I teach you how to heal your gut
I’m Dr. Erika La Vella, DO, FASMBS
I’m a board-certified metabolic surgeon, wife, and mother who is passionate about health in the most preventative and holistic ways.
Through staying up-to-date with the latest research and healing my gut, I have become an expert in the Gut-Brain-Axis and am passionate about teaching others the impact they have over their own health.
My workshops go way beyond diet and nutrition to get to the root cause of gut dysfunction. Keep in mind; gut dysfunction is often the root cause of many ailments. Science calls this phenomenon “bi-directional.”
And guess what, there is no magic diet or pill to undo gut problems.
There is an emergent understanding that many simultaneous inputs collectively organize to create our experiences. And this is true for your health.
When it comes to an understanding of how your gut microbiome affects your health, it’s equally important to understand how your nervous system state affects your gut microbiome via the vagus nerve. My workshops teach you all you need to know about the vagus nerve.
Your stress physiology can set your guts on high alert and dysfunction.
You see, when I was in medical school, I had a plethora of gut problems. I had abdominal pain, constipation, intermittent diarrhea, inability to digest certain foods, and I couldn’t even have one glass of wine without my entire body aching for days.
I was also very stressed and fearful at this time. Not believing in myself, I had a fear of failure.
My relationships were not manifesting unconditional love. I sometimes felt hopeless and apathetic. I often created drama to match how I was feeling inside. I was also only 23.
I thought about seeking help from a medical doctor but feared I would be labeled depressed and given an antidepressant. I honestly didn’t feel like my emotional experiences were my own. I felt like a sieve, and I was taking on everyone’s fear and anxiety also.
Then, something serendipitous occurred.
I found functional medicine and found I had a gut parasite.
I took blood tests, urine tests, and saliva. I looked at my Kreb’s cycle (any biochemistry nerds?), my amino acid pathways, my neurotransmitter pathways, cortisol, and thyroid hormones. I discovered that this gut parasite was eating up precious amino acid precursors necessary for creating serotonin, melatonin, and thyroid hormone.
So there I was under tremendous amounts of pressure to study 100 hours a week and pass 13 exams every two weeks. I had a GI parasite stealing my ability to make any serotonin, melatonin, and thyroid hormone?! WTF. The effect of enteric pathogens and amino acid deficiencies wasn’t in our textbooks!
The parasite wasn’t the only pathology, though; I also had SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and yeast overgrowth.
Long story short, my guts were a mess. And so was I.
What happened next, I took albendazole to kill the parasite, ciprofloxacin, to treat the SIBO and fluconazole to treat the yeast. I stopped taking oral contraceptive pills because they wouldn’t be effective anyway. (More thoughts on this particular protocol later!)
I already understood and followed a mostly whole foods diet, and it didn’t take me more than two months before I felt like myself again. I had energy, I could eat without abdominal pain, and I started waking up to the real work I needed to do to heal my relationship with my stress, my body, and my self-worth.
I have learned oh so many valuable lessons during this process. Going through surgical residency was a whole other level of stress at times that challenged me again and again. This time, not from the gut parasite level (gut to brain) but from a psychology and brain level (brain to gut).
I moved three times, I fell in love, got married to an Australian (he’s the best), I had a miscarriage, I had a baby, my little brother died, and I was working 80 hours a week and taking 24 hours of call up to 3 times a week.
When we are grieving, excited, sleep-deprived, not eating well, not drinking enough water, triggered to situations of stress physiology, our guts and digestion is directly impacted.
I now use heart-rate variability, mindfulness, and neurosensory exercises to keep my stress response primed for action. I eat lots of fresh food with a focus on fiber to feed the beneficial microbes in my gut.
These aren’t “hacks,” either. This is how humans are developed, and in the age of “we know-how,” I know how to teach you how to regulate your gut and nervous system on your own.