Dr Debbie Smith, Plettenberg bay, Garden route, Bryanston

Gastro intestinal health

The gastrointestinal (GI) system, often called the body’s “second brain,” plays a pivotal role beyond digestion and waste elimination. Its complex network significantly influences overall well-being, with profound connections to the immune system, mental health, and environmental interactions.  We recognise the paramount importance of GI health and employ specialised tests and tailored interventions to ensure optimal functioning.

The gut is by far one of the body’s most important organs. It absorbs nutrients and eliminates waste. 

But did you also know:

  • 80% of your immune system comes from your digestive tract?
  • 70% of your serotonin (the happy hormone) comes from the digestive tract?
  • The digestive system is your organ that interacts with your environment directly from the food you consume?
  • Your gut is now referred to as your second brain.

Some conditions relating directly to the gut:

  • Not being able to lose weight
  • Chronic sinus
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Thrush
  • Frequent colds and flu
  • Immune disorders
  • Depression

At our practice, we do specialised tests to determine the health of the gastrointestinal tract:

  • Determine if there are any parasites, yeast, or fungus
  • The digestive system enzymes function
  • Any inflammation in the digestive system
  • Any food sensitivities
  • The type of bacteria – good and bad
  • The absorption of food

Our 4-R Program for Gastrointestinal Restoration: Nurturing Digestive Wellness

We embrace the holistic principles of the 4-R program, a systematic and comprehensive approach designed to restore and optimize the health of the digestive tract. This program, rooted in Functional Medicine, recognizes the intricate interplay between various factors influencing gastrointestinal well-being. Let’s delve into the nuanced details of each stage:

Remove: Personalised Advice and Herbal Treatments

•    Personalised Advice: Our first step is to offer personalised guidance on eliminating specific foods from your diet. This tailored approach considers individual sensitivities, allergies, or intolerances that may contribute to gastrointestinal issues.

•   Herbal Treatments: In conjunction with dietary adjustments, we employ herbal treatments to address potential culprits such as parasites, fungi, or yeast. These herbal remedies are chosen based on their efficacy in promoting a balanced and healthy digestive environment.

Repair: Herbal Medicine and Nutraceuticals for Gut Healing

•  Herbal Medicine: Once problematic elements are removed, our focus shifts to supporting the repair and healing of the gut lining. We integrate herbal medicine known for its regenerative properties, fostering the restoration of robust and resilient gastrointestinal mucosa.

•  Nutraceuticals: Nutritional supplements with targeted benefits are introduced to complement the healing process. These nutraceuticals provide essential nutrients and compounds that contribute to the overall health of the digestive tract.

Reinocculate: Prescribing the Right Probiotics

Probiotic Prescription: A pivotal stage in the 4-R program involves prescribing the right probiotics tailored to your specific condition. Probiotics are crucial in maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. We aim to cultivate an optimal bacterial environment for digestive wellness by selecting probiotics based on your unique needs.

Reintroduce: Guidance for Food Reintroduction

•   Structured Reintroduction: As the digestive tract undergoes healing and restoration, we guide when and how to reintroduce previously eliminated foods. This structured approach promotes tolerance and overall digestive health, ensuring that reintroduced foods are well-received by your system.

•   Promoting Long-Term Digestive Health: The reintroduction phase is not just about reintroducing foods but fostering a sustainable and balanced approach to eating. We empower you with insights into maintaining a diet that supports long-term digestive well-being.


At our practice, we recognise that a flourishing GI system is the cornerstone of holistic well-being. We strive to empower you on your journey to optimal gastrointestinal health through advanced testing and targeted interventions.

Key Insights into Gastrointestinal Significance:

Immune System Hub:

•               The gut houses approximately 80% of the body’s immune system. This vital role makes a healthy GI tract essential for robust immune function, protecting against infections and diseases.

Serotonin Synthesis:

•               Remarkably, about 70% of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation, is produced in the digestive tract. A harmonious gut environment contributes significantly to mental well-being.

Direct Interaction with Environment:

•               The digestive system serves as the direct interface between the body and the environment, processing the nutrients and substances derived from our food. This critical interaction shapes our overall health.

Common Conditions Linked to Gastrointestinal Health:

•      Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

•      Type 2 Diabetes

•      Osteoarthritis

•      Asthma

•      Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

•      Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

•      Migraine

•      Thyroid Disorders

•      Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

•      Chronic Kidney Disease

•      Not being able to lose weight

•      Chronic sinus issues

•      Fatigue

•      Headaches

•      Recurrent thrush

•      Frequent colds and flu

•      Immune disorders

•      Depression

Specialised Functional Medicine Gastrointestinal Tests at Our Practice:

Our commitment to your well-being includes comprehensive testing to evaluate the health of your GI tract. 

These tests encompass:

Identification of Pathogens: Detection of parasites, yeast, or fungus that may be impacting GI health.

Assessment of Enzyme Function: Evaluation of the digestive system’s enzymatic activity to ensure optimal nutrient breakdown.

Inflammation Analysis: Identification of any inflammation within the digestive system, a crucial factor in overall gut health.

Food Sensitivity Testing:  Recognition of specific food sensitivities that may be contributing to GI distress.

Bacterial Balance Check: Analysis of the balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut.

Nutrient Absorption Evaluation: Assessment of the efficiency of nutrient absorption within the digestive system

Understanding CSPA x 2:

The Comprehensive Stool Pathogen Analysis is a multiplex PCR test designed to detect and identify a broad spectrum of pathogens that could be affecting the gastrointestinal tract. This includes bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may be responsible for various digestive symptoms and health issues.

Key Components of CSPA x 2:

•               Bacterial Pathogens: The test meticulously evaluates the presence of harmful bacteria in the gut. Certain strains can disrupt the delicate balance of the microbiome, leading to digestive distress and potential long-term health issues.

•               Viral Pathogens: Viruses affecting the gastrointestinal tract are identified, offering insights into potential viral infections that could be contributing to symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, or abdominal pain.

•               Parasitic Pathogens: Parasites are assessed for their presence in the stool. If left undetected, these organisms can lead to chronic gastrointestinal problems and nutrient malabsorption.

•               Fungal Pathogens: Candida and other fungi are examined to determine if an overgrowth is present. Imbalances in gut fungi can contribute to various health issues, including digestive discomfort and immune system challenges.

•               Inflammatory Markers: The test includes an analysis of inflammatory markers, providing valuable information about the overall health of the gastrointestinal tract. Elevated markers may indicate inflammation, which is a key factor in many gastrointestinal conditions.


In the intricate landscape of gastrointestinal health, the Comprehensive Stool Pathogen Analysis (CSPA x 2) stands as a powerful diagnostic tool. By delving deep into the microbial balance of the gut, this test empowers healthcare practitioners to make informed decisions, fostering individualised approaches to restore and optimise gastrointestinal well-being. As a pivotal component of specialised Functional Medicine testing, the CSPA x 2 contributes to a holistic understanding of the patient’s health, paving the way for targeted interventions and improved overall vitality.


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The content on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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