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Nature is about nutrient transfer and if you aren't transferring nutrients properly bad things will befall you. Eating the right foods won't benefit you if your gut can't digest them. Let's get the systems in your gut working right.
The Gut Pill Story
She watched her mother hobbling back from the woods. It had seemed like Mama’s stomach issues had grown worse with each passing of the moon. For a long time Mama thought she was hiding it but these trips became so frequent that it was no use trying to keep coming up with stories. Mama stoically carried her embarrassment. The daughter had learned it was best not to inquire as that just added to her mother’s shame.
But this didn’t mean the daughter had to just sit back passively as Mama’s digestive system tossed and frothed. Among the tribe’s traditions were several plants that helped settle irritated guts. She had tried them on Mama, singularly and in assorted combinations. Thankfully, there were some successes in helping her mother, but a lot more help was needed. She had reached out along the tribe’s trading partners to seek new herbs and had been rewarded with unusual plants from far away, along with directions on how to use them.
Mama stared at her daughter hard, then looked at the pouch being held out. It was no use arguing with the young woman as she had inherited the same bullheadedness that seemed to bless/plague all female members of their line. With a sigh, she took the leather bag, and sprinkled some of its contents on her food. The flavor was much different than previous ones. She cocked one eye at her daughter, a sign of questioning.
“It’s not all from around here.” Replied the daughter. “One is from the lands of your childhood, another came from lands the tribe had dwelt on but left many generations ago. I have a theory…maybe you need to feed the inner spirits from those lands…?”
“Hmmmm” the older woman responded, signaling her acceptance with a slight shrug, but frowning in resignation. A week later, that frown had turned to careful hope. A month later the hope was replaced by dancing.
Knowledge of these plants was passed down generation to generation from before recorded history. A change occurred several hundred years ago. Science tried replacing experience. From the labs of chemists came strange molecules, pure powders and liquids believed to be better than crude plant extracts at supporting the human body. Purity gave repeatability which gave confidence…even at the loss of some effectiveness or increase in odd side effects.
True, there were some amazing creations…and many that would be considered failures when judged honestly. During this age of scientific hubris, some of the scientists rejected the new and devoted their studies to the old, the ancient. The plants that had once maintained the tribe were carefully teased apart, studying the powers of the individual molecules they contained, studying the miracles of which they were capable. In this quest for understanding the components a universal truth was discovered…alone is weak, together is strong. No one molecule could be found that when used alone gave the benefits of using the entire leaf, flower, or root.
When people think about bacteria they usually focus on bad ones such as E. coli and completely ignore the beneficial gut bacteria we’ve evolved with symbiotically. We give these good bacteria a safe home and they help us digest and utilize the foods we drink, supplying nutrients we’d have a hard time getting by ourselves. Modern diets can greatly weaken and reduce the populations of these good bacteria. This allows bad bacteria to move in, take over, and cause assorted health issues. Reintroducing live Lactobacillus acidophilus into the GI tract helps return the gut to the pre-modern state.
One quick benefit from these bacteria is the reduction in diarrhea caused by both bad bacteria and assorted medicinal other conditions as the L. acidophilus becomes reestablished. Research has also found that IBS sufferers may get relief for addition of a probiotic such as L. acidophilus into their daily diet.(1)
Having too much LDL cholesterol and not enough HDL cholesterol is a common occurrence with modern humans. A placebo-controlled research study showed taking a lactobacillus supplement for six weeks significantly increase HDL levels while the LDL concentrations were lowered.(2)
Do you have a child in school? A study of over 300 children fed active lactobacillus reduced days missed from school due to illness by over 30%. The probiotic benefits of this gut flora increases immune system power! Similar benefits were seen in those who normally suffered allergies.(3,4,5)
Lactobacilli may reduce social uncomfortableness by helping maintain comfortable GABA neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Studies found decreased social anxiety among young adults who eat fermented foods.(6)
The history of calendula’s healing starts in southern Europe but it was also picked up by Ayurvedic practitioners as knowledge of this plant spread via trade routes. It can grow in a variety of climates and can be easily used to treat all sorts of issues, making it a favorite in modern medicinal herb gardens.
Inflammation anywhere along the digestive track can cause all sorts of misery and is often a sign of holes puncturing its protective mucosal membrane. Studies have shown the polysaccharides in calendula flowers can support and maintain this critical layer, soothing and relieving its irritations.(7)
Calendula’s restorative powers aren’t limited to just the GI tract. It’s calcium-channel blockading compounds have been shown to help relieve stomach cramping and constipation due via a relaxation mechanism.(8)
Records of Althaea officinalis being used to treat stomach issues goes back almost 3000 years in Europe into western Asia, and spread worldwide since those early times. It is a strong demulcent due to assorted polysaccharides that meld into the mucosal layer, sealing it to protect the underlying tissue.(9)
Flavonoid-O-sulfoglycosides and other low-molecular weight polysaccharides in marshmallow root have been found to interfere with adhesive attachments of Escherichia coli. E. coli is a common source of food poisoning, often entering the stomach from improperly washed fruits and vegetables.(10)
The combination of Indian gooseberry (Embilica officinalis), bibhitaki fruit (Terminalia bellirica), and haritaki fruit (Terminalia chebula) make up the Ayurvedic polyherbal formula known as triphala. These three native fruits of India are loaded with bioactive compounds such as phenols, polyphenols, tannins, gallic acid, phyllembelic acid, rutin, curcuminoids, emblicol, ellagic acid, lignans, flavones, flavonoids, terpenes, and anthocyanins along with several powerful antioxidants.
These compounds work together to support and maintain proper gastrointestinal tissues including the mucosal membrane, act as anti-inflammatory agents, stimulate proper bowel contractions and digestive enzyme production, flatulence, assorted abdominal pains, and may reduce the negative effects of sugar. (11,12)
(1) Therapeutic effect of Lactobacillus acidophilus-SDC 2012, 2013 in patients with irritable bowel syndrome - PubMed (nih.gov) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18274900/
(2) A Randomized Double-blind Controlled Trial of Lactobacillus acidophilus Plus Bifidobacterium bifidum versus Placebo in Patients with Hypercholesterolemia - PubMed (nih.gov) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25954637/
(3) Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children - PubMed (nih.gov) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19651563/
(4) Specific probiotics alleviate allergic rhinitis during the birch pollen season - PubMed (nih.gov) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19598302/
(5) Effect of milk fermented with Lactobacillus acidophilus strain L-92 on symptoms of Japanese cedar pollen allergy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial - PubMed (nih.gov) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16195581/
(6) It’s not all in your head — it’s in your gut, too https://www.wm.edu/news/stories/2015/fermented-food-social-anxiety-study123.php
(7) A review on phytochemistry and ethnopharmacological aspects of genus Calendula (nih.gov) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3841996/
(8) Studies on spasmogenic and spasmolytic activities of Calendula officinalis flowers https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16906636/
(9) Anti-inflammatory and Anti-oxidative Effects of Phytohustil® and Root Extract of Althaea officinalis L. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7090173/
(10) Phytochemical Characterization of Low Molecular Weight Constituents from Marshmallow Roots (Althaea officinalis) and Inhibiting Effects of the Aqueous Extract on Human Hyaluronidase-1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28128955/
(11) 9 Ways Lactobacillus Acidophilus Can Benefit Your Health https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lactobacillus-acidophilus
(12) Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine - PubMed (nih.gov) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28696777/
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