THE GUT IS A MISUNDERSTOOD ORGAN – Altered Bowel Ecology
Majid Ali, M.D.
The bowel ecosystem is always injured in chronic states, and its restoration is one of my top priorities in my integrative program for reversing chronic diseases.
In pharmaceutical medicine, when the symptoms are directly related to the gut, the treatment strategy consists of symptom suppression with drugs. When the symptoms are not directly related to the gut, any suggestion of a possible role of a damaged bowel ecosystem in the cause of symptoms is unceremoniously dismissed.
In my view, the most remarkable phenomenon in the entire field of human biology is this: A vast number of clinical problems that are seemingly unrelated to the bowel spontaneously resolve when the focus of clinical management turns to all the issues in bowel ecology. How often do symptoms of persistent debilitating fatigue in young men and women clear up when an altered state of bowel ecology is restored to normal? How often do troublesome mood swings subside when therapies focus on the bowel? How often does arthralgia (pain and stiffness in joints with or without joint swelling) resolve when all the bowel issues are addressed? How often do we successfully prevent chronic headache; anxiety; palpitations; incapacitating PMS; recurrent attacks of vaginitis; asthma and skin lesions by correcting the abnormalities in the internal environment of the bowel? The answers to these questions will vary widely among physicians.
Physicians who regularly neglect the bowel (and those who never understood the issues of bowel ecology in the first place) will dismiss these questions with scorn. None of this has been proven with double-blind cross-over studies, they will strenuously protest. Other physicians who have learned to respect the bowel — as the ancients did — and care for their patients with a sharp focus on bowel issues will readily and unequivocally validate my personal (and fairly extensive) clinical experience.
Seed, Feed, and Weed for Bowel Flora Video
Life in the Bowel Ecosystem
The bowel ecosystem teems with life. Shrouded in metabolic mists, it is as rich in biologic diversity and as broad in biochemical interrelationships as any other ecosystem on this planet Earth. The ancients seemed to have an intuitive sense about it. Death begins in the bowel, they pronounced in more than one way. Leeuwenhoek studied fecal bacteria during his invention of the microscope in 1719, and, thus, was the first man to study life in the bowel ecosystem with modern scientific methods. Metchnikoff, the Russian biologist, who single-handedly developed the concept of the cellular arm of the immune system, became intensely interested in the aging process in his later years when he moved to Paris where he served as the head of the Pasteur Institute. He studied the longevity of Bulgarians and provided strong evidence that certain bowel microbes played important roles in preserving health and promoting longevity among them. He named the microbe he thought was most prominent in this field as Lactobacillus bulgaricus. Metchnikoff’s work opened the floodgates of basic research on the bowel flora.
A Cell Looks at the World Around it Through its Cell Membrane
It is the cell membrane that separates the cell’s internal order from external order. Although molecular host defense mechanisms of both immune and nonimmune types have progressed from simple single-cell forms to multicellular forms to highly developed complex organisms such as humans, the fundamental pattern of host defenses has remained the same: The cell membrane or its counterparts carry the primary responsibility for preserving the biologic integrity of the organisms. For the professional reader, I discuss at length the energy and biochemical events which occur at the cell membrane in health and disease in my monograph, The Agony and the Death of a Cell, published in the 1991 syllabus of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.
For humans, the gut mucosa is the true counterpart of the cell membrane of unicellular organisms. From a phylogenetic perspective, the gut mucosa would be expected to be the primary host defense organ. This indeed is the case when one looks at health and disease from a holistic perspective.
In a biologic sense, man’s gut lining is his window to the world around him. What do we ever get through our skin but a little vitamin D when we get a chance to bask in the sunshine? What do we get through our lungs? All our ancestors ever received through their lungs was oxygen. Now we receive — unwillingly and under severe protest — a heavy load of environmental pollutants. Everything else that enters our biologic systems enters through the gut lining. It is important to recognize that the mucosal linings of the mouth, esophagus and stomach essentially are extensions of the gut lining. The states of health and absence of health are expressions of the dynamics of foods within the gut ecosystem — the effects on foods of the digestive-absorptive processes as well as the various life forms in the gut.
Suggested reading: Seed, Feed, and Weed Approach to Restoring Bowel Ecology