Research – a force for good or bad

IBS research

Social media has been instrumental in building and growing my Just For Tummies business. It’s a wonderful tool for connecting with my existing customers as well as attracting new ones, reaching a wide audience with whom I can share content that will raise awareness around the importance of digestive and gut health.

When used well, social media can educate, support, empower and inspire.  I will only share content that will go some way towards enhancing the lives of others.  I am very mindful of the images I post and the words that accompany those images.

The same goes for the comments I make on other users’ posts.  I choose my words carefully.  While words can inspire, they can so easily cause upset, anger, and pain. Sometimes quite unwittingly.

For this reason, I have been mulling over whether or not to share the following opinion on my social media platforms.  But it’s something I feel very strongly about and the voice in my head is telling me to share, so here goes.

A few days ago, a Harley Street-based health practitioner made a comment about probiotics on her social media platforms.  She said that there needs to be more research before we recommend probiotics for conditions like dysbiosis. She called practitioners who recommend probiotics to help reduce symptoms of dysbiosis ‘frauds’.  I take real issue with this comment. It’s thanks to social media that we have been able to create a community among health practitioners, but this kind of divisive content ultimately does nothing other than disengage us.  It’s a shame that this practitioner made such an unprofessional comment; I suppose it goes to show that an exclusive and prestigious clinic address is not a definite marker of one’s level of experience and wisdom.  I, for one, am proud to be practising out of Nottingham, my home city, where I’ve carried out over 70,000 consultations and treatments, and the place where Just For Tummies was born.

Anyway, back to the comment in question. Dysbiosis simply means that someone has a lack of beneficial microbes in their gut, and, in my experience, that applies to around half of the UK population!  This particular practitioner is always citing research for this, that and the other. She posts beautiful images of food on her pages and writes well crafted prose about digestive and gut health. I don’t think for one moment that she has examined someone’s abdomen and palpated the stomach, pancreas, liver and intestines to get a ‘feel’ of the structures within the abdomen. This gives a practitioner excellent feedback, including picking up signs and symptoms of dysbiosis, together with taking a thorough case history. I’ve never been really interested in words to describe certain conditions though – dysbiosis, IBS, IBD. What I’m interested in are symptoms and the person that has the symptoms, and one of the best ways of getting a good feel of what’s going on in a person’s digestive system and gut than with physical examination of the abdomen and colon hydrotherapy treatment.  Both give important information about what is going on in the digestive system and gut.

Research is important, but it is not the be-all and end-all that some individuals seem to think it is. I’m am very science based. I have to be, being a developer of supplements, but I also recognise that science doesn’t have all the answers, and also all the answers don’t necessarily need science. I often cite this quote that I think pretty much sums things up – ‘If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like it needs a nail.’ As humans we aren’t black and white, and our bodies don’t need science to teach them what to do. Unfortunately we humans, for a huge variety of reasons, including modern day living, sometimes malfunction.

I feel there is a touch of snobbery attached to research; there are people who like to cite research constantly, almost to the point that you might start to think they lack confidence in their own clinical abilities and judgement. Research also takes place in clinics. It starts by getting your hands ‘dirty’ and finding out what does and does not work for your clients, and that means listening to them, not just reading research papers.

If you want to read more about the pro’s and con’s or research, have a read of Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s book, ‘Doctoring Data’.  He is also author of  ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’, another very good read. In ‘Doctoring Data’, he explains the tricks used to make a minute risk look enormous, how the drug trials can be hyped, the data manipulated, the endless games that are played to scare us into doing what, in many cases, makes the most money.  After reading the book you will know what to believe and what to ignore. You’ll have a much greater understanding of the world of medical research. A world in crisis.

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published or to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” Dr. Marcia Angell

Research, especially around mapping the human gut and developing individualised probiotic supplements, may well be a long way off, but this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be recommending probiotic supplements because of this lack of research. There’s a wealth of evidence as well as countless studies proving that the two most common genus of ‘friendly’ bacteria, lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are hugely beneficial at reducing IBS symptoms, including dysbiosis, helping to digest food, assisting in the absorption of nutrients, ‘crowding’ out pathogenic, disease-causing bacteria, and reducing our risk of developing auto-immune disorders, mental health issues, and cancer.

It is beyond the pale to suggest that probiotics do not work because there’s ‘not enough research’.  These words are condemning millions of people to a life of bloating, pain, constipation and diarrhoea, not to mention UTIs, all having a huge impact on quality of life.

Sometimes words matter more than you can imagine.


Linda Booth

Naturopathic Colon Hydrotherapist/Founder

Just For Tummies

Glow From Within

This entry was posted in General by Linda