Precision Based Medicine Offers a New Approach in Treating IBS-by Dr. Richard Firshein

As a physician, one of the greatest senses of accomplishments comes from our patient’s success.  It is a collaboration that takes hard work on both the part of the physician and of the patient. Judy was one such patient.

Judy and Her Rocky Road to Recovery….

Over the past 16 years, Judy had seen numerous specialists whom collectively, represented hundreds of years of medical experience. Yet they could not figure out what the causes of her underlying medical conditions were. In truth, they were looking in the wrong direction. She presented with numerous chronic symptoms which had worsened or progressed.

Her chronic symptoms which accumulated with the passing years, included;

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Leg Pain
  • Nausea
  • Migraines
  • Joint Pain and Fatigue

Whenever I hear a patient describe a multitude of different symptoms like those above, I try think about a unifying diagnosis-one that could cause most; if not all, of the symptoms.

In this case, food allergy was high on my list. The characteristic intermittent complaints, that would wax and wane around meals, was as crucial as the migraines and fatigue. She is one of many patients who have come to see me after visiting numerous doctors, without any of them thinking it may be an allergic component.

Even by conservative estimates, there are over 20 million people walking around with symptomatic food allergies. While some cases are mild, they are still able to cause a wide variety of medical complaints that can masquerade as another problem. This estimate does not account for the number of people who have food sensitivities, such as gluten or lactose intolerance.

Unfortunately, by the time I had seen Judy she had numerous unnecessary tests and procedures. These included colonoscopies or endoscopies which, of course, her doctors told her “didn’t reveal anything specific”. According to Judy, it seemed that there “wasn’t one test that had not been performed, including MRI’s, CT scans and every imaginable blood test”.

However, no one ever mentioned the possibility of food allergies or testing for them. Further questioning revealed that as a child; she had suffered from frequent ear infections, and numerous doses of antibiotics. Could allergies have contributed to those infections as well?

I decided to start by performing both skin & blood tests for allergies, called a RAST. The results confirmed that Judy was allergic to many of the foods she had been eating;

  • Almonds
  • Milk
  • Sweet Potato
  • Soy
  • Tomato

All of which were steady staples of her diet.

After 16 years of chronic symptoms with no relief, Judy went on the Food Allergy Elimination Diet I prescribed. From that day forward she noticed a steady improvement in her symptoms: first the bloating,  then the chronic pain, next the migraines and last the diarrhea and constipation. She lost 20 pounds and started to have more energy.

In the 6 months that she has received treatment under my care, her inflammatory markers otherwise known as CRP (c- reactive protein) have dramatically improved, back into the normal range. Her HgAlc (glycosylated hemoglobin- which is a marker for diabetes) went from diabetic to non-diabetic, and her blood sugar returned to the normal range. Her liver enzymes which initially showed high levels of inflammation, are back to normal.

The Good news is that in Judy’s case she did seek out and received treatment, which was targeted to her specific medical and dietary issues.  By understanding the role of food allergies in her underlying health, and by targeting those specific needs she was now able to get her life back.

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