Health Concerns

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Candidiasis or Candida is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of fungus belonging to the Candida species. Candida yeasts are normally present in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina without causing symptoms. Sometimes, however, the balance between Candida and normally present bacteria becomes disrupted.


Candida Symptoms
Candida is such a difficult condition to diagnose because it can affect each sufferer in a different way. For this reason, Candida is often misdiagnosed and the symptom is treated instead of the underlying cause such as a yeast infection in woman where antibiotics are prescribed.


The consensus is that many more people are suffering from Candida than those few who are diagnosed correctly. You may find yourself suffering from any or all of the following symptoms if you have Candida:


  • Inability to focus
  • Headaches
  • Poor memory, Brain fog, Irritability, Anger, Dizziness, Depression, Crying spells, Panic attacks
  • Low libido
  • Persistent extreme fatigue, Hyperactivity
  • Cravings for sweets and alcohol
  • Insomnia
  • Poor coordination

Your Digestive System

  • Acid reflux
  • Bloating, Flatulence, Nausea, Diarrhea, Constipation, Stomach cramps, Indigestion, Burping after meals
  • Mucus in stool
  • Hemorrhoids
  •  Itching anus

Your Skin

  • Acne
  • Cysts
  • Hives
  • Night sweats
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema, Dermatitis
  • Fungal infections of the nails & skin
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Body odor

Your Mouth

  • Thrush (white coating on tongue)
  • Swollen lower lip
  • Bad Breath
  •  Metallic taste in mouth
  • Canker sores
  • Bleeding gums
  • Cracked tongue

Your Respiratory System

  • Persistent cough
  • Mucus in throat
  • Sore throat
  • Sinus congestion
  • Chronic post-nasal drip
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Hay fever symptoms
  • Sinusitis
  • Asthma

Your Ears And Eyes

  • Eye pain
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Bags under eyes
  • Ringing in the ears, Ear infections

Your Genital-Urinary System

  • Recurring yeast infections
  • Recurring UTI’s (urinary tract infections)
  • Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)
  • PMS & menstrual irregularities
  • Fungal rash

Your Immune System

  • Frequent colds and flu
  • Allergies
  • Sensitivities to food
  • Sensitivities to fragrances and chemicals (environmental)

Your Weight

  • Inability to lose weight
  • Water retention

Other Symptoms

  • Heart palpitations
  • Chronic body pain and/or joint pains, Muscle aches and stiffness

Candida Misdiagnosis

Your doctor might confuse any of the following conditions with Candida. The reason is that the symptoms are often exactly the same, and Candida may manifest itself in any combination of those symptoms. We have listed here some of the possible misdiagnoses, together with the symptom that your doctor has focused on. Remember, your doctor is relying on you for an accurate description of your symptoms, so make sure you tell them everything!

IBS – abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, indigestion


Arthritis – joint pain


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – constant fatigue


Diaper Rash – rashes and itching in infants


Athlete’s Foot – Fungus on toenails


Crohn’s Disease – abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, indigestion


Gastroenteritis – abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, indigestion


A Candida misdiagnosis may actually worsen your Candida overgrowth. If your doctor believes that you have IBS, Crohn’s Disease or Gastroenteritis, he may prescribe the anti-inflammatory Cortisone. This introduces steroids to the gut, which can increase the growth of Candida colonies.


Testing For Candida

Candida is something of a controversial illness, and many medical professionals have not yet recognized it. Regretfully, this means that many patients are turned away and do not get the help that they need. There are tests available to help rule out candida. If you are tested positive we can work with you on a customized protocol to help eradicate the candida infection. Here are a few tests available.


Spit Test


Here’s a simple test that some Candida sufferers claim will diagnose your systemic Candidiasis. As we’ll mention below, the science behind this is a little suspect. Feel free to try the test, but don’t rely on this test alone.


1. When you get up in the morning, and before you brush your teeth, eat or drink anything, fill a glass with bottled water at room temperature.


2. Spit some saliva gently into the glass.


3. Come back every 20 minutes for the next hour and check for some of these tell-tale signs of Candida:

– ‘Strings’ coming down through the water from the saliva at the top
– Butty saliva sitting at the bottom of the glass
– Opaque specks of saliva suspended in the water
Candidiasis diagnosis is no easy task, but your best bet is to go with how your feel, and ask for some blood tests. Read below to find out which tests you should get to confirm candida:


Lab Tests


Blood Test


An Anti-Candida Antibodies, or Candida Immune Complexes test. There are 3 antibodies that should be tested to measure your immune system’s response to Candida – IgG, IgA, and IgM. High levels of these antibodies indicate that an overgrowth of Candida is present. This is the most reliable test for Candidiasis that you can find.


* IgG Panel for Food Sensitivity blood spot test from Great Plains Lab includes candida on their panel. We use this test frequently at Karmic Health with patients.


Stool Analysis


Your stool is directly analyzed for levels of yeast, pathogenic bacteria and friendly bacteria. However Candida often does not show up in this test, so the blood test is more reliable.


Urine Tartaric Acid Test

This test detects tartaric acid – a waste product of Candida yeast overgrowth. An elevated test means an overgrowth of Candida. Again, this test can be unreliable compared to a blood test.


Candida Questionnaire


Here is an abbreviated version of a questionnaire, created by Dr. William Crook and designed to test for Candida. The main difficulty with testing for Candida is that everyone has it! It is not the presence of Candida that is a problem, rather it is the overgrowth of Candida that gives you all those nasty symptoms.


Interpreting the Results




A score of 10 or greater indicates that your health problems may be connected to a yeast overgrowth.
A score of 13 or higher suggests that they are almost certainly yeast connected.



A score of 8 or greater indicates that your health problems may be connected to a yeast overgrowth.

A score of 11 or higher suggests that they are almost certainly yeast connected.




1. Have you taken repeated or prolonged courses of antibacterial drugs? 4 0
2. Have you been bothered by recurrent vaginal, prostate or urinary infections? 3 0
3. Do you feel “sick all over,” yet the cause hasn’t been found? 2 0
4. Are you bothered by hormone disturbances, including PMS, menstrual irregularities, sexual dysfunction, sugar craving, low body temperature or fatigue? 2 0
5. Are you unusually sensitive to tobacco smoke, perfumes, colognes and other chemical odors? 2 0
6. Are you bothered by memory or concentration problems? Do you sometimes feel “spaced out”? 2 0
7. Have you taken prolonged courses of prednisone or other steroids; or have you taken “the pill” for more than 3 years? 2 0
8. Do some foods disagree with you or trigger your symptoms? 1 0
9. Do you suffer with constipation, diarrhea, bloating or abdominal pain? 1 0
10. Does your skin itch, tingle or burn; or is it unusually dry; or are you bothered by rashes? 1 0
11. When you wake up, do you have a white coating on your tongue? 1 0



Sandi’s complete protocol will give you a detailed list of foods to eat and foods to avoid along with a nutraceutical regime to help eradicate candida. We work closely with you along the way to guide and monitor your progress. Our goal is to reach optimal health by alleviating symptoms related to candida.


Celiac Disease


Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.  2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.

Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.


Long Term Health Effects

Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers.



Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. People living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer. Ingesting small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger small intestine damage.

Celiac disease is also known as coeliac disease, celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, and gluten sensitive enteropathy.


Undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease can lead to:

Long-Term Health Conditions

  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Early onset osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Infertility and miscarriage
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Central and peripheral nervous system disorders
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Intestinal lymphomas and other GI cancers (malignancies)
  • Gall bladder malfunction
  • Neurological manifestations, including ataxia, epileptic seizures, dementia, migraine, neuropathy, myopathy and multifocal leucoencephalopathy


Other Autoimmune Disorders

In a 1999 study, Ventura, et al. found that for people with celiac disease, the later the age of diagnosis, the greater the chance of developing another autoimmune disorder.


Age of Diagnosis Chance of Developing Another Autoimmune Condition
2-4 10.5%
4 – 12 16.7%
12 – 20 27%
Over 20 34%

Autoimmune Conditions Associated with Celiac Disease

Autoimmune Condition Prevalence in CD Population
Addison’s Disease 5-12%
Autoimmune Thyroid Disease (Graves/Hashimoto’s) 2-7%
Autoimmune Hepatitis 3-6%
Crohn’s Disease 8.5%
Dermatitis Herpetiformis 25%
Gluten Ataxia 10-12%
Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy  5.7%
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis  2.5-7%
Microscopic Colitis  4%
Multiple Sclerosis  11%
Peripheral Neuropathy  9%
Primary Bilary Cirrhosis  3-7%
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis  3%
Psoriasis  4.3%
Scleroderma  4%
Sjögren’s Syndrome  4.5-15%
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus  4%
Ulcerative Colitis  3.6%



Biomed Res Int. 2013; 2013: 127589, Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010;4(6):767-780, Rheumatology (Oxford).2013 May;52(5):939-43.






  • abdominal bloating and pain
  • chronic diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • irritability and behavioral issues
  • dental enamel defects of the permanent teeth
  • delayed growth and puberty
  • short stature
  • failure to thrive


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


Do You Have Celiac Disease?

Adults are less likely to have digestive symptoms, with only one-third experiencing diarrhea.  Adults are more likely to have:

  • unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
  • fatigue
  • bone or joint pain
  • arthritis
  • bone loss or osteoporosis
  • depression or anxiety
  • tingling numbness in the hands and feet
  • seizures or migraines
  • missed menstrual periods
  • infertility or recurrent miscarriage
  • canker sores inside the mouth
  • an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis


For a complete list of symptoms, see the Celiac Disease Symptoms List PDF



Most people with celiac disease are undiagnosed.   This checklist helps you document if you or your child have any of the common symptoms or conditions.  Share your checklist responses with your physician to determine if you or your child should have the celiac disease panel blood test.


This checklist is NOT a self-diagnosis tool. Diagnosis of celiac disease requires a celiac disease panel blood test and an endoscopic biopsy of your small intestine.



Environmental Toxins

Have you ever gone for a walk and wonder what toxins you are exposed to?

The following toxins are among the most prevalent in our air, water and/or food supply. This list is not all-inclusive, as thousands of other toxins are also circulating in our environment.

  1. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls): This industrial chemical has been banned in the United States for decades, yet is a persistent organic pollutant that’s still present in our environment.

Risks: Cancer, impaired fetal brain development.

Major Source: Farm-raised salmon. Most farm-raised salmon, which accounts for most of the supply in the United States, are fed meals of ground-up fish that have absorbed PCBs in the environment. Make sure you are buying Wild Caught.

  1. Pesticides: According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides and 30% of insecticides are known to be carcinogenic. Pesticide residues have been detected in 50% to 95% of U.S. foods. That’s why it’s important to buy organic or from a trusted local farmer.

Risks: Cancer, Parkinson’s disease, miscarriage, nerve damage, birth defects, blocking the absorption of food nutrients.

Major Sources: Food (fruits, vegetables and commercially raised meats), bug sprays.

  1. Mold and other Fungal Toxins: One in three people have had an allergic reaction to mold. Mycotoxins (fungal toxins) can cause a range of health problems with exposure to only a small amount including but not limited to candida and respiratory complications.

Risks: Cancer, heart disease, asthma, multiple sclerosis, diabetes.

Major Sources: Contaminated buildings, food like peanuts, wheat, corn and alcoholic beverages.

  1. Phthalates: These chemicals are used to lengthen the life of fragrances and soften plastics.

Risks: Endocrine system damage (phthalates chemically mimic hormones and are particularly dangerous to children).

Major Sources: Plastic wrap, plastic bottles, plastic food storage containers. All of these can leach phthalates into our food. Use glass bottles and glass storage containers wherever possible.

  1. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds): VOCs are a major contributing factor to ozone, an air pollutant. According to the EPA, VOCs tend to be even higher (two to five times) in indoor air than outdoor air, likely because they are present in so many household products.

Risks: Cancer, eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment.

Major Sources: Drinking water, carpet, paints, deodorants, cleaning fluids, varnishes, cosmetics, dry cleaned clothing, moth repellants, air fresheners. This one is tough to avoid but not impossible.

  1. Dioxins: Chemical compounds formed as a result of combustion processes such as commercial or municipal waste incineration and from burning fuels (like wood, coal or oil).

Risks: Cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, chloracne (a severe skin disease with acne-like lesions), skin rashes, skin discoloration, excessive body hair, mild liver damage.

Major Sources: Animal fats: Over 95% of exposure comes from eating commercial animal fats. Another reason to buy organic and eat grass fed beef.

  1. Asbestos: This insulating material was widely used from the 1950s to 1970s. Problems arise when the material becomes old and crumbly, releasing fibers into the air.

Risks: Cancer, scarring of the lung tissue, mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer).

Major Sources: Insulation on floors, ceilings, water pipes and heating ducts from the 1950s to 1970s.

  1. Heavy Metals: Metals like arsenic, mercury, lead, aluminum and cadmium, which are prevalent in many areas of our environment, can accumulate in soft tissues of the body.

Risks: Cancer, neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, foggy head, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, decreased production of red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, damage to blood vessels.

Major Sources: Drinking water, fish, vaccines, pesticides, preserved wood, antiperspirant, building materials, dental amalgams, chlorine plants. Hair analysis is a good way to test for heavy metals.

  1. Chloroform: This colorless liquid has a pleasant, nonirritating odor and a slightly sweet taste, and is used to make other chemicals. It’s also formed when chlorine is added to water.

Risks: Cancer, potential reproductive damage, birth defects, dizziness, fatigue, headache, liver and kidney damage.

Major Sources: Air, drinking water and food can contain chloroform.

  1. Chlorine: This highly toxic, yellow-green gas is one of the most heavily used chemical agents.

Risks: Sore throat, coughing, eye and skin irritation, rapid breathing, narrowing of the bronchi, wheezing, blue coloring of the skin, accumulation of fluid in the lungs, pain in the lung region, severe eye and skin burns, lung collapse, reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS) (a type of asthma).

Major Sources: Household cleaners, drinking water (in small amounts), air when living near an industry (such as a paper plant) that uses chlorine in industrial processes. Pools use chlorine which is a good reason to switch to salt water pools.


It’s impossible to avoid all environmental toxins so keep your immune system strong with optimal nutrition and limit your exposure to environmental toxins as much as possible with the following tips:

– Buy organic as much as possible, organic produce, meats, fish (wild caught), eggs. Grass fed beef is organic.

– If you’re not eating fish consume a high-quality purified fish or cod liver oil. If you do consume fish eat only a smaller size fish because the smaller fish tend to accumulate less of the poison. Download a PDF reference list.

– Avoid processed foods — remember that they’re processed with chemicals. Think “whole food”.

– Only use natural cleaning products in your home. Great link to non-toxic solutions:

– Switch over to natural brands of toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. Great link to clean organic products

– Remove any metal fillings as they’re a major source of mercury. Be sure to have this done by a qualified biological dentist.

– Avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances as they can pollute the air you are breathing.

– Avoid artificial food additives of all kind, including artificial sweeteners and MSG.

– Get plenty of safe sun exposure to boost your vitamin D levels and your immune system (you’ll be better able to fight disease).

– Have your tap water tested and, if contaminants are found, install an appropriate water filter on all your faucets (even those in your shower or bath).



Check out this blog on using Vinegar for Cleaning the Shower and More








Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term.

Even though signs and symptoms are uncomfortable, IBS — unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease — doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

Only a small number of people with irritable bowel syndrome have severe signs and symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress. Others will need medication and counseling. It’s always best to look deeper into the cause of IBS as it ties into other disorders such as SIBO.



The signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can vary widely from person to person and often resemble those of other diseases. Among the most common are:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation — sometimes alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea
  • Mucus in the stool


For most people, IBS is a chronic condition, although there will likely be times when the signs and symptoms are worse and times when they improve or even disappear completely.


When to see a doctor

Although as many as 1 in 5 American adults has signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, fewer than 1 in 5 who have symptoms seek medical help. Yet it’s important to see your doctor if you have a persistent change in bowel habits or if you have any other signs or symptoms of IBS to rule out a more serious condition, such as colon cancer.


Symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain that progresses or occurs at night
  • Weight loss



It’s not known exactly what causes irritable bowel syndrome, but a variety of factors play a role. The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal, causing gas, bloating and diarrhea. Or the opposite may occur, with weak intestinal contractions slowing food passage and leading to hard, dry stools.

Abnormalities in your gastrointestinal nervous system also may play a role, causing you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can make your body overreact to the changes that normally occur in the digestive process. This overreaction can cause pain, diarrhea or constipation.


Triggers vary from person to person

Stimuli that don’t seem to bother other people can trigger symptoms in people with IBS — but not all people with the condition react to the same stimuli. Common triggers include:


  • The role of food allergy or intolerance in irritable bowel syndrome is not yet clearly understood by western medicine, but many people have more severe symptoms when they eat certain things. A wide range of foods has been implicated — chocolate, spices, fats, fruits, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, milk, carbonated beverages and alcohol to name a few. It’s best to get tested for food intolerance to make sure you eliminate offending foods.
  • Most people with IBS find that their signs and symptoms are worse or more frequent during periods of increased stress. But while stress may aggravate symptoms, it doesn’t cause them.
  • Because women are twice as likely to have IBS, researchers believe that hormonal changes play a role in this condition. Many women find that signs and symptoms are worse during or around their menstrual periods.
  • Other illnesses. Sometimes another illness, such as an acute episode of infectious diarrhea (gastroenteritis) or too many bacteria in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth – Candida or SIBO), can trigger IBS.
  • In some cases the FODMAP Diet help ease symptoms.


Risk factors

Many people have occasional signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, but you’re more likely to have IBS if you:

  • Are young. IBS tends to occur in people under age 45.
  • Are female. Overall, about twice as many women as men have the condition.
  • Have a family history of IBS. Studies suggest that people who have a family member with IBS may be at increased risk of the condition.
  • Have a mental health problem. Anxiety, depression, a personality disorder and a history of childhood sexual abuse are risk factors. For women, domestic abuse may be a risk factor as well.


The influence of family history on IBS risk may be related to genes, shared factors in a family’s environment or both.



Diarrhea and constipation, both signs of irritable bowel syndrome, can aggravate hemorrhoids. In addition, dehydration can cause a loss of electrolytes and you may not get enough of the nutrients you need, leading to malnourishment.


But the condition’s impact on your overall quality of life may be the most significant complication. These effects of IBS may cause you to feel you’re not living life to the fullest, leading to discouragement or depression.


Preparing for your appointment

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have symptoms of IBS. After an initial evaluation, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in digestive disorders (gastroenterologist) for more extensive testing. Consider seeking a second opinion with a holistic practitioner before starting any drug therapy as there are holistic alternatives in treatments. Western Medical doctors have little education in nutrition if any. Keep in mind nutrition plays a key role in all GI disorders.

Here’s some information to help you prepare for your appointment and what to expect from your doctor.


What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, and for how long. This may help your doctor identify what triggers symptom episodes.
  • Write down key personal information, including any recent changes or stressors in your life. These factors can play a key role in the frequency and severity of IBS symptoms.
  • Make a list of your key medical information, including any other conditions for which you’re being treated and the names of any medications, vitamins or supplements you’re taking. If you’ve been medically evaluated for your symptoms in the past, bring medical records of those tests to your appointment.
  • Find a family member or friend who can come with you to the appointment, if possible. Someone who accompanies you can help remember what the doctor says.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.


For IBS, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Do I have IBS?
  • What other conditions might I have?
  • Are there any other possible causes for my condition?
  • What diagnostic tests do I need?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend trying first?
  • If the first treatment doesn’t work, what will we try next?
  • Are there any side effects associated with these treatments?
  • Do you suspect that dietary factors are playing a role in my symptoms?
  • What dietary changes are most likely to reduce my symptoms?
  • Should I follow any specific diet?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to help reduce or manage my symptoms?
  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Do you recommend that I talk with a counselor?
  • Is my condition chronic?
  • How much do you expect my condition may improve with treatment, including self-care?


In addition to the questions that you’ve prepared to ask your doctor, don’t hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.


What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. You may be asked:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did you first notice these symptoms?
  • Do your symptoms come and go or stay about the same?
  • Does anything seem to trigger your symptoms, including certain foods, stress or — in women — your menstrual period?
  • Have you lost weight without trying?
  • Have you noticed any blood in your stools?
  • Have your signs and symptoms included vomiting?
  • Have your signs and symptoms included fever?
  • Have you recently experienced significant stress, emotional difficulty or loss?
  • What is your typical daily diet?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with a food allergy or with lactose intolerance?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
  • What medications are you taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs, and supplements?
  • Do you have any family history of bowel disorders or colon cancer?
  • How much would you say your symptoms are affecting your quality of life, including your personal relationships and your ability to function at school or work?


What you can do in the meantime

While you wait for your appointment, check with your family members to find out if any relatives have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer. In addition, start jotting down notes about how often your symptoms occur and any factors that seem to trigger their occurrence.


Tests and diagnosis

A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome depends largely on a complete medical history and physical exam.


Criteria for making a diagnosis

Because there are usually no physical signs to definitively diagnose IBS, diagnosis is often a process of ruling out other conditions. To help this process, researchers have developed two sets of diagnostic criteria for IBS and other functional gastrointestinal disorders — conditions in which the bowel appears normal but doesn’t work (function) normally. Both criteria are based on symptoms after other conditions have been ruled out.


  • Rome criteria. According to these criteria, you must have certain signs and symptoms before a doctor diagnoses irritable bowel syndrome. The most important are abdominal pain and discomfort lasting at least three days a month in the last three months, associated with two or more of following: improvement with defecation, altered frequency of stool or altered consistency of stool.
  • Manning criteria. These criteria focus on pain relieved by defecation, having incomplete bowel movements, mucus in the stool and changes in stool consistency. The more symptoms present, the greater the likelihood of IBS.


Your doctor will likely assess how you fit these criteria, as well as whether you have any other signs or symptoms that might suggest another, more serious, condition. Some red flag signs and symptoms that suggest a need for additional testing include:

  • New onset after age 50
  • Weight loss
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Fever
  • Nausea or recurrent vomiting
  • Abdominal pain, especially if it’s not completely relieved by a bowel movement, or occurs at night
  • Diarrhea that is persistent or awakens you from sleep
  • Anemia related to low iron


If you fit the IBS criteria and don’t have any red flag signs or symptoms, your doctor may suggest a course of treatment without doing additional testing. But if you don’t respond to that treatment, you’ll likely require more tests.


Additional tests

Your doctor may recommend several tests, including stool studies to check for infection or problems with your intestine’s ability to take in the nutrients from food (malabsorption). You may undergo a number of tests to rule out other causes for your symptoms.


Imaging tests:

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy. This test examines the lower part of the colon (sigmoid) with a flexible, lighted tube (sigmoidoscope).
  • In some cases, especially if you are age 50 or older or have other signs of a potentially more serious condition, your doctor may perform this diagnostic test in which a small, flexible tube is used to examine the entire length of the colon.
  • X-ray (radiography). Sometimes doctors will use X-rays to obtain an image of your colon.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan. CT scans produce cross-sectional X-ray images of internal organs. CT scans of your abdomen and pelvis may help your doctor rule out other causes of your symptoms, especially if you have abdominal pain.
  • Lower GI series. In this test, doctors fill your large intestine with a liquid (barium) to make it easier to see any problems on the X-ray.


Laboratory tests:

  • Lactose intolerance tests. Lactase is an enzyme you need to digest the sugar found in dairy products. If you don’t produce this enzyme, you may have problems similar to those caused by irritable bowel syndrome, including abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea. To find out if this is the cause of your symptoms, your doctor may order a breath test or ask you to remove milk and milk products from your diet for several weeks.
  • Breath tests. Your doctor may perform a breath test to look for a condition called bacterial overgrowth, in which bacteria from the colon grow up into the small intestine, leading to bloating, abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. This is more common among people who have had bowel surgery or who have diabetes or some other disease that slows down digestion.
  • Blood tests. Celiac disease is sensitivity to wheat, barley and rye protein that may cause signs and symptoms like those of irritable bowel syndrome. Blood tests can help rule out this disorder. Children with IBS have a far greater risk of celiac disease than do children who don’t have IBS. If your doctor suspects that you have celiac disease, he or she may perform an upper endoscopy to obtain a biopsy of your small intestine. Keep in mind western medicine does not consider food intolerance testing which by the way affects 1 in 5 people. The IgG panel for food intolerance is the most common panel ran in alternative medicine because it ties into inflammation and chronic inflammation causes 80% of disease.
  • Stool tests. If you have chronic diarrhea, doctors may want to examine your stool for bacteria or parasites.


Treatments and drugs

Because it’s not clear what causes irritable bowel syndrome, treatment focuses on the relief of symptoms so that you can live as normally as possible.

In most cases, you can successfully control mild signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome by learning to manage stress and making changes in your diet and lifestyle. Try to avoid foods that trigger your symptoms. Also try to get enough exercise, drink plenty of fluids and get enough sleep.

If your problems are moderate or severe, you may need more than lifestyle changes. Your doctor may suggest medications. Remember medications always have side effects and only mask symptoms. It’s important to find the cause of IBS so you can address it.

Dietary changes:

  • Eliminating high-gas foods. If you have bothersome bloating or are passing considerable amounts of gas, your doctor may suggest that you cut out such items as carbonated beverages, vegetables — especially cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower — and raw fruits.
  • Eliminating gluten. Research shows that some people with IBS report improvement in diarrhea symptoms if they stop eating gluten (wheat, barley and rye). This recommendation remains controversial in western medicine, and the evidence is not clear however in the New England Journal of Medicine 55 disorders are related to gluten intolerance.
  • Eliminating FODMAPs. Some people are sensitive to types of carbohydrates such as fructose, fructans, lactose and others, called FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols). FODMAPs are found in certain grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products. However, often people are not bothered by every FODMAP food. You may be able to get relief from your IBS symptoms on a strict low FODMAP diet and then reintroduce foods one at time.



  • Fiber supplements. Taking fiber supplements, such as psyllium (Metamucil) or methylcellulose (Citrucel), with fluids may help control constipation. Fiber obtained from food may cause much more bloating compared with a fiber supplement. If fiber doesn’t help symptoms, your doctor may prescribe an osmotic laxative such as milk of magnesia or polyethylene glycol.
  • Anti-diarrheal medications. Over-the-counter medications, such as loperamide (Imodium), can help control diarrhea. Some people will benefit from medications called bile acid binders, such as cholestyramine (Prevalite), colestipol (Colestid) or colesevelam (Welchol), but these can lead to bloating.
  • Anticholinergic and antispasmodic medications. These medications, such as hyoscyamine (Levsin) and dicyclomine (Bentyl), can help relieve painful bowel spasms. They are sometimes used for people who have bouts of diarrhea, but they can worsen constipation and can lead to other symptoms, such as difficulty urinating. They should also be used with caution among people with glaucoma.
  • Antidepressant medications. If your symptoms include pain or depression, your doctor may recommend a tricyclic antidepressant or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). These medications help relieve depression as well as inhibit the activity of neurons that control the intestines.


If you have diarrhea and abdominal pain without depression, your doctor may suggest a lower than normal dose of tricyclic antidepressants, such as imipramine (Tofranil) or nortriptyline (Pamelor). Side effects of these drugs include drowsiness and constipation. SSRIs, such as fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem) or paroxetine (Paxil), may be helpful if you’re depressed and have pain and constipation.

  • Some people whose symptoms are due to an overgrowth of bacteria in their intestines may benefit from antibiotic treatment. Some people with symptoms of diarrhea have benefited from rifaximin (Xifaxan), but more research is needed.
  • You may benefit from counseling if you have depression or if stress tends to worsen your symptoms.


Medication specifically for IBS

Two medications are currently approved for specific cases of IBS:

  • Alosetron (Lotronex). Alosetron is designed to relax the colon and slow the movement of waste through the lower bowel. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed it from the market for a time, but has since allowed alosetron to be sold again.


However, alosetron can be prescribed only by doctors enrolled in a special program and is intended for severe cases of diarrhea-predominant IBS in women who haven’t responded to other treatments. Alosetron is not approved for use by men. It has been linked to rare but important side effects, so it should only be considered when other treatments are not successful.

  • Lubiprostone (Amitiza). Lubiprostone works by increasing fluid secretion in your small intestine to help with the passage of stool. It is approved for women age 18 and older who have IBS with constipation. Its effectiveness in men is not proved, nor its long-term safety. Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Lubiprostone is generally prescribed only for women with IBS and severe constipation for whom other treatments haven’t been successful.


Lifestyle and home remedies

In many cases, simple changes in your diet and lifestyle can provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome. Although your body may not respond immediately to these changes, your goal is to find long-term, not temporary, solutions:

  • Experiment with fiber. When you have irritable bowel syndrome, fiber can be a mixed blessing. Although it helps reduce constipation, it can also make gas and cramping worse. The best approach is to slowly increase the amount of fiber in your diet over a period of weeks. Examples of foods that contain fiber are whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. If your signs and symptoms remain the same or worse, tell your doctor. You may also want to talk to a dietitian.


Some people do better limiting dietary fiber and instead take a fiber supplement that causes less gas and bloating. If you take a fiber supplement, such as Metamucil or Citrucel, be sure to introduce it slowly and drink plenty of water every day to reduce gas, bloating and constipation. If you find that taking fiber helps your IBS, use it on a regular basis for best results.

  • Avoid problem foods. If certain foods make your signs and symptoms worse, don’t eat them. These may include alcohol, chocolate, caffeinated beverages such as coffee and sodas, medications that contain caffeine, dairy products, and sugar-free sweeteners such as sorbitol or mannitol.

If gas is a problem for you, foods that might make symptoms worse include beans, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Fatty foods also may be a problem for some people. Chewing gum or drinking through a straw can lead to swallowing air, causing more gas.

  • Eat at regular times. Don’t skip meals, and try to eat about the same time each day to help regulate bowel function. If you have diarrhea, you may find that eating small, frequent meals makes you feel better. But if you’re constipated, eating larger amounts of high-fiber foods may help move food through your intestines.
  • Take care with dairy products. If you’re lactose intolerant, try substituting yogurt for milk. Or use an enzyme product to help break down lactose. Consuming small amounts of milk products or combining them with other foods also may help. In some cases, though, you may need to stop eating dairy foods completely. If so, be sure to get enough protein, calcium and B vitamins from other sources.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Try to drink plenty of fluids every day. Good Clean Water is best. Alcohol and beverages that contain caffeine stimulate your intestines and can make diarrhea worse, and carbonated drinks can produce gas.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise helps relieve depression and stress, stimulates normal contractions of your intestines, and can help you feel better about yourself. If you’ve been inactive, start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you exercise. If you have other medical problems, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Use anti-diarrheal medications and laxatives with caution. If you try over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications, such as Imodium or Kaopectate, use the lowest dose that helps. Imodium may be helpful if taken 20 to 30 minutes before eating, especially if you know that the food planned for your meal is likely to cause diarrhea.


In the long run, these medications can cause problems if you don’t use them correctly. The same is true of laxatives. If you have any questions about them, check with your doctor or pharmacist.


Alternative medicine – The best place to start

The following nontraditional therapies may help relieve symptoms of IBS and are the best place to start before using traditional pharmaceuticals:

  • Researchers have found that acupuncture may help improve symptoms for people with IBS.
  • Peppermint is a natural antispasmodic that relaxes smooth muscles in the intestines. Peppermint may provide short-term relief of IBS symptoms, but study results have been inconsistent. If you’d like to try peppermint, be sure to use enteric-coated capsules. Peppermint may make heartburn worse. Before taking any herbs, check with your doctor to be sure they won’t interact or interfere with other medications.


A blend of herbs called STW 5 (Iberogast) has been shown to help some people.

  • Hypnosis may reduce abdominal pain and bloating. A trained professional teaches you how to enter a relaxed state and then guides you in relaxing your abdominal muscles.
  • Probiotics are “good” bacteria that normally live in your intestines and are found in certain foods, such as yogurt, and in dietary supplements. It’s been suggested that if you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may not have enough good bacteria and that adding probiotics to your diet may help ease your symptoms.


Recent studies suggest that certain probiotics may relieve symptoms of IBS, such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and quality of life, although additional investigation is needed.

  • Regular exercise, yoga, massage or meditation.These can all be useful ways to relieve stress. You can take classes in yoga and meditation or practice at home using books or videos.


Coping and support

Living with irritable bowel syndrome presents daily challenges. It may be painful or embarrassing and can seriously affect the quality of your life. These suggestions may help you cope more easily:

  • Learn as much about IBS as you can. Talk to your doctor, look for information on the Internet from reputable sources such as the National Institutes of Health, and read books and pamphlets. Being informed about your condition can help you take better charge of it.
  • Identify the factors that trigger IBS. This is a key step both in managing your condition and in helping you feel you have control of your life.
  • Seek out others with IBS. Talking to people who know what you’re going through can be reassuring. Try IBS support groups on the Internet or in your community.


Source: Mayo Clinic


Inflammation – Common link to Disease


Did you know that inflammation is the common link between such debilitating conditions as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer and arthritis?

80% of disease is from inflammation!

Inflammation is thought to be the culprit behind the visible signs of aging as well. I’m sure I have your attention now!

If you reduce inflammation in your body, you’ll not only look and feel younger, but you’ll significantly lower your risk for chronic disease!


What is inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s response to stress ~ whether from your diet, lifestyle or environment. Think of what happens when you catch the common cold. You may experience inflammation in the form of a fever as your body heats up to eradicate the effects of the invading virus which is good but when it becomes chronic, low grade inflammation destroys the balance of your body. When your body’s systems experience a constant inflammatory response, you become more susceptible to aging and disease.


What Causes Inflammation?

One of the main causes of inflammation is low-grade bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in the bloodstream and organs like the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract.


Other causes of inflammation include:

Chronic low-grade food allergies and sensitivities that may cause few symptoms which is why most people don’t think to check for allergies and sensitivities to the foods they are eating on a regular basis.

An imbalance of bacteria and fungi in your gastrointestinal tract causes your immune system to overreact to bacteria in your gut and can take a while before you see the symptoms.

Stress! Constant psychological, emotional or physical stress raises the level of cortisol (hormone), creating inflammation.

Environmental toxicity from air, water, food pollutants and toxic metals like mercury and lead all contribute to inflammation and have been linked to diseases as varied as endometriosis and cancer.

The great old American Diet! Diet and lifestyle with too many bad fats, sugars and bad proteins in your diet, constant dehydration, consumption of sodas, processed foods, caffeine, inactivity, lack of exercise and sleep can all increase inflammation in your body.


The Lasting Effects of Inflammation (long term damage) causing system reactions.


Symptoms Include:

Visible signs of aging like wrinkles

Susceptibility to Bacterial, Fungal and Viral Infection

Acid Reflux


Skin conditions like Psoriasis and Acne



Chronic Pain


High Blood Pressure


Heart Disease


Urinary Tract Infections


How to Reduce Inflammation

To restore your body’s balance, focus on going back to the basics with both diet and lifestyle. Keep it close to nature with whole organic food and stay active. Just 30 minutes of walking a day has amazing value! It’s a good place to start.


We specialize in GI disorders which includes inflammation. Let us help get your life back.

Call us for a free 15 minute consultation 760.685.3154,




Leaky Gut

Leaky Gut Syndrome – A Very Common GI disorder


The official definition of Leaky Gut Syndrome is an increase in permeability of the intestinal mucosa to luminal macromolecules, antigens, and toxins associated with inflammatory degenerative and/ or atrophic mucosa or lining.

Put more simply, large spaces develop between the cells of the gut wall allowing bacteria, toxins and food to leak into the bloodstream. Leaky Gut Syndrome has also been linked with many conditions, such as: Celiac Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Autism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Eczema, Dermatitis, Ulcerative Colitis.


What causes Leaky Gut?

Severe emotional stress or trauma, drug use especially anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory drugs, alcohol abuse, GI tract parasites, intestinal bacterial infections or overgrowth, ingestion of junk foods – especially deep fried foods made with hydrogenated vegetable oils, excessive consumption of starchy or sugary foods and food allergies. One major junk foods binge or a single course of anti-biotic can create a condition of leaky gut within hours. If the diet doesn’t contain enough nutrients to repair the leaky gut it can become a persistent problem. Leaky Gut Syndrome may also cause a flood of wrong messages to be communicated from the digestive system to the body.

Three Important Steps to Take

1. Heal the Leaky Gut

2. Re-establish healthy gut bacteria

3. Take care of the nutritional inadequacies


Symptoms of Leaky Gut

Abdominal pain (chronic)



Excessive flatulence

Anaphylactic reactions

Shortness of breath


Fevers of unknown origin

Gluten intolerance (celiac disease)





Muscle cramps

Multiple chemical sensitivities

Muscle pain

Myofascial pain

Mood swings

Poor exercise tolerance

Poor immunity

Poor memory

Recurrent bladder infections

Recurrent vaginal infections

Recurrent skin rashes

Brittle nails

Hair loss

Swollen lymph glands

Food allergies



Liver dysfunction

Brain fatigue

Abdominal spasms

Anal irritation

Constant hunger pains

Depleted appetite



Chronic fatigue


Conditions related to Leaky Gut Syndrome

Celiac disease

Multiple Sclerosis



Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome



Ulcerative Colitis

Candidiasis – Yeast overgrowth

Chronic hepatitis



Cystic Fibrosis

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Accelerated Aging

Endotoxemia – The presence of endotoxins in the blood

Colon cancer

Crohn’s disease

Food allergies

Giardia – parasite infection


Pancreatic dysfunction





Anyklosing spondylitis – joint pain

Inflammatory bowel disease

Liver dysfunction






Sandi Star Wellness Coaching can help with a personalized nutrition plan. It’s important to take control before any of the related diseases kick in. If you’re already experiencing related disease don’t worry. Although some cannot be cured, they can certainly be controlled.


Contact us today for an appointment: or call 760.685.3154