Irritable Bowel Syndrome – A Functional Medicine Approach

Dr. Amy Davis

By Dr. Amy Davis, MD

Functional Medicine provides a new way of thinking about chronic disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which can impact 1 in 6 people and is entirely correctable. 

Typical symptoms of IBS include: 

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Distention
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea that often comes on after a meal
  • Cramping

Each person with IBS may have a different cause even though the symptoms are the same. 

Common causes include:

  • Microbiome imbalance – “dysbiosis”
  • Allergens like gluten or dairy
  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Toxins

The Functional Medicine approach treats each individual and identifies the root cause of symptoms. 

According to current research there are two main causes of IBS – food allergies and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). 

Food Allergies and Sensitivities: In a landmark paper published in the British medical journal Gut, eliminating foods identified through IgG antibody testing resulted in dramatic improvement in IBS symptoms. The American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded “we must respect and recognize the role of food allergies and inflammation in IBS”. Clearly certain foods irritate your bowel and digestive system and can result in irritable bowel symptoms. Food sensitivities like gluten are very common and create a lot of aggravation for those who struggle with IBS. Dairy can create symptoms because of lactose intolerance or the proteins, casein or whey, can cause inflammation in the gut. Other likely possibilities include soy, corn, eggs or additives. A food elimination diet can be very helpful to identify the source of symptoms. 

The lining of the gut is only one cell layer thick and must protect you from invasion of many potential pathogens. It houses about 70 percent of the immune system and is extremely important to keep you healthy. If the lining is damaged it becomes “leaky” and foreign toxins, pathogens and undigested food can pass into the system setting off the immune response creating local and systemic inflammation. Stress, steroids, antibiotics, infections, alcohol and diets low in fiber and high in sugar can all damage the lining. The microbes in the gut have to be in balance for optimal health. If there is overgrowth of bacteria, yeast or parasites, IBS can result. SIBO results when there is overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestinal. Eliminating SIBO reduces IBS. 

When the microbiome is healthy, you are healthy. Identifying root causes allows for full resolution of IBS symptoms and a return to optimal health. 

We welcome new patients. No membership required. 

Dr. Amy Davis M.D.
Crossing Back to Health 
485 Wildwood Parkway Suite 2
Ballwin, MO 63011
636 778-9158