I'm a bit of a research junky. I particularly enjoy reading about historical medical theories that have been discarded but maybe shouldn't have. I was delighted to find a copy of Elie Metchnikoff's "The Prolongation of Life" at a used book store this past summer. Metchnikoff is the father of probiotics. He was a zoologist during the late 1800's that studied the effects of lactic acid producing bacteria on eliminating bowel putrefaction. Metchnikoff believed that eating cultured foods rich in lactic acid producing bacteria would improve digestion and prolong one's life. We are only now coming to understand the full scope of what he hinted at the time.
The late 1800's and early 1900's are a particularly interesting time period to me. This was also the time period in which Dr. Weston A. Price, Antoine Bechamp, Louis Pasteur, Francis Pottenger, Linus Pauling, Gunther Enderlein, Royal Raymond Rife, and many other fascinating theorists produced some of the most interesting pieces of work. Most people don't realize that going to a homeopath, naturopath, eclectic practitioner, or herbalist was as common as seeing a medical doctor such as the kind we see today. A lot changed though in just a few decades so that natural health was almost wiped completely out. This wasn't due to its obsolescense so much as a concerted effort of those in power to promote certain medical theories and discredit others.
The greatest difference between the medical paradigm and that of naturopathy is the Germ Theory as proposed by Louis Pasteur. The Germ Theory is the belief that all disease is produced by an invading microbe from the external environment. The opposing theory at the time as proposed by Claude Bernard and Antoine Bechamp was that disease was produced when the terrain or health of the individual declined to such a degree that it supported the growth of pathogens. They believed that improving the health of the individual through diet and lifestyle would limit the ability of pathogens to cause disease.
Even more interesting to me is that Bechamp believed that disease producing microbes did not come solely from the external environment but that they co-existed within the human body in a normally benign or even beneficial role until the health of the individual declined to such a degree that the microbe morphed into a pathogenic form such as a bacteria, fungus or virus and began to break down cells. He called these pleomorphic organisms microzymas.
What if Bechamp was right? Would it makes sense that living inside our blood and even in our very cells we have microorganisms that co-exist with us and will participate in the degeneration of our bodies if our bodies no longer provide them with the oxygen and nutrients they require to survive? My experience with dark-field microscopy seems to support this idea.
I've also been reading a lot about probiotics and how they communicate with our immune system to coordinate immune response against disease and invading pathogens. In the book Probiotics: Protection Against Infection by Casey Adams it states:
"...microorganisms and cells produced weak levels of radiation that could be measured using sensitive equipment. The radiation was in the ultraviolet and visible spectrums - which classified the radiation as being light.... Furthermore, these types of radiation were observed during significant biological events - metabolic events that required coordinated efforts of many cells or colonies of microorganisms."
Does this communication through light waves between cells and the microorganisms explain how energy based therapies such as Reiki, Homeopathy, and Color and Sound Therapy work? Is this the Vital Force of the body? Are we in essence communicating with the microzyma and encouraging their return from a pathogenic state back to a supportive role?
Does this also explain why our emotions and thoughts affect the physical body? By thinking that we are going to die do we send a message to the microzyma to begin the process of degeneration? This idea goes along well with the German New Medicine idea from Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer of how a traumatic emotional event might be the trigger for certain forms of cancer.
These are fascinating concepts that I hope to continue to explore in future posts. If you are familiar with any of the individuals and the theories I have mentioned above I'd be interested to hear your thoughts as well.
To Your Health!
When feces reach the rectum they should be about 70% water; and 30% a combination of fiber, undigestible materials, dead cells from the body, and bacteria. When these feces reach the toilet they float at first and then slowly sink and begin to fall apart as the fiber in them absorbs more water.The brown color of feces is a result of bile pigments coming from the liver. When feces are not brown, but have a chalky appearance, there is a problem in bile secretion and fat digestion.
Loose, watery stools or diarrhea can be produced by excessive use of laxatives (cathartics, which stimulate bowel contractions by irritation), nervous stress, gut dysbiosis, infection or the presence of toxic substances in the bowel.
Neglecting the urge to eliminate, not drinking enough water, poor bile production, poor hydrochloric acid production, gut dysbiosis, or eating foods low in fruit and vegetable fiber can lead to constipation. This is a clogging of the large intestine caused by waste material building up on the bowel wall to such an extent that feces can hardly pass through.
If you are eating three meals in a day but only producing a bowel movement once in five days, you could have fifteen meals still sitting in your intestines! This accumulation can become tough, hard and black like the rubber of a truck tire. When the bowel is that dirty, it can harbor an amazing variety of very harmful bacteria and parasites. These life forms will multiply on this putrid, decaying material creating toxins, poisons, and noxious debris that will seep through the bowel wall and enter the lymph fluid and bloodstream. Poor bowel condition is the source for many, many disorders in the body from allergies and skin afflictions to heart disease and cancer.
Even when you are having a bowel movement every day; how often or how much is not necessarily an indication of a healthy bowel. Many people will have loose bowels one day, stiff bowels the next, a smelly bowel one day, and so on. It is more important to establish regularity and determine how long it takes for any one meal to pass through the body.
The time it takes for a meal to travel through the digestive tract is called the bowel transit time. Normally it takes eighteen hours for food to go through the body and be eliminated. That means if you have breakfast at 8 AM, you would have a bowel movement just before bedtime. Lunch and dinner would naturally be eliminated in the morning the following day with one bowel movement shortly after rising and one just after breakfast.
The time it takes for food to be digested and eliminated depends upon the amount of roughage in the food and the water content. Bulkier feces travel faster as they provide substance for the bowel muscle to work upon. Otherwise a soft, fiberless stool becomes very difficult for the colon to move along. The longer it takes, the more water is absorbed, making feces compacted and hard so that it becomes difficult to eliminate them.
A healthy bowel has sufficient water, good nerve tone, good muscle tone, plenty of beneficial forms of bacteria, adequate circulation and the right biochemical nutrients in the right amounts. However, these things are not sufficient to bring health to a dirty, toxic-laden bowel. Cleansing must come first, only then can tissue rebuilding take place.
Bowel Transit Time Experiment
Take 2 oz. of liquid chlorophyll or 2 oz. of beet juice with a meal and take note of how long it takes to exit the body.
You will recognize the chlorophyll because your feces will be unmistakably colored dark green or red if using beet juice! Don’t take any more chlorophyll or eat any dark green leafy vegetables until you have passed all of the chlorophyll.
How long did it take? Did you have more than one bowel movement that was green?
What to Do Now
Now that you know what your bowel transit time is, you can start working to improve it. Bowel cleansing can be as simple as getting more dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables. Fiber from grains tend to be a little more harsh on a sensitive bowel lining and should be avoided by those with bowel problems.
You may also want to consider a bowel-cleansing program that uses bulk laxative herbs. Most over the counter laxatives contain substances that irritate the bowel causing it to flush out bowel contents very quickly. Some will pull water from you body tissues and result in loose, watery stools. Bulk laxatives are different because they absorb water and push through the bowel, as dietary fiber would. A good herbal bulk laxative is psyllium. Psyllium will also help to clean the toxic material that has accumulated on the bowel walls.
If your intestinal wall has become dry and irritated you may want to use a mucilaginous herb like slippery elm instead. Slippery elm absorbs water and produces a slimy coating to soothe the bowel wall and ease the passage of dry stools.
Improve overall digestion by taking a food enzyme supplement containing protease, amylase, and lipase enzymes. If hydrochloric acid production is low or you experience frequent heartburn or reflux try taking Betaine HCl or 1 oz. of apple cider vinegar before each meal.
Beneficial forms of bacteria are crucial for a healthy bowel and immune system. Particularly if you have had a recent or frequent dose of antibiotics. Use the lactobacillus or bifidobacteria strains which are the most well documented for improving bowel health. Probiotics are also safe for infants and children.
If muscle tone is your problem, you may need a combination of a bulk laxative with a stimulating laxative like cascara sagrada. Cascara sagrada stimulates the bowel wall, encouraging peristaltic action to move fecal matter through the intestines. White oak bark can also help to tone up the intestinal walls as well as reducing hemorrhoids and diverticula.
Stress can be a major factor in poor bowel health. Without proper nerve function your intestinal system cannot do its job. If your bowel function seems to change constantly even when you are eating regularly, you may need to consider an herbal combination to reduce stress. Nutricalm is a wonderful blend from Nature’s Sunshine that helps to improve nerve function and reduce the effects of stress on the body.
Dietary changes such as the GAPS diet combined with an herbal cleansing programs are very effective, but the healing process can take up to a year or more before you will see a regular, healthy intestinal system. Colon hydrotherapy is another option that can help to speed your recovery. Ask a qualified natural health care professional or GAPS practitioner for more information about any of these.
No matter what program you choose, be sure to drink plenty of fresh, purified water daily. Water helps to keep the mucous lining in the bowel thin and slick to provide lubrication.
Here's to Your Health!
Kathryn Doran-Fisher is a Traditional Naturopath, Certified GAPS Practitioner and owner of Elder & Sage.