Gut Healing Often Involves Ups & Downs, Matt’s Story with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Today we speak with Matt who has seen remarkable improvements in the symptoms of his inflammatory bowel disease. There were 2 keys to Matt’s success; addressing overgrown bacteria in his gut and balancing his immune system. While Matt is feeling very healthy today, he had to work through regressions to finally reach his goal of no more symptoms. His case teaches us that ups and downs are part of the healing process. With his new found health, Matt is able to pursue his career goals uninhibited by prior symptoms.


Dr. Michael Ruscio, DC: Hey, guys. This is Dr. Ruscio. I’m here with Matt who has had some really good results after a couple speed bumps, a couple ups and downs. And really happy to say Matt is doing very well. And again, we had an up and down. So Matt, do you want to tell people some of the roller coaster that you just went through.

[Continue reading below]

Dr. R’s Fast Facts Summary

IBD Patient

  • Symptoms improved greatly with first round of natural antimicrobials
    • Quickly started to regress
  • Tried a second round of natural antimicrobials but did not see that same improvement
  • Next tried short course of Elemental Diet paired with SBI
    • Patient showed great improvement and continues to be symptom free
    • Digestive symptoms, brain fog, fatigue, and motility issues all improved
  • Able to move away from drug therapy – prednisone

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Matt: Sure, yeah. It’s been a bit of a journey. I’ve been working with you for about a year now. And what has happened is, as we’ve discussed different treatments and did some initial lab testing to find out what could be going on, we decided on a few different approaches. And once we get going, often what I would find is things would work. And I’d see improvement. And I’d get really excited.

DrMR: And improvement in… Just to give people some context. Irritable bowel disease. It was indeterminate in terms of what type. And some of the bowel frequency and urgency and digestive distress were the symptoms that you were plagued with and to a certain point where they were even interfering with your job which is what made me feel for your case so much. You had just taken this new job. You were excited about it. And then the GI symptoms were potentially going to hinder your ability to do this job that you really liked.

Gut Health

Matt: Exactly. And it’s tricky to make life decisions based on how your symptoms are doing at a certain point. So when you’re doing well, you want to bank on keeping them well. But I’ve learned through life experience now that it’s not necessarily going to always be that way. But it’s also important to not lose your sense of direction and purpose and keep going the way that things are laid out for you because it’s easy, I’ve found, once you’ve had that progress and start regressing a bit, to panic and think that what you had was useless, and it’s not going to be anything.

And I’m glad I was able to check in with you during those times so I didn’t completely lose my mind.

DrMR: Let’s expand upon that just for a moment. So essentially, we had started off with some preliminary therapy. But where we really broke things open and saw you improve nicely was with a course of herbal antimicrobials. And you went from 0 to 60 in terms of healing in a few days, maybe a week or so. And I was super happy for you. And you looked healthier when we checked in. Your symptoms were all gone. And you were just ready to bull ahead in your life. And I was super happy for you.

Then a few months later, you started to regress. And what happened?

Matt: Yeah, I finished the two months of antimicrobials and was feeling pretty good for a couple weeks and then quickly started to regress and was really discouraged, obviously, when that was happening.

DrMR: And then I think even more discouraged when we said, “Okay. Well, this antimicrobial therapy has been helpful. But we maybe need a little bit more of that stimulus to maintain you in this remission.” So we did the antimicrobial treatment again. And you really didn’t even respond.

Matt: Which I was very excited to do because, again, this is something that helped so much. And I’d finished my two month course. And it’s like, “Alright. Give me the stuff that works again.”

DrMR: And then the second time, it didn’t really work. And I think that was this kicking a man when he’s down experience for you where you had such high hopes for this therapy that got you to this plateau. And then it didn’t deliver.

And so for the patients and the clinicians listening, don’t be disheartened if that happens. There’s a good therapeutic tool in the natural medicine toolkit that we can apply to irritable bowel disease.

And so what we did in your case was we used a short course on the elemental diet, which has some pretty impressive documentation for IBD. And we paired that with this gut healing compound known as SBI which can help with binding toxins in the gut and restoration of the gut barrier. And those two things have gotten you back to your previous plateau. When I say plateau, your peak level of plateau. And it sounds like you’re actually even a bit better than you were at your previous peak.

Matt: Yeah, and when we talked about this before, it was like an upward trend of a stock market chart where it’s progressing up. But if you look at the long term picture, there are always some dips in it.

DrMR: Right. True.

Matt: Exactly. And so I definitely entered a valley not too long ago. But now, we’re back climbing up the mountain and doing well. And as we were discussing earlier, it’s so important not only to keep a level mind about these things but also your confidence builds once you get more tools in your tool chest to work on these types of things and know that certain things do work. And sometimes, you just have to give them time.

And sometimes, you just have to have the patience to get through those rough patches because it’s so easy when you’re in one of those rough patches to think that you’re never going to get back to where you were.

But as long as you continue to think about that progress that you’re making and work towards it, I’m grateful that I was able to keep a level head with that and get to that point.

Prednisone

DrMR: Yeah, I am as well. And you’ve also been able to move away from some of the drug therapy, which I’m not philosophically opposed to. But certainly, if we can find a natural, and especially a nutritional-based, invention for these things rather than a drug therapy—like prednisone.

Matt: Yeah, and I’m realistic about that too. I really try not to use those drugs. But it’s like the “in case of emergency, break glass.” I’m not going to break the medicine cabinet glass. But it’s in there.You were using prednisone to quell your flares. And that doesn’t come without a cost. And you were aware of that. We were both aware of that. And so we were really trying to say, “Okay. We know the prednisone works. But it’s doing other damage. And so what other options do we have?”

And even when things were really bad and I was really struggling to get to work, I was able to hold off because I wanted to. But you always want to weigh that because I also knew I wanted to get out of this flare up because you’re not getting any healing done while that’s happening.

And I was able to discover, first time trying an elemental diet, that after four days of that, I was having the same improvement that I would’ve if I’d been taking 40 mg of prednisone.

DrMR: And some of the research literature corroborates that. So it’s nice that we have these different options. And again, not saying that you should not use medicines or medicines are better or worse. But let’s start with the least invasive, essentially a hypoallergenic, meal replacement, nutritional shake compared to prednisone. And which one makes more sense pragmatically to start with? And of course, the nutritional shakes.

Matt: Exactly.

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DrMR: Yeah, so you’ve done fantastic. Your digestive symptoms have gotten better globally. The other thing I just wanted to mention really quickly for people is your fatigue and brain fog also got better which just illustrates the profound gut-to-brain connection. Anything there you want to chime in on?

Matt: Yeah, and that’s the type of thing where when you talk about dealing with digestive symptoms like this and you say, “Oh, it’s difficult to leave the house or go to work” and those things, it’s not just because of the anxiety of having to urgently use the restroom. It’s the fact that you are tired because when your immune system is working its tail off to try to heal yourself constantly, on a 24/7 basis, it’s going to sap a ton of energy. So not only are you dealing with the stress of going outside, you just don’t have the energy to do those things.

Digestive Problems

And it affects the clarity of your mind as well, which is why in my mindset I wouldn’t have even considered taking this more intensity job that I did for the summer if I hadn’t had that improvement before. I’m sure glad I did do that even though I did have a brief rough patch in the middle of that job. And that was a rough time. But in the grand scheme of things, it was short lived. It feels like a long time when you’re in the thick of it.

DrMR: And I’m glad that you did take that job because that really gave you something to motivate you to get back to being well as fast as you could. It gave you no excuse to put things off. It was like, “Yep, gotta take care of this right away.”

Matt: Exactly. And I know it’s different for different people. But for me, I’ve had that before the previous summer because I work at a school primarily. So I’m fortunate enough to get summers off. And so last summer, I was just going to take some time to just relax a bit and try different things. And man, I regressed because, at least for myself, I didn’t have the motivation to have something to work toward. I was just sitting around, hoping things were going to get better.

It was tricky, balancing the stress of this job. But for me, that was a motivation to really buckle down because the hard thing is the worst your feeling, the more energy it takes to try to get better. And that’s when you’re at your least amount of energy that you have to work with.

So that direction is working away from you. But if you can find it in yourself when you’re at that low point to actively think about how you can work to get yourself better, as soon as you start seeing that little bit of progress that’s going to be enough spur and motivation to propel you forward. That’s what’s happened to me.

DrMR: And having that external motivator to make sure you don’t just tip into this illness-induced despondency is very important.

Matt: Yeah, which is very common.

DrMR: Well, my man, you’ve done great. I’m really happy to hear that you’re stable and stable at a level of improvement I don’t think you’ve achieved historically. And we’ll continue to check in periodically.

And maybe I should share this also. Do I expect you’re never going to have a little bit of a regression? No, you probably will at some point. And the analogy I used earlier in our visit was someone who pulls a hamstring, maybe in college. Will they ever have an ache in that hamstring again? Yeah, they’ll take some time. And they’ll heal. Do some stretching. They’ll do some therapy. They’ll do some foam rolling. And they’re hamstring will probably be solid like your gut is right now.

But if enough time goes by and their exercise routine gets a little unbalanced or they’re sitting too much or what have you, could that hamstring start to flare up a little bit again? Yeah. And would it be a big deal to have to do some more stretching and PT and foam rolling and whatever? No.

Gut Healing Often Involves Ups & Downs, Matt’s Story with Inflammatory Bowel Disease - DrR Video Tiles Elemental Diet

And so in your case, maybe once in awhile you have to do a little short day or two on an elemental diet to calm things down. Wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Matt: And now when that does happen, I now have the knowledge and the tools to know what to do or at least an approach of things to try and something to work through rather than just having an, “Oh, crap” moment. What do I do?

DrMR: Yeah, well said. Well, thank you, Matt, for sharing. Anything else you want to say in close?

Matt: I think, especially for somebody who has been in the same boat as me where you may be going through that rough patch and you’re just searching for any type of inspiration to keep you going, I’m just here to say keep with it. Keep trying because you’re not alone. A lot of people have dealt with this.

And I’ve seen it firsthand. And I’ve been fortunate enough to learn that advice of sticking with it and keep educating yourself. Keep learning. And good things happen as a result.

DrMR: Awesome. Awesome. That’s a great closing point. So thank you again, Matt, for sharing with us. And congratulations on your newfound health.

Matt: Thank you so much.

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.

Discussion

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!

20 thoughts on “Gut Healing Often Involves Ups & Downs, Matt’s Story with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  1. Hi Dr. Ruscio, I have been listening to so many of your podcasts and am so grateful that you share and educate. I can’t thank you enough. I am three years plus SIBO-C and also recently dx with Erosive Oral Lichen Planus and lichen planus (atleast 6 months) on my skin &mouth . I strongly believe its related to my SIBO OR that I have SIBO because of a root canal the summer prior to the SIBO and then the domino affect. I am not really sure of course. Question: In the above article you mentioned “SBI”. What is that? Also, I am faced with courses of Prednisone to help the symptoms of Lichen but I really do not want to do that! I have recently been thinking since I have done everything else–ABX, herbal ABX, Lowfodmap, digestive enzymes, bitters– you name it, probably done it–but I have not done Elemental Diet. Your comment about the Elemental Diet and how it can act similarly to prednisone (WOW!!) –I am thinking I must try that for the both issues (OLP and SIBO) rather than cause more problems with the prednisone to calm the OLP/LP. Question: How long was your patient on the Elemental to quell the flare? Thank you! THANK YOU!! I am so grateful for your website!!

    1. Hi Jeannie,

      So glad to hear you’re finding the podcasts helpful.

      SBI is a gut-healing supplement which has Immunoglobulins (IGG), which protect your intestines by blocking and binding toxins in the gut.

      If you’re interested in doing the elemental diet, I would recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Ruscio’s book, “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, because he lays out the exact protocol he uses with patients in his clinic and lays out guidelines for determining how long an individual should be on the elemental diet. You can find it here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook

      Good luck!

      1. Thank you! Is the SBI supplement available anywhere? I don’t think I see a link for it. Thanks! I will definitely look into the book! Jeannie

        1. We don’t carry it in the store, but if you google “SBI Protect”, I’m sure it will come up. Good luck!

  2. I was surprised that diet is not mentioned for IBD management!?! The benefits of anti-microbials may have been sustained had diet change been integrated. For IBD, Specific Carbohydrate Diet has been found to induce remission for IBD, and the PRODUCE Study and UMass IBD-AID (extensions of SCD that are more microbiome supportive) are recruiting for further study. I’ve used diet for over a decade to maintain remission med-free. Making sense of the research/evidence resulted in my website documenting the microbiome –> diet –> disease connection. Your work is amazing; I was just surprised diet was not mentioned.

  3. I’ve been really wanting to try the Elemental Diet for a bit to see how I react on it, but I have tried both fasting, and liquid diets before and had a terrible time with them. Fasting seems to only intensify my symptoms(all the general gut symptoms, also including brain fog, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, but have tested negative for everything I’ve ever gone to a doctor for, except for slightly elevated Lyme numbers years ago[have since been treated and personally believe it to be gone, though many co-infections likely remain]) as soon as I reintroduce food(usually my chicken soup, which happens to have both celery and onion in it…), and all of the liquid diets I’ve tried have just resulted in burning diarrhea. I think it’s likely that my liquid diets included high Fodmap foods inadvertently as well, but I only learned much about Fodmaps over the course of the last year. So far, the only treatments that have worked for me(besides the dozen or so antibiotics I rotated through while being treated for Lyme, many of which were also quite effective) is taking biofilm destroying enzymes(Interfase), and a simple ginger root supplement(I also regularly drink kombucha and eat traditionally fermented pickles and both tend to quell symptoms). And generally I feel better when I eat large simple carbohydrate dense meals, like rice based dishes, especially curries, or just most anything when I eat out. It’s like the higher quantity and diversity of the food reduces the inflamed feeling and leads to better bowel movements. Anyway, attempting to research the Elemental Diet as much as possible and see if there is a way to make that work for me. I’m worried the low calorie intake of the diet will make things difficult, among other things, but also worried about supplementing it with anything else because my gut is so sensitive and I don’t really want to screw things up. This is year 16 of me being sick, which is more than half of my life! Very glad to have found this site after spending the last few years completely defeated, but overwhelmed and still hesitant to try anything since most of what I’ve been told to do has failed pretty miserably….

    1. Hi Tayler,

      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with these issues for so long. It sounds like finding a qualified and experienced practitioner to partner with will be key for untangling everything. If you’d like to become a patient of Dr. Ruscio, you can apply to do so here: https://www.drruscio.com/gethelp

      If you’d like to pick up a copy of his book “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, you may find it helpful as he lays out the exact comprehensive step-by-step process for healing gut issues that he uses with patients in the clinic. You can find it here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook

      Good luck!

  4. Dr. Ruscio,

    I listened to your summit through SIBO SOS and just finished also reading Healthy Gut Healthy You. I have been fighting SIBO for two years. I have tried everything but nothing has helped. Well, the diet has helped some on and off. I have decided to do the Elemental Diet and have determined I need to do it for at least 17 days. Can you please tell me how many bottles I would need? I can always order more if needed but would like to start with close to the amount I need so I do not have that stress on me. Thanks for you book and knowledge.
    Ann

  5. I was surprised that diet is not mentioned for IBD management!?! The benefits of anti-microbials may have been sustained had diet change been integrated. For IBD, Specific Carbohydrate Diet has been found to induce remission for IBD, and the PRODUCE Study and UMass IBD-AID (extensions of SCD that are more microbiome supportive) are recruiting for further study. I’ve used diet for over a decade to maintain remission med-free. Making sense of the research/evidence resulted in my website documenting the microbiome –> diet –> disease connection. Your work is amazing; I was just surprised diet was not mentioned.

  6. Hi Dr. Ruscio, I have been listening to so many of your podcasts and am so grateful that you share and educate. I can’t thank you enough. I am three years plus SIBO-C and also recently dx with Erosive Oral Lichen Planus and lichen planus (atleast 6 months) on my skin &mouth . I strongly believe its related to my SIBO OR that I have SIBO because of a root canal the summer prior to the SIBO and then the domino affect. I am not really sure of course. Question: In the above article you mentioned “SBI”. What is that? Also, I am faced with courses of Prednisone to help the symptoms of Lichen but I really do not want to do that! I have recently been thinking since I have done everything else–ABX, herbal ABX, Lowfodmap, digestive enzymes, bitters– you name it, probably done it–but I have not done Elemental Diet. Your comment about the Elemental Diet and how it can act similarly to prednisone (WOW!!) –I am thinking I must try that for the both issues (OLP and SIBO) rather than cause more problems with the prednisone to calm the OLP/LP. Question: How long was your patient on the Elemental to quell the flare? Thank you! THANK YOU!! I am so grateful for your website!!

    1. Hi Jeannie,

      So glad to hear you’re finding the podcasts helpful.

      SBI is a gut-healing supplement which has Immunoglobulins (IGG), which protect your intestines by blocking and binding toxins in the gut.

      If you’re interested in doing the elemental diet, I would recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Ruscio’s book, “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, because he lays out the exact protocol he uses with patients in his clinic and lays out guidelines for determining how long an individual should be on the elemental diet. You can find it here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook

      Good luck!

      1. Thank you! Is the SBI supplement available anywhere? I don’t think I see a link for it. Thanks! I will definitely look into the book! Jeannie

        1. We don’t carry it in the store, but if you google “SBI Protect”, I’m sure it will come up. Good luck!

  7. I’ve been really wanting to try the Elemental Diet for a bit to see how I react on it, but I have tried both fasting, and liquid diets before and had a terrible time with them. Fasting seems to only intensify my symptoms(all the general gut symptoms, also including brain fog, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, but have tested negative for everything I’ve ever gone to a doctor for, except for slightly elevated Lyme numbers years ago[have since been treated and personally believe it to be gone, though many co-infections likely remain]) as soon as I reintroduce food(usually my chicken soup, which happens to have both celery and onion in it…), and all of the liquid diets I’ve tried have just resulted in burning diarrhea. I think it’s likely that my liquid diets included high Fodmap foods inadvertently as well, but I only learned much about Fodmaps over the course of the last year. So far, the only treatments that have worked for me(besides the dozen or so antibiotics I rotated through while being treated for Lyme, many of which were also quite effective) is taking biofilm destroying enzymes(Interfase), and a simple ginger root supplement(I also regularly drink kombucha and eat traditionally fermented pickles and both tend to quell symptoms). And generally I feel better when I eat large simple carbohydrate dense meals, like rice based dishes, especially curries, or just most anything when I eat out. It’s like the higher quantity and diversity of the food reduces the inflamed feeling and leads to better bowel movements. Anyway, attempting to research the Elemental Diet as much as possible and see if there is a way to make that work for me. I’m worried the low calorie intake of the diet will make things difficult, among other things, but also worried about supplementing it with anything else because my gut is so sensitive and I don’t really want to screw things up. This is year 16 of me being sick, which is more than half of my life! Very glad to have found this site after spending the last few years completely defeated, but overwhelmed and still hesitant to try anything since most of what I’ve been told to do has failed pretty miserably….

    1. Hi Tayler,

      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with these issues for so long. It sounds like finding a qualified and experienced practitioner to partner with will be key for untangling everything. If you’d like to become a patient of Dr. Ruscio, you can apply to do so here: https://www.drruscio.com/gethelp

      If you’d like to pick up a copy of his book “Healthy Gut, Healthy You”, you may find it helpful as he lays out the exact comprehensive step-by-step process for healing gut issues that he uses with patients in the clinic. You can find it here: https://www.drruscio.com/getgutbook

      Good luck!

  8. Dr. Ruscio,

    I listened to your summit through SIBO SOS and just finished also reading Healthy Gut Healthy You. I have been fighting SIBO for two years. I have tried everything but nothing has helped. Well, the diet has helped some on and off. I have decided to do the Elemental Diet and have determined I need to do it for at least 17 days. Can you please tell me how many bottles I would need? I can always order more if needed but would like to start with close to the amount I need so I do not have that stress on me. Thanks for you book and knowledge.
    Ann

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