it.

The western medical world, while no longer always seen as the end-all-be-all “gods” of medicine, still holds the most credibility when it comes to Knowing The Answers About The Body.

Even when their treatments often make people much worse, even when other forms of medicine have been shown time and time again to be more effective and much safer, even when nutrition alone can often heal many conditions — it doesn’t matter, if western medicine doesn’t acknowledge it, it doesn’t exist.

So patients are left thinking that the rest of us are quacks, write off what we’re saying as baloney, and go on to get worse and worse, being prescribed more and more medications, still believing that this medicine is somehow doing them a favor and being grateful for all these modern “advancements”.

Maybe change is coming

However, yesterday indicated that we may be seeing a change in all of that. 

This particular patient’s case had gotten so dire that she was sent down to National Jewish Hospital in Denver, where they’re taking an “outside the box” (at least of western medicine) approach.

After months and months of seeing various doctors for her condition, this patient finally saw a specialist who told her that she believes that all her symptoms (including masses in her lungs, serious blood clotting issues, and others) are relating back to her gut health, and that rather than seeing them all as separate issues, she encouraged the patient to keep up with the work she’s doing to heal her gut to remedy her condition!

Many of you who have been coming to me recently have heard me refer to your condition as an “itis” condition. I explain that it doesn’t, at a certain point, even matter where your inflammation is showing up in your body, because it’s more a problem that inflammation is occurring.

I explain that we need to get “underneath” the inflammation, and rather than just masking it, as steroids and other western treatments do, we need to get to the root and figure out what imbalance is causing it to occur in the first place. If we don’t get to the root, then symptoms of inflammation are just going to keep up showing up in new places, as the months and years pass by.

So the fact that this renowned doctor, at this renowned clinic, was agreeing with the natural medicine world on this topic of inflammation and gut health, was revolutionary.

I’m sure I’m now going to hear more and more stories of patients coming in with similar tales, but for now I’m just rejoicing in the knowing that thousands more people suffering with inflammation might soon be receiving better advice and care from their mainstream MDs.