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Join ACAM for 2.5 Days of Gut Health Education

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

New Developments in Gut Health & its Relationship to Systemic Illness - Nov. 16 - 18, 2012 - Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino - Las Vegas

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is one of the five most prevalent gastrointestinal disease burdens in the United States, with an overall health care cost of more than $1.7 billion. This chronic condition is without a medical cure and commonly requires a lifetime of care. Each year in the United States, IBD accounts for more than $700,000 physician visits, 100,000 hospitalization, and disability in 119,000 patients. Over the long term, up to 75% of patients with Crohn's disease and 25% of those with ulcerative colitis will require surgery.

According to a recent article in the gastroenterology literature: Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is commonly used by the general public and by those suffering from chronic diseases including individuals with Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis. This increase in patients' use of CAM has spurred interest in CAM among gastroenterologists and other physician's general knowledge of CAM efficacy in IBD is lacking and most physicians are unprepared to advise their patients about CAM or understand the application and appropriate use of CAM therapies in IBD or know the effect these therapies will have on conventional IBD therapies. According to multiple surveys published in the gastroenterology literature, patients using CAM report benefits that extend beyond simply improved disease control. Using CAM allows patients to exert a greater degree of control over their disease and its management than they are afforded by conventional medicine.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is implicated in irritable bowel syndrome and is difficult to both diagnose and treat. This treatment challenge arises mainly because a specific algorithm for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (diarrhea subtype) does not exist, treatments are not equally effective in all patients, recommendations change, and new therapeutic options have recently become available. Reactions to dietary components have also been implicated in irritable bowel syndrome, but physician knowledge about optimal testing for and treatment of food-related allergic reactions are limited.

This activity will provide caregivers with information CAM interventions for irritable bowel disorder and irritable bowel syndrome: clinical nutrition, probiotics, integrative use of antibiotics, dietary therapy and hormonal interventions and will provide them with information to use in counseling patients about CAM interventions in inflammatory and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as other gastrointestinal conditions in which CAM therapies can be applied.

Register by the end of this week (Oct. 20) and receive Early Bird rates, which are $100 off. Get more information and register at:

Tags:  gastrointestinal disease  gut health  systemic illness 

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The Road Back to Health Goes Through the Gut

Posted By John Gannage, MD, MCFP, DH, Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

As living beings, the quality of our digestion relates holistically to the function of every cell in every organ or gland within our bodies. The first step is making the correct food choices, providing the proper fuel for our inner machinery. What have become staples in our diet e.g. excessive dairy, refined grains, refined sugars, coffee, alcohol and processed meats, can slowly undermine the proper functioning of our digestive tract (and other organs, including our brains). In combination with overuse of medications (e.g. antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antacids, steroids, and hormones) and stress, the more than 2.5 billion pounds of chemical pollutants dumped into our environment each year contribute to the burden of chronic disease that we are faced with at this point in human history.

There was a time when foods were eaten as close to their original source as possible, where additives and processing were unheard of. With the advent of modern day agricultural practices, changes in the family unit, the premium placed on convenience, and lack of rotation in our diets of wholesome foods, chronic illness has soared in our population, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer; as well as pediatric cancers, obesity, allergic illnesses and autism. The road back to wellness always includes proper nutrition and behaviour, and MAINTENANCE of them as part of everyday life. Does this need to be difficult? I don’t believe it does. Seek out like-minded individuals, and there are more of them everyday, and the journey will have many rewards.If you have eaten improperly for a number of years, the process of regaining your health may need to extend beyond an incorporation of wholesome foods. In the pyramid of intervention that we focus on at 300 Main Street, the initial step is dedicated to reducing toxicity within one’s intestinal system, and restoring proper liver function.

Tags:  gastrointestinal disease  gut health 

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New ACAM Module: Lab Assessment - Stool Testing

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 22, 2011
Updated: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Irvine, Calif -- The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) is pleased to add the Lab Assessment of Stool Analysis for gastrointestinal issues to their curriculum of integrative medicine education.

For the first time ACAM will offer Lab Assessment: Stool Testing at the ACAM Learning Center in Orange County, California, October 21-22, 2011.

"This workshop is a great opportunity for ACAM to assist in the professional development of physicians with the goal of improving patient health,” said Rachel Weaver, Director of Education and Operations for ACAM.

Faculty for this course is made up of physicians and researchers that will work closely with learners to impart skills and strategies for the assessment and treatment of GI health. To register for the course and obtain more information please visit:

About ACAM: The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) is a not-for-profit Organization dedicated to educating physicians and other health care professionals on the safe and effective application of integrative medicine. ACAM's healthcare model focuses on prevention of illness and a strive for total wellness. ACAM is the voice of integrative medicine; our goals are to improve physician skills, knowledge and diagnostic procedures as they relate to integrative medicine; to support integrative medicine research; and to provide education on current standard of care as well as additional approaches to patient care.

The ACAM Learning Center is located at:

65 Enterprise, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

Tags:  gut health 

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Healthy Diet, Healthy Skin

Posted By Therese Patterson, NC, Monday, August 1, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are good for us, skin included. Healthful foods reduce inflammation and decrease the likelihood of skin breakouts. On the flip side, there are also a few studies that scientifically support the role of two food groups in acne promotion: dairy products and simple carbohydrates (think processed foods and sugary soft drinks).

To keep your skin in tip-top shape, make sure you incorporate these foods into your diet (along with a good skincare routine that features natural skincareproducts):

Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps regulate the skin cycle and is also the main ingredient in Accutane, an effective prescription medicine for acne. Good food sources of vitamin A include fish oil, salmon, carrots, spinach, and broccoli. Too much vitamin A can lead to toxic side effects, however. Limit your daily dose to 10,000 IU and never take it while pregnant or nursing.

Zinc. There is some evidence that people with acne have lower than normal levels of the mineral zinc. Zinc appears to help prevent acne by creating an environment inhospitable to the growth of P. acnes bacteria It also helps calm skin irritated by breakouts. Zinc is found in turkey, almonds, Brazil nuts, and wheat germ.

Vitamins E and C. The antioxidants vitamin E and vitamin C have a calming effect on the skin. Sources of vitamin C include oranges, lemons, grapefruit, papaya, and tomatoes. You can get vitamin E from sweet potatoes, nuts, olive oil, sunflower seeds, avocados, broccoli, and leafy green vegetables.

Selenium. The mineral selenium has antioxidant properties that help protect skin from free radical damage. Food sources of selenium include wheat germ, tuna, salmon, garlic, Brazil nuts, eggs, and brown rice.

Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids support the normal healthy skin cell turnover that helps keep acne at bay. You can get omega-3 fatty acids from cold water fish, such as salmon and sardines; flaxseed oil; walnuts; sunflower seeds; and almonds.

Water. Last but definitely not least, water. Many of us have our morning coffee and then drink only one drink during the day and one at night. Water helps hydrate your body and leads to plump, healthy skin. Adequate hydration helps flush out toxins that can cause skin problems. It is also essential for skin metabolism and regeneration.

Sources: Mt. Sinai Medical Center,WebMD

Tags:  food and drink  gut health  health 

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The Second Brain: The Gut and Serotonin

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 6, 2010
Updated: Friday, April 18, 2014



by Zina Kroner, DO

This is not the “shock and awe” study of the year, but it elucidates an excellent medical phenomenon.  A recent study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology showed that St. John’s Wort, an herb used to treat mild depression, was less effective than placebo at treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  Improvements in quality of life were similar in both placebo and the herb treated groups.  Gastroenterologists have been treating IBS with anti-depressants for quite some time.   I would like to bring to light the theory behind it, as this may have clinical implications beyond the use of medication.

The gut, often referred to as the second brain due to the powerful enteric nervous system that it houses, is tightly connected to serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter.   Dr. Michael D. Gershon, the chairman of the department of anatomy and cell biology at Columbia has brought this to light in his book entitled “The Second Brain.” 

We have all felt a twinge in the stomach prior to a major exam or a public speaking event.  It is quite common for my patients with a psychiatric disorder to have a concomitant gastrointestinal issue. 

There are several reasons why stress or anxiety can cause irritable bowel syndrome.  First, with any fight or flight response, cortisol, a stress hormone, is released. Cortisol fires up the sympathetic nervous system and makes the parasympathetic nervous system less efficient.  It is the parasympathetic nervous system that we need in order to maintain bodily homeostasis, such as breathing, digestion,etc.  Therefore, with a cortisol surge, digestion becomes ineffective and irritable bowel syndrome can kick in.

Second, it is important to note that serotonin has a profound effect on gastrointestinal function, being that 95% of the body’s serotonin is cradled in the gut.  At the start of digestion, it is the enterochromaffin cells that release serotonin into the gastrointestinal tract, which houses many serotonin receptors.  The receptors then initiate a process via nerve cells that starts the flow of digestive enzymes. 

Serotonin then relays messages up to the brain, letting it know what is happening.  Therefore, certain foods may elicit a feeling of nausea, etc.  Once serotonin is released in the gastrointestinal tract and the process of digestion is stimulated, normally, it is cleared out of the way by SERT, a serotonin transporter. 

These transporters are found in the gut walls.   Often, those with IBS, may not have an appropriate level of functioning SERTs, and they are therefore unable to clear out the serotonin cells.  This can stimulate diarrhea. Once the serotonin receptors are supersaturated, the effect is constipation, thus the infamous Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Therefore, medications as well as supplements such as St. Johns Wort which manipulate the serotonin may potentially help IBS symptoms. It is no wonder that in this recent study, placebo was quite beneficial in IBS.  This shows how much mind and body are connected.  Focusing on stress management is key as well. 

A third contributor to IBS as it related to the enteric nervous system is allergens.  Often, the barrier of the gut becomes damaged and certain allergens, etc, may enter the bloodstream, triggering the brain to send a message to the gut to increase the production of histamines and other inflammatory cells in order to try to get rid of the allergens.  This inflammatory process may trigger the neurons in the enteric nervous system (in the gut) to become hyperactive and therefore contribute to diarrhea. 

The challenge now is to optimize the efficiency of the gastrointestinal tract by preventing unnecessary cortisol surges so not to disrupt the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system harmony, to maintain a healthy serotonin and SERT level, and to prevent unnecessary allergens from entering the GI tract so not to trigger the inflammatory process involved in diarrhea.  The gut really is the Second Brain! 

Citation:  Saito YA et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of St John's wort for treating irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol 2010 Jan; 105:170.

Tags:  gut health  inflammatory bowel disease 

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How Poor Gut Health Fuels Inflammation and Fatigue

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 25, 2009
Updated: Friday, April 18, 2014

Recently I was speaking with a group of physicians at a meeting for the North Carolina Integrative Medicine Society.  At one point, one of my colleagues listed the 25 most commonly reported problems that had been seen at the Carolina Center for Integrative Medicine over the past decade. Two conditions topping the list were fatigue and digestive problems such as diarrhea, malabsorption, and leaky gut—a condition whereby the intestinal tissues become damaged (often through a combination of poor diet and stress), allowing toxins to trickle into the bloodstream and compromise one’s health. 

It turns out that a leaky gut can be closely linked to the top medical complaint of all time, fatigue.  How these two are related, as explained in a report published in the 29 December 2008 issue of Neuro Endocrinology Letters, is that leaky gut sets the stage for whole-body inflammation and oxidative stress (an excess of toxic free radicals), and this in turn promotes fatigue.  Chronic, low-level inflammation is also what underlies fibromyalgia and other medically unexplained conditions.  It also plays a key role in the genesis of cancer, heart disease, and many other common disorders. 

In this recent study—designed to confirm findings from a 2007 study of the same issue—Martine Maes and his colleagues at the Clinical Research Center for Mental Health in Belgium, measured blood levels of certain antibodies against LPS, a toxin linked with “bad bugs” or disease-causing microbes in the intestines.  The researchers measured levels of LPS antibodies before and after receiving a combination of supplements that help control inflammation and oxidative stress—namely glutamine, N-acetyl cysteine and zinc—in conjunction with a “leaky gut diet” (gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free) over the course of 10 to 14 months. The diet and supplement regimen resulted in a significant reduction in the LPS antibody levels, and this in turn was associated with a reduction in chronic fatigue. 

The results support the view that leaky gut, along with the systemic inflammation it generates, may be key factors in the chronic fatigue syndrome.  By patching up the leaky gut—something that can be accomplished with glutamine and other supplements—and reducing the oxidative and inflammatory stress, one can have a major impact on this condition. 

Why is this such a significant study?  Millions of Americans have an overgrowth of "bad bugs" in the gut, which in turn contributes to the leaky gut and low-level chronic inflammation described above.  These types of problems have been a major focus of my medical practice since I opened the doors at the Carolina Center 15 years ago.  Based on our records, we estimate that at least 75% of patients who come here are suffering from varying degrees of this problem—an imbalance in intestinal bacteria, which very often perpetuates leaky gut and fatigue.

A Success Story:  Jenny Rawlings


I’ve just explained how, by adhering to a diet and supplement plan that helps heal the gut, you can often recover a high level of energy and vitality.  Let me now share a story of one of my patients who was able to benefit from this approach. 

Jenny Rawlings is a 45-year-old woman who first came to see me two years ago for chronic fatigue and an achy bodily condition known as fibromyalgia.  Prior to her first visit at the Carolina Center, she had gone to numerous physicians for help.  After two years of declining health, none of the eight specialists she had seen could tell her what was wrong with her.  “I couldn't sleep, I was in constant pain, my limbs would go numb periodically,” Jenny recalls.  She was also suffering from stroke-like episodes. “When I couldn't say what was in my brain or the words would come out all jumbled. I knew I had Fibromyalgia, but I believed there was something else wrong as well.” 

I explained to Jenny that Fibromyalgia was a chronic, whole-body inflammatory condition that often coincided with gut-based problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and chronic intestinal infections.  When I evaluated her at the Carolina Center, I found that she had an extremely severe yeast infection, leaky gut, low hormone levels (including thyroid hormone and progesterone), deficits in certain vitamins and minerals, and very high levels of heavy metals.  All of those factors had combined to give Jenny a severly compromised immune system, making her vulnerable to a host of microbes. 

“My body couldn't fight off anything,” Jenny says.  “The testing that was performed by Dr. Pittman gave me a much clearer indication of what was wrong with me.  Those tests, which were blood and urine tests, were very simple, and yet the problems they identified seemed profoundly important.  It frustrated me no end that none of the eight doctors I'd seen previously asked for such a comprehensive panel.” 

Jenny then received several courses of intravenous vitamins to quickly build up her nutritional reserves and help reboot her immune system.  She also started a regimen of anti-fungal treatments, thyroid medication and progesterone, and she adjusted her pain and sleeping medications.  The recommended supplements included probiotics, Krebs magnesium, and vitamins B, C, D, and E.  I recommended that she try to follow a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free diet to starve the yeast in her body.  She also started a colon cleanse and began colon hydrotherapy, because her colon had become a source of tremendous toxicity.  After her yeast infection was under control, she underwent chelation therapy to remove the heavy metals.  Lastly, she worked with a personal trainer to build strength and help compensate for her Fibromyalgia. 

Jenny says she started feeling better immediately after receiving the intravenous vitamins, and then noticed a huge shift in her energy and well-being within a month of starting treatment.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t all fun and game.  The yeast die-off reaction from the anti-fungal medications was severe, causing her to feel disoriented for a short period of time.  “Once that was behind me, and once I was completely on the special diet, I immediately began feeling much better,” she recalls. “My brain fog started to clear up and some of my energy returned.  I lost fifteen pounds that I had gained from adverse reactions to Lyrica.  It was like I had entered into a totally new body, a new experience of life.” 

Jenny improved steadily over the course of nine months.  Today her fibromyalgia episodes are less frequent and much shorter in duration.  The yeast infection is gone, and her immune system is greatly improved.  This winter, everyone else in Jenny’s family has had severe colds and flus, and yet she never came down with a single ailment, even though she was taking care of her family members.  “The old me would have been sick for months,” she says, smiling. 

Jenny’s recovery was by no means a "quick fix”.  It took a tremendous amount of commitment on her part, along with plenty of support from the Carolina Center’s dedicated staff.  But she says all the work has paid off in many more ways than one, and she is deeply grateful for this new lease on life.  “Last year, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to work again,” she says.  “This year, I’m starting my own business. I’m not only better but much more educated about my health, my body, and what it takes to be healthy and strong in today’s world.” 

To reach Dr. Pittman, or to obtain more information on his integrative approach to digestive health, contact the Carolina Center for Integrative Medicine in Raleigh, NC at 919-571-4391, or visit the website at

Tags:  fatigue  gut health  inflammation 

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The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating physicians and other health care professionals on the safe and effective application of integrative medicine.