It is suggested that over half our population will suffer from digestive or gut upset in any 12 month period (1). We all know someone with heartburn, diarrhoea, an ulcer, irritable bowel or Crohn’s disease, colitis, or even parasitic infections from overseas travel. And the rates are increasing.
Some of the most common disorders are usually investigated through the following tests;
There are many upper gastrointestinal investigations. The commonest of these is diagnostic endoscopy, which allow inspection of the whole of the oesophagus stomach and duodenum. The investigation is very accurate and is the main method of diagnosing stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, Helicobacter pylori infection, gastric polyps, cancers of the stomach, and oesophagus and Coeliac Disease.
X-rays taken while swallowing Barium have largely been superseded by endoscopy. This investigation still remains valuable in the diagnosis of swallowing disorders. Muscular disorders can also be examined with motility probes which allow an accurate record of muscle contraction. This can be associated with PH measurement to determine acid reflux into the oesophagus.
ENDOSCOPIC RETROGRADE CHOLANGIO PANCREATOGRAPHY
A special form of endoscopy called endoscopic retrograde cholangio pancreatography can be used to examine the pancreas and biliary tree. In this test a side viewing endoscope is inserted into the duodenum and access can be gained to the pancreatic and bile duct to diagnose stones, tumours and other abnormalities. A variety of therapeutic procedures including removal of stones and the insertion of stents can be performed.
Endoscopic ultrasound allows for much for accurate assessment of structures in or close to the oesophagus, stomach, duodenum and pancreas because the probe situated on the end of the endoscope can be closely approximated to the area being examined. It is particularly useful in the assessment of tumours in the wall of the gut, a detection of bile duct stones and the assessment of pancreatic abscesses and tumours.
Colonoscopy involves examination of the whole of the large bowel with a flexible video instrument. A variety of therapeutic procedures can be undertaken during colonoscopy. This will include the removal of polyps. In the application of heat or metal clipping devices to bleeding lesions, the dilatation of strictures and the insertion of metal stents. Colonoscopy is the most accurately investigation for diagnosing colonic cancer and polyps.
Various types of stool testing can be performed, depending on level of information required. At Balanced Life Health Care we use BioScreen and Nutripath testing for both parasitology and bacterial content of stool to give you an overall view of what is going on in your digestive tract.
FOOD TOLERANCE TESTING
Coming to the clinic soon
Acupuncture and electro-Acupuncture can help with IBS. In fact, a recent study conculded “Electro-acupuncture is equivalent to loperamide (imodium) for reducing stool frequency in IBS-D and FD” (2). IBS-D is the subtype of IBS that commonly involves diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort, and pain,. Thne term FD is funcitonal diarrhoea. According to a recent meta-analysis of acupuncture research, “acupuncture exhibits strategically and clinically significant control of IBS symptoms” (3). Acupuncture is consider superior to the usual IBS treatments on symptomology for up to 12 months (4).
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease. Electro-acupuncture has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on UC by reducing the concentration of TNF-a and alleviating inflammation damage (6). Recently, after reviewint all of the published medical studies, researchers stated “Clinical studies suggest that acupuncture and moxibustion therapy in ulcerative colitis (UC) can regulate bowel inflammation and these treatments have the advantages of low of adverse reactions and recurrance as well as long term efficacy” (7).
Low gastic mobility is also termed gastroparesis, it is a commonly occuring condition that affects the stomach muscles, and prevents proper stomach emptying. In this conditon, the nerves or muscles in the digestive tract do not fucntion with their normal strength, and coordination resulting in reduced gastric digestive function. Animal studies have shown that electro-acupuncture is very effective at regulating gastric motility (9).
GERD is a digesitve disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphinter. A problem with the sphinter that results in stomach acid and food content back flowing into the esophagus. This back flow causes irritation to the lining of the esophagus. According to a recent review of the published medical research, acupuncture has been shown to be effective and safe for the treatment of GERD (10).
Research suggestes that acupuncture is potentailly positive in the treatment of chronic constipation. (11)
At Balanced Life Health Care we combine a series of acupuncture sessions, Chinese herbal medicine and dietary modifications. In some cases we also recommend functonal Stool testing when appropriate for the diagnosis, and treatment of common digestive complaints. Our approach combines recommendations from clinical research with indiviudalised approaches.