How This Member Realized Her IBS Was Actually SIBO

Parsley Health
August 3, 2023

At Parsley Health, we’ve helped thousands of members feel better with root-cause resolution medicine . With our Member Stories series, we zoom in on a member’s health journey, what brought them to Parsley, and their road to recovery.

Read on to find out how Melissa, age 41, discovered her IBS was actually SIBO.

I’ve had gut issues basically my entire life. It got to the point where having minor gut issues was my normal. The flare-ups would make me want to do something, but I didn’t know what. It was never fully resolved and nobody ever gave me a reason for why it was happening. I also struggled with cystic acne , and even as an adult couldn't make it go away.

I joined Parsley because I’d been interested in a holistic approach to healing for a long time, and really felt like Parsley was aligned with that. This program gave me the best of all worlds. I could go to a medical professional, but at the same time wouldn’t necessarily go straight to surgery or a long-term prescription.

When I took the Parsley quiz, my very first symptom score was 53—but I thought I was feeling okay! The test showed differently. I was like, “Ohhh, that’s not great.”

“This is why my body doesn’t feel so great!”

During my first appointment, my doctor, Dr. Dawn Jacobson , had a list of blood work recommendations for me. It had been a long time since I had a doctor recommend a panel, not to mention specialty tests, which I’d never had before. I thought it would be a good investment in myself.

Dr. Jacobson recommended I book my follow-up appointment with enough time to get all those tests done. When my results came back, I got an email from the testing provider with the details, but the presentation that Dr. Jacobson put together for me to review with her helped me put the pieces together: “This is why my body doesn’t feel so great!”

It turned out that my IBS was not IBS. I did have gut inflammation, but I also had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). I learned that this kind of misdiagnosis is not uncommon.

Putting her care plan into action

Going over my test results with me, Dr. Jacobson helped me make sense of the personalized care plan she was putting together. She told me that she, my health coach, Christina Wakefield , and I were going to work together to clean up my diet so that it aligned with the supplements she prescribed me. That was how we were going to rebuild. Once I started feeling better, we would move into managing my health for the long-term.

My diet was already plant-based before I joined Parsley, but I definitely used the findings of my advanced testing and my time with Christina to tweak how I was eating. I cut out sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. I was already motivated to change, but having more information about how I was eating was impacting my body gave me a better path to strategize.

We also started working on improving my sleep habits. I work out every day, waking up at 5 am to work out no matter when I go to bed. I worked with Christina to honor my sleep schedule. Working out to manage stress is important, but so is sleep! Cristina helped me find pockets of time during the day to exercise while encouraging me to be less restrictive with myself just because I didn’t get a workout in. She supports me in being kinder to myself—just because I didn’t do everything perfectly doesn’t mean I’m a total failure! Speaking with someone knowledgeable about the science of sleep was huge for me in starting to get more, and better quality, sleep .

For my supplements, Dr. Jacobson prescribed a biofilm disruptor and berberine for 30 days. She also prescribed a SIBO protocol of omegas, SIBO Protect, and some enzymes. Now that I’ve finished that protocol, I take digestive bitters in my water and mineral drops. Cristina sent me links so I had different options to choose from.

My body was like, “What is happening?!”

It took a couple of weeks to notice a difference in my body. With my new diet, for the first week or two, my body was like, “What is happening?!” It was kind of strange to acclimate. My headspace was weird.

But after the first three weeks or so, I noticed a significant difference in inflammation. I was able to move better. I noticed that I was sleeping the whole night through, which hadn’t happened in years. My mood was different and I could focus better. My cystic acne started clearing up, too.

As I kept improving, Christina shared new info after every appointment and stayed in touch. I could relax knowing she was available in the My Parsley portal. It’s nice to know they’re there if you need them.

When I took the Parsley quiz again, my score had gone from a 53 all the way down to an 8. Over time, I went to fewer medical check-ins with Dr. Jacobson, but I’m looking forward to meeting with her a few times a year for long-term care. We discussed the idea of seasonal rebalancing and how Ayurvedic practices inform that so I can stay on top of my plan rather than wait for problems to arise again.

"You get what you put into it."

What was so great was that I never felt rushed in my appointments, whether they were with Dr. Jacobsen or Christina. I was laughing because I found myself looking at the clock, thinking, “Oh my gosh, are they gonna be late for their next appointment?”

But that was never reciprocated on their end. They’re sharing information with me and they’re fully present in answering my questions in a very thoughtful manner, and we have great conversations as a result. In comparison with a traditional medical visit, I’m building a rapport with my Parsley medical team and I feel like they really care about what’s going on with my body after the appointment ends.

I think like with anything in life, you get out of the program what you put into it. Your doctor can order all the tests in the world. They can explain the results. They can put together the protocol. But in between the appointments, it’s you that’s doing the work. As a patient, it’s important to be reminded of that.

Want to become a Parsley Health member? Schedule a free call  to learn more about Parsley’s virtual primary care , how to use insurance  to pay for your Parsley medical fees, and more.

Parsley Health

Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.

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