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Root Causes of Chronic Health Problems
Dr. Heather Boyd-Roberts

The medical mindset when we have symptoms is to find the “diagnosis” in order the follow the medically laid out treatment for that diagnosis. But, when we don’t fit into a neat package creating a diagnosis becomes more difficult. Sometimes even gaining a diagnosis is a problem if it is not curable and palliative medication with side effects is our only option.

When addressing chronic ill health we have to rule out the underlying or root cause. There are six primary areas that we have to rule out. This is not exhaustive and each item listed below warrants an entire article to itself. This is intended as an overview.



1) Digestive inflammation – Symptom of digestive inflammation are bloating, gas, burping, diarrhea, constipation, reflux, heartburn, GERD, abdominal pain, cramping, bad breath, fatigue, and anxiety.

Potential causes are:
Food Intolerances –

The way our food is treated with pesticides and over planting, is causing us to develop a growing number of food reactions. Common problem foods are wheat, gluten, corn, eggs, dairy products, soy, and nuts. Often with weaker digestion grains and legumes in general are difficult to digest and are not tolerated.

To test for food intolerances you can do a food elimination for 4-6 weeks and then a gradual addition of eliminated foods to see which ones cause symptoms. Alternatively you could test your antibody (IgG and IgA) response through blood tests called Food Zoomers. Elimination of those foods will help to reduce overall inflammation in your digestive tract and in your body as a whole.

Increased Intestinal Permeability commonly know as Leaky Gut –
If you have food intolerances and SIBO listed below then you will likely have increased intestinal permeability. Increased permeability of the intestinal lining allows partially digested food, bacteria and other intestinal contents to “fall” through the holes into systemic circulation. The partially digested food will trigger a reaction creating an antibody response to that food, which will be remembered the next time you eat that same food creating inflammation and discomfort each time the food is consumed. The leaked in contents, especially the bacteria, will trigger all out nuclear warfare in your body as it surges to the area to defend against the attack. The influx can cause insulin to rise, blood glucose to rise, inflammatory cytokines increase causing body and joint pain, and all of these compounds will cause the blood brain barrier to become leaky leading to brain fog, anxiety and other emotional instabilities. When you test for the food intolerances above an intestinal permeability panel is included.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)-
SIBO causes all of the symptoms listed of digestive inflammation listed above in addition to a growing number of food intolerances. SIBO can be tested for using a Lactulose Breath Test. It is test where gas from your breath is collected every 20 minutes over a 3-hour period of time and methane and hydrogen is measured. If the gas rises you have an overgrowth in your small intestine. Treatment involves a dietary change along with anti-microbial to eliminate the overgrowth.

Dysbiosis –
Dysbiosis means imbalance in the healthy bacteria in the large intestine. This could occur with an overgrowth of the wrong kind of bacteria including autoimmune triggering bacteria, yeast or parasites. Dysbiosis causes all of the digestive inflammation symptoms as well. It is test for through a stool test and followed up with a treatment protocol of appropriate anti-microbials, depending on what you have, probiotics, dietary modification appropriate to your findings, enzymes or digestive aids, and intestinal lining repair compounds.

2) Systemic Infections–
There are viral infections associated with chronic fatigue such as Epstein Barr (EBV), Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Herpes Simplex virus (HHV) and a few others. They tend to opportunistic and when you are run down they can activate and create extreme tiredness. Lymes disease is a chronic spirochete infection that is debilitating and impact almost every area of your health. Symptoms of a chronic lymes that may occur years after the tick bite might include arthritis, severe fatigue, headaches, vertigo, sleep disturbances, and mental confusion. To test for infections, you can do a blood test called Array 12 by Cyrex. It looks at a cross section of a number of infectious organism and a few main molds. Igenex does a test for Lymes and other co-infections commonly present with Lymes.


3) Mold and Mycotoxins -
Mycotoxins produced by mold that grows in water damaged buildings causes symptoms of headaches, eye irritation, nose bleeds, nasal and sinus congestion, cough, flu-like symptoms, gastrointestinal complaints, shortness of breath, mood instability cognition challenges and vertigo. Mold fragments and mycotoxins, in susceptible people, cause a condition called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). It is a syndrome where the immune system sets up a response to dna of the mold and even when the mold is cleaned up the immune system can remain stuck in a repetitive loop of inflammation. To look at mold more w can measure mycotoxins released in the urine, blood tests for immune and genetic markers related to CIRS and we can test dust collected from your home and provides you with the environmental relative mold index (ERMI) of your living condition.


4) Heavy Metals -
The most problematic metals are mercury, lead, cadmium, aluminum and arsenic. Exposure to mercury is most commonly due to dental work. Silver fillings are predominately mercury and they use mercury in the gutta percha or filler used in root canals. Mercury was used as an adjuvant in vaccines up until 2003. At that time it was replaced with aluminum. However, still today multi-dose tetanus and influeza still contain mercury in the vaccines.

Lead accumulates from exposure in our environment. It is found in old paint, crystal glasses, antique china and ceramic colored bowls. It is also found in a number of supplements so ensuring the companies you use test for low lead levels of raw ingredients, not just EPA allowed levels, is crucial. The EPA allows 5ppm of lead. California enacted a law called California prop 65 which allows only 0.5ppm.

To test for metals you combine information about blood, urine and hair to identify the likely source and which metal is the largest problem.

5) Dental work –
Problems with dental work includes root canals, mercury or mixed metal filled teeth, cavitations or holes from pulled teeth, and materials used.

Root canals are on the top the list for dental concerns. It is essentially a mummified tooth and it has the potential to not only leach infections looming deep inside your root structure and metals from the filling material, but also to block the electrical flow through the acupuncture meridians that it is part of causing the perfect set up for ill health to be established. Fillings leach mercury and other toxins found in dental materials into the blood stream. Composite often contains estrogen disrupting compounds including BPA and fluoride. Another problem with teeth is periodontal disease where dental infections again can leak into the blood stream and cause chronic ill health.

To test for root canal problems you would need to have a cone beam CT done by a biological dentist who is familiar with root canal and cavitation problems.

6) Trauma -
Trauma through sexual, physical and/or emotional abuse at any age can leave lasting marks, but when it occurs in childhood it often requires professional help to move past. If this is the case consider seeking a counselor or attending a local celebrate recovery 12 step program to work through some of the self-lies that may be holding you back and creating physical symptoms.