Book Review: Functional Gastroenterology: Assessing and Addressing the Causes of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

 In Book Reviews, Education, Gastrointestinal


Stacie Deyglio, ND

Functional Gastroenterology: Assessing and Addressing the Causes of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Functional disorders have a tendency to occur when the main abnormality creating the dysfunction is in how the body works or, more aptly, is not working. Statistically, irritable bowel syndrome and dyspepsia are the most common functional gastrointestinal disorders, with irritable bowel syndrome alone affecting 10% to 20% of adults. The symptoms of these disorders can cause discomfort that ranges from inconvenience to deep daily personal distress. For those with severe symptoms, the disorders can be debilitating, leaving patients unable to fully participate in life and work. The social and economic costs of gastrointestinal disorders are staggering. In his first book, Dr Steven Sandberg-Lewis conveys insights gathered from years of clinical experience in restoring patients’ digestive and musculoskeletal health. These insights highlight functional gastroenterology, Dr Sandberg-Lewis’ own term to describe his personal method to ensure digestive health, “an approach focused on restoring optimal function” (p8).

Clinicians recognize that functional disorders generally cannot be diagnosed in a traditional way. No inflammatory, infectious, or grossly structural abnormality may be reported by traditional physical examination, x-ray, or laboratory test. Yet, functional gastrointestinal disorders affect millions of individuals—men, women, and children. How are the underlying causes of these patients’ individual issues explained, and how may their lives be restored back to optimal health? Dr Sandberg-Lewis writes: “[I]n the last thirty years, an integrated biopsychosocial model of disease has emerged in allopathic medicine and it has gone a long way to add acceptance to functional disorders. It is still a far cry from what is needed to understand optimal function and methods of assessment & treatment of GI disorders. This book is my attempt to fill that void” (p9).

Dr Sandberg-Lewis provides an eclectic compilation of information in the contents of his book. He reviews the basics of gastroenterology, encompassing chapters on the enteric nervous system, gastrointestinal hormones, immunity, gut flora, blood sugar, insulin, the gut-brain axis, stress, and digestion. He then moves on to elaborate on laboratory testing for functional gastrointestinal disorders, including physical examination reflex points and muscle testing procedures. Further, Dr Sandberg-Lewis addresses functional gastroenterology syndromes commonly affecting patients. These include hiatal hernia syndrome, gastric secretion and suppression, functional pancreatic insufficiency, and ileocecal valve syndrome.

So much remains unknown about these disorders. There is a pressing need to support more research and avenues of clinical care for the many patients suffering from such ailments. Dr Sandberg-Lewis addresses these needs using an integrative approach to treating functional gastroenterology disorders. With his many years of clinical experience and his knowledge base as a professor, he provides the reader with diagnostic tools, laboratory evaluations, and therapeutic suggestions to assist the practitioner in understanding the dysfunction and in restoring the patient back to optimal health and wholeness.

  • Title: Functional Gastroenterology: Assessing and Addressing the Causes of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
  • Author: Steven Sandberg-Lewis, ND
  • Publisher: NCNM Press
  • Available from:
  • Pages: 202
  • Style: Softcover
  • Copyright: 2009
  • MSRP: $34.95
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