By Allison Downing
I never grew up thinking I wanted to help people poop.
Of course, I do a lot more than that. Many people find my practice by searching for relief from their GI (gastrointestinal symptoms) such as acid reflux, bloating, abdominal pain, feelings of being overly full, fatigue, foggy brain, poor sleep quality, and a desire to decrease their dietary restrictions. But for many people, they also want to do something very simple - have regular bowel movements.
My journey began, as many of my clients also experience, in the middle of what I considered a pretty healthy lifestage. I rarely got sick. I had pretty regular sleep. I ate lots of fresh fruit and veggies, more than I did in college or growing up, and I was a runner. I ran my first half-marathon just a year prior to my symptoms showing up.
The first symptom, of which I had no awareness that it had a greater significance, was a new sensitivity to dairy. I thought maybe becoming dairy free was just a stage change I was going through, so in a week, I had no dairy in my diet. After this change, my bloating and intense sleepiness during the day disappeared, and I continued on with life.
Three months later, my symptoms returned, but they were worse.
At the time, I was leading a team of students for two month summer project in Chicago. After my symptoms returned, I spent a week neurotically checking all of my foods for any signs of dairy. Where was all the bloating coming from? Why was I so tired all the time? What was happening? My students were noticing, and I began spending extra time at night researching gut health articles. I learned about parasites, leaky gut, candidas, bacterial imbalances such as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and more food sensitivities than I wanted to know about. All of them had pretty similar symptoms, and I was overwhelmed with the quantity of conditions I might have and that, apparently, doctors couldn’t help much.
I returned from that summer project and set up a colonoscopy and endoscopy procedure. If you are reading this article and have visited a doctor for gastroenterology, it’s likely you have had this procedure. It’s also likely, if you are like 25% of the population in America, your results came up negative. No ulcers, cancer, polyps, or any other form of structural problems that could visibly be causing your symptoms. These cannot be fixed by surgery, medicine, or other shortcuts. What can you do?
Your doctors might have told you to change your diet, don’t eat at certain times of the day, eat small portions, chew your food up more, get a less stressful job, get counseling, see a nutritionist, do yoga. But for many people, no amount of diet change truly removes their symptoms, diet only manages their symptoms.
For the next year and a half after this, I did what the doctor recommended. I did a low-FODMAP diet. I tried to meditate, sleep, take vitamins, probiotics. I brewed my own kombucha and made homemade fermented vegetables, which took an amazing amount of time from my life. After all this didn’t work, I changed my job, ended my time as a college leadership developer and got a job with fewer, more consistent hours of work.
I was two years into my digestive illness, and I was only getting more abdominal pain, more weakness and fatigue, and more foggy-headedness. This was when everything changed for me.
I was referred to a physical therapist for pelvic floor therapy. She treated me with two techniques - CranioSacral Therapy and Visceral Manipulation - which other pelvic floor therapists had not done. Soon after her treatments, I began sleeping through the night, having less frequent abdominal pain, and best yet - have regulated bowel movements.
As a health practitioner in my own practice, I have now helped students, athletes, and professionals decrease their bloating, gas, abdominal pain, acid reflux, food restrictions, and sluggish or hyperactive bowel, and increase their energy levels, sleep quality, clear-headedness, and overall freedom in life. I have helped people decrease GI (gastrointestinal) discomfort that their doctor has no solutions to. I have written a book for others so they could also understand why their gut won’t heal, and what they can do about it. Because the gut is more than the food you put into it. It is movement, peristalsis, the brain-gut axis, the enteric nervous system, and all the tissues and memories of your body wrapped up into one central area - the part that keeps you alive!
If you are interested in Allison’s book, Stop Stomach Pain: How to Heal Your Gut and End Food Restrictions, you can buy and download it onto any smartphone, computer, or tablet device. You can buy it now through Crazy Wisdom with 20% off for $19.97. Just enter the code “CrazyWisdom” at checkout when you visit http://allisondowninglmt.com/ebook and click “Buy Now”!