Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC is a clinician, Naturopathic Practitioner, clinical researcher, author, and adjunct professor at the University of Bridgeport. His work has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals and he speaks at conferences around the globe.
With probiotics & intestinal support formula via Healthy Gut Healthy You: Valerie’s Story.
Valerie was diagnosed with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and her doctors said it was forever. She felt discouraged but kept looking. After trying a few unsuccessful protocols, she discovered Healthy Gut, Healthy You and followed the steps. She noticed digestive improvements after taking the three key categories of probiotics, and was able to add in new foods using Intestinal Support Formula! Best of all, she learned how to rebound from setbacks. Hear her story in today’s video.
Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC: Hi everyone, this is Dr. Ruscio. I’m here with Valerie who has had some good results using some of the principles that we discussed in Healthy Gut, Healthy You. And she was another person who was nice enough to share her story. Valerie, welcome and thank you for being so kind to share your story with us today.
DrMR: So tell me a little bit about the road that you were on before you found Healthy Gut, Healthy You.
SIBO Diagnosis, Finding Healthy Gut, Healthy You
Valerie: Of course. So two years ago I was diagnosed with SIBO by my naturopathic doctor, and I tried to treat it but I wasn’t getting anywhere. Then a few months later I signed up for a program, an eight-month program with a functional medicine doctor and we did a bunch of testing, we tried a bunch of supplements and I didn’t get anywhere with that either.
Then I discovered Healthy Gut, Healthy You and I read it three times, implemented it, and for the first time I felt like I was actually getting somewhere. It was really reassuring to have a “how do I go from point A to point B” in the same spot so I was able to see ahead and plan where I wanted to go.
DrMR: Well, that’s great. It’s always such a reassuring reminder to hear that people have seen naturopaths and functional medicine doctors. Those providers are probably trying to do the best that they can but there is a lot of wisdom written into the protocol in Healthy Gut, Healthy You.
As someone who specializes chiefly in gut issues, I think it’s sometimes harder for patients to wrap their head around the fact that a book written by a gut specialist might get you better results than a generalist, even if you’re working with them one-on-one, doing testing, and having all this personalization. Fortunately if you understand the way that the gut works, that there’s this map or this algorithm that you can work through like you mentioned along with your other point, it is helpful for patients to understand it’s just one thing that we’re doing right now. It’s not the end all be all. It’s one stepping stone in a number of different therapies that can be woven together to get you 20% from the diet, 20% from the probiotics, 20% from the antimicrobials.
And when you have that bigger picture, long-game perspective I think it really helps people not get frustrated and say, “I did probiotics but I wasn’t cured.” Well, they may not cure everyone. They may not completely resolve everyone’s symptoms. But if you get a nice bump in your improvement, then that’s a step in the right direction, and then we reevaluate and take another step. It seems like that’s what you did with Healthy Gut, Healthy You.
Dealing with Setbacks & Proper Mindset
Valerie: Yeah, absolutely. And another thing I want to mention that I really like about the book and the program is that it teaches you how to deal with setbacks.
DrMR: Good point.
Valerie: So when I was first diagnosed, my doctors told me that I would have to deal with this for the rest of my life. They kind of put this negative spin on it, like I was stuck and there was nothing I could do for myself. Right from the get-go I felt discouraged and hopeless, but the way the science is presented and the steps are laid out in the book teaches you what to do when setbacks happen.
Now when I have a setback, instead of feeling like, “Oh no, I have SIBO again and I have to get tested,” I just try to revisit the therapies that worked for me before and it works. Then it only takes them a matter of days and I’m back to normal. You mention it so well in the book. Sometimes it makes me realize, “Okay, I haven’t been sleeping that well recently.” Or, “I’ve been falling off my diet.” So it really encouraged me to be mindful about everything that I’m doing.
DrMR: That’s such a fantastic point and I just want to echo the fact that it can be discouraging when you have a setback. If you don’t understand that setbacks are kind of normal then what can happen is people start to really psych themselves out. Like you’re saying, “Oh my God, SIBO is back. I’ve got to get tested again.” And then sometimes people will even say, “Well, screw it. I’m not going to keep eating healthy or keep using my probiotics or whatever.”
That kind of potentiates into this snowball. Whereas if you have a different frame of mind on this, you realize we all have ups and downs. I think everyone has these ups and downs but are your ups and downs where you’re feeling terrible most of the time, or are your ups and downs while you’re feeling pretty good most of the time? Yeah, you have a couple of days that aren’t as good as others, but you understand that those little setbacks occur and they’re not abnormal.
So that’s fantastic and it is really pleasing for me to hear that because I do see first-hand in the clinic how patients struggle with the mental aspect of this. So I’m so happy to hear that the book helped pull you out of the lurch of despairing thinking.
Valerie: Yeah, it really taught me about the importance of having a good mindset, because the minute that I realized that I can do something for myself was probably, from that point on, when I started getting better.
DrMR: Yeah. And it’s so empowering. Well said. So happy that you had that kind of realization from a psychological perspective.
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Bloating, Constipation & Belching: Gone
Tell us about some of the symptoms that you were suffering with.
Valerie: The most annoying symptom that I had was bloating. I was really uncomfortable and I would be bloated all the time. Even from the moment that I woke up in the morning until the end of the day, and I just felt this heaviness in my stomach just standing up was not fun at all.
So that was probably the biggest complaint. I also had constipation and some belching, which were other unpleasant symptoms. Then I had the non-digestive symptoms, like joint pain, brain fog, and headaches. I’m so happy they’re all gone now.
DrMR: It’s so fortuitous that the gut can drive all of those problems, right? You have the gut problem in and of itself and you have the gut-joint and the gut-brain with the joint pain and the brain fog.That’s why it’s so powerful the impact one can achieve when they improve their gut health. Now you said you had SIBO, was this tested with the naturopath or with the functional medicine doctor? Do you have a formal SIBO breath test?
Valerie: I do.
DrMR: Yeah. Okay. And the reason why I asked is because there is this thinking that probiotics are bad for SIBO.
Probiotics & SIBO
Unfortunately that that rumor circulates in some circles and there may be a degree of truth to that whether it might be a very small subset, but I think what ends up happening is one person said it, another person said it, now enough people have said it where that canard has some ability to self-propagate itself and then patients think that, and so they placebo themselves into expecting to have a negative reaction from probiotics. While an actuality, I would assume it’s probably five percent or less of people, but what was your experience with probiotics? What did you notice from using them?
Valerie: They made me feel a lot better from day one. I tried the three categories and I’m still on them currently. I take them every other day and sometimes I just do a full week on them. They were very helpful with the bloating, even with anxiety and other non-digestive symptoms.
DrMR: Sure, and that’s what the research tells us. The research has shown clearly as I talked about in Healthy Gut, Healthy You that probiotics be quite helpful for IBS, which could include bloating and constipation. And for SIBO according to more than four clinical trials SMRS and one meta-analysis. Two meta-analyses showing that probiotics can improve mood. So for anyone who might be in a similar boat as you where they have had a positive SIBO breath test and maybe the provider’s telling them, “Oh, don’t use probiotics.”
It’s not to say that you are guaranteed not to have any negative reactions to probiotics, but I would certainly say they are well worth a trial and clearly, in your case, it sounds like they were pretty pivotal in that road of improvement that you are on.
DrMR: What else? Were there some other things? Low FODMAP, elemental diet, microbials that seem to stand out in terms of being able to help you?
Valerie: There’s one thing that really took me from here to here in terms of the foods that I could tolerate, and that’s the intestinal repair formula.
Enjoying Food Variety
It really allowed me to enjoy off-plan foods from time to time. Even things like eggs and stuff and I was on it for some time and it really helped with my symptoms, because I followed the program and I was stuck on that step Remove. So the part where we use antimicrobials and the elemental diet. I felt better but I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be, and once I tried intestinal repair formula it was like night and day. It was such a positive improvement that really brought me to where I am today.
DrMR: Awesome, and that’s definitely something I see with some patients where, and again, so for our audience, I should clarify one thing that we updated the name from intestinal repair formula to Intestinal Support Formula. It’s the same exact compound. Just for regulatory reasons apparently, we can’t claim to be repairing anything. Only a drug can do that. So we had to change the name.
One of the reasons why I do recommend using intestinal support formula at an end phase application is because that’s when patients tend to respond to it the best. So you had worked through the majority of the steps and you had gone through diet, and probiotics, and also antimicrobials, and elemental diet improving all on the way, but then it seems that you were unable to successfully reintroduce foods, and that could be because the immune system in your gut was still really quick to attack. All the other work had likely very much so improved the state of the bacteria and fungus, but the bacteria in the fungus have to also be in harmony with the immune system.
So this may have been why the reintroduction of food wasn’t very successful was because the immune system was always just ready to attack. What the intestinal support formula does nicely is it binds to various irritants in the gut, gives the immune system a chance to calm down, and then the immune system tends to ramp itself up or calm itself down and people tend to get stuck in these self-feeding cycles.
Because if you eat a food that causes inflammation, that may damage your gut, that leaves a leaky gut and that leaves the further immune system activation as this downward cascade you can get stuck in. But if you can interrupt that cycle there is no longer that inflammatory response to the food then the leaky gut can start to heal. Then the immune system can start to tone itself down and now you start to have this upward cycle and improvement and that manifested in your case as the ability to bring in new foods, which is a huge win.
It may sound silly and simple, but for someone who has a really sensitive gut just being able to eat something like eggs, or broccoli, or garlic and not have a flare of joint pain or bloating can be a godsend. That’s the difference between being able to go out and maybe have a meal with friends, or having to revert to your bubble of safe food. So from a lifestyle perspective, I know that that can be very, very nice to have that leeway.
I’m so, so happy that you came across Healthy Gut, Healthy You. For our audience listening, I hope that this helps you or for maybe people who are new to our audience, and they’re trying to figure out where to go with how to resolve their health complaints.
Taking Responsibility for Your Own Health
Definitely consider giving Healthy Gut, Healthy You a read because I wrote that book as an experienced clinician who focuses in the gut and trying to provide the reader with a map of how to go through all the different steps rather than just trying one thing that you read about or trying another thing that you read about. Or going to a well-intentioned doctor but who might be a generalist and might not have the scope and the depth of knowledge on gut ailments and how to effectively kind of remedy those issues, and you’re such a beautiful example of that. Bloating, constipation, joint pain, brain fog, those things all now I’m assuming are pretty much under wraps.
Valerie: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
DrMR: Awesome. Well great. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you sharing your story. You have any parting words you want to leave people with?
Valerie: No, just to say that I think the book is a really good investment from my point of view, and to give it a try and take responsibility for your own health.
DrMR: Yeah, and I want to second that. I think people don’t understand how much power they have if they have a clear process right in front of them and they take these things one step at a time, and there’s definitely a time and a place for doctors and clinicians, but I think we should close with this note of empowerment because you can achieve more than I think you might give yourself credit for if you have the right guide and the right process.
DrMR: Awesome. Valerie, thank you again. It’s been a real pleasure chatting.
I care about answering your questions and sharing my knowledge with you. Leave a comment or connect with me on social media asking any health question you may have and I just might incorporate it into our next listener questions podcast episode just for you!
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