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The Digestive System

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By: Dr. Stephen O’Neil

Our digestive system is imperative to our survival and necessary for the rest of our systems to thrive. A diseased digestive tract can affect all other parts of the body in profound ways.

We rely on our digestive systems to extract all the vitamins and nutrients we require from the food we eat. These vitamins, nutrients and minerals are required for survival, growth, repair and defense. They are vital in the proper function of the rest of the body and required for health.

There are many diseases that affect the digestive system. The most common are Chrohn's Disease, Colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. These disorders can cause pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, bleeding and a whole host of other symptoms. These syndromes also prevent the digestive tract from extracting the nutrients we need from the food we eat. Some people live their whole life with these symptoms to some degree and figure it is merely a normal inconvenience and part of life. This is just not true. These symptoms are not normal. Unfortunately the most common treatments for digestive disorders, involve the use of symptom suppressing drugs. The underlying cause of these symptoms is rarely even addressed. Prescription medications such as corticosteroids, antacids, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics are all prescribed to try to suppress symptoms. These drugs always have side effects that involve other symptoms which often require more medication.

Most disorders of the digestive tract are autoimmune disorders. This means that it's not something from the outside hurting us or causing the disease but rather our own body reacting incorrectly for some reason. It would then make sense that our focus should be on finding out why our body is reacting incorrectly and change that. This is a more holistic approach and is becoming a more sought after approach by patients who are tired of constantly taking medications or having surgery. The digestive system, when you simplify things, is basically just a long tube that starts at your mouth and ends at your other end. The other digestive organs such as your stomach, gall bladder, liver, and intestines are merely modifications of this tube. Enzymes, juices, acids and other additives are secreted into the system to make digestion and the harvest of energy from our food possible. This system when all working normally is quite efficient. The key to this efficiency is the coordination of all these actions by the central nervous system. If there is interference somewhere down the spine preventing the brain from properly communicating with all the parts of the digestive tract, there will be a decrease in overall function and efficiency.

The holistic approach to treating digestive disorders would consist of a visit to your Chiropractor to make sure the brain is communicating well with the digestive organs by removing spinal interference. A visit to a Naturopathic Doctor would be next, to be evaluated for possible allergies or deficiencies in the system, which may be playing a role in the disease. Lastly, after a proper diagnosis, an elimination diet to decrease symptoms and the addition of natural supplements to reduce inflammation and promote healing is required. The use of probiotics such as acidophilus and lactobacillus is also necessary to replenish and balance out the normal bacteria which live in our systems and keep us healthy.

The key to digestive health is the same as the key to overall optimal health. It can only be achieved from within. When the interference is removed, the body is then free to achieve and maintain the balance that is required. See your Chiropractor for a Nervous System evaluation soon.