refers to digestion and absorption of nutrients in the gut, as well as the health, diversity, and balance of the microbes that inhabit the digestive tract.

Defining the digestive tract from the mouth to end of the lower intestine this part of the functional medicine matrix covers a lot of area. In fact, the surface area of the small intestine alone is about 2700 square feet, almost the size of a tennis court!


When there are imbalances in ASSIMILATION a person may notice symptoms such as food intolerances, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, bloating/gas, abdominal pain, acid reflux, fatty stools, poorly digested food in the stool, diarrhea, and constipation.


Nutrients that can be helpful when there are imbalances in ASSIMILATION include: L-glutamine, magnesium, zinc, probiotics, omega 3 fish oils (ALA/DHA/EPA), vitamins A, D, E, digestive enzyme replacements, bile acid replacements, and betaine. Our team will help identify these imbalances and help you get back to the proper balances.


In addition, the modifiable lifestyle factors of Sleep, Movement, Nutrition, Stress, and Relationships should be evaluated for areas of need and Dr. Sharlin and his staff will ensure the proper corrective measures are taken.

The Role of the Digestive Tract

The role of the digestive tract is to breakdown and absorb nutrients, help regulate the excretion of water and electrolytes, and eliminate waste and toxins through the stool. To accomplish this goal, the digestive tract must maintain proper acidity in the stomach, have adequate amounts of digestive enzymes, and make sure the barrier that separates the inside of the intestines from the blood stream is permeable only to nutrients needed for life. Increased gut permeability (“leaky gut”) is one of the most important concepts in functional medicine and is the basis for most chronic disease. Critical to this process is the gut’s own immune system and the population of microscopic organisms that inhabit the gut known as the “microbiome.” Finally, we also recognize the connection between the gut and the brain. The gut-brain connection is a two-way street in which imbalances in the gut affects the brain and the brain’s activity affects the gut. This occurs by way of a long nerve, called the Vagus nerve which connects the base of the brain to organs in the thoracic and abdominal cavity, and the inappropriate leakage of material across a compromised gut barrier, such as lipopolysaccharides (LPS). Lipopolysaccharides have been associated with a variety of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Migraine, and Fibromyalgia, among others. This is because an LPS-triggered inflammation appears to disrupt the barrier between the blood and the brain which leads to inflammation within the brain, and damage to the energy-producing engines of the cells known as the mitochondria.

To further evaluate imbalances in ASSIMILATION the following tests may be helpful: NutrEval FMV (Genova), food sensitivity testing, gut permeability testing, testing for gluten-related autoantibodies and gluten-related cross reactive foods, the GI Effects 2200 or similar stool tests (Genova Diagnostics and others), test for small bowel bacterial and yeast overgrowth, and micronutrient levels (SpectraCell).


brain tune up! program coordinator

“As program coordinator of Brain Tune Up! I hope you will consider participating in this exciting personalized medicine treatment program that aims to help you remain healthy, functional, and productive and make sure the number of your years are of the highest quality possible.”

Understand The Seven “Nodes” on the Functional Medicine Matrix


Please click to learn about the Assimilation node of the Functional Medicine Matrix. Assimilation refers to digestion and absorption of nutrients in the gut, as well as the health, diversity, and balance of the microbes that inhabit the digestive tract.


Please click to learn about the Biotransformation & Elimination node of the Functional Medicine Matrix.Biotransformation & Elimination refers to the way in which the body handles products of metabolism, toxic elements, drugs, and other chemicals, and eliminates waste through the urine, stool, and sweat.


Please click to learn about the Communication node of the Functional Medicine Matrix. Communication refers to hormones, neurotransmitters (the chemicals nerve cells use to communicate with one another), and inflammatory mediators called “cytokines.”

Defense & Repair

Please click to learn about the Defense & Repair node of the Functional Medicine Matrix.Defense & Repair refers to chronic inflammation, how different parts of the body influence the immune system, and the factors that lead to a breakdown in the normal role of the immune system.


Please click to learn about the Energy node of the Functional Medicine Matrix. Energy refers to the way that every cell in your body creates the fuel that it needs to carry out normal biological functions.


Please click to learn about the Structural Integrity & Transport nodes of the Functional Medicine Matrix. These refer to two critical and over-lapping functions in the systems that govern how the body works.