IBS doctor

Dr. Heath McAllister
Dr. Heath McAllister

Dr. Heath McAllister is a state-licensed and board-certified Naturopathic Doctor. He received his doctoral degree, with honors, from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona and continues to teach medical students. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire, also graduating with honors (Summa Cum Laude).

Dr. McAllister has a long standing interest in digestive health and considers it to be at the core of wellness. He has personal experience with IBS, and as a child suffered from diarrhea along with fatigue and moodiness. It was from this that he learned that when digestion works properly, everything else seems to come into balance.

When digestion is not working properly, however, almost every major body system can be affected. Through effectively treating the digestive tract he has seen dramatic improvements in patients’ energy, mood, improved sleep, seasonal allergies, asthma, skin rashes, and other symptoms.

Having grown up in a small town in Maine, Dr. McAllister developed a deep love of nature. He is an avid hiker and wild-flower photographer and likes to get out when he can on weekends to explore wild-places. Before becoming a doctor he worked for the US Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Land Management as a plant biologist in the Mojave Desert.

Dr. McAllister also speaks Spanish and Russian proficiently, for those patients who may find it easier to communicate in those languages. To work with Dr. McAllister, please call our Santa Monica office at 310-319-1500.

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There are IBS Specialists and there are Gastroenterologists.

IBS specialists are experts in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A gastroenterologist may diagnose IBS, but that will only tell you what you already know, that your bowel irritates you.

To the IBS specialist the label of IBS only serves as a starting point for further investigation, nothing more. The IBS specialist focuses on assessing and diagnosing the cause of your digestive problems, not on the gross structural integrity of the digestive tract. Rather than focusing on the patients symptoms, or simply treating the symptoms, the IBS specialist is devoted to identifying the condition or conditions in the patient that are causing the symptoms.

What Exactly Does a Gastroenterologist Do?

People often make assumptions about medical specialists and their areas of expertise. This is certainly true with gastroenterology, where many people assume that gastroenterologists are experts in all things related to the digestive tract.

Gastroenterologists are experts in diseases of the digestive tract, not syndromes or symptoms. While Gastroenterologists do primarily pay attention to the digestive tract, there are some surprising gaps in their training on the science of digestion. Gastroenterologists primarily focus on performing colonoscopies and upper endoscopies.
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Digestive tract (image thanks to wikipedia)

Gastroenterology

People often make assumptions about medical specialists and their areas of expertise. This is certainly true with gastroenterology, where many people assume that gastroenterologists are experts in all things related to the digestive tract.

Gastroenterologists are experts in diseases of the digestive tract, not syndromes or symptoms. While Gastroenterologists do primarily pay attention to the digestive tract, there are some surprising gaps in their training on the science of digestion. Gastroenterologists primarily focus on performing colonoscopies and upper endoscopies. They may also do other imaging work of the GI tract, such as an ultrasound, CT scan,MRI, x-rays, and even “pill cameras”. And they may perform studies that assess the motility of the digestive tract. Therefore, if you go to a gastroenterologist your diagnosis will be based on this testing.

Notice that all of the things mentioned so far are visual exams. Gastroenterology is primarily a specialty in assessing the structure of the digestive tract. Gastroenterologists are focused on diagnosing ulcers, polyps, cancers, and other physically apparent abnormalities of the digestive tract.

A gastroenterologist may run a stool test for pathogens such as giardia, salmonella, and hemorrhagic E. coli, although any doctor can test for these. However, H. pylori may be assessed via a biopsy done during an endoscopy.
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