Why choose me.

I have been working with patients challenged by gut symptoms, gastrointestinal disorders and gastrointestinal health related disease for almost 20 years. I have a great success rate of getting to the bottom of causes and triggers and hence treating symptoms, healing inflammation and restoring health.

My keen interest in why and how gut health goes wrong and hence answer the question of how to fix it when it does go wrong, is related to the fact that my own gut is my personal weakness.

“How to heal my gut” is a question I have often asked along with “how to not feel so much through my stomach”, “why does my get always get so messed up when I am anxious”, and “what are the best supplements to heal gut inflammation”.

I had to answer all these questions not only for my clients but my own self as I went through the process of unraveling the causes to my chronic fatigue and a host of other symptoms back in 2010. All these health challenges were triggered by a bad dose of food poisoning in Egypt back in in 2008. I was VERY ill; but that is another story!

I have also learnt to recognise that for many of my patients “who” they are can also be linked to their gut health.

Many patients are highly sensitive, some are empaths, many are “nice people” and hold things in at the cost of their health. Many patients that sit down opposite me in the clinic are very beautiful people and have a hard job understanding this crazy world because it just makes no sense to them.

Does this sound like you? Are you confused and let down by this mad world? Have people in the past hurt, shamed or isolated you? Does life feel anxious or stressful?

I combine what I have learnt from healing my own gut with a strong medical background, an education in functional medicine, nutrition and energy healing and with the latest research developments to help my patients cure their own gut symptoms. This is the goal; to cure and not simply to manage.

{I am not supposed to say that; cure is a bad word in alternative medicine. But should we not strive for what is possible? We may not always hit it; but it is better to aim high than to settle. It is better to arrive at full health than merely tolerance of symptoms especially when it is possible so I won’t lie to you; my goal is full health for you. It is what I expect for myself and hence what I aim for with clients.}

Do you deserve health? Think about it…

Conditions that I work with include:

  • Functional gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS, constipation, reflux, GERD, and dyspepsia.
  • Chronic inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Infections such as helicobacter pylori, parasites and other dysbiosis states caused by imbalance in bacteria, viruses, yeasts and fungi.
  • Coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten intolerance.
  • And numerous gastrointestinal issues such as gas and bloating, food intolerance, histamine intolerance, indigestion, diverticulitis, mouth ulcers, abdominal migraine, chronic constipation/ diarrhoea, chronic pain and similar.

Addressing health and function of the gut also positively impacts issues such as chronic iron deficiency, B12 deficiency and nutritional deficiencies related to poor gastrointestinal digestive function, compromised absorption, and inflammation.

You should care deeply about your gut health.

Nothing says I love my gut more than a nice brew of herbal tea + some quiet time.

The gut, gastrointestinal function, the microbiome and how both it and we interact, and the links between the gut and health are something that mesmerize and amaze me. I have been following the research on the gut health puzzle closely for the last 20 years and finally we (science) are starting to put many pieces together about what goes wrong when we get ill and just how much the gut can be at the seat of issues.

It is all linked.

What is going on in our guts on a functional level, what we feed our guts, the toxins that we ingest via food and water, how our digestion is performing, the balance and diversity of our “gut bugs” and whether there are unwanted “visitors” in our guts or “misbehaving microbes/ viruses/ yeasts” absolutely impacts our current health; period.

how to heal the gut
It is now possible to analyse your microbiome; curious?

Reasons why your gut health is so important:

Our gut health is everything. … EVERYTHING!

We know that the gut is responsible for breaking down food and absorbing nutrients and electrolytes but it goes far beyond this. Technically the gut is outside of us and the first place that we detect and assimilate the world. A healthy gut “decides”.

The gut has many jobs and important roles that are key for whole body function and hence overall health.

1. First responder – making sense of what is a threat and what is not a threat.
The gut barrier is an important barrier between us and the “outside world”. Not only this, the health and function of this barrier is linked to that of the health and function of another key barrier: the blood brain barrier. The blood brain barrier is the line of defense between the brain and the body.

When the gut barrier is not functioning optimally we see issues within the body and also at the blood brain barrier (this has implications for brain health).

2. Immune system function; both local in the gut and systemic in the rest of the body.

3. Generation of vital substances that nourish the gut wall and maintain local health and thus optimal function. These substances also communicate with the brain and other organs. [Hence are an important link with less obvious conditions such as autism and inflammatory brain conditions.]

4. Generation of specific nutrients such as B vitamins and Vitamin K. The gut microbes also create (metabolise) active (beneficial) compounds from inactive compounds present in food; for example plant based “phytochemicals” . (It can also do the opposite which is why food preparation related chemicals or food additives can sometimes create harm).

Quote: The human gut microbiome is a critical component of digestion, breaking down complex carbohydrates, proteins, and to a lesser extent fats that reach the lower gastrointestinal tract. This process results in a multitude of microbial metabolites that can act both locally and systemically (after being absorbed into the bloodstream). The impact of these biochemicals on human health is complex, as both potentially beneficial and potentially toxic metabolites can be yielded from such microbial pathways, and in some cases, these effects are dependent upon the metabolite concentration or organ locality.

4. Strong link to the health and function of other organs and cells such as the vagina, lungs, liver, gallbladder, skin, pancreas, cardiovascular system, mitochondria (and the brain as I mention below).

5. Environmental toxin management (for example heavy metals and pesticides).

6. Detoxification and waste management (including detoxification and elimination of our hormones).

7. Powerful link to the brain via compounds and hormones. How we feel is considerably linked to how healthy and balanced our gut function (mutually beneficial) and microbial balance (diversity) is. However, it goes even deeper than this because gut health is linked to brain maintenance functions and brain health.

8. Inflammation modulation.

9. Response to medication and vaccines.

10. Our gut microbial balance is also responsible for how various diets impact us; for example a high protein or a high fat diet or a low/ high carbohydrate diet. (This is why there is not a one size fits all diet).

I also believe that our guts are a seat of gut feeling, instincts and intuition and also processor of emotions (there is research on how the gut microbes impact emotional reactions).

Just think how stress impacts your own gut and how an unhealthy gut impacts us on an emotional and cognitive level (e.g. anxiety or depression).

The best way to think of this is to see the microbiome as a community; a healthy community has a lot of diversity and resilience and conducts itself in a way that mutually benefits us.

Our gut health impacts our long-term health.

The digestive tract – what we don’t see here is the complex pathways that link gut to almost every other organ via messengers and hormones.

We are only starting to see just how intertwined gastrointestinal health and gut microbial balance are with our own physical and mental health as well as our long term resilience or susceptibility to illness. It is the most important partnership that you will ever have; you and your gut microbes!

Functional medicine practitioners, alternative health therapists, the great medics of the past, and many indigenous cultures have long acknowledged and respected the link between the gut and the rest of the body. NOW, medicine is catching up (again!) and conducting some wonderful research.

Will it be able to fully and definitively map out just how the microbes in our guts and our health are linked? Probably not; but we will get to know a lot and this information WILL make a difference.

I believe the gut-human “relationship” is a complex and individual synergism of us with our gut microbiome. Every experience we have, they have. Can science reach a point of knowing it all?

This is a dance that lasts a lifetime between us and them (the aliens in our guts), them and us…. but we are starting to head in the right direction and have more information to hand now to become better empowered in how we take care of our bodies (and bugs).

What we do know is that from pre-birth to death we owe our guts a duty of care and to nurture and protect the microbes in our digestive system… and we have not been doing so.

The gut microbiome is linked to our physical and mental health.

The following conditions are linked to abberations in gut health and microbiome balance, diversity, and/ or function.

Some conditions are linked to parasitic infection or dysbiotic bacteria and to when communities of bugs go rogue and become antagonistic to our health rather than mutualistic.

The research is strong for some conditions and for others we are still trying to understand exactly what is going on and why this is linked to the gut (it’s complex!):

  • Development of coeliac disease, non-coeliac gluten intolerance, colon cancer (interplay of genetics and environment).
  • Systemic metabolic diseases – obesity, diabetes, PCOS.
  • Mitochondrial related conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and neuro-degenerative conditions.
  • Inflammatory health conditions – for example cardiovascular disease (and the more obvious Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis).
  • Autoimmune health conditions – rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondilitis, psoriasis, SLE.
  • Gut-lungs axis – asthma.
  • Immune system – allergic diseases such as atopic eczema, atopic asthma, rhinitis. Histamine intolerance may also be linked to gastrointestinal infection and immune system triggering. Food allergies and multiple chemical sensitivity are linked to digestive health and gut function/ microbial balance.
  • Gut-reproductive system – endometriosis, infertility, miscarriage.
  • Brain function via the gut-brain axis – neuro-degenerative and neuro-inflammatory conditions such as autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and even brain tumours may be linked to gut health. There is a two way interaction also between the brain and gut in traumatic brain injury and recovery from spinal surgery or concussion.
  • Mental health – anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia.
  • Severity of helicobacter infection and tendency of H. Pylori to trigger other systemic diseases and symptoms (e.g. migraine or infertility).
  • There is also a strong link between the gut microbiome and fibromyalgia, Lymes disease, heavy metal toxicity, multiple chemical sensitivity and post-vaccine damage.
all disease begins in the gut

It’s time to address your gut health issues.

Slippery elm powder – the band-aid for upper GI inflammation and damage

Health, wellbeing, mental and physical performance and even longevity are all linked to the gut. There is even a bi-directional link between successful weight loss and sports performance and the gut. Recently probiotic supplements have been trialled in athletes to explore fuel oxidation and carbohydrate economy.

Symptoms are warning lights; so if the warning lights are on then it’s time for you to pay heed. If you are challenged with gastrointestinal health symptoms or a significant gut related diagnosis then let’s start there and see what we can do to improve things. I believe we can make things better; experience has taught me this.

It is worth the effort; changes does take effort but would you rather be stuck where you are?

Symptoms: do you suffer?

Digestive symptoms

Auto-immune disease

Chronic health problems

Female health issues

Poor brain function

Allergies

Mental health symptoms

Immune problems

Inflammation

Fatigue/ CFS/ ME

Chronic iron/ B12/ bone issues

GI pain/ discomfort

Or anything that makes you question ‘can there be a gut problem going on’ as the cause/ trigger of your heath issues.

What I do:

When you come to see me I run through the following. Every patent is treated individually so what we focus on may vary client to client.

1. Collect information:

Questionnaires to identify past and current symptoms; time-line of significant medical, health, accident/ surgery and life events; medical history and medical tests, medications, blood tests, family history and health patterns.

Evaluate:

Past and present diet, past and current lifestyle, stress, sleep, environment, adverse experiences/ trauma, your birth and infancy, childhood health and illness, and activity levels, etc.

Assess:

What are the significant and ongoing symptoms in all body organs and structures in addition to your gut; how do these impact your quality of life. Daily stress and coping skills; emotions and coping skills.

Review:

Any strategies employed to date and their success/ lack of success. (For example special diets or food allergy test results).

Discuss:

Your own personal insights and intuitions. Your experiences, concerns and feelings in relation to your health matter to me greatly.

This is an example of a time line

2. Make a strategy

Further tests.

Sometimes we need to know more about what is going on in your gut and systemically in your body. Medically we have the options of blood tests, normal hospital stool tests (catch a few of the main pathogens and overt inflammation), gastroscopes and colonoscopies or other scans when needed to look at accessory organs. These (tests) assist us in identifying inflammation, several infections, and more serious pathology.

Sometimes we must dig deeper than this into what is going on and in the last 10 years this has become possible using functional diagnostic gastrointestinal tests and state of the art gut microbiome/ viriome analysis.

I have a vast range of tests available to us to gain greater clinical insight into your specific health challenges. Experience shows me that more often than not, these tests are invaluable to highlight functional imbalances and also to inform us about which strategies will be best suited to return you to health.

If these tests are required; I will arrange this for you.

Phylo Bioscience GI-EcologiX
One of the most useful tests I lean on to inform me about your gut “health”.

Diet.

Together we will work on a educating you with the knowledge and skills to create practical and manageable changes to your diet such that gut health and function is restored (as best as is possible with the goal being to relieve symptoms and improve health).

Typically this is called an anti-inflammatory diet or a gut healing diet. Based on your individual needs we will look to include certain foods and seek to exclude identified problem foods.

I will also educate you on how to feed your gut for healing and optimal microbial diversity and balance.

There is no one-size-fits-all diet.

I do my best to avoid overly restrictive diets; sometimes we may need to exclude trigger foods in the short-term to encourage healing and limit inflammation or gut barrier permeability.

Overly restrictive diets can lead to longer term issues and even greater numbers of allergenic foods. I am not a fan of diets such as the FODMAPS diet in the absence of diagnosing why FODMAPS may be a problem. For short term benefits FODMAPs foods may be omitted.

The focus is on inclusion and not exclusion.

I do not endorse fad diets; we are striving to find the most balanced and diverse diet for YOU.

Occasionally we do need to work with your genetics and exclude gluten and/or lactose.

I work WITH your lifestyle, schedule, sporting demands, personal preferences, cooking skills and budget.

Study this!!

Supplements, herbs, homeopathy.

I am a firm believer in the power of diet to heal. Sometimes however, we may want to expedite healing and ensure that the body is getting what it needs to do so. For many patients initially I may recommend a short-term course of specific high strength doctor formulated supplements (I am VERY fussy about what brands I select and have done considerable research to arrive at this selection).

These are generally in the categories of anti-inflammatory, gut barrier healing, specific antibacterial or anti-parasite nutrients/ herbs/ drugs, fibre and prebiotics, probiotics, bentonites or zeolites and when needed cell membrane, mitochondria or other organ support. As an example!

Invivo Clinical have a neat range of probiotics.

I almost always will recommend supportive herbs, and sometimes include homeopathy or flower essences for emotional or other specific support.

These protocols (almost always) work; why? Because they are individualised and not just a generic set one plan for all as you will buy on the internet.

If I feel it is best that we work alongside a herbalist, homeopath, acupuncturist, reflexologist or even osteopath then I will recommend this.

Changes to daily life.

Diet is rarely the only trigger or cause for why you have stomach issues so we look to create change in as many positive ways as possible. This is a fun journey in learning about yourself and empowering yourself with strategies to improve health and resilience to change or challenge.

We shall together explore ways to create a calmer state of being in your body and I will explain why this is so very important for your digestive health and gut microbes.

I must practice what I preach; my gut is my own weak spot in health.

View this post on Instagram

Big race ahead? It's all go isn't it. The last training sessions, the attempt to relax on taper, the packing and the travelling, the registering, the bike racking, race bag packing and the all important expo. IT IS ALL GO GO GO. HAVE YOU ANY CLUE HOW RAMPED UP YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM IS? Pre race day nervous system reset I believe is very important. To spend a moment in those final days letting your body sink into parasympathetic mode and the final opportunities of rest and recovery before the fight and flight begins… You can do this anyway you want. I lie on the ground and simply focus on bringing my breath back into normal depth and frequency. It can take a while; don't fight it. As you slowly relax into deeper more relaxed breathing let your body relax too. Let the tight shoulders drop, the tight traps and rhomboids let go, the whole spine fall into the floor as you trust in the universe to hold you. If you struggle to let go them do the opposite and tighten every single muscle of your body, hold and hold and then relax with an exhale. Repeat once or twice more and notice how much more you let go. Keep sinking and breathing deeply and let your mind slowly disengage with thinking. It may still be racing that's ok, thoughts may hijack you and that's ok. Let them pass by and return to just being…you on the floor letting go. Some.of you may feel your nervous system hopping a bit. Breathe into it, breathe into your spine and imagine it all releasing the nervous energy from you and collected from the other athletes. Let it go. Your thoughts may roam about your body let them follow the threads but don't get caught up in thinking! Simply be aware. When you ready then spend some time visualising the race. Having fire, feeling great, the abundance of energy and so on..and then you are done. #happpyracing #ironman #ironman70.3 #taperweek #athletesupport #triathlete #swimbikerun #mind #visualisation #functionalmedicineclinic #adventureracing #ironmanaustria #theendurancelab

A post shared by Andrea Cullen (@cullen41) on

Mindfulness and meditation have to fit into your REAL life. This is me practicing what I preach and trying to educate while I am at it.

Guidance.

I will provide guidance on developing stress management skills, emotional awareness, resilience and anything else important to you that crops up on our journey working together.

Fascinating article on The hunt for a healthy microbiome

Trouble shooting.

We WILL hit challenges and obstacles along the way. My job is to problem solve and provide solutions.

The healing journey involves BODY, MIND, EMOTIONS and also gut bugs!

Ongoing support.

Many of the patients that attend the clinic to treat their gastrointestinal issues are also highly sensitive persons (also known as empaths). I am also; this is how I so clearly see that they are too.

I can support you to know yourself better and develop important skills and tools to manage “life” better and not absorb it all into your body and gut.
I highly recommend that you lean on me here.

You may find these 2 questionnaires enlightening; I personally found the high sensation seeking questionnaire very helpful to me as I am both highly sensitive and high sensation seeking (think “all in” and then “can I get the hell out” because I am overwhelmed and in emotional melt-down”.)

I’d love to help you

Please don’t hold back contacting me or booking an appointment if my approach resonates with you. Don’t leave things be when health can be around the corner. Click here

Furthermore if you or your loved ones are facing a serious health condition that may be linked to gut health then I do urge you to explore this with me. It is amazing how significantly gut health can impact serious illness and how this can be turned around for the better.

love,
Andrea

Beautiful devils claw; an anti-inflammatory herb.

PS A few more words on Phylo Bioscience GI EcologiX

In January 2020 a new test came available to me in addition to the GI map and the GI Effects which I have been using to date.

This test is the next level; and I am beyond excited at the launch of this new test to add to my diagnostics artillery for clients. Gut diagnostic testing is one of the most important and clinically helpful areas of my clinical practice.

It has shed light on underlying problems and provided solutions to 100s of my patients. Although the word cure can never be used, the information provided by this and other tests has turned around many patients serious health symptoms, clinical markers, and day-to-day symptoms.

The GI-EcologiX is a step forward over other tests and I am so excited! AND it is a UK company AND it has CQC accreditation AND it is a B corp company.

Speaking personally, gastrointestinal testing solved serious chronic fatigue syndrome (2008) and cured post infectious IBS (2012), and helped me identify and solve the cause of my serious gut damage in 2018 after falling ill from open water swimming.

I have used GI testing for numerous family members. It is a test that I could not make the difference that I do without it.

If you suffer gastro, inflammatory, autoimmune or degenerative or mental health conditions then consider testing your gut. The science and the research is there… not sure? Get on PubMed.

To read more about Phylo Bioscience™

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