Wellness and prevention information from the experts at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

Can you trust your gut?

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by Gregory A. Plotnikoff, MD, MTS, FACP

As an integrative medicine physician, I want to address something that may be deeply important to you or someone you care about. At least 40 million Americans suffer from this. It is the leading cause of missing work and missing life. Yet, very few want to talk about it. I’m talking about bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation and gas. Not the usual topics of polite conversation!

The millions who suffer with gut distress often feel shame, self-doubt, despair and even hopelessness. Where do they turn after they have been scoped, scanned and even medicated yet aren’t any better? Far too often I hear from patients, “you are my last hope.”

Thankfully, as a physician at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing Outpatient Clinic in Minneapolis, I have the opportunity to teach people how to master their mind-gut connection. While gut distress can disrupt life, its symptoms are the body’s form of intelligence. The question is, “Are we willing and able to listen?”

This was an important lesson from time I spent in Japan. The Japanese are constantly listening to their gut, to their hara, the center of one’s being or life. Today what we in the U.S. tend to do — or in many cases what we are told to do — is mask this intelligence. We medicate symptoms and hide the real issues.

We clinicians at the Penny George Institute believe in skills, not pills. We teach self-sufficiency, foster personal responsibility and affirm the power of accessing one’s inner healer. We as a team ask different questions. We take different approaches. And we witness great results.

Just ask Jennifer*, a young woman who had been disabled by gut distress. She had a complete medical workup at a world famous medical clinic which revealed that she was “fine.” The result left her drained of money and hope. She gave up on medicine, withdrew socially, feared eating, and spent way too many days curled up, in pain, under the sheets, in her bed.

When we met her, she was distressed, frustrated and had given up. We expressed our great joy that she came to our clinic and our sincere desire to be helpful.

For Jennifer, our approach included advanced testing that resulted in finding markedly abnormal gut biology and function. We customized an approach to rebalance and normalize her intestinal ecology. This was an important, but didn’t solve everything. Her gut remained quite sensitive. However, with additional mind-gut mastery skills, she reported recently, “my mind is in a much better place. I feel like I have much more control. … Instead of curling up in bed, I have the urge to go out and do things.”

At the Penny George Institute, we partner and draw upon many resources to make such inspirational stories possible. We create a customized action plan to help you once again experience life more fully and comfortably.


*Jennifer’s real name has not been used to protect her privacy.
Gregory A. Plotnikoff, MD, MTS, FACP, is a board certified internist and pediatrician at the Penny George Institute. He is an editor of Global Advances in Health and Medicine and co-author of the book Trust Your Gut (Conari, 2013), which focuses on the latest science of gut-brain interactions. Appointments with him are available with a physician referral at 612-863-3333.

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