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Healing the gut, and its relationship with your body, with Whole Self Science

We’ve created a new model of care called Whole Self Science, which combines the best science-backed, evidence-based treatments from both conventional medicine and functional medicine.

Published:

November 11, 2022

Written by:

Dr. Max Pitman

Medical

Medically Reviewed by:

Published:

November 11, 2022

Microbiome
Microbiome
Mental Health
Mental Health
Mind-Gut Connection
Mind-Gut Connection
Nutrition
Nutrition
Sleep
Sleep
Whole Self Science
Whole Self Science
From Our Doctors
From Our Doctors

Every year, 60 million Americans suffer from chronic gut conditions and GI pain, and yet these conditions are treatable. Those who want help vie for an appointment with one of America’s only 15,400 gastroenterologists. 

Patients face long waiting lists, appointment times of 20 minutes or less, and the divided attention of doctors stretched thin by demand. They also feel the impact of each office visit and every prescription on their wallets. In 2018, America spent $135.9 billion dollars on treating GI conditions, more than heart conditions, with many taking multiple medications that are only partially covered by insurance. 

Meanwhile, their pain isn’t going away. 

Some turn to functional medicine to solve their gut problems

Many seek out healthcare alternatives to manage their gut health, especially functional medicine practitioners. Functional medicine is an approach to healthcare that accounts for the interconnectedness of the body, and attempts to address illness by taking stock of all your systems at once. 

While for many it’s a step closer to finding relief, for others, functional medicine is uncovered by their insurance, making it too expensive. Plus the demand to see a specialist in person is high, and the number of practitioners is limited, leading to long wait times before and between episodic appointments. As a result, it can be difficult to get continuous care from the nation’s elite functional medicine practitioners. While there are a lot of strategies and remedies online, it can be difficult to tell what an expert would recommend for your particular condition.  

At Salvo Health, we’ve partnered with healthcare leaders, the nation’s leading gastroenterologists and functional medicine practitioners, to identify and fill the gaps in care for chronic conditions. Together, we’ve created a new model of care called Whole Self Science, which combines the best science-backed, evidence-based treatments from both conventional medicine and functional medicine. Using technology, we provide members with instant access to a care team, for affordable, convenient, and continuous treatment. 

What is Whole Self Science?

Whole Self Science is Salvo Health’s proprietary model of care that focuses on deeply understanding the whole person, the connection shared by their body, mind, and gut, and all the areas of their life possibly impacting their gut health, in order to uncover and treat the root cause of their condition. 

Living with an undiagnosed chronic gut condition means living with its symptoms which can include diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, stomachaches, just to name a few. 

What Whole Self Science proposes is that these symptoms don’t start and end with your gut. Have you ever felt butterflies in your stomach, or even nausea when you’re nervous?  It’s very clear that the gut and mind are connected. When the brain experiences stress or anxiety, it sends a signal to your gut to activate pain or cause your symptoms to spike. 

Healthcare providers and specialists often provide a supplement or prescription to simply relieve the symptoms in your gut, rather than trying to figure out what could be causing your condition for a longer-term solution (and with fewer side effects than being on medication for years on end). Salvo Health believes in factoring in what the brain and body experience, including brain-gut neurobiological linkages, the state of the gut microbiome, trigger foods or pesticides in your diet, movement, and sleep quality, as elements that can be main contributors to your chronic gut condition. 

How does the Care Team use Whole Self Science? 

Every Salvo Health Member gets a Care Team, including a gastro-specialist physician, a board-certified health coach, and a care navigator.  Your dedicated gastro specialist uses Whole Self Science’s unique model of care to create a customized Care Plan. 

The Care Plan will evolve as clinically appropriate, but starts with the steps a member can take first to get immediate relief from their symptoms. Most members begin their journey with testing and diagnostics to get set up with any prescriptions or supplements, and rule out any more rare conditions that need different types of care (for example, Celiac disease or Crohn’s disease). Then, the Care Plan advances through a set of steps over 90 days of initial Discovery, to help our members really understand what’s going on with their body, including how to treat their body, mind, and gut to re-establish balance between all three. 

Your Care Plan combines consistent practices and strategies to support one’s gut with medical interventions like prebiotics or nutraceuticals & supplements, so that our Care Team can provide continuous, 360-degree healthcare. If a prescription medication is indicated, your clinician can write prescriptions for a member, but our care teams also look to start with more integrative interventions first to see if they provide relief with fewer side effects, and also work hard with patients to transition off medications that are not intended for long term use.

 These practices and strategies will center on: 

  • Food & Nutrition, exploring options beyond a basic list of foods that can or can’t be eaten, including gut-friendly diet additions to restore microbiome health, and elimination diets to isolate if a particular food really is associated to your flare-ups; 
  • Gut-mind interactions, with therapeutic strategies for managing and understanding mental health, including cognitive behavioral therapies and stress management and relaxation neurobiological exercises designed by gut-directed psychotherapists 
  • Sleep and Movement, to align one’s body with natural circadian rhythms and practice daily movement.

Putting your Care Plan and Whole Self Science into action 

Ever skipped a birthday dinner with friends just because you’ve worried about bathroom access at the restaurant? Worried about returning to work and sharing an office bathroom? Stopped doing an activity you love, like running, because of your gut response? 

People with chronic gut conditions like IBS or GERD often experience a gut/life imbalance, but giving up total control of your life to your gut isn’t exactly sustainable. This is where your Care Plan, and Whole Self Science, can equip you with new tools to manage your triggers and reduce symptoms but also get back some control and agency over your daily life.  Even if you choose to partake of a food trigger when you really want to, you’ll understand your body better and make empowered choices… and there will always be times that risking a flare up is just worth it. 

Your doctor will create a custom Care Plan for you. Your weekly care plan will always be front and center in the Salvo Health app. Based on lab tests and your daily responses on what’s working, the doctor will update your Care Plan approximately every two weeks in the first few months, until you settle into a Care Plan that is working for you.  You also can access daily content related to your Care Plan in the Salvo Health app, and you can always message your care team (physician, health coach, and care navigator) in the app.  Your board-certified health coach will reach out frequently as a resource on how to navigate Care Plan and with tips on how to adapt things to the reality of your daily life.  We get it.  Everyone is juggling a lot, and you have to fit changes into work, family, travel, school, and budgets, among other things.

 Your board-certified health coach is your partner in helping you… 

  1. Identify patterns or triggers that may flare up your gut symptoms
  2. Trial coping mechanisms or practices to handle those triggers
  3. Continue practicing habits that can prevent symptoms long-term
  4. Evolve your habits to be flexible to you as your life and triggers change 

A few examples of how your specialist and health coach can integrate into your life: 

  • You love cheese and dairy but through Whole Self Science and your Care Plan, you recognize that they might be triggering your symptoms. A specialist can suggest alternatives. 
  • You’re pretty stressed at work, which is causing your IBS to flare-up in public more often. Your health coach can help you find the time to incorporate small walks daily or short “body scan breathing” exercises that evidence shows can calm nervous systems. 

What Whole Self Science is… and what it isn’t 

Whole Self Science is a model of care that makes Salvo Health members participatory in their own care. Not only do you learn more about your entire body through Whole Self Science, you can integrate your new understanding into your life, with help from your Care Team. 

Our telehealth model is appropriate for the vast majority of patients facing gut challenges that are undiagnosed or diagnosed.  That said, Salvo Health during its intake and onboarding does triage out cases with contraindications that seem to require immediate review by an in-person physician, such as symptoms that require a colonoscopy or endoscopy. Salvo Health will inform such patients they are not eligible for our telehealth until they’ve seen an in-person practice and ruled out more serious or rare situations.

While Whole Self Science can be empowering for everyone who lives with chronic conditions, people who live with multiple chronic conditions, or more serious conditions like Crohn’s Disease or Colitis (IBD), at this time should continue to see their in-person doctors for care.  In the near future, Salvo Health will introduce ways that these patients can access Salvo Health’s Whole Self Science treatments and doctors as a complement to their primary physician.  For now, IBS, GERD, SIBO, Dyspepsia, and related conditions are the special focus of Salvo Heath currently. 

Signing up for Salvo Health 

If you’re living with a chronic gut condition, or even suspect you may have IBS, GERD, or Celiac, Whole Self Science can provide relief and reveal what’s going on with your body (mind, and gut).

 Not only will you get access to a coordinated Care Team, who will use Whole Self Science to help manage your pain and symptoms, but you’ll be able to communicate consistently with your Care Team, including a certified gastro specialist and board-certified health coach, about what is, and isn’t working for you. 

 Start your journey to better gut health and join Salvo Health today.

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Written by:

Dr. Max Pitman

Medical

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