Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2019

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38 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 9 don't discriminate for location: they can help with bacterial overgrowth in one area, but they may badly disrupt a healthy environment elsewhere. And the SIBO relapse rate after a typical course of antibiotics is very high. Many patients find they need to repeat treatment several times over the course of many months before their digestive tract is functioning well again. Some naturopathic doctors opt to try to treat SIBO nutritionally, recommending foods that promote or limit specific types of bacteria. SIBO patients may be dehydrated from chronic diarrhea, and they are often deficient in key nutrients, depending on how severe their case is. Replacing these vitamins and minerals is a high priority. Once the SIBO is under treatment, the effort to restore a healthy gut microbiome can be confusing and complicated. Contradictory "how-to" guides are everywhere, each one touting a different approach and different rules about appropriate or inappropriate foods. The question of whether to use probiotics is an example: a quick tour through half a dozen "Treat Your SIBO" websites yields advice both in favor and against probiotic products. I saw the same contradictory advice with bone broth and some other foods. The takeaway is that what works for one person may not work for another, and strategies must always be customized for the individual. Treatment may also be complicated by the presence of other digestive tract problems like Crohn's disease or irritable bowel syndrome that carry their own restrictions. It is important to work with a trusted nutritional counselor through what is, for most people, a lengthy and frustrating process. MASSAGE THERAPY AND SIBO? Think back to the client we described at the beginning: she is 67, struggling to manage her chronic conditions, and now she has digestive pain and constant bloating, gas, and diarrhea. She hopes you can help. Persistent digestive discomfort, especially in a new pattern, is a red flag for massage therapy. Most of the time it's an indicator of something that isn't terribly threatening—stress or irritable bowel syndrome, for instance, and massage may provide some relief. In some cases, digestive symptoms can indicate very serious problems, and massage can still provide some temporary relief. That's wonderful—unless it causes the client to delay in getting an important diagnosis. Therapists who have advanced education in visceral manipulation may be able to offer work that promotes intestinal motility to help move materials through the system more efficiently. But this is not something to do for clients with diagnosed GI tract disorders unless the therapist has extensive training.

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