Can Prebiotics Play a Role in Naturopathic Medicine?
Treating digestive system conditions can be tricky. Naturopathic medicine has a lot to offer and my patients benefit most when they find the right combination of dietary changes, stress management and supplements. Clinical practice helps fill in the gaps where textbooks fail to shed light. And truthfully, I learn something new from every patient. I've had a lot of similar cases but each patient is unique.
The faces behind IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, and food sensitivities are different. But what is common amongst these and others, is the need to heal the bowel, make its terrain suitable for beneficial bacteria and reduce the presence of symptoms. The frustration comes when you've done everything and the problems linger. You get close to the mark but in time you realize something is missing.
The patient's initial results fade and give way to the return of their original symptoms. Or perhaps the strictness of the diet and protocols have to be sustained out of fear of losing the little improvement they've achieved.
Too often the initial progress yields to a persistent imbalance the body cannot overcome. Intuitively, it feels like we are missing something. Perhaps, we did not know everything there is to know about bowel health.
Prebiotics was a word that bounced off me many times and never stuck. Maybe arrogance, maybe lack of evidence, maybe a lot of different things. However, it kept coming back to me--like good advice you ignore because you weren't ready for it. Repeated frustrations made me a listener. So I listened and I liked what I heard. Better yet, I like what I saw and my patients are starting to say the same thing.
You can throw the best probiotics at your patient's inflamed bowel, but if it's not ready to receive it, well then, thee good product goes all for naught. The system has to be primed and ready for the good that you are doing. Prebiotics not only sounds like a good idea, they are a good idea. And more than that, a necessary idea and practice.
My patients are learning this as I learned and becoming believers as I did.
Dr. Jason Granzotto, BSc (Hons), ND, graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2007. He has a keen interest in digestive health issues and in educating the public. He practices at The Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Vaughan, helping patients from across the Greater Toronto Area.