Integrative Digestive Health and Wellness
Our GI experts come together to deliver patient-centered care. Combining diet, lifestyle and behavioral therapies, we help you feel better and live healthier.
Why choose UCLA Health for integrative digestive health?
Through our comprehensive services, we offer therapies and plans to help you reach your digestive wellness goals. Highlights of our program include:
Holistic approach: In addition to the gastroenterologist who manages your care, other team members include GI dietitians with special expertise in digestive health and a GI nurse practitioner with experience in the brain-gut axis and mind body approaches. Your GI health psychologist specializes in the use of proven psychological strategies to reduce symptoms and better manage disease. Together, our specialists strive to achieve the best possible outcomes not only for your digestive health, but also for your overall well-being.
Focus on the brain-gut and mind-body connection: Our team understands the strong connection between the brain and the gut. We utilize proven therapies, including nutritional guidance, meditation, mindfulness, gut-directed cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy, to improve brain-gut communication.
Personalized care plans: We recognize the importance of not simply treating the digestive tract but looking at the whole person and developing a comprehensive approach that is best for you.
Our areas of care
At the UCLA Health Integrative Digestive Health and Wellness Program, we specialize in integrative health practices to help people with gastrointestinal disorders. It’s no accident that people talk about their “gut feelings” or “gut instincts.” The brain and the gut are in constant communication and play a major role in supporting healthy digestive functions.
Having chronic digestive symptoms can affect mental and physical health, just as stress and intense emotions can cause or worsen GI symptoms. Our therapies focus on both the brain and the gut. Our services include:
Integrative health for GI disorders
The integrative nurse practitioner has extensive experience in brain-gut research and caring for people with digestive disorders. At the initial assessment, you will learn about the brain-gut connection and how factors such as sleep, exercise and stress all play an important role in digestive health. In addition to addressing your symptoms, you will learn lifestyle behaviors that influence digestive health, and you will practice skills supported by research to improve symptoms and help you manage stress.
The knowledge and skills you receive will help you feel empowered to live with more ease.
Your team creates a care plan based on your individual needs and lifestyle.
Wellness approaches may include:
Aromatherapy: Essential oils from plants such as lavender, peppermint, lemon and ginger promote physical and mental well-being.
Diaphragmatic breathing: This kind of slow breathing stimulates the vagus nerve (the nerve that connects the brain to the digestive tract) and activates the “rest and digest” nervous system.
Mindfulness-based interventions: These techniques teach you to be aware of the relationship between physical sensations, thought patterns and emotions. We work with you to acknowledge your symptoms and learn skills to respond to them, resulting in better symptom and stress management.
Relaxation training: These techniques reduce stress and tension in the mind and body, balance the nervous system and improve well-being.
Self-compassion: We teach you how to respond to yourself with kindness in the face of difficulty or discomfort.
GI health psychology
Our specially trained GI health psychologist offers a proactive approach to care, focusing on enhancing psychological resources to optimize digestive wellness and strengthen resilience to stress. Living with chronic and unpredictable digestive symptoms can affect daily life. Digestive issues can increase stress levels and interfere with meaningful activities that support wellness.
Many patients also experience a range of emotions that are associated with a digestive condition. Our GI health psychologist is specialized in the use of behavioral treatments that influence the brain-gut connection to reduce symptom severity and enhance quality of life. This whole-person approach embraces the interconnected relationship between digestive and emotional health.
Therapies we offer include:
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): This therapy teaches skills that improve how you respond to uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and GI symptoms. ACT can enhance quality of life and reduce emotional suffering in the setting of digestive symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT uses skill-based strategies to identify and modify thought patterns and behaviors that may amplify stress or interfere with symptom management. CBT provides tools to enhance coping skills and problem-solving techniques to reduce symptoms and stress related to symptoms.
Coping support: We work with you to help you cope with and adjust to a diagnosis. Our team offers support for the emotional challenges associated with digestive issues.
Medical hypnosis for digestive health: This practice uses deep relaxation techniques combined with soothing images and verbal suggestions. We use hypnosis to calm the digestive system and relieve digestive symptoms.
Our specialized GI dietitians help you continue to enjoy the pleasures of eating while managing digestive symptoms. We create personalized diet and supplement recommendations based on symptoms and diagnoses. Learn more about UCLA Health GI Nutrition.
Gastrointestinal diseases we treat
Our team has experience with a wide range of GI disorders and symptoms. These include:
Esophageal disorders, including achalasia, acid reflux, Barrett's esophagus, dysphagia and esophageal cancer
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other disorders of gut-brain interaction, such as functional dyspepsia, abdominal bloating and distension
Motility disorders, a range of conditions that affect the movement of the digestive tract, such as gastroparesis, rumination, acid reflux, and difficulty swallowing
Symptoms of these disorders may include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal pain
Meet our team
Our team of expert GI dietitians, GI psychologists, and an integrative health nurse practitioner are research and clinical leaders in the brain-gut centered approach to digestive disorders. Together, we partner with your gastroenterologist to identify the best approach to improve your digestive health and overall well-being.
Find your care
Our team delivers holistic care for people with GI disorders. We enhance your overall well-being with a wide range of dietary, behavioral and integrative health practices. Call us at 310-825-2631 to connect with an expert.