My Journey with GI Testing
Part of the reason that I was sick for so long was because I couldn’t find a stool test that provided an accurate and detailed screening for pathogens. During my 10 years of illness I must have submitted over 25 different stool samples to the conventional medical system. Not to mention a colonoscopy, endoscopy and MRI, and an H. Pylori Breath Test. And guess what – they all came back clean. I was told that there was nothing to worry about, that I didn’t have an infection and that it was ‘just‘ IBS. Despite my symptoms of chronically undigested stool, and going to the washroom up to 8 times a day, apparently I was healthy. My gut (pun intended) knew that these tests were missing something. But I couldn’t treat what I couldn’t discover, so I was left waiting for technology to catch up with my illness, whatever it was.
At one point during my journey I had such severe GI issues that I had to carry around an extra pair of pants with me, in case of an accident. If I went out with friends, I had to take an Immodium to ensure that I could make it there and back on transit without having to run to the washroom. Those were terrible times. The brain fog was dehabiliting and I would often lie awake at night with my swollen stomach. Again, I was assured by my doctor that because my stool tests were clean, there was nothing to worry about. But by this point I had started exploring functional lab testing, and had some stool samples sent to the States for a more accurate analysis.
“Through functional lab testing I discovered 3 bacterial infections, an amoeba (blastocystis hominis), a very destructive form of H Pylori, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), gut inflammation and gluten sensitivity.”
The results spoke for themselves. It turns out that I had a bacterial infection that was so destructive that before the testing was completed, the lab technicians called my functional medicine practitioners to ensure that I started on treatment right away. And the sensitivity of stool testing is only improving.
Why Didn’t Initial Stool Tests Uncover Anything?
Part of the reason the stool testing that I completed through the conventional medical system didn’t turn up anything was because it was using stool culturing as the main technology. This involves taking a swab of the stool, putting it in a petri dish and seeing what grows. It also involves looking at the sample under a microscope to see if ova and parasites can be seen. But there are huge gaps associated with this testing approach. First of all, cultured technology only tests for aerobes and facultative species, which is only about 5% of the microbiota in the GI tract. This means with stool cultures as testing technology, there is still a whopping 95% of the microbiota that is unaccounted for. The second challenge is that the infectious pathogen(s) needs to be present and alive in the actual stool sample. If the rates of infection aren’t high enough, or you simply didn’t get lucky, the sample that you sent in for testing might not have the infection that could be ruining your gut health. So what that means is that this form of stool testing has a lot of false negatives!
“This means with stool cultures as testing technology, that there is still a whopping 95% of the microbiota that is unaccounted for.”
One of my favourite and most accurate tests out there is the GI MAP.
Let me share a little bit more about why I love it so much.
The GI MAP, by Diagnostic Solutions is an extremely sensitive test because it uses PCR technology. PRC stands for polymerase chain reaction, which looks at DNA sequencing to identify pathogens. This technology has been around for a long time. It is the same technology that is used in forensic crime labs to identify the DNA sequence associated with something like a hair sample. Only in this case, the villains that we are looking for are pathogenic infections. PCR technology is much more sensitive than the cultured approach because it can identify the entire microbiota – aerobic, anaerobic and facultative. It can also tell you the degree or level of infection, and the volume of infection – whether it is low or high. Using this testing, practitioners are now able to find infections that they have been missing out on for decades.
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And this is a technology that you can trust. The Diagnostic Solutions’ lab was born in Georgia Tech University in the USA, which has one of the best molecular biology departments in the world. It uses a bulletproof technology and methodology that has been 3rd party validated and FDA cleared. What that means is that samples can be sent to any biomedical or academic centre in the world, and they will discover the exact same results. This technology has also been adapted by the UK as the gold standard for GI testing and it is used in the major teaching hospitals in pathology labs in the USA.
The GI MAP is also different from other testing that uses PCR technology because it is functional in nature. What that means its that it doesn’t just look for pathogens, but it also looks a how your GI tract is working from a functional standpoint. For example, the levels of your good bacteria, the degree of inflammation and gluten sensitivity.
Overview of the GI MAP
The GI MAP is fast and convenient!
The infectious portion of the testing looks for:
Bacterial infections – such as c. difficile & e. coli
Parasitic & protozoan infections – like giardiasis
Viral infections – like norovirus and epstein barr
H Pylori (this test also determines virulence factors/pathogenicity)
Fungi & yeast Infections
(total of 44 different markers)
The functional portion of the lab test examines:
(total of 35 different markers)
How about you?
Have I spiked your curiosity? Are you looking to dig a little deeper into your gut issues and start to identify the root causes of your GI symptoms, whether it be constipation and bloating, diarrhea, gas, stomach aches or undigested stool? Schedule a free consultation today and we can talk about how Healing Journey can run the GI MAP on you!