Parent Q&A

Teen daughter's chronic abdominal pain and nausea Apr 27, 2021 (7 responses below)
Kaiser GI Dr Sought (Alameda/Oakland) Apr 26, 2021 (1 responses below)
Kaiser & SIBO Treatment Sep 17, 2019 (5 responses below)
  • I would love info about any fairly recent experiences with MD’s at either of these practices. I have been referred by my Primary MD for a colonoscopy and I can find few reviews for doctors at either place. Drs. Silpa, Cheng, Berjis, Hosseini , Narayan and Higa are the MD’s at GI Associates. Thanks so much!

    I've been consulting with Dr Higa at GI Associates recently and she's fantastic. Very focused, attentive, clear, and easy to talk to. Most consults are on Zoom, but I also had a colonoscopy at her office which went very well. I highly recommend her and the practice. 

    Dr. Narayan has perormed two colonoscopies on me over the past years. Everything went according to plan, which is about all one can say for such an embarasing procedure.

    Dr. Silpa is a gem!  He has been treating my husband for chronic inflammatory bowel disease for almost thirty years.  We're talking about a colonoscopy every year or two for decades.  Thirty years ago, they didn't routinely put people under for colonoscopies, and my husband immediately noticed how much less it hurt when Dr. Silpa performed the procedure compared to other doctors. Some years ago Dr. Silpa set up a whole separate clinic where spends several days a week just performing colonoscopies -- he's as experienced and skilled at the procedure as it is possible to be.  

    I'll add that we had a bad scare 20+ years ago that turned out to be nothing, and what I appreciated so much was Dr. Silpa's honesty with us throughout the process of figuring out what was going on.  He took the time to explain everything and answer all our questions, and was completely open about the fact that the results were confusing to him.  His bedside manner might sometimes be a little gruff but I trust him completely.

  • Seeking a recommendation for a gastroenterologist who can think outside the box. Our teen daughter has been experiencing long term chronic abdominal pain and nausea that seems to be triggered by food. We saw a traditional gastroenterologist who did a battery of tests and ruled out all the obvious major medical causes, and then told us they didn't have an answer for us.  I am open to suggestions at this point. Thanks, BPN!

    Have you considered a gluten intolerance? That is the most likely thing. If it is triggered by food, then an elimination diet may help you find out what food it is. Find two foods she rarely eats, such as amaranth and olives. See how she feels after a day or two on this diet. I know that can be hard to maintain. If that works, slowly add foods back in. If it doesn't try a different combination of two food that she rarely eats. You might want to try an allergist to get an idea of her allergy situation. 

    Has your daughter tried a low FODMAP diet? Although I agree with you that she should see another doctor, this might help while she is waiting to figure out the problem. I have been experiencing similar symptoms to your daughter and am waiting for a colonoscopy appointment. This diet has allowed me to get my life back. It is a very restrictive diet and if she tries it, I would recommend she also take a multi-vitamin and a probiotic. 

    I don’t have a good answer for a GI for you. I did have similar symptoms however and after months and months of looking for a diagnosis it turned out to be a pancreas problem. I am on rx pancreas enzyme replacement and the pain has mostly gone away. You can get not as regulated, but worth trying, pancreas enzymes from a health food store (proteasas, amylase, lipase). Take 10 minutes before a meal and you should know within 1 to 2 meals if it works. You can then take that information to your doctor. 

  • Kaiser GI Dr Sought (Alameda/Oakland)

    (1 reply)

    I'm in need of a referral to a Kaiser Gastroenterologist at Alameda or Oakland (ideally) who

    a) Has a good bedside manner

    b) Is open to and/or knowledgeable about alternative therapies and treatments (e.g. plant-based antibiotics in place of pharmaceutical ones, when appropriate)

    c) Knows about and can treat S.I.B.O

    d) Is a woman

    Thank you!

    I saw Stephanie Ann Santos, MD at Kaiser Oakland; she is in Gastroenterology and I think she would fit the bill for you. I only saw her a couple of times, but my impression was excellent. She was a good listener, seemed kind, and gave useful, pragmatic advice. I can't speak to her knowledge of alternative therapies, as my GI issue was treated in a more traditional western (medication-based) route, but indeed it was resolved! Best of luck to you.

  • Kaiser & SIBO Treatment

    (5 replies)


    I have SIBO. I also have Kaiser, which from what I understand, is not a good combo to have. (Hopefully someone can prove, from personal experience, that my statement is false.)

    I'm seeking referrals for gastroenterologists at Kaiser (Oakland is ideal, but will travel) who are 1) knowledgeable about and will treat SIBO, constipation predominant and (ideally) 2) are on the holistic/naturopathic end of the medicine scale (i.e. knowledgeable about and open to herbal antibiotics in place of or in combination with traditional, drug antibiotics for treatment).

    If you know of anyone, please let me know. If you also care to share your story/journey with SIBO, I'd welcome that, too!

    Many thanks.

    RE: Kaiser & SIBO Treatment ()

    Can't help with Kaiser navigation, but I did want to point you towards a small but powerful study about the effects of a specific probiotic on the methane kind of SIBO. If you have the methane kind of SIBO, of which constipation is a symptom, it's worth trying this low impact intervention. The study is very small (20 people) but shows significant promise for this probiotic. Excerpt: "Four weeks of L. reuteri administration was associated with a significant decrease of mean methane production determined... Moreover, a total disappearance of methane production was observed in 11 patients".

    I took Biogaia chewable tablets, 2x a day for a month - matches the dose of 100 million CFUs that were used in the study. Symptoms disappeared but it was in combination with some other diet and life changes so it's hard to disentangle what was responsible what. So far symptoms haven't come back. 

    Effect of Lactobacillus reuteri (DSM 17938) on methane production in patients affected by functional constipation: a retrospective study

    RE: Kaiser & SIBO Treatment ()

    hi there. my GI doc at kaiser sf is wonderful! i don't know about his experience with SIBO or not... his name is dr. vellayos. 

    take care,


    RE: Kaiser & SIBO Treatment ()

    Hi there! 

    I was diagnosed with SIBO by a naturopath a few years ago, I didn't even know normal doctors knew what that is or could diagnose it?? I'm going to follow this thread to see if anyone has had success with treatment outside of a naturopath. I will say, it was a tough experience for me. The FODMAP diet and all the supplements are tough to keep up with and really expensive. I'm not sure if it's gone away, but I do feel mostly good and eat a really healthy diet overall. If you can't find a Kaiser Dr. you may want to check out Parsley Health, they're a somewhat affordable membership option and their doctors are amazing! 

    Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Gastroenterologist for Crohn's Disease

Feb 2009

Hello BPN family, I recently changed medical groups and I've been given a list of gastroenterology doctors, but I'm having a hard time learning anything about their bedside manner, etc. I am pregnant, and although my Crohn's is stable, I need to renew my prescriptions and get some blood work done in the next few weeks. Thank you

Paul Chard is EXCELLENT. He has a terrific bedside manner -- he is very thorough, patient, listens very carefully, follows up, and has a good sense of humor. I recommend him very highly! mary

My GP sent me to Villagomez for my colonoscopy, and I was happy with her (as happy as anyone could be given the procedure!). Her office is well run, and she is personable and competent. Linda

When I turned 50 and opted to have an colonoscopy, my MD referred me to Dr. Thomas Hargrave. When I met with him he was personable and smart and he inspired confidence. Should I need a GI MD in the future I would seek his services. Mimi, Berkeley

Both my husband and I go to Dr. John Roark for our preventive screenings (colonscopy and endoscopy) and have the utmost respect for his abilities. My husband has GURD and is also happy with his treatment. anon

I used to see Silvia Villagomez (had to change because of insurance) and loved her. She diagnosed my Crohn's shortly before I became pregnant with my first child and did a great job both during and after pregnancy, when I had a flareup. I was really sad to leave her. I also really like Paul Chard on a personal basis, but don't know him at all professionally. My impression, though, is that he would be great. Been there with Crohn's

Dr. Hargrave is my GI doctor and I like his chairside manner very much - he seems genuinely concerned when we meet in his office. He's one of those obviously brilliant people whose mind works at lightning speed, so I sometimes have to ask him to slow down, which he does. He's got a wonderfully dry sense of humor, which I appreciate. He did my colonoscopy and I didn't feel a thing. I know one of his partners, Mike Darby, because I am an RN and worked with Mike years ago when he was a resident. I found him warm, empathic and also extremely smart. John Roarke was my GI doctor for a brief period about 15 yrs ago -- brief because I found him rude and arrogant, and not a good listener. He never apologized for the long waits and took phone calls during my appointment. I would definitely not recommend him. anonymous

I saw Liana Vesga recently for what she ended up diagnosing as IBS. She has a good bedside manner, and did not push any tests or drugs on me, which I liked. Overall, I had a good experience with her, though this is based on one visit only. anon

pediatric gastroenterologist in the East Bay Area

Jan 2009

I will be very grateful to get a referral for pediatric gastroenterologist in the East Bay Area. julia

I work at Children's Hospital in Oakland, and can recommend the GI physicians there, Drs. Gleghorn, Harmatz and Ali. I can also recommend Dr. Haddad; I believe his private practice is in Walnut Creek. They are all experienced and excell at what they do. Children's Hospital RN

Gastroenterology Associates of the East Bay

Oct 2008

Has anyone had experience with any of the doctors at Gastroenterology Associates of the East Bay (Berjis, Bhuket, Chalal, Cheng, Higa, Hosseini, Narayan, Silpa)? My doctor there retired and I know nothing about the other doctors. Thanks! Looking for a good doctor

Regarding GI docs, the one you mentioned that I am familiar with is Dr. Bergis. I am a dietitian working in home health in E. Bay for 5 yrs and have consulted with Dr. Bergis a few times regarding patients. He has great bedside manners and is responsive in a timely fashion to calls. I get the feeling he is well informed of newest research as well. Best of luck. RD from visiting nurses assn.

I had a colonoscopy performed by Dr. Hosseini about 4 years ago that went perfectly. Good luck. Anon

Well I saw Silpa a few times for a procedure. He was friendly and very to the point when talking. That was two decades ago, however, so I don't know what he is like now. Anon

May 2008

I'm scheduled for a colonoscopy in a few weeks with Dr. Michael Abel. He's in SF, but I think it's worth the short trip from the east bay to go to a really good doctor. He was highly recommended to me by my father's doctor. (My dad has colon cancer and is being seen by a team of top doctors in NY.) I can't yet comment on the procedure, but my office visit with him went very well and I am confident in his abilities. I was happy to learn that he uses the ''pill'' prep rather than the ''liquid'' I've heard is so unpleasant. I don't know if many doctors would allow you to deviate from the standard prep that they use. My understanding is they are pretty strict about that.

I don't know if she's ''excellent'', but I have had many colonoscopies performed by Dr. Silvia Villa Gomez. She's with a large practice in Oakland at 3300 Webster Street, Suite 312, 444-6421. She has served me well, including referring me to a surgeon for a polyp she couldn't remove during the colonoscopy that turned out to be stage 2 colon cancer. She is very gentle, very personable, and sweet. On the prep, just do whatever your doctor recommends. You need to be cleaned out completely. Just grin and bear it. It's just 1/2 day of discomfort. The prep has evolved, and most no longer involve drinking a gallon of medicated fluid. Anything is better than that. Veteran of Many Colonoscopies

You don't think recommendations from February 2007 are recent enough? That's barely a year ago. Maybe you didn't see that part of the site?

Mine is the first recommendation for Dr. Villagomez. anon

2006 - 2007 Reviews

gastroenterologist for irritable bowel syndrome

Oct 2007

My husband has been having ongoing stomach problems, diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. Has anyone had a good experience lately with a gastroenterologist? We'd appreciate any recommendations offered. We're considering alternative routes, too. Is anyone familiar with a good naturopath? Thanks for your suggestions. Concerned Wife

I have had 2 colonoscopys with Neil Stollman in Oakland. He is smart, down to earth, funny, and his staff is great. I went in with a problem that had beem misdiagnosed for 18 months. He listened, tried some probiotics and when they didn't work said ''let's see what's going on in there''. It turned out to be a serious upper colon infection that would not have gone away on it's own. I was on meds for 7 months and now it's gone. I always prefer 'alternative' practices but even my accupunturist said I needed to do this. Don't mess with the GI tract. a wuss who's been there

I recently saw Liana Vesga at the East Bay Center for Digestive Health, also for IBS (she diagnosed it). She seemed knowledgable, I thought she had a great manner, listened carefully, and didn't seem to push any unnecessary intervention or medication. I only saw her once, but this one interaction was very positive. anonymous

Need a Surgeon for ''The Wrap'' (GERD)

June 2007

Has anyone had a positive (or negative) experience with a 'Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication' aka ''the wrap''? After the birth of my 3rd child I learned that I have several reflux and a medium sized hiatal hernia. I would like to get this repaired so that I don't feel sick all the time (I have constant regurgitation - it's like morning sickness all the time!) and also don't have to take medicine for the rest of my life. (I've made all the ''lifestyle'' changes recommended, but unfortunately none of them have made a dent in the symptoms.) I've heard mixed things about the success of this procedure and don't know how to find out the reputations of the surgeons who perform the procedure. Has anyone had this experience? Know of any surgeons who do the procedure? Thank you so much! Hoping to feel better

I too suffered from severe acid reflux for years -- my whole life probably -- until I just couldn't live with it anymore. I had the nissen fundoplication surgery four years ago and couldn't be happier with the results. Before the surgery, my diet was incredibly restricted and I took prilosec-like meds at the highest doses every day and STILL had constant pain. Now I eat whatever I want pretty much, although I still go easy on the very acidic stuff. Occasionally I get heartburn and take an antacid -- just like a normal person!

I had the surgery in SF (where I lived at the time) at California Pacific, the Pacific Campus. My grastroenterologist was Dr. Frank Farrell on Geary. He was great -- really nice and smart. My surgeon was Dr. Lawrence Yee. He's not the touchy-feely type, but he's competent and thorough and, well, he fixed me!

The downside to the surgery is that it is, well, abdominal surgery. Even though it's laparoscopic, I found the recovery to be tougher than I expected. I took two weeks off from work, and I should have taken 3 or 4. Eating and swallowing were challenging for quite some time post-op and I lost 15 pounds or so (not a bad thing I guess). My advice is just to make sure you take enough time to heal and recover.

Also, the testing that I had to do prior to the surgery was pretty brutal. I had to wear a pH monitor for 24 hours (tube down my nose into my stomach) and had to do a couple of yucky x-ray type tests too.

But again, I am fixed. Seriously, it was worth it. If I have to have it re-done in the future I will be disappointed, but I will still do it. no more tummy troubles

Gastroenterologist near Walnut Creek

Oct 2006

I am looking for a gastroenterologist in the Walnut Creek area. I am looking for someone who is clinicially competent but will take the time to get a complete picture of my medical situation. Anyone have any recommendations? anon

I just had a very good experience with a Dr. Shehendu Narayan (not sure if I'm spelling the name right) who performed a screening colonoscopy. He has an office in Walnut Creek and did the procedure at John Muir. I was dreading it (put it off for 2 years) and found the whole experience (including my interactions with him) to be better than I had expected. hope that helps

Doctor for G.I. discomfort and bloating

Oct 2006

I have been struggling with G.I. discomfort and bloating for the past year plus and have not been able to get any help through my regular physician and a G.I. specialist. It seems to have something to do with digestion, where through the coarse of the day my stomach gets more and more bloated.By evening it is very distended, hard, and uncomfortable with a lot of gas. I'm not sure if I should see an allergist/accupuncturist/or dietician at this point. If anyone has any experience with this and has had success with treatment please let me know what has worked and who it was that was able to help you. Thanks so much Bloated

To rule out any growths that are obstructing, you may want to get an MRI or something similar ...pelvic ultrasound?(but I'm no medical specilaist or generalist). See if you can get your doc to refer you. Anon

Never written or recommended anything on BPN, but read about your problem and had to follow up. Do you think you may have Celiac Disease? I had never heard of it before, but was just diagnosed 2 months ago, and one of my main symptoms was bloating and discomfort every evening, on top of constant diahrrea! My primary physician could not figure out my problem. Turned in endless stoll samples and did number of blood tests. Finally, a blood test was leaning toward Celiac Disease. He refered me to his friend Dr. Michael Silpa (Amazing GI specialist- 510-548-6555)who met with me and did biopsy of small intestines, which indeed confirmed that I was a Celiac. I am feeling 100% better now! Go online and research Celiac Disease, ask your dr. if he has tested you for Celiac, try going on a gluten-free diet for a couple of days, and/or give Dr. Silpa a call. Love him, but can take awhile to get scheduled for an appointment, that is unless your primary dr. is his buddy. Good luck! Celiac with happy tummy

Gastroenterologist for stomach/bowel related issues

March 2006

Does anyone know of a gastroenterologist in the Bay Area that they trust and who has a good beside manner? A friend has been suffering from stomach/bowel related issues that have affected his life for 10 years now. He has had negative experiences, thus far (primary care doc, gastroenterologist, naturopath, chiropracter) and would love a recommendation from a trusted source. He was thinking of trying UCSF, but would prefer any insight. Thank you. jen

I'd recommend Dan Conlin at CPMC. He treated my husband following some issues caused by powerful medication required to treat viral illness. It was a bit of an emergency so Dr. Conlin came to his office an hour early to meet with us, had the tests run in short order and was as soothing as could be. SF mom/wife

Gastroenterologist for Celiacs

Sept 2004

I have recently been diagnosed with Celiacs and have been given a recommendation for both Doctor T.Hargrave and Doctor S. Villa- Gomez. Has anyone seen either of these doctors? Also any recommendations for a celiacs nutritionist would be appreciated.

Dr. Hargrave is an extraordinary and devoted gastoenterologist . He actually lectures on the topic of Celiac disease and gluten enteropathy to other doctors . I too have Celiac disease and have been seeing him since 1998. He is thorough and cares about the 'whole' patient and sets the same high standard for his staff. Elysse

I highly recommend Dr. Hargrave. He is very well respected among his peers (is on top of the latest research), is an excellent listener, and does not rush you. He has a very calming manner.

I was very disappointed when I had to leave him because he was not in the network of my company's new health plan. You will get excellent attention and care from him. Diane

I went to Dr. Silvia Villa-Gomez for some severe GI distress and she performed a colonoscopy on me. Although the consultation was very brief and felt hurried, I was able to get my questions answered.

I was referred to Dr. Villa-Gomez for her ''gentle'' demeanor by my general practitioner. Silvia does have an engaging manner and I did appreciate that (given the procedure I had to undergo). I didn't really see her for followup though -- colonoscopy day consisted of a brief wave of her hand. I'd go to see her again and recommend her. Anonymous

Dec 2003

Re: Anal Fissure
You can't find a better doctor on this malady (and anything related) than Dr. Michael Verhille, a gastroenterologist in San Francisco (415-387-8800). He is fantastic. I also know that frequent, long, warm baths work wonders at promoting relaxation and thus healing of the area. Good luck.

Aug 2003

I have to have a colonoscopy because of a family history of colon cancer, and I'm looking for a skilled, responsible gastroenterologist who is a member of Hill Physicians. The archives only mention one doctor. Thanks! anon

Dr. Danny Wu is a very good gastroenterologist. I had a partial colonoscopy done by him and I was dreading it because I had heard how unpleasant they are. When he said he was done, I was astounded because it had been so gentle and not terrible at all. My mother needed to have a colonoscopy and she was really resisting her doctor on it. I told her about Dr. Wu; she went and she agreed with me about his technique. Good luck.

Aug 2003

My husband is looking for a gastro-enterologist, preferably in Alta Bates Medical Group, though not required. Can anyone suggest a good one? He is having issues related to liver function and wants to find someone new to get a second opinion. Anon

I really like Dr. Lisa Higa, a GI doc at Alta Bates. I have worked with her many times during my 9 years as an RN at Alta Bates. She is wonderfully friendly, energetic and very smart. I wouldn't hesitate to see her or send my family to her. Good luck. Alta Bates RN

Try Dr. Rorke (sp?) at Berkeley Digestive Health, (510) 848- 2100. I thought he was great. Very knowledgable, and is a parent of two girls- we talked about child-rearing! I first saw Dr. Naryan, who was okay, but not as personable and interactive as Dr. Rorke. Also, when I needed a return visit to Dr. Narayan because of problems, I was given a 4-5 week wait for an appointment. With Dr. Rorke, it was within a week. anon

I guess I missed the first message, so I don't know if you need a gastroenterologist with Alta Bates, but Dr. Henry Kung in Walnut Creek is the best in the area, probably one of the best in the country. He is affiliated with John Muir, Mt Diablo, and San Ramon Medical Centers. 925-945-6070

Darby and Hargrave, M.D.s, in Oakland are both superlative, have very long waiting lists, and may or may not be taking on new patients. They are partners and listed in the Oakland directory. Both are excellent, and a lot of physicians' families use them. Good luck

January 2002

I've been going to Gastroenterology Associates of the East Bay for about 15 years to treat mild colitis. I saw Ronald Adler, who was wonderful, but is now mostly retired. His replacement I've seen once, Dr. Husseini (sp?), and he seemed fine. Good luck. Kitrena


Can anyone recommend a doctor specializing in treating Crohn's disease? This is for my 17-year old stepdaughter. Fran

The gastroenterology group (not sure of the actual name) in Berkeley has several really good doctors. The phone number is 548-6555. If your step-daughter is part of an HMO, with a primary care physician, it is also a good idea to ask the primary care doctor who he/she has a good working relationship with.

My husband needs to go get his biannual colonoscopy for ulcerative colitis soon. We are new to the area since his last exam and don't know any good GIs in the East Bay that practice at Alta Bates. He picked a Doctor Rourk out of our preferred provider directory. Does anyone have experience, good or bad with this doctor? We got the preprocedure instructions and they are quite unprofessional (sloppy and hard to understand) obviously this isn't necessarily a problem since what we want is good clinical skill but since we don't know him it gives me pause. Please post replies to the list. Thanks so much!

I just had a colonoscopy with Dr. Rourke and it was fine. It was the first one I've had, and I was anxious about it, but it went just fine. Christina

I have been going to Dr. Roark, for about 13 or 14 years. He is the best, the very best. He has treated me for both polpys, and ulcers. and I have never had any complaints. Glenda

I went to Dr. Rourk about 6 years ago for some vague GI symptoms I was having. I'd say overall my experience with him was neutral. I think in terms of medical skill my impression is that he is finecertainly careful and conservative. He did a flex sig. and a upper GI endoscopy on me with no complications/problems. I didn't find his bedside manner particularly enchanting. He couldn't get to the bottom of what was bothering me but I don't think that was his fault.

Sorry about your husband's colitis. Hopefully he has some nutritional support to relieve the irritation. A great book on this topic is called BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE by Elaine Gottschall. Meanwhile, I too am having a colonoscopy by Dr. Roark. He is well-regarded and says has had no complications from this procedure in the years he has performed it. Mine is being done 2/20/01. If your husband's follows mine, I will be happy to share the experience. The office help/support has always seemed to me a bit overcommitted-- hard to get through on the phone, difficult to be acknowledged when arriving for appointments, some abruptness in conversation. And I too agree that the instructions were abit sloppily prepared, but I understand them. A small tidbit I got from the office: on the last day when only liquids are allowed, I was told that I could drink as much of Vanilla Lite Ensure as I want: it has zero fiber (and redeeming nutritional value, in my opinion) and will not interfere with the procedure's success. But I suggest he check for himself. Good luck! Nori