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How Do Probiotics Work For Constipation and Gas - Dominick Hussey

How Do Probiotics Work For Constipation and Gas?

There is a growing body of evidence showing that probiotics help digestive symptoms. This evidence has anecdotal, clinical and research origins. But how do probiotics work?

One popular theory is that probiotics repopulate the gut. Scientific research has not currently proved this argument.

Another hypothesis is that probiotics help to rebalance the friendly bacteria by killing the harmful microbes.

Read on to learn about a recently published research study that shows how probiotics work for constipation and gas.

A recent study published in the PLOS One journal has shown that probiotics can help reduce gas and improve constipation by decreasing certain “unfriendly” bacteria in the gut. These unwanted bacteria included Citrobacter, Klebsiella and Methanobrevibacter.

The researchers recruited 21 healthy adults. Each adult took a probiotic mixture. The composition of the mix included five strains of Lactobacilli and two strains of Bifidobacteria. Each adult received the combination once a day for 60 days.

What the study found

At the end of the study, the researchers found that there was a significant reduction in the numbers of Citrobacter, Klebsiella and Methanobrevibacter bacteria. This decrease in bacteria coincided with a decline in gas and constipation.

More specifically the researchers were able to show that there was a direct association between the reduction in abundance of Methanobrevibacter, the decrease in flatulence (for all the adults) and a decline in constipation (for women only).

This finding is not a surprise as there is a close correlation between Methanobrevibacter species and constipation and the production of methane gas.

A frequently overlooked ability of probiotics is their antibacterial effect. Probiotics can produce antibacterial and antifungal peptides (chemicals) that help reduce bacterial overgrowth in the gut.

How Probiotics Work For Constipation and Gas

The researchers concluded that the probiotics work for constipation and gas through their antibacterial effect which led to the reduction in the unfriendly bacteria.

There have been many studies like this one that show that taking probiotics may help reduce digestive symptoms. These studies have used different types of probiotic species.

As well as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium there are two other classes of probiotics including Saccharomyces boulardii and Soil Based Probiotics.

Does it matter which probiotics you use?

The simple answer is no, but it does matter which particular probiotic supplements you buy.

When choosing a probiotic supplement, you should consider the following:

  • Make sure you purchase a high-quality scientifically tested product that is safe.
  • Be wary of marketing that claims that a product can help with specific symptoms.

If you do decide to take a probiotic, then listen to how your body reacts and ignore any purported claims. If you don’t feel any improvement or your symptoms worsen, stop that supplement and move on to the next.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Dysbiosis- #1 Overlooked Cause of Weight Gain - Dominick Hussey

Dysbiosis – #1 Overlooked Cause of Weight Gain

According to Statscan one in four adult Canadians are obese or carry excess weight. For some of these people, the cause of their weight gain is due to diet and lifestyle. For others, the reason seems less obvious. They eat well and do a right amount of exercise but still the pounds roll on. Some of these people visit their family physician for a medical explanation. Their doctor checks their thyroid but after testing that everything appears normal. Read on to learn about the #1 overlooked cause of weight gain that may be stopping you lose those unwanted pounds.

Dysbiosis – The Cause of Weight Gain for Susan

Susan, 44, came to me complaining of bloating, constipation, abdominal pain and weight gain. The digestive symptoms began one year previously shortly after a round of antibiotics. Her doctor gave the antibiotics for a chest infection. Susan had never before had digestive issues and so being health conscious went back to her doctor. Her doctor said that she was reacting to the antibiotics, which would resolve itself and in the meantime prescribed Laxaday (a laxative) for constipation and acetaminophen for the pain.

Susan took the medication for a month, but each time she tried to stop them her symptoms returned. Again she went back to her doctor who suggested she may have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and referred her to Gastroenterologist (GI) consultant for a proper diagnosis. After waiting two months for her appointment, she spent 10 minutes with the GI consultant who agreed with the diagnosis and advised her to manage her symptoms with her current medication. During the same consultation, Susan asked the consultant about some recent weight gain. She had put on 10 pounds in a month. The consultant replied that it was not their area of expertise and told her to ask her family physician.

Keen to find answers she went back to her doctor for an explanation for her weight gain. She told her doctor that her mother had a low thyroid and wondered whether that might be causing her weight gain. Her doctor agreed and sent her for blood work, but the results came back as normal.

For the next seven months, Susan put on another 20 pounds despite being careful with her calorie intake and increasing her exercise. Nothing would help, and she was becoming depressed about her weight. It was at this point after speaking to a friend who was a client of mine that she came to me for a functional medicine consultation.

As a functional medicine practitioner, I am trained to take a very in-depth case history and spend a long time (45 minutes) listening to our client’s story. This process allows me the best opportunity to identify the root cause of my client’s health issues.

After hearing Susan’s story, I told her that the cause of her weight gain might be the result of her poor digestion. More specifically I was suspicious she had dysbiosis.

Dysbiosis is an imbalance of bacteria that live in your intestines.

Research on Weight Gain and Dysbiosis

There is a growing amount of scientific evidence that there is an association between the makeup of the microbiota and weight gain. In studies of twins who were both lean and obese, researchers found that the thinner twin had a much more diverse microbiota compared to the fat twin.

The fact that we associate microbiota diversity with weight gain does not mean one affect the other – cause and effect. To demonstrate cause and effect researchers devised a novel experiment where they bred two same bacteria-free mice. Then they populated their guts with bacteria collected from obese women and their lean twin sister. The mice ate the same diet in equal amounts, yet the animals that received bacteria from an obese twin grew heavier and had more body fat than mice with microbes from a thin twin. As expected, the obese mice also had a less diverse community of bacteria in the gut.

In my practice, the #1 cause of dysbiosis is from medication most commonly antibiotics but also birth control medicine.

Dysbiosis is present in certain gut infections including small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), candida and parasites.

To identify the cause Susan did a breath test for SIBO and a stool test to look for candida and parasites.

Susan was positive for SIBO.

To treat the SIBO, I put Susan on low FODMAP diet and various antimicrobial supplements to help balance and reduce her bacteria.

After two weeks, Susan reported 90 percent improvement in her digestive symptoms. After four weeks, she had lost 8 pounds. After ten weeks she had lost a further 10 pounds.

After 15 weeks her SIBO was gone (after retesting), and she was back to her healthy weight.

Susan was, of course, was thrilled and at the same time was amazed how treating her digestion had reversed her weight gain.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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An Overlooked Way To Test For Vitamin D - Dominick Hussey

An Overlooked Way To Test For Vitamin D

Vitamin D is critical for health. It promotes calcium absorption in the gut and helps maintain calcium and phosphate levels in the blood. This, in turn, enables proper bone health and protects against osteoporosis, rickets, and fracture; but it also plays a number of other important roles in the body, including regulating cell growth, neuromuscular function, and immune function. So using an accurate measure to test for vitamin D is important.

The most common blood marker used to determine vitamin D status is 25(OH)D, and the reference range for this marker in the United States is 30 ng/ml to 100 ng/ml. This converts to 75 nmol/l to 250 nmol/l in Canada.

The problem with this range is that 25-D is not the biologically active form of vitamin D and is thus not the best marker for biological vitamin D activity. That means it’s possible for someone to have a normal 25-D level and still be biologically deficient.

In this article, I’m going to talk to you about an often overlooked lab marker, parathyroid hormone, or PTH, which more accurately diagnoses vitamin D deficiency. Armed with this information, you will better equipped to test for vitamin D deficiency.

How I discovered PTH?

I learned about using PTH to test for vitamin D while doing some training with Chris Kresser, a Functional Medicine Practitioner and one of the sharpest people I follow in the functional medicine space.

Why use PTH to test for Vitamin D?

The conversion of 25-D, the inactive form of vitamin D, to 125-D, or calcitriol, the active form, is tightly regulated by parathyroid hormone. Parathyroid hormone increases calcitriol formation and thus increases serum calcium by acting on the kidneys and bone. Generally speaking, PTH levels will be high when vitamin D is low, since the body is producing more PTH to increase calcitriol formation, and PTH levels will be low when vitamin D levels are sufficient because of negative feedback of vitamin D suppressing PTH output.

What is an optimal range for PTH?

The typical PTH lab reference range is between 10 and 65 pg/ml. That’s what’s considered normal.

A study of vitamin D-suppressing effects of PTH showed the greatest effect when PTH was over 49. In that situation, taking vitamin D reduced PTH by 21 pg/ml. With PTH at a baseline of 38 to 49, taking vitamin D reduced PTH by 17 pg/ml, and with a baseline, PTH of 6 to 38, taking vitamin D only dropped PTH by 2 pg/ml.

So what does all of this mean?

If you have a 25-D level of 35 ng/ml (87 nmol/l), that would technically be normal according to the reference range. But if your PTH is 50, you can be fairly certain that you are biologically deficient despite having a normal 25-D level.

If your PTH is 35, it’s less clear, but since her 25-D is at the bottom of the range, supplementing with vitamin D until your PTH drops below 30 is probably still a good idea in those situations.

Why would a person with normal 25-D levels be biologically deficient?

We now know that there are several factors that affect the biological activity of vitamin D. These include:

  • Ethnicity and genetics, which impact the conversion of 25-D (the inactive form) to calcitriol, or 125-D (the active form);
  • Inflammation and obesity, which reduce the conversion of sunlight to vitamin D; and
  • Gut health, which affects the absorption of orally consumed vitamin D, among others.

These factors can sometimes explain seemingly unusual findings like seeing someone with a 25-D of 112 nmol/l, which is well within the normal range, but then a PTH that’s 55, which is well above 30, which is the level that indicates maximal suppression of PTH by vitamin D.

How using PTH helped a client?

I had one patient like this. He was overweight and had Rheumatoid arthritis. When I supplemented him with vitamin D and also got him more sun exposure, his 25-D went up to 150 nmol/l and his PTH went down to 32. I now include serum PTH in my basic blood chemistry work up with new patients because I find it so helpful in this regard.


Okay, let’s review what we’ve covered in this article.

25-D is the most commonly measured marker of vitamin D status, but it’s not a good indicator of biological vitamin D activity, and it can miss a lot of people who are deficient.

Serum parathyroid hormone reflects biological vitamin D activity and can be used to catch people who are deficient in vitamin D who would otherwise be missed.

A PTH level below 30 indicates that the patient is not deficient in vitamin D, whereas a PTH value above 30 suggests that the person may be biologically deficient even if their 25-D levels are in the reference range.



This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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SIBO Die Off Symptoms and Treatment Reactions - Dominick Hussey

SIBO Die Off Symptoms and Treatment Reactions

When taking treating SIBO with either herbs or medication, you may experience SIBO Die Off symptoms. This phenomenon is known medically as a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, or “Herx,” for short.

Read on to learn about SIBO die off symptoms, why they occur, and the difference between die off symptoms and treatment reactions.

8 Common SIBO Die Off Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Muscle Aches
  • Chills
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Rashes
  • Excess Mucus
  • Brain Fog
  • Increased Diarrhea, Constipation, Bloating and Gas

What is the cause of SIBO Die Off Symptoms?

This cause of SIBO die off symptoms depends somewhat on the specific mechanism of the herb or medication antimicrobials, but in many cases, the antimicrobials work by destroying the cell membrane of the bacteria.

When that happens, the bacteria release toxins known as lipopolysaccharides (LPS) into the intestines. If the lining of the gut
is permeable or leaky, the poisons will pass into the bloodstream.

The toxins will travel around the body resulting in the SIBO die off symptoms. This is the reason why you will often feel worse before they feel better or may alternate between feeling better and worse throughout the SIBO treatment protocol.

SIBO Die Off Symptoms Versus Treatment Reactions

Of course, not every adverse reaction to a SIBO treatment is a Herx response. In some cases, you may be reacting to the antimicrobial itself, perhaps a filler in the drug or a component of one of the supplements.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to determine the difference between a Herx and a reaction to the treatment, but there a couple of general pointers.

Herx reactions should pass or at least shift after a few days. You will start to feel better a few days after the die off symptoms, or you may alternate between feeling bad and feeling better than they felt before the treatment.

With a reaction to the treatment itself, patients usually feel bad continuously and do not improve even after several days or go back and forth between better and worse.

In my opinion, if you are experiencing SIBO treatment symptoms, it is crucial that you immediately discontinue treatment and contact the practitioner managing your case.



This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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5 Supplements To Reduce The Christmas Dinner Bloat - Dominick Hussey

5 Supplements To Help Reduce The Christmas Dinner Bloat

Have you ever felt bloated and sleepy after Christmas dinner?

As a young lad after eating my grandmothers Christmas dinner, I would look like I had swallowed a soccer ball and would soon be sound asleep on the sofa.

Dial forward some 45 years after learning I have celiac disease I can understand why young body reacted in such a way to a meal full of wheat.

My solution is simple I just avoid wheat and can then sit comfortably on the sofa and watch the Christmas day movie without falling asleep.

Have you felt bloated after Christmas dinners?  Do want to avoid the same experience this year? If you do feel bloated, read on to learn more about which supplements I recommend.

Supplements to reduce the Christmas dinner bloat

Increase your stomach acid production

One of the most common reasons for bloating after eating is due to a lack of acid production in the stomach. Stomach acid helps break down protein-rich foods such as turkey. If you have low stomach acid, then the turkey will not be broken down sufficiently and will cause bloating. Reduced stomach acid related bloating occurs 5-10 minutes after eating.

To help increase stomach acid production, I suggest the following supplements:

  1. Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar – take one tablespoon in some warm water 5-10 minutes before eating.
  2. St Francis Canadian Bitters – take one teaspoon 5-10 minutes before eating.
  3. Betaine HCL capsules – take one capsule during the meal.

Stimulate Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are mainly produced by the pancreas and by the cells that line your small intestine. These enzymes help to break down your food’s macronutrients such as protein into micronutrients such as amino acids. If you have reduced enzymes and foods are left in their macronutrient form this can lead to inflammation and bloating. This inflammation and resulting bloating can be much worse if you have a sensitivity to a particular food protein such as gluten or casein. Pancreatic deficiency bloating becomes apparent 30 minutes after eating.

To help increase production of pancreatic enzymes, I suggest the following supplements:

Reduce Gas Production from Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO is condition occurs when bacteria that normally live in the large intestine overgrow onto the small intestine. A common symptom of SIBO is bloating that occurs roughly 30 minutes after eating. I find SIBO in the vast majority of my clients with or without digestive symptoms such as bloating.

To help reduce bloating from SIBO, I suggest the following supplement:

What supplements should I take?

If you are unsure what supplements to take, I suggest the following:

Determine when your bloating starts after eating. If it starts 5-10 minutes after eating, then you probably have inadequate stomach acid. I would then begin with the apple cider vinegar.

If the bloating starts later, then consider starting with the Bitters. If the bloating continues, then try the probiotics.



This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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