Digestive distress

Tired of Digestive Distress and No Answers?

What is Digestive Distress?

Digestive distress can encompass so many concerns. Bloating, gas, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn. This list of words might make you giggle if you don’t experience any of these. We’re not used to talking about our bowel habits. But we should! It’s often uncomfortable for other reasons for those who experience these symptoms regularly.

The Challenge of Living With Digestion Concerns

Your digestion isn’t happy. That can be enough to struggle through each day. Some people think, “Oh, bloating, that’s not a big deal.” Imagine walking around like someone filled your belly with a balloon until there’s no more room. You might need to always know where a bathroom is. You may have difficulty eating with friends & family. Because many people don’t talk about poop, those with symptoms often suffer silently. Additionally, it can be hard to figure out what’s causing all those symptoms. How many of you have ever been to a gastroenterologist, only to be told, “Sorry, all the tests are normal. There’s nothing else I can do for you.” Or worst of all, “It’s all in your head.”

How Naturopathic Medicine Can Help

From the gastroenterologist’s perspective, there is not much else they can do for you, unless you find one of the ones who do talk about food, probiotics, small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO), or more. Being a naturopathic doctor comes in handy with these digestion issues, as I’m trained to look for underlying causes. I look for what is getting in the way of your body being optimally healthy (things like food intolerances, toxins, stress, etc), what your body is missing that it needs to heal (nutrients, hydration, etc). I also look at how your body as a whole works together. For example, your hormones and your gut can be affected by each other.

Causes of Digestive Issues

There are so many potential answers a naturopathic doctor can help you search for to get to the root of your digestive distress. Just to name a few: food intolerances, gut flora imbalance, overgrowth of bacteria or fungi, parasites, stress or nervous system imbalance, immune system imbalance, hormonal imbalance, toxins, malnutrition or malabsorption. I could go on and on! The key is to find a doctor who believes what you’re experiencing is real and who will help you search to find those answers.

Stay tuned for more posts about the individual underlying causes for constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain and heartburn. Until then, check out my website for a free e-book on my “Top 5 Tips for Tummy Troubles.”

  • Christina
    Posted at 22:23h, 06 May

    My tummy has been in lots of distress and I think it’s due to the stress of the pandemic–fear of catching COVID-19, being trapped in my house, not being able to see my people, etc. I want to eat (stress eat), but anything I put in my stomach, my tummy says “NO!! I don’t want anything!!” and it sits like a rock in my belly for hours. I’ve had to start eating half-size meals, or sometimes just skipping a meal or two. I’m not looking for any help– just telling my experience in case anyone else reads it and can relate!

    • Dr. Julia Hipp, Naturopathic Doctor Bellingham
      Posted at 01:01h, 08 May

      Hi Christina, Thank you for sharing! I’ve been seeing digestive distress during COVID-19 often go two ways. I’ve actually seen it calm down for many people, mostly with those who are able to work from home which has created a much more relaxed, calm working environment. The other way is as you described, with worse distress, difficulty eating, lots of bloating, etc from added stress, anxiety or fear. Taking a few deep breaths before meals can be helpful with this situation. I’ve been wanting to write a blog on how stress and our nervous system are connected to digestion and now may be a good time for that. Stay tuned!

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