Ask the Doctor About Gastroparesis (weak stomach)
Source by Tom Cowan, MD.
Question: I have been diagnosed with a
condition called gastroparesis. The doctor has given
me a drug called Reglan which I find very unpleasant.
Is there any other way to treat this condition?
Answer: Gastroparesis literally means weak (paresis) stomach
(gastro). The most modern theory about the cause of gastroparesis
is that the coordination of the electrical activity of the top portion of the
stomach, with the grinding activity of the lower portion, is faulty.
result, a number of things begin to happen. First, the stomach sends out fewer
electrical signals to contract and therefore less grinding occurs than is
needed. Second, the muscular walls of the stomach itself can become weak and
this in itself reduces the effectiveness of the action of the stomach.
ultimate result is the loss of function of the stomach, which means the stomach
does not churn the food or empty properly. The patient feels like there is a
lead ball sitting in the stomach during eating or soon thereafter.
the person to eat less food in order to cope with this heavy, uncomfortable
feeling. Sophisticated testing will often show delayed "gastric emptying" which
confirms that this lead ball in fact does take longer than is healthy to exit
from the stomach.
The scenario can go on for years, often worsening over time
as a result of the consequent subtle malnutrition that occurs as the patient
reduces his food intake to avoid this unpleasant feeling. Reglan,
which you find very unpleasant, "makes" the stomach contract more vigorously
thereby partially alleviating the symptom. Is there any other way to approach
One of the
clues to healing gastroparesis is the fact that it
most commonly occurs in those who are
either diabetic or who have hypothyroidism. Blood sugar regulation is
intimately tied to the functioning of the stomach and the health of the nerves.
Very low-carbohydrate diets have been
successfully used in virtually all stomach disorders because it has been
found that insulin is intimately tied up with acid production, the pressure at
the esophageal-gastric sphincter and the hormonal control of other stomach
Lowering insulin levels through a low carbohydrate diet (less
than 40 grams per day for the first week, then 75 grams per day thereafter) is
the first step in resolving this disorder. This inevitably means increasing the
fat intake, which is supposedly contra-indicated for gastroparesis,
but it must be done. I suggest slowly increasing the fat intake as your
step, lowering the carbohydrate intake, addresses the diabetic connection to gastroparesis; the next step is to address the thyroid connection. As we know, low thyroid function
slows all metabolic processes including digestion and stomach functioning.
usually treat hypothyroidism with the Standard Process Thytrophin,
1 tablet three times per day, combined with Paraplex,
the protomorphogen combination of pituitary,
pancreas, thyroid and adrenal.
The dose is also 1 tablet three times per day.
This is used for extra thyroid support and to increase the production of growth
hormone. Growth hormone, which is an antagonist of insulin, increases the
muscular thickness of the entire GI tract.
I had a
gastroenterologist friend who combated the problem of sticking his colonoscopy
scope through his patients' overly thin intestines by putting them on a low
carbohydrate diet and pituitrophin (in Paraplex) to decrease insulin, thereby increasing growth
hormone and resulting in thicker GI tracts less prone to puncture. With gastroparesis the walls of the stomach are too thin and too
weak; stimulating growth hormone will counteract this.
you must take advantage of all the techniques in Nourishing Traditions to help
you digest your food before it even hits your mouth. As I tell my patients, use the bowl as your first stomach so your
real stomach has less to do.
This means soaking or sprouting all grains, using fats and dairy products with
their full complement of enzymes intact (this means raw or cultured or
both), using lacto-fermented beverages
and vegetables, and most importantly using soup broth with extra gelatin at each meal. (I suggest Bernard
Jensen's from Radiant Life, 1 teaspoon
in broth at each meal.) Pottenger, of cat study
fame, found that the only way mammals
can eat cooked foods is if they consume gelatin along with the cooked food.
The gelatin particularly helps with digestion, making our stomach enzymes and
acids more effective.
drink for the stomach is beet kvass
which supplies Betaine, a necessary
component of healthy digestion [Note: Candida sufferers should not drink beet kvass]. A final medicine I would add is Betaine Hydrochloride, a beet-derived source
of Betaine which will help with the digestion of your
food. I use Standard Process, anywhere from 1 to 4 tablets with each meal.
These changes should result in a fairly prompt increase in your digestive
effectiveness and allow you to get off the Reglan.
About the Author - Tom Cowan,
MD, is a physician in private practice in San Francisco, California. He is the author of The Fourfold
Path to Healing website.