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Five Tests I Use To Assess Gastrointestinal Function And Integrity
The are many tests you can do to determine the function of the gastrointestinal tract, here are the five tests I commonly use in my clinical practise and have done so for over twenty years. Some tests are urinary, some urine and some are stool tests. The CDSA is pricey, but probably the very best test to determining what is going on. We have solved many cases of chronic digestive problems with a CDSA, cases which were “unremarkable” to the doctor and even bowel specialist. If you are sick and tired of hearing “we can’t find anything wrong Mrs. Smith” and you know something is NOT right with your digestive system, then I can highly recommend that you request a CDSA x3 by your practitioner. But first make sure that your health-care professional knows and understands how to interpret this test!
1 – The Urinary Indican Test
To determine the presence of indican in the urine, a determination of fermentation. Elevated indole levels are considered to reflect a state of intestinal toxaemia caused by protein mal-digestion. (or an excessive intake), intestinal overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria. (primarily due to mal-digestion)and intestinal mucosal damage.
2 – The Intestinal Permeability Test
A simple, reliable test providing valuable information in assessing intestinal health. The person drinks a small solution of two sugars. By assessing the permeation of water-soluble molecules lactulose and mannitol through the intestinal mucosa after testing a urine sample collected after the drink, accurate information is obtained regarding the integrity and function of the lining of the small intestine.
3 – The CDSA (Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis)
An accurate and sensitive determination of not only candida overgrowth, but helps in assessing a wide range of intestinal conditions. The CDSA provides information on the person’s ability to digest, metabolise, and absorb nutrients, as well as a full report on all bacterial flora (beneficial, imbalanced and pathogenic), all yeast, and all intestinal parasites (worms, eggs, larva, and protozoa. Chronic bacterial, yeast, or parasitic infections often have adverse effects on the body’s metabolic and absorptive processes. The tests even include a sensitivity panel, showing your practitioner what herb, nutrient, or drug the parasites you have are sensitive to.
4 – The Food Allergy Test (blood-test)
May be critical sometimes, and has helped solve many tough cases of gastrointestinal distress. This test requires a blood draw and will quickly determine a person’s immune reactivity to 98 foods in 7 different categories, such as all the fruits, grains, vegetables, animal protein foods, grains, etc. The test determines the IgE and the IgG antibody levels.
5 – The Elemental Analysis of the Hair
A test which we covered recently in a Healthy Options article. The essential nutrient profile on the hair analysis report can easily point to a pattern of an under-active stomach, hypochlorhydria, and is a valuable, low-cost option for the patient to establish the integrity of the digestive and absorptive processes.
Important points to conclude
The treatment of digestive disorders using natural medicine is not difficult, but does take time. Nature requires time to repair and heal a tube almost 30 feet in length!
Functional testing may be required to facilitate diagnosis and improve treatment outcomes.
Remember that the digestive system is under the control of the involuntary (called “autonomic”) nervous system. Adrenaline, nor- adrenaline and cortisol are hormones which are secreted under stress, they impair the movement of food along the intestines, decrease blood flow to the intestines, impair digestion and absorption by suppressing the production of stomach acid as well as decreasing the production of insulin by the pancreas.
It is important to rest after eating and be aware of how our stress responses, habits and emotions affect our digestion, particularly the stomach.
Diet is most important; the digestion simply will not heal with continued dietary stress. The consumption of pure water, along with appropriate diet changes, is necessary, as mentioned earlier: as long as it takes. It is best to work with a practitioner skilled with cases such as yours, call and enquire beforehand.
Exercise which is vigorous and regular, is most stimulating to the digestion, the form of exercise is not in itself important. I have found that those who walk the most, have the least bowel congestion.
Some good herbs for the digestive system include aloe vera, slippery elm bark powder, liquorice, gentian, and Milk thistle (St. Mary’s thistle). There are many herbs and specific nutrients which have quite specific actions on the digestive system. My recommendations are as usual, for minor self-limiting complaints to try things out yourself, and for more serious or longstanding digestive complaints come in for a checkup.
My favourite herbal combinations for a congested liver, leading to constipation include herbal medicines like silybum, picorrhiza, artichoke and turmeric. Best taken in small amounts in capsule or if you are game, liquid.
Always work with your qualified and registered naturopath or natural medicine friendly doctor for best results, it is difficult to self-diagnose and treat and expect satisfactory results in chronic cases of gastrointestinal distress. You may have an underlying digestive disorder which needs urgent medical attention, so it always to consult a health-care professional for assessment and treatment or referral to an appropriate provider where required.
The Four Pillars of Healing, Dr. Leo Galland 1997 Random House New York
The Yeast Connection Handbook, William Crook, MD, 1989, Wellness Health, Jackson, Tennessee
Microbiology and Infection Control, Lee & Bishop, 2002 Prentice Hall Victoria Australia
Pathophysiology, Concepts of Altered Health States, Porth, C. 2002, 6th. ed., Lippincott Philadelphia.