Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD is a group of autoimmune disorders affecting the GI tract that leads to chronic inflammatory responses in a portion of or throughout the intestinal tract.

Functional medicine management of IBD

The Functional Medicine approach to managing IBD is to identify the triggers and mediators of this condition which can include dysbiosis, bacterial and fungal overgrowths, oxidative stress, toxicity and food sensitivities.

The goal is to understand what is promoting the autoimmune condition and excessive inflammation in the intestinal tract using the full range of tools available from functional lab testing and to restore normal immune response using dietary and nutritional interventions.


A thorough evaluation of the patient’s signs and symptoms related to the dysfunction in the intestinal tract is necessary and referral to a medical specialist for further evaluation may be needed. A Functional Medicine assessment of IBD may include some or all of the following:

  • Comprehensive stool analysis and stool microbiology assay, ruling out pathogenic bacterial, fungal or parasitic infection or overgrowths of opportunistic microbes
  • Assessing for GI inflammation and GI bleeding
  • Assessment of related gut conditions, such as intestinal permeability and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Routine blood chemistry to assess inflammatory markers and related conditions
  • Food sensitivity testing
  • Nutritional analysis to assess for nutrient deficiencies

Functional Medicine management of IBD is focused on the following:

  • Reestablishing gut flora balance
  • Supporting digestion
  • Supporting gut barrier function
  • Supporting intestinal motility
  • Supporting normal gut immune responses

Probiotics and Antimicrobial Herbs
A number of specific probiotic strains have been shown to be helpful in relieving symptoms of IBD and can be used to restore balance to the gut flora. We also use antimicrobials to restore microbial balance in cases of bacterial and fungal overgrowth.

Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes are often used to support proper digestion of nutrients in order to minimize incomplete digestion and malabsorption, a common occurrence in Crohn’s disease.

Nutrients to regenerate the epithelial lining
There are a range of plant compounds and gut supportive nutrients that have been shown to have a restorative effect on a damaged intestinal barrier.

Anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating compounds
Anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating herbs and nutritional compounds to decrease excessive inflammatory responses are often used.

Avoidance of foods that upregulate GI immune responses
Food sensitivities are often a problem in IBD. Avoidance of these foods is important and compounds that have been shown to decrease GI immune responses can be helpful.

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