In this article, by bowel, I mean the entire alimentary tract. Evolution developed the system as an integrated whole. While the structural divisions of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, ileum, and colon are valid, the functional separateness are illusory. This becomes clear from this and other tutorials in this course.
Oxygen governs the human body with an enormous network of signals. Oxygen heals by orchestrating a vast and intricate system of intelligence that detects and responds to injury. It ushers life in and then terminates. It does so by initiating, enhancing, perpetuating, and terminating signals that regulate all aspects of human energetics, development, and demise.
Within the oxygen order of human biology, the bowel digests food by oxygen-directed reactions. The bowel absorbs digested food by oxygen-controlled mechanisms. The bowel eliminates waste by oxygen-regulated phenomena. The bowel detoxifies toxins by oxygen-activated enzymes
systems. The bowel protects the blood ecosystem and the liver detox pathways by oxygen’s detergent functions. The bowel influences the functions of endocrine (hormone-producing) organs, as well as the nervous system, by oxygen-mediated responses. This, simply stated, is The Oxygen Model of Bowel Disorders.
I present the subject of oxygen signals in the tutorial entitled “Oxygen Signaling.” Below is a brief description of oxygen signals:
– In most body reactions, oxygen acts as a switch, sending and regulating the flow of energy to different parts of the body.
– A child throws a pebble into a pond and watches circles of small waves spread over the pond. In the same way, oxygen brings to life simple substances—hydrogen peroxide from water, for instance—to create waves of energy that spread over the body and trigger cascades of bioenergetic reactions.
– Oxygen gently touches a number of proteins in the body to produce a change in their structure and function. Specifically, by triggering a protein-folding process, oxygen “spools” proteins, altering their functions.
– Oxygen turns many “metabolic keys” in the body to start its metabolic machinery.
– Oxygen “herds” many chemical reactions in the body in the same way.
– In many reactions, oxygen is the battery in the “body’s flashlight” that illuminates biochemical pathways.
– In man-microbe conflicts, oxygen-controlled lipid signals are potent weapons used by both sides. Oxygen favors human cells over microbes by energizing lipids which, in turn, energize microbe-killing proteins.
The above facts support my view that: (1) oxygen preserves bowel health by a vast and intricate network of signals; and (2) all chronic bowel disorders are rooted in the disruptions of oxygen signals. For example, the inflammatory disorders of the alimentary tract bowel—gastritis, GERD, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s colitis, diverticulitis, and others—at their root are problems of oxygen, since oxygen governs all aspects of the inflammatory response. From this, the clinical significance of The Oxygen Model of Bowel Disorders should be evident: for optimal long-term results, all oxygen-related issues must be addressed in the treatment of all bowel disorders, regardless of the diagnostic rubric chosen by the doctor.
To illustrate my larger point, I offer a specific example. Most of my patients with colitis and irritable bowel syndrome learn to break painful bowel cramps with Feather Breathing, which directly increases oxygen supply to the bowel. I point out that such breathing increases oxygen supply to the circulating blood (and therefore to the bowel) by allowing more time for oxygen to move from the air sacs to blood capillaries in the lung (see the tutorial on Limbic Breathing
The central tragedy in the field of gastroenterology is that its practitioners neither study oxygen nor bowel ecology. I attended thousands of lectures about the disorders of the gastrointestinal tract in the last 53 years and do not recall a single case in which the speaker focused on oxygen signaling, either for understanding the disease or for reversing the diseases. An untold number of people have needlessly suffered for decades and many of them had segments of their alimentary tract amputated because their doctors only offered drugs and scalpels and ignored all relevant oxygen issues.
The Oxygen Model of Bowel Disorders evolved slowly during my work as a hospital pathologist and integrative physician over four decades. Following were the milestones in my journey.
Altered States of Bowel Ecology
In my monograph Altered States of Bowel Ecology (1980), I recognized the need for ecological thinking in clinical medicine. To present my case, I introduced the term bowel ecology for broader ecological considerations of the health/dis-ease/disease continuum in the alimentary tract that causes clinical disorders in all parts of the body. I followed that monograph with a series of research papers and books for the general readership to firmly establish the beginnings of nutritional, inflammatory, immune, and degenerative disorders. I received strange looks when I presented my evolving ecological concepts in national and international meetings. After a few years I realized that its time had not come yet. Almost two decades would pass before I began to see the term ecological in medical literature. It is gratifying to see growing interest in the gene-microenvironment relationships, not only in the context of bowel disorders but in diseases of all body organs.
In 2006, I was vindicated to see the words gut ecology on the cover of the December 21, 2006 issue of Nature, the most prestigious science journal in the world. The lead article by Dr. Turnbaugh and colleagues was entitled “An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest.” So, the bowel fermenters decide who becomes fat and who remains slim. The bowel critters also decide who remains healthy and who gets sick. Ah, the power of these critters. And we humans think we are at the top of the food chain. What a delusion! No, Nature recognizes no food chains, only food cycles in which the lowliest microbes destroy self-exalted humans from within.
A bowel in chaos is a body in chaos. An inflamed bowel is an inflamed body. A strongly acidic bowel is an acidic body. A “free-radicalized” bowel is a free-radicalized body. A de-oxygenated bowel is a deoxygenated body. A dysoxic bowel wall is a dysoxic body. A contented body cannot house a bowel of discontent.
Oxygen is the organizing principle of human biology and governs the aging process. I began my book Oxygen and Aging
(2000) with these words. With that volume I began a series of articles in which I marshaled evidence for the unifying oxygen model of disease. Specifically I presented oxygen models of inflammation, pain, liver injury, asthma, allergy, colitis, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, cancer, and other disorders. The Oxygen Model of Bowel Disorders is an extension of my work over the past four decades. I illustrate my core point by presenting my view of the bowel-skin and bowel-brain links in two tutorials entitled “Roots Are to Roses, So the Bowels to the Skin” and “As Roots Are to Roses, So the Bowels to the Brain.” Other aspects of this crucial subject are presented in courses on the liver, stomach, and hormonal systems.
I refer professional readers to Darwin and Dysox Trilogy (2009), the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth volumes of my textbook entitled The Principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine for a detailed discussion of the above subjects, as well as for extended citations.