About Stephen Wangen, ND
Dr. Carrasco is board certified in both Family Medicine and Integrative and Holistic Medicine. Her approach is comprehensive, innovative, holistic, and empowering. Learn new medical tools to nourish yourself and your family.
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1:52 Dr. Wangen’s IBS Journey: Dr. Wangen had IBS, but doctors told him that everything checked out. In medical school, he still could find no answers for himself. When he started seeing his own patients with digestive issues, he discovered how incredibly complex digestive issues are. He created the IBS Treatment Centers in the Seattle and Los Angeles.
4:03 What is IBS? IBS means that you have a digestive problem. Most of us assume that Irritable Bowel Syndrome’s symptom is diarrhea, but it can be constipation, gas, bloating or abdominal pain. It can be all or some of these symptoms that can change over time. People often do not recognize constipation. The more recognizable symptoms are straining, not being able to go, or rabbit pellets. Sometimes, it is that you have bowel movements, sometimes more than once a day, but you don’t feel done. People do not always recognize diarrhea, because it is also loose stools that are not well formed.
7:22 Diagnosing IBS: Your primary care physician will rule out appendicitis, gall stones, ulcers, or a tumor. Relaxation and added fiber is often recommended. Even gastroenterologists do not specialize in IBS. Colonoscopy and endoscopy do not diagnose IBS.
12:48 Living With IBS: People’s lives are deeply impacted. Often they are housebound to be close to the bathroom. They can limit food intake to try to limit output. They come up with excuses for not going out and being active and probably won’t tell you that they have IBS. We don’t talk about these things. 10% to 15% of the population suffers from IBS. That’s 30 to 45 million people.
21:05 What Causes IBS ? Most patients believe that IBS is all in their head, but most of the time, it is not. The IBS causes stress and anxiety. There are a multitude of potential causes of IBS and symptoms do not point us to the cause. Dr. Wangen tracks symptoms to see if treatments are working. Most doctors treat IBS with antibiotics no matter what the test results. Each patient is a unique puzzle. Dr. Wangen tests for a broad number of causes including SIBO, candida, parasites, celiac, and gluten intolerance. We can be sensitive to any food, so generic diets are not accurate for you.
31:57 SIBO: Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth has been over simplified. There are about 100 trillion bacteria in our digestive tract. They help to digest your food, produce vitamins, and protect us from other organisms. Most of our exposure to other organisms is through food. We are just beginning to appreciate our digestive ecosystem. SIBO is less of an overgrowth and more of an imbalance. We change our ecosystem by ingesting drugs or eating things we have not evolved to eat. Some bacteria over colonize. Studies show that breath tests for gasses from certain bacteria can be inaccurate.
38:12 IBS is Complicated: There isn’t one answer to IBS. It is a complicated process to find the causes and it is complicated to treat. Studies on IBS are still geared at finding the one root cause and the one effective treatment.
40:22 Causes of Digestive Imbalance: Impacts on the gut ecosystem begin at birth, then to childhood and adulthood. Whether you were born by C-section. Mom’s ecosystem. Antibiotic use, even for acne. Using acid blockers. Other medications. It all adds up. Dr. Wangen takes a comprehensive history and reviews the results of all tests that have been done. Labs and lab tests vary. He calls it a “Wild West” of Testing.
43:50 Doing All the Right Things, But I’m Still Sick: What we have been told is healthy, isn’t always true. Sometimes it is not the food that is the problem, but the irritation/inflammation in the gut. Now you cannot break down the things that you should be able to break down. It becomes confusing because it may not be consistent. Sometimes, it becomes so bad that his patients say they cannot even drink water. Everything they put into their digestive tract makes them ill. Sometimes it takes days, weeks, or even months after consuming a food or drink, for you to feel the symptoms. When your digestion is healed, you may or may not be able to consume certain foods/drinks again.
48:21 How Do You Fix It? Dr. Wangen does not use a lot of supplements. Each patient is so different, that there is no one supplement or treatment that he uses with everyone. He targets the many different causes of the inflammation, rather than just administering an anti-inflammatory. Many people come to see him with a big bag of supplements, but they are still sick, so the supplements are not as helpful as they had hoped. He has them put aside those supplements until the inflammation has been eliminated and then determine whether they are appropriate. It is a way of prioritizing time and money.
51:37 Nutrition: Patients work with Dr. Wangen’s nutritionist. Just going, for instance, gluten free is not entirely helpful if you are eating gluten free junk food. What you ARE eating is just as important, or maybe more important, than what you are not eating. He tries to fundamentally change their lifestyle so they are healthy long term.
52:59 Don’t Give Up! No matter how many people you’ve seen, there is someone out there who is a specialist in your area who can help you. You haven’t done everything, because, Dr. Wangen says, HE hasn’t even done everything yet and he spends all of his time focusing on just this one issue. If there is a problem, there has got to be a cause.