IBS treatment isn't so straightforward, but here's why I'm successful

There is controversy about how to treat IBS.

I wish it were a clear cut solution, but it’s not. Many clients come into my practice because they’ve seen multiple doctors and have colonoscopies, endoscopies reports+ endless tests, but not finding relief from their symptoms.

The reason why they still struggle is: there’s more to balancing digestive health than meets the eye.

Both the upper and lower GI tract must work in harmony + gut flora must be in balance + immune health for improved recognition + the right diet to provide for an optimal terrain. All these factors play a role in destroying gut balance and re-storing it too.

And this is why my gut program helps the most difficult cases.

I often will use multiple types of testing to clarify the dysfunction. My theory is, if we can get down to the root cause and find the source ( the basis) of the problem, then you can focus your energy there to restore the gut back to health.

I find that most clients who self-refer from other doctors have in hand SIBO tests, reports from invasive imaging and bags of prescriptions and supplements. YES! You should rule out the BIG STUFF, but a small detail like forgetting to ask, “So did you see what you ate last night in your poop this morning?” is a HUGE OVERSIGHT by many clinicians. This is a tell-tell sign of not enough acid being produced and is a basic foundation that is most often overlooked.

You can’t forget the basics…

In my Gut Program, I look at every aspect of the digestive process and create a strategy on optimizing each step. The ultimate goal is to reach a symptom-free functioning digestive symptoms where you can enjoy foods once more and not have to think about if the food is going to upset your stomach.

On average people spend 4 months to 1 year restoring gut function back and the timing depends on the severity.

A word about the SIBO craze…

SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and essentially means someone has too much bacteria in their small intestine. This may cause the symptoms that look identical to IBS (such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation and bloating), food sensitivities and allergies, and even things like migraines, joint pain, fatigue and depression.

IBS on the other hand is Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both.

Same symptoms, different location.

And yes, you can have IBS and SIBO at the same time!

SIBO is one potential cause of IBS and ill health, but not the only cause. There are many things that can cause IBS and problems in the gut. Therefore, it’s better to treat IBS which is broader than SIBO. Furthermore SIBO breath testing has an incredibly high rate of false positives. Check out this study! (and this leads to more rounds of un-needed antibiotics)

In either case, I clarify the origin of the problem in my gut program. I usually test patients and get a baseline with their current diet in place ( SAD, FODMAP, SCD) and from there you can tell where the source of the problem lies. We plug in the right diet to restore the origin + nutrients to re-balance the system and BOOM!

  • Milestone #1:

    • Treat until a positive relief of symptoms are achieved

    • Once this is achieved there is optional confirmatory retesting

    • Rebuild the leaky gut from years of inflammation

  • Milestone #2:

    • If optimal symptomatic improvement is not achieved after multiple treatment attempts, I retest another part of the digestive tract that could be causing issue.

This approach is comprehensive because we are ruling out one system at a time, and you build amazing confidence in your ability to know your body, the foods it likes + dislikes and especially freeing yourself from the mindset of “something is wrong with me.”

If you have gut issues that you’d like help finding a breakthrough with your gut issues, reach out to me, and let’s find the strategy that works for you.

Digital Detox Weekend Tip: You ARE more than your job. Here's how to prove it!

I recently posted an article from Quartz At Work on my FB page about this topic and got ALOT of feedback about how difficult it is to walk back from the edge of feeling burned out.

So here’s how I see it…

The article i posted was very long- so i’m highlighting the most important points and why you should care!

“For many of you, telling ourselves a better story about our jobs won’t be enough; there are specific problems that need solving. “

So true… in fact when we tell ourselves we are unhappy, stressed and on edge, our body, our cells listen. Cortisol- our fight/flight hormone, gets the message and activates our brain, our thyroid and adrenals to condition for battle. Almost like you are preparing to run a marathon, but with negative firey emotion as your fuel… I guarantee, you’ll run out of gas quickly.

“Studies point to the importance of relationships with colleagues, the negative effects of bad management, and our craving for feedback.”

If you’re not getting it from your boss or colleagues, you have to give it to yourself.

Daily affirmations, congratulations and damn, I did a great job! is something you should tell yourself daily. It’s a wonderful feeling to get a pat on the back, but you cannot depend or wait for other people to show you how awesome you are. Instead, get the accolades from the person from which it matters most. YOU!

“Many practical ways of combating the brutality of modern working come from within—not necessarily from self-optimization strategies or work hacks, but from simple changes that, in turn, change the culture around us. Leave the office at 6pm. Take holidays and talk about how completely you disconnected. Ask for paternity or maternity leave and take it, ostentatiously. Negotiate remote working and spend time at a cabin in the woods with your laptop and morning runs around the lake. Show your colleagues that you are free. Show yourself.

Remember, this is your worklife balance you want to establish to avoid burnout.

Question how much energy you’re giving away. When at work, give your 100% because you demonstrate excellence, BUT also give your 100% at home. If you don’t have enough for both, it means you have some re-calibrating to do.

You are THE #1 priority!


Dr. Vera

STRESS EATING? Here's 2 reasons why your willpower won't win.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “ I AM ADDICTED TO SUGAR!!!”

or addicted to any other foodstuffs like coffee or even wine? You’d believe your willpower can’t stand up to one or two days without it AND you’re right. You body is designed to trick and manipulate you into keeping up the craving, not because it hates you, but we’ve essentially programmed our bodies to be this way.

Here’s 2 reasons why your willpower just won’t win the fight against kicking these habits, but..


Reason #1 Food is your only pleasure.
Eating your feelings. not a new concept for many of us, but if you desire to change this up, believe me your will power has got to work in overdrive. 

Let me explain...

Changing diet can be difficult, but the habits and memories associated with eating makes it even more of an uphill battle.  So this is where we'll grease the wheels.

In order to help your willpower against mindless stress eating, you must establish another activity that will provide stress relief or outlet that will surge similar level of dopamine and endorphins.

It helps if you participate in an activity that has a goal or endpoint. Knowing you are working on a small part of an larger activity gives you something to look forward to and stimulates the dopamine or reward centers of the brain. As you are working on your project or activity, be present to what you are working on and not thinking about the day's stresses.  Here are some examples:

  • running

  • dancing

  • athletic yoga

  • meditative yoga

  • crafting

  • socializing without food as a focal point

  • walking with a view ( of nature, people)

Reason #2 Not supporting your physiology

Hands down, your body's balance of hormones is the underlying reason for your cravings, your hunger and your internal debate over whether you " should or shouldn't eat or drink_______!" 

Most often, I'll run a hormone check to examine if hormone levels are in balance or not and rearrange diets and add herbal support so that you're able to regain control. But the key takeaway: Taking back control means you'll have to look closely at your pattern and disrupt it.

Here are classic examples:

My brain is racing at night, and I can't sleep!

  • More complex but often due to disturbed sleep hormones Cortisol-Melatonin, but let's not forget coffee after 10am can disturb sleep quality (even with 12 hours to metabolize!)

Are you eating junk food after work or drinking more wine than you should?

  • This is a classic cortisol imbalance. You must work towards the right combination of foods and herbal support to rebalance this. 

I can't help it, I'm addicted to sugar!

  • This is a textbook problem with Ghrelin-Leptin-Insulin balance. Balanced meals prevents intense hunger pangs and helps this hormone complex self-regulate.

Sound familiar?

If you are curious about running hormone tests for a pattern you’ve noticed? Ask me how it can be done!


 Dr. Vera

Remember this basic concept if you're struggling with your diet.

There are so many fad diets out there, that you may be getting lost, heck even OVERWHELMED by what to pick and how to eat.

Just remember the basics.

  1. It’s all about portioning. (Size always matters.) If you’re finding yourself overeating or snacking on too many occasions, then you’ve identified problem #1. Try to maintain consistent portion sizes of your meals of the day i.e. lunch/dinner. The food you consume should fill the same proportion of plate, even if the plate gets larger.

  2. Pile as much color on your plate as possible. If your plate doesn’t look like a rainbow, then change it up! You brain and body needs superfuel to make it through the day. The more color you add to your plate, the higher the absorption of nutrients that fuel fast thinking and creativity.

  3. Remember to pick something from each category (protein, fats, healthy grains) at each meal- even breakfast! The more you do this, the less likely you are to fill up on empty carbs, sugars and things that make your body and energy levels crash!


Dr. Vera

Healthy plate.PNG

Make this one incredible shift to lower feelings of self-sabotage.

You might be feeling an energy shift.

Maybe moving a bit slower, looking for some excuses to not do some of the things on your to do list. Taking a bit longer to make the right food choice, or noticing a lull in your exercise commitment, or sugar slipping back into your diet. Yup already!

That’s ok.

It’s the self- sabotage monster returning back from 2018..2017…2016….

And the thing is, you’re right on schedule with everybody else. It’s interesting how many clients have mentioned this trend as I’ve started them on NY projects to help renew their bodies. This sabotage monster is already rearing its ugly head.

So here’s a quick reminder to you about what is real.

FEAR. Fear wins every time if you let it. It’s tied to our critical inner voice that wants you to win, but also calls you back to what you think you can’t do. So here’s an easy reminder to get you back on task…

  • First acknowledge it. Let’s not act like that elephant in the room isn’t standing right in front of you!

  • Second, think about why the sabotage is coming up. Is there a old habit returning? Are you forgetting why you wanted this goal or desire in the first place?

  • Third, find evidence in your life that you are still on track. Think about it. Rehash the memories and the good feelings that came from when you were sugar free, or sticking to your Whole 30 plan, or not picking up that drink. Felt good right? You can have that feeling again, seriously!

And lastly pick up the phone, not email, not text and tell someone what has been on your mind. The more you shine a light on how crummy you’ve been feeling the more likely you are to release the shame and guarded feelings around what’s been happening. From here you can release the energy around fear and reduce the impact of the self-sabotaging actions you’ve been taking.

**Herbs that help to boost our power during activities like this are ginseng and rhodiola. Daily teas blend of a 30oz strong brew 2 or 3 bags or even taking single capsules of 200mg+ can make the difference. Both herbs are designed for endurance helping your body in times of stress especially when motivation is wobbling!


Dr. Vera

2 Easy Tips to Rekindle Your Inner Passion

Ah February…It’s the month of “love”, well keeping it real, it’s a time to show love to others and reassure how you feel about them!

That can get exhausting.

I invite you, especially this month, to focus at least one whole day on YOU and rekindling your love and passion that you are showing yourself.

Maybe that hasn’t happened in some time. Maybe you won’t know what to do because you’re busy giving away ALL of you ALL the time.

You might ask yourself, Dr. V are you asking me to put my oxygen mask on first???

LOL! You’ve got that right. You know this and you know why, we just forget.

So here’s a prescription for you to rekindle your inner passion

TIP 1: Jumpstart your self-love-fest by picking a day this month and acknowledging YOU to the people around you about how fantastic you are. Tell them the things that you love about yourself. Be shameless about it! Brag, boast and tell at least 5 people something amazing about you. Brag about how you’ve been taking care of yourself, or making life easier for someone else around you. Don’t expect anything in return (like acknowledgements or congrats) from them. This is a biased and selfish conversation! That’s ok!

TIP 2: Show yourself that you are worthy of love. If there is something that you’ve been wanting to do , you should take this time AND DO IT. Again, make it real, by picking a day on the calendar, blocking off your schedule, getting a babysitter or pre-booking whatever you decide. Commit to yourself that you are worthy of your own time, effort and money.

I like to compliment exercises like this with herbs that can help you breakthrough. My favorite for this sort of activity is using passionflower. The energy of Passion flower herb as a tincture helps with reconnection to self, and giving you an opening on introspection. Add a 5-10 drops to your water at least once a day combined with your intention and watch your magic unfold.

These tips are a simple exercise of selfishness, but one that will bring balance and appreciation for the person who makes it happen for everyone else.

Taking this action will shift the way you see yourself and they way others see you.

Now that’s love!


Dr. Vera