The Roots of Health
Correcting Inflammatory Bowel Disorders
(Sunshine Sharing - Vol. 14 No. 5 - Steven Horne)

Read also: Inflammatory Digestive Tract Disorders


Whether we want to maintain or regain our health, the gastrointestinal (GI) system is central to our efforts. Our "guts" are equivalent to a plant's roots. It is in our intestines where we interact most intimately with our environment - where we literally transform materials from our environment into us! As the source of our water and nourishment and our primary channel of elimination, they constitute our "first line of defense" against disease. In fact, sixty percent of our immune response is in our GI tract.


KEY PRODUCTS FOR BOWEL DISORDERS



 

 

Dysfunction of the digestive system is linked with most chronic and degenerative diseases. Traditional healers have always placed great emphasis on maintaining healthy digestive function and elimination through the bowel. In contrast, modern biomedicine has, until recently, disregarded the role of the gut in health. It has been far more prestigious to study the circulation, glands, and nerves, instead of our lowly "intestines."

Modern medical research, however, is confirming the link between intestinal problems and chronic illness. Research has linked a wide variety of health problems with intestinal inflammation. These include arthritis, allergies, eczema and other skin diseases, some cancers, asthma, and even "mental" diseases like depression, ADHD, and schizophrenia.

Research is also proving that there is a basis for our "gut instincts." Science has shown that there are complex networks of nerves and neurotransmitters in our intestines and that they communicate vital information to our brain. The path from the brain to the gut also plays a strong role in the development of inflammatory bowel disorders. Strong emotions and stress responses are well-known triggers of intestinal "dis-stress."

When the small intestine becomes inflamed, we are no longer able to process nutrients and absorb them properly. This gives rise to colitis and other inflammatory bowel disorders, including Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis. All of these diseases involve a breakdown of the intestinal mucosa due to inflammatory processes.

Inflammation and swelling in the intestines lead to an increased absorption of toxic materials into the blood and lymph streams, a condition known as leaky gut syndrome. As we'll discover in this issue, this gut leakage creates a cascade of negative reactions that adversely affect every system of the body. We'll also learn what causes this inflammation and what can be done to correct it naturally.

A Quick Guide to Inflammatory Bowel Disorders (IBD)

In addition to the suggestions for general intestinal inflammation found in this article, here are some specific supplements many people have found helpful in dealing with specific inflammatory disorders of the intestines.

Colitis

Colitis is inflammation of the colon and small intestine. Intestinal Soothe and Build and Slippery Elm are very soothing for this condition.

Crohn's Disease

This is a severe form of colitis which causes fistulas to form in the colon. There is atrophy and ulceration of the intestines. In addition to the aforementioned products, more minerals are needed; specifically Mineral Chi Tonic and Magnesium.

Ulcerative Colitis

Similar to Crohn's, except that it starts in the rectum and affects only the colon. GastroHealth and Aloe Vera Juice can be helpful here.

Celiac Disease
A chronic disease that causes breakdown of the intestines due to a gluten allergy. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains such as oats, barley and rye. This requires avoiding gluten foods and taking extra enzymes such as Protease to aid breakdown of foods.

Diverticulitis

Inflammation of pockets in the colon. Wild Yam and CLT-X are soothing here.

The First Line of Defense

The body responds to damage through the process of inflammation. When there is damage to the skin through cuts, burns or bruises, the resulting swelling, redness and pain are the body's inflammatory response. The skin forms a protective external barrier to the world around us, but we also have an internal "skin," the mucus membranes, which also forms a protective barrier between the body and the outside world. Thus, the skin and mucus membranes form the first line of immune defense.

When the skin becomes damaged and inflamed, the risk of infection increases. Damage to our internal "skin" also makes us more susceptible to disease, but the damage is not visible, and hence, not as obvious. Intestinal inflammation is caused by chemical, rather than mechanical, damage to the internal skin. It creates abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating or swelling, and other symptoms of what we commonly call indigestion. These symptoms are signs that the internal skin has been damaged and inflamed just as clearly as swelling redness and pain reveal damage to our external skin.

Indigestion isn't just a "fact of life." It shows that something is injuring the body. The causes need to be addressed and remedied, because repeated damage to the intestinal mucosa creates chronic inflammatory bowel disorders and a condition known as leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky Gut: Gaps in the Front Lines

Leaky gut syndrome occurs when inflammation makes the intestinal membranes more porous. This allows toxin-materials that should be retained in the intestines for elimination - to be absorbed into the blood and lymph. It's like having gaps in your defensive front line. The "enemy" or toxins are able to slip past your outer defenses.

A leaky gut forces the immune system in the intestinal area to work harder. It weakens the body's defenses and makes one more prone to food allergies and hay fever. Toxins absorbed into the lymphatic system increase lymphatic swelling and contribute to respiratory problems.

Backup Defenses

Toxins absorbed into the bloodstream must be filtered through the liver, our second line of defense. Leaky gut places a greater burden on the liver and, as that organ also becomes irritated, we experience a variety of vague symptoms. These include a general feeling of weakness or malaise, restlessness at night, grogginess in the morning, irritability and moodiness, headaches and a bloated feeling in the right abdomen.

When the liver and lymphatic system cannot handle the toxic load, toxins enter the blood and begin to impair cellular metabolism. The endocrine system now becomes stressed as the glands (thyroid and adrenals in particular) are forced to work harder to compensate. This constitutes a third line of defense, but it taxes the glandular system and weakens it. In short, our backup defenses can't hold as long as gaps remain in the primary lines of defense.

Breaching Headquarters

These toxins can also affect the brain and nervous system. Neurotoxic substances in the blood stream from a leaky gut have been linked with emotions like depression, panic attacks, anxiety, and with attention deficit disorders. So, gaps in our defensive lines ultimately impair the function of the body's command centers.

As we can see, chronic intestinal inflammation and leaky gut create a cascade of health problems that affects the entire body. This is why they are linked to most chronic and degenerative diseases.
"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Worry, fear and anxiety can trigger inflammatory bowel diseases. Resolving emotional distress can start the healing process.

Addressing the Roots of the Problem
Here are some of the major "enemies" that breach vital lines of defense by causing intestinal inflammation and leaky gut syndrome.

Antibiotics
The intestines contain several pounds of friendly microorganisms that live in a symbiotic relationship with the body. Antibiotics upset the balance of these microbes and increase the risk of inflammation and gut leakage by promoting yeast overgrowth. Yeast exudes an aldehyde secretion that causes swelling (inflammation) in the lining of the small intestine.

Food Allergies
Each of us has our own unique genetic signature, which makes some foods compatible with our body chemistry and other foods incompatible. Food allergies are very common and, although they are difficult to diagnose medically, you can learn to identify foods that cause digestive upset in your body and eliminate them simply by becoming more aware of how foods affect you.
Common food allergens include dairy foods and grains containing gluten (wheat and many other grains, but not buckwheat). Other common food allergens include eggs, legumes (especially soy and peanuts) and nuts. A good place to start is to learn your blood type and avoid foods which are incompatible with it.

Drugs and Other Chemicals
Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen have been shown to cause leakiness in the guts. Heavy metal toxicity, smoking, birth control pills and antacids can lead to a build up of homocysteine, which causes intestinal inflammation. Other chemicals that can upset the imbalance of our friendly flora and increase intestinal irritation include nitrates, MSG and chlorinated water.

Microorganisms

H. pylori can trigger food allergies through the leakiness they create in the guts. Toxins from other harmful microbes can also damage intestinal membranes and cause inflammation, such as the yeast mentioned previously. Parasites may also contribute to this problem.

Cool the Heat and Plug the Leak

Natural Strategies for Inflammatory Bowel Disorders
Now that we have identified the problems associated with intestinal inflammation and permeability, as well as some of the causes, what can we do to fix the problem?
The Journal of Immunology in 1991 published a very practical approach to treating IBD using four R's. Dr. Hugo Rodier, a wholistically oriented medical doctor also uses this approach. The four R's of correcting intestinal problems are: Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, and Repair.

Step One
REMOVE the Irritants
  

The first step to healing the intestines is to remove the irritants that are creating the inflammation. This isn't simply a matter of taking a laxative, though. In fact, stimulant laxatives, like cascara sagrada and senna, have little or no effect on intestinal inflammation or leaky gut. What is really needed is herbs and supplements that help to remove harmful microorgansims and parasites from the gut.

Candida and other fungal infections are frequently a problem here. Yeast/Fungal Detox is a formula that can be very beneficial. It contains garlic, oregano and pau d'arco, three herbs that herbalists have found useful for combating fungus. It also contains caprylic acid, another important antifungal. It is proving to be an effective formula for reducing yeast overgrowth in the body. Candida Clear is another excellent choice.

Gastro Health can help with H. pylori infections. It contains a proprietary blend of herbs that have been proven effective against these bacteria including cloves, licorice, and elecampane. These herbs also serve to soothe inflammation and feed friendly bacteria in the intestines.

For parasites, consider the convenient Para-Cleanse pack. Other formulas that can help remove parasites include Artemisa Combination and Herbal Pumpkin. Black Walnut and Horsetail are also helpful in removing intestinal parasites and microbes.

Of course, we also need to eliminate toxins from our life. Avoid antibiotics, chlorinated water and other drugs and chemicals. Another important part of this step is to minimize or completely avoid foods that trigger allergic reactions. If a very bland diet of vegetables and brown rice makes symptoms improve, then food allergies may be a problem. Pay close attention to which foods cause a flare-up of symptoms.
A good place to start in screening your diet for possible allergy-forming foods is to find out your blood type and learn the foods which have negative effects on people with your blood type. Charts on this site are available to help you learn which foods and herbs should be avoided for your blood type.

Step Two
REPLACE Digestive Enzymes


Unless your diet is 60% raw foods, you need to supplement your diet with extra enzymes. Enzymes help the body break down food efficiently, which results in less intestinal irritation and better absorption of nutrients. They also enhance the immune system and aid cellular detoxification and repair.
Proactazyme Plus, taken with meals, is the best choice for most people. If protein foods are particularly hard to digest, then Protease Plus should also be taken. For elderly persons, or people with extreme digestive weakness, Food Enzymes are the best choice.
Small Intestine Detox contains the protein digesting enzyme pepsin, in a base of the mucilaginous herb marshmallow. These ingredients deliver the enzymes to the small intestine where they can help to break down accumulation of poorly digested protein materials and promote healing of the intestinal membranes.

Step Three
REINOCULATE Friendly Organisms


The friendly microorganisms in our intestinal tract are very important to our health and well-being. Probiotics (friendly microbes) help to reduce waste acids, prevent harmful bacterial infections, block mutation of intestinal cells, produce short chain fatty acids needed for cell health and reduce food sensitivities. This explains why [organic] yogurt and other fermented foods reduce intestinal leakiness and improve immune function.
Probiotics like Acidophilus and Bifidophilus should always be used after taking antibiotics or when inflammation or leakiness is present. Another formula, Probiotic Eleven, is available and contains eleven different species of friendly bacteria. Probiotics can prevent or treat diarrhea, improve immune function, soothe intestinal irritation, and enhance mineral and nutrient absorption.

These friendly microorganisms can also be encouraged to grow by feeding them. Inulin, a substance found in herbs like dandelion and elecampane, has been shown to enhance friendly flora in the guts. Probiotic Eleven and Bifidophilus Flora Force now contain a mixture of fructo-oligosaccharides that serve as food for these friendly microorganisms. These substances have been shown to reduce irritable bowel symptoms and improve gut integrity and function.

Step Four
REPAIR the Leakiness


Fiber is the most important thing needed to repair gut permeability. Soft fiber products such as SynerPro Loclo or Nature's Three absorb toxins from the intestinal tract and reduce irritation. However, for intestinal inflammation of any kind, one of the most dependable formulas is Intestinal Soothe and Build (see below). This formula not only soothes inflammation and irritation, it also helps to tone up the intestines and reduce the leakiness.

Soluble and insoluble fiber

Fiber, indigestible chains of carbohydrate present in all plant foods, is categorized by its ability to dissolve in water. Fiber that partially dissolves in water is labeled soluble fiber.

Fiber which does not dissolve in water, insoluble. These differences lend unique benefits to each type of fiber in the diet.

Soluble fiber helps lower blood cholesterol and can reduce the risk of heart disease. It also slows glucose absorption and can help manage and/or lower the risk of developing diabetes. In addition, soluble fiber swells as it takes on water, leading to a greater feeling of fullness and aiding in appetite control.
Good sources of soluble fiber include oats/ oatmeal, fruits and nuts.


Insoluble fiber helps prevent and alleviate constipation, lowers the risk of diverticulosis (intestinal inflammation), hemorrhoids and appendicitis. It can also be effective in helping to manage a healthy weight.
Good sources of insoluble fiber can be found in cereal and whole grains, rice, barley couscous and vegetables.

Intestinal Soothe and Build
Dependable Help for Intestinal Irritation

Formulated by Jeannie Burgess, the blend of herbs in this formula (Intestinal Soothe And Build) has proven beneficial for a wide range of problems involving intestinal inflammation including, colitis, Crohn's disease, Celiac and ulcerations.
It contains two mucilaginous herbs, slippery elm and marshmallow root, which gently soothe irritated tissues. The plantain, rosehips and buggleweed in this formula gently tighten intestinal tissues to reduce permeability (leakiness).
Plantain also helps soothe inflammation.
The last ingredient in this formula is chamomile, a nervine with anti-inflammatory properties that is particularly helpful for reducing intestinal inflammation.
This formula works best taken in large quantities - 2 to 4 capsules taken 3 times daily.

** Where stress contributes to or aggravates intestinal inflammation. It should be combined with another formula from Jeannie Burgess: stress-J


Licorice Root and Chamomile are two single herbs that are very good at cooling "overheated" intestines.
Wild Yam
is also helpful for soothing intestinal inflammation, especially where there is abdominal cramping and pain. It is a key ingredient in another formula that helps reduce intestinal inflammation: CLT-X.
Another single herb that cools intestinal inflammation and helps to repair leaky gut syndrome is kudzu, an invasive weed of the southern United States. It is available in the formula Kudzu/St. John's Wort. St. John's wort has healing effects on the digestive system as well, making this an excellent formula to combat leaky gut syndrome.

Sources
For more information on inflammatory bowel disorders talk to the person who gave you this newsletter. You can also consult some of the sources listed below for additional information.
The ABC+D Approach to Natural Healing by Tree of Light Publishing
Food and the Gut Reaction: Intestinal Health Through Diet by Elaine Gottschall
Principles and Practices of Phytotherapy by Simon Mills and Kerry Bone
Eat Right for Your Type by Peter J. D'Adamo.
Food is Your Best Medicine by Henry G. Bieler, M.D.
Encyclopedia of Natural Healing by Siegried Gurshche

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