“When in doubt, treat the gut” has become a mantra of modern Functional Medicine. Gut dysbiosis is a term used to describe the presence of unwelcome living things in the intestinal tract. It could also be used to describe a dysfunctional or maladapted relationship between a person’s immune system and organisms that might be harmless to someone else. The term symbiosis is used to describe a situation in which two organisms provide mutual benefit — such as us gathering food and then helping to digest it or use it to make vitamins that we need.
A number of common symptoms and even some debilitating gastrointestinal diseases are increasingly being linked to some form of dysbiosis. Common symptoms include:
- Frequent gas, bloating, belching
- Loose stool, diarrhea, constipation
- Acid reflux
- Unexplained weight gain and/or difficult weight loss
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Depression and/or frequent low mood
- Halitosis (chronic bad breath)
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Skin conditions (acne, eczema)
- Low energy and chronic fatigue
- Allergies and food sensitivities
- Chronic yeast or fungal infections
But gut symptoms aren’t the only problems that stem from gut dysbiosis. Since nearly 80% of immune system cells are found in your gut, changes to gut bacteria can weaken the defense against illness and disease. There is also a link between the gut and skin (known as the gut-skin axis), and the gut and the brain (the gut-brain axis). That means gut dysbiosis can affect your body in countless ways. We also now know that when the gut becomes inflamed, detoxification becomes impaired.
In keeping with our commitment to treating the underlying cause whenever possible, it’s worth noting that dysbiosis may be related to: unnecessary antibiotic or antacid use; excessive consumption of alcohol, refined foods or pesticides; inadequate fiber intake and chronic stress. We believe that the role played by parasitic and fungal infections is underappreciated: parasites are often easier to treat empirically than to diagnose definitively. Similarly, water intrusion in a person’s office or residence creates recurrent exposure to mold spores that can be easily mistaken for ‘candidiasis,’ hard to prove and harder to fix without aggressive remediation or relocation. Parasitic and fungal infections also fall under the heading for Chronic Infection and Biotoxin Management.