This article is about the digestive tract and gaining an understanding of why your gut could be the cause of many health problems. First, here are some vitally important facts you may not know about your gut!
- The gut is the primary source of neurotransmitters for the brain. (neurotransmitters are the chemicals the brain uses to function).
- The gut plays a vital role in the health of your immune system. Without a healthy gut, your immune function is at best compromised and at worst, severely disadvantaged.
- Contrary to the accepted wisdom, you are not just what you eat but you are what you absorb!
- A healthy gut absorbs nutrients efficiently and effectively, whereas a compromised gut cannot absorb whatever healthy foods go past!
If you think constipation, diarrhea, flatulence and heartburn/reflux are just normal ailments to be endured…think again! Let’s take a quick look at the main functions of the gut and how they work for our overall health.
You can eat the best diet in the world but if you cannot absorb it most of the nutrients will end up down the toilet! The lining of your small intestine features small finger-like projections called villi, which serve to increase the surface area of the gut by many times to create a huge surface for absorption to take place. In fact, the surface area of the small intestine alone is approximately 250 square meters.. (roughly the size of a tennis court!) If the villi are healthy and functioning well, then absorption is easy and effective.
The gut is home to a delicate balance of bacteria and other microorganisms. These bacteria can weigh up to 2kg! These are so important to us that we want to outline their key functions one by one:
- Digestion: Gut flora plays an important role in the production of enzymes that cause digestion to take place and nutrients to be released.
- Protection: The bacterial layer on the gut wall protects us from harmful pathogens that enter our digestive tracts such as parasites, toxins and other microorganisms.
- Transport of key substances: Gut bacteria create by-products that play a vital role in the transport of minerals, vitamins, water and gases through the gut wall and into the bloodstream where they can be utilized by the body.
- Fibre: Dietary fibre can only be digested in the presence of healthy gut bacteria and fibre plays a vital role in gut health.
- Synthesize: Gut bacteria synthesize various vital nutrients such vitamin K, folic acid, Vitamin B1, vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, vitamin B6 and amino acids. They are like our own internal nutrient factory!
Immune Function and Your Gut
The health of the gut is vital in maintaining immune system health and the role it plays is diverse and requires a whole book! However, one of its key processes is in the synthesis of special immune cells called lymphocytes. These are a type of white blood cell that is the primary protection at a cellular level from invading pathogens. A deficiency of beneficial gut flora causes other key immune cells called Neutrophils and Macrophages (these cells literally ‘gobble up’ nasty invaders) to be unable to function properly and so they cannot perform their job.
A compromised gut means not only a compromised immune system but also an under-functioning brain due to the lack of synthesis of those essential neurotransmitters!
So what can you do about this?
Further along in this article, we examine specific gut ailments such as constipation, diarrhea, and flatulence and describe how you can treat this with holistic remedies.
Here are some things, you can put into practice immediately:
- Before taking antibiotics for yourself and your children, consider that they kill off all bacteria, not just the ones infecting the ear or throat that you are treating. This means that you are causing an imbalance in the gut, thereby compromising the immune system and leaving the body open to infection with fewer resources to fight it. To avoid this, try using an effective natural approach like homeopathy to see if natural alternatives may help, before moving on to antibiotics if still needed.
- If you have had antibiotics in the last 12 months visit your health food store and take a probiotic that needs refrigerating as these are often better quality. Make sure it has a mixture of Lactobacillus and Bifidus bacteria. If you have a child under 5 they need a special child version as they have a predominance of bifidobacterium in their gut.
- If you have digestive issues that are chronic (more than 6 weeks), get these checked out by a fully qualified homeopath or GP.
- Look for signs of poor digestion such as floating stool (you cannot digest fats properly), undigested bits in the stool (a sign of incomplete digestion.) If this does not resolve after 6 weeks on a good probiotic, then visit your homeopath.
Here are the key signs to look for in a gut that needs some homeopathic support:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic constipation
- Undigested food in the stool
- Strong odour with stool
- Floating stool
- Colic or cramps
This time we look at how you can support some acute gut symptoms. When we have gut issues it can seriously affect our overall sense of health and well being. We often use the phrases “gut instinct” or “gut reaction” and it is no coincidence as this physical powerhouse that influences so many of our body systems is at our physical core.
Below are the main homeopathic remedies that are used to support the unpleasant symptoms of nausea diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting. These are times of acute illness when you really want your homeopathic home remedy kit to hand!
Main nausea/vomiting and diarrhea remedies:
Vomiting, diarrhea with weakness or faintness. The patient will be chilly and restless with usually intense nausea. Feel better for external warmth and worse for cold drinks and food. Use this first if in doubt and always in the case where food poisoning is suspected.
Use for acute gastroenteritis when the patient is much worse for movement. They vomit immediately after eating and their abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting are all worse for movement.
Pale face and dark rings around the eyes. Constant nausea that is unrelieved by vomiting. Children’s diarrhea may be like green grass or frothy. Thirstless with no appetite. Intestines feel ‘gripped’. Nothing gives the slightest relief.
Nausea with no desire for food. Explosive and pea-green diarrhea with much flatulence and offensive odour. The patient feels exhausted after passing stool. Good for diarrhea in teething babies. The patient feels better for warmth and heat but worse around 4am and when eating/drinking.
Use rehydration sachets to ensure adequate fluid/salt balance and try and watch the patient closely for signs of dehydration. Infants with severe or prolonged diarrhea or vomiting should be seen by a medic as dehydration can happen quickly.
Main constipation remedies
Dry mouth, tongue and lips. Stools hard, usually large and dry and burnt looking. The patient will be thirsty for large quantities of cold water and be irritable.
The normal urge to stool is completely absent. Sits and strains with cold and trembling then passes a soft stool or little balls. May also be mucous covered.
Constant but ineffectual urge to stool. Stools hard and slip back when partially expelled. Anus seems closed by muscle spasm and the patient will be chilly with a head sweat.
The patient habitually constipated. Sharp gripping pains and straining to produce a stool which is like little black balls.
It is very important to take adequate fluids and adequate fibre in the diet. Sometimes magnesium deficiency can be a factor in long term constipation.
Homeopathy offers support in restoring our body’s balance, health, and vitality on mental, emotional, and physical levels. It’s important you seek professional advice from a qualified registered homeopath or your GP to ensure you are receiving the best possible treatment for all that you are experiencing.
Would you like to learn more about homeopathy so you can help your community, family, friends, and animals? The College of Natural Health & Homeopathy offers NZQA accredited Diplomas in Homeopathy.
Study fully online, part-time, and from the comfort of your own home, anywhere in the world! Start your journey today in becoming a Homeopathic Practitioner, and apply now in our NZ Diploma in Acute Prescribing with Homeopathy!
Adapted from Source
The Homeopathic Coach