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  • Writer's pictureMartha Lewis

Colonoscopy/endoscopy vs. GI Map for gut health and insomnia

If you have digestive issues such as stomach pain, gastritis, or chronic constipation or diarrhea, the medical approach is to do a colonoscopy or endoscopy.

The medical approach

A colonoscopy looks at the physical structure of the lining of your colon. It will show if the gut lining is damaged and if there are polyps. If they see polyps, they may take a biopsy to see if they’re cancerous. This test also screens for colon cancer.

An endoscopy looks at the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. This test is used to diagnose celiac disease and look for ulcers and other causes of digestive symptoms.

These procedures show if there’s damage or disease in your digestive tract. But they don’t show what is causing the damage.

They will show any damage that is already there. But they won’t show if there are pathogens and other factors that may lead to damage in the future.

The medical system doesn’t connect gut issues to sleep even though there are multiple ways that an unhealthy gut can lead to insomnia.

The functional medicine approach

I use the GI Map (gastrointestinal map) to assess my clients’ gut health. It looks at 70 species of gut flora, including pathogens such as parasites, H. pylori, and candida. The GI Map uses qPCR technology to look for the DNA of these species so it’s directly testing for these pathogens (unlike a breath test for H. pylori, for example, which measures a by-product of the bacteria). H. pylori can also be diagnosed by an endoscopy but a biopsy requires that the biopsy be taken from a site that has H. pylori on the tissue and H. Pylori does not colonize evenly in the stomach so it can be missed.

The GI Map also shows the amount of good bacteria in your gut which is important because they make up to 90% of our neurotransmitters that help us feel calm, relaxed and sleepy.

This test also shows:

  • Digestive enzymes

  • Liver function

  • Immune function in your gut (which is 80% of our immunity)

  • Inflammation

  • Gluten sensitivity

While it doesn’t look at the physical gut lining, I get an overall snapshot of gut health with these markers.

Colonoscopy/endoscopy vs. GI Map

I use the GI Map to look for imbalances that are causing sleep issues, such as pathogens, food sensitivities, liver dysfunction, and depleted good bacteria. A colonoscopy or endoscopy will now show any of these underlying health issues.

A gastrologist treats gut issues differently from a functional health coach. If you’re diagnosed with gastritis or inflammation of the lining of the stomach, for example, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics for H. pylori (if detected) or drugs that reduce stomach acid. Antibiotics may kill H. pylori temporarily but they don't make the gut healthy long-term so that H. pylori can’t take hold in the future. Stomach acid blockers actually make the problem worse since H. pylori thrives with low stomach acid. And we need stomach acid to digest protein and get the amino acids and minerals we need.

I’ve had clients whose sleep and health issues started after taking antibiotics for H. pylori, not from H. pylori itself!

As a functional health coach, I don’t diagnose anything specific (and it’s actually not necessary to!). I use supplements to deal with H. pylori and other pathogens. And I also help restore the lining of the stomach and large intestine so that pathogens can’t live there. I focus on making the gut healthier so that your whole body is healthier and you can sleep normally.

A great analogy for the GI Map vs. a colonoscopy to assess gut health is comparing it to your car engine light going on. You know something is wrong with the engine. But you don’t know what.

You can pop the hood and look at the engine. You can take the engine apart and look. But unless there’s something structurally wrong, you won’t find the answer. This is the same as a colonoscopy/endoscopy.

You can turn the check engine light off-it doesn’t make the problem go away but it’s the same as taking a drug to mask a symptom.

Instead, you have to look at the car diagnostics to know exactly what’s wrong. It could be the spark plugs or the airflow sensor or the gas cap being loose. The diagnostics tell you what’s causing the problem, just like the GI Map shows why the gut is damaged and what’s sabotaging your sleep. Then you know what to correct so the engine stays healthy.

If you’ve tried getting help from your doctor without success (or you know the medical approach can’t help you), we’re here for you. The Complete Sleep Solution uses the GI Map and other functional medicine tests to pinpoint exactly why you can't sleep. Then we give you a plan to get your body back in balance. And we support you throughout the entire journey so you are guaranteed to get better.

The first step is to book a free consultation to talk about what’s going on with your sleep and what it looks like to work together so we can finally find the root cause of your insomnia and you can sleep better soon.

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