The GI-MAP™ (GastroIntestinal-Microbial Assay Plus) test is the first comprehensive stool analysis to include an FDA-approved DNA/PCR assay for GI pathogens performed on stool. The pathogen targets include bacteria, parasites, and another first for the market, viruses! Using the same molecular technology, the assays for microbes are also useful for integrative and functional medicine practitioners. GI-MAP™ tests for GI pathogens, opportunistic organisms, normal flora, and markers of GI health.
THE GI-MAP™ INCLUDES THESE ANALYTES: • Bacterial Pathogens • Viral Pathogens • Parasitic Pathogens • Parasitic Protozoa • Parasitic Worms • Normal Bacterial Flora • Opportunistic Bacteria • Fungi/Yeast • Digestion • Immune Response • H.Pylori • Antibiotic Resistance Genes • Add-on option: Zonulin – the marker of increased intestinal permeability (aka “leaky gut”) that has been developed recently.
DNA/PCR techniques also allow for the measurement of antibiotic resistance genes and virulence factors that contribute to pathogenicity. Both are used to help determine clinical significance and the most effective treatments.
Case Study: a 4-Year-Old “Healthy” Child
Below you see an example of the stool test and how it can uncover the issues with gut health and the gut microbiome. My little patient is just 4 years old and is already having an impaired gut microbiome and H.pylori that wreaks havoc in some people. Currently, it is estimated that approximately 50% of people have H.Pylori, but only 15% develop gastric (stomach) ulcers and gastric cancer in the long run. Is it something I would want to prevent? For sure!
The child’s main symptoms:
Dark circles under eyes
Mood swings (hard to say if it is the developmental age stage and natural or caused by something else).
Constipation (no BM in 2-3 days) alternating with diarrhea.
Poor immune system – got sick 3 times in 4 weeks this winter.
The test showed the child has H.Pylori, although no virulence factors are noted – which is good. Nevertheless, we need to look at the whole picture of whether to treat H.Pylori aggressively in this case or not.
Normal Bacterial Flora has signs of species that are high in the lab range. This may signify some overgrowth of good bacteria in the colon. What is interesting is that having more good bacteria is not always better. There should definitely be a certain balance between good and bad bacteria that keeps each other in check.
Here, no yeast or viruses are present, but there are multiple dysbiotic bacteria species that are high, as well as autoimmune triggers are present that may later lead to developing an autoimmune disorder. Thankfully, knowing all this information is like having the number of different tools in my toolbox that would help me solve this puzzle and get the child feeling better.
The last, but not least important section is the organ issues that most likely developed from the microbiome gut issues and dysbiosis – an imbalance of normal and pathogenic bacteria, as well as the presence of H.Pylori.
High Anti-gliadin IgA – intolerance to gluten – gluten must go. Increased intestinal permeability – aka “leaky gut” confirmed by high zonulin. Low Secretory IgA – the first and the most important defense mechanism to fight the invading pathogens and parasites. So, from these lab results it is unknown – was H.Pylori a primary mischief-maker or the deficiency in the Secretory IgA (low immune response) and the overgrowth of the pathogenic bacteria let H.Pylori thrive in the stomach and gut. The healthy level of stomach acid is also supposed to kill the invading pathogens and parasites and if this level is compromised by taking acid blockers such as PPIs (Proton-Pump Inhibitors – omeprazole or Prilosec) or Histamine-blockers such as ranitidine in adults – any pathogen will get through the stomach into the gut and will set up its’ camp there. Not the best case scenario long-term!
The lower stomach acid may also compromise how we produce enzymes to break down and digest the foods we eat. If we cannot digest the foods – for example, if we cannot break down proteins into amino acids, we cannot fully absorb the amino acids. Instead, we absorb undigested proteins that turn on the inflammation in our bodies, cause food sensitivities, and may lead to all kinds of symptoms depending on the genetic susceptabilities.
I will update this case as soon as I can. Read below the general information on this test and who may benefit from it.
So, Who Can Benefit from GI-MAP Testing?
Almost ANYONE! I have treated many clients with seemingly unrelated gut microbiome issues – cystic acne, amenorrhea, IBS-like symptoms, depression, anxiety, joint inflammation, thyroid issues, autoimmune diagnosis, brain fog, or a broad spectrum of fatigue (CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). The results are fascinating when the treatment is chosen wisely and GI MAP definitely helps to tailor the treatment depending on the symptoms and lab results.
Needless to say, I was excited to use it on myself and my family, as well as some clients who had unexplained health issues and possible SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) or SIFO (Small Intestinal Fungal Overgrowth).
Zhanna Tarjeft, FNP is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and a founder of Sprouts Health Functional Medicine Practice in Gilbert, Arizona. Her articles are a matter of personal opinion and do not constitute direct medical advice. All conditions are unique and require the direct review and care of your own physician. To book an appointment with Zhanna Tarjeft contact her at (480) 550-9551
This does not constitute medical advice, always seek the direct advice of your Doctor or Medical Provider for your specific health care or needs.
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