Digestive Disorders Course

Digestive Disorders

Solve it naturally

This course will give you an in-depth understanding of how the digestive system works and digestive disorders. It also provides an introduction to nutrition. You will get a certification after course completion.

The Digestive System Certificate Course gives you an in-depth understanding of basic science, anatomy, physiology and pathology on the digestive system. It is of paramount importance for anybody dealing with patients to know how the digestive system works, to understand physical symptoms and be able to recognize when to refer to a specialist.


2 months


Detailed handouts
15+ hours of filmed lectures

Practice exams & exercises
(Textbooks extra at approx. $120)



This course will give you an in-depth understanding of how the digestive system works. It also provides an introduction to nutrition.

After many years of delivering successful in-class courses to thousands of students in Europe, South Africa and the US, ASNH in conjunction with the College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM), has now developed online courses to serve our international students. The same material used for in-class teaching is now available online. As an online student you follow our specifically designed study guide, test yourself by doing practice quizzes and exercises and progress at your own pace. A personal tutor is available for questions and at the end of the course you can take a final exam to qualify for a diploma as proof of your newly acquired qualifications.

Digestive Disorders Syllabus:

  • Main organs, basic structure and main function of the digestive tract
  • Mouth: anatomy and physiology: teeth, palatine tonsils, chewing and swallowing, role of the tongue, salivary glands and saliva composition/function/excretion
  • Enzymes, pH
  • Pharynx, oesophagus: anatomy and physiology
  • Stomach: regions of the stomach, layers of the stomach walls, gastric secretions: composition and role, protective mechanisms of the stomach from “self-digestion”, stomach emptying, gastric acid secretion, roles of gastrin and CCK
  • Liver and biliary system: structure of both, hepatocytes and Kupffer cells, components of bile and their function in digestion, role of the liver in: carbohydrate metabolism, protein metabolism, lipid metabolism, formation of plasma proteins, bile and bilirubin production, deamination of amino acids, storage of vitamins, detoxification, heat regulation
  • Diseases of the mouth: oral thrush, mouth ulcers, angular cheilitis, diseases of the salivary glands: calculi, congenital defects: cleft palate, hare lip, mouth cancers
  • Pharynx: tonsillitis
  • Oesophagus: oesophageal varices, reflux oesophagitis
  • (GERD), hiatus hernia
  • Small intestine: duodenum, jejunum, ileum, digestion in the small intestine, enzymes secreted in each region and their action, relationship between duodenum and the liver, pancreas and biliary apparatus, structure of villi and microvilli, mechanisms of absorption, immune protection in the small intestine – Peyer’s patches
  • Pancreas: structure of the pancreas, the pancreas as an exocrine gland, pancreatic juice – composition and function
  • Large intestine: Caecum, appendix, ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid colon, rectum and anus
  • Absorption in the colon, action of microflora, formation of faeces, mechanism of egestion
  • Contribution of the digestive system to homeostasis
  • Stomach gastritis: acute and chronic, peptic ulceration, dumping syndrome
  • Diseases of the intestines: ulceration of the duodenum (also cover oesophagus), appendicitis, dysentery/diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, diverticulosis, hernias
  • Diseases of the pancreas: pancreatitis
  • Diseases of the liver and biliary system: Cirrhosis of the liver, cholelithiasis, ascites
    • Energy Metabolism
      1. Energy intake – food sources, regulation, factors affecting
      2. Energy storage – means to store within the body
      3. Energy expenditure – factors affecting
      4. Life stage energy requirements
      5. The role of exercise in expenditure
    • Control of Food Intake
      1. Theories of control
      2. Neuroscience of food intake
      3. Motivational states
      4. Energy density
      5. Psychosocial factors
    • Regulatory Issues
      1. Main elements and goals in food policy
      2. Regulatory aspects affecting food production incl. FAO/WHO model food law
      3. Nutritional aspects of food policy – supply and demand; changing properties of foods e.g. fortification; international work on food policy
  • Food Safety
    1. Reasons for concern regarding food safety
    2. Chronic effects of food borne illness
    3. Vulnerable groups
    4. Economic consequences of food borne illness
    5. Types and source of contamination
    6. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, transmissible spongiform encephalopathy’s and food
    7. Chemical contamination
    8. Possible control and prevention strategies
  • Cooking and Storage Methods
    1. Effects of cooking on macronutrient, micronutrient, phytochemical, enzyme etc. content of food – juicing, slow cooking, baking, braising, grilling, poaching, roasting, sautéing, steaming, stir frying, microwave
    2. Effects of storage methods of raw and cooked on macronutrient, micronutrient, phytochemical, enzyme etc. content of food
  • Definition of toxins and detoxification
  • Definition of endogenous and exogenous toxins and their sources
  • Symptoms of poor detoxification and the effects on body systems.
  • Physiology and functions of the gastrointestinal tract
  • Measures for improving detoxification
  • Nature and role of gastrointestinal secretions such as HCl, Pancreatic Enzymes and Bile Acids and their key role in the overall health and immunity
  • Intestinal bacteria populations, dysbiosis and use of probiotics
  • Liver function and Phases 1, 2 and 3 of detoxification.
  • Different types of antioxidants and their potential role in disease prevention
  • Nutritional protocols for gastrointestinal health
  • Common pathologies of the GIT


After you have completed your course and passed the final course exam, you will receive a certificate.