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Digestion and Gut Microbiota: How Eastern and Western Medicine are Connected.


..“All disease starts in the gut”...Even though Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician is responsible for this quote, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors already knew the importance of digestion in health and disease thousands of years before. There is evidence about it in the famous book “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (Huangdi Neijing)” which was compiled and edited around 300 BC. Later on, Li Dong-Yuan, also known as Li Gao (1180 – 1251 c.e.), originated the “Spleen and Stomach School” and in his book, Pi Wei Lun (On the Spleen and Stomach) states that most diseases result from an injured digestive system caused by bad eating and drinking habits, overwork and excessive emotions.

In Chinese medicine, the Spleen and Stomach are responsible, between other functions, for digestion. The Spleen/Stomach utilizes what we eat and drink, transforms it into energy (Qi) and blood, and transports it to the rest of the body. Qi, a vital substance for the whole body, relies then on good digestion. When the Spleen and Stomach function properly, the Qi is strong, digestion is good and the body is well nourished. When the Spleen and Stomach are deficient, the Qi is weak, and the body doesn’t have the energy to perform its functions, therefore, there is fatigue, weakness, bloating, bad digestion, poor appetite, and loose stools. Qi deficiency can involve other organs as well and some of the symptoms that can be present are the following: frequent colds, insomnia, constipation/diarrhea, abdominal pain, cold hands/feet, migraines, sinus congestion, dry skin, hair loss, chemical and smell sensitivity.

So how is this related to gut microbiota and dysbiosis? Simple, as seen above Qi deficiency can trigger multi-organ dysfunction with mental and physical symptoms. The same as poor gut bacteria (dysbiosis) does. When gut bacteria is out of balance, the gut lining is impaired and intestinal permeability can occur. Substances that are not supposed to pass from the gut to the bloodstream do so creating systemic inflammation and immune imbalance. These have been linked to obesity, metabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases, and others. Therefore, Qi deficiency and dysbiosis/intestinal permeability are very similar or maybe the same. (Click here to learn more about Thu Gut Microbiota and Dysbiosis).

Chinese medicine is preventative medicine. Diseases are treated before they even appear. How? By detecting early symptoms or signs of dysfunction. Having a healthy or healthier lifestyle, a good diet, herbs, meditation, and acupuncture are all part of it. Fatigue, bloating or even frequent colds, might be the only first warnings that the body is becoming out of balance and that’s when we need to intervene and not wait until it’s full-blown. If we treat early we can obtain earlier and quicker results.

More on ways to have a happy functioning Spleen/Stomach and good Qi will be coming soon.

Always listen to your body and if you have questions or comments please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Have a happy day!





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