How to Overcome Complex Chronic Inflammatory Conditions
Stage 2: The Digestive System
Fig. 2: "Mutual Reinforcement."
The majority of our immune system resides along our digestive tract. The two systems are intimately linked. Once the immune system has been refined, bolstering the digestion makes it much more likely that you'll stay healthy going forward.
The connection between digestion and complex chronic conditions is now finally getting the mainstream scientific attention that it deserves.
In light of the mountains of research on gut health, most digestive strategies out there aim to colonize the gut with probiotics. You’ve probably tried this. Most people have.
You can buy the most expensive, beautiful houseplant, but if you place it in the wrong environment, for example drop it in the desert or the middle of antarctica, it won’t survive long and you’ll be buying a new plant very soon.
The same is true for probiotics. They’re alive. They need to be placed in a suitable environment. If your digestive tissue is inflamed or full of virulent pathogens, the probiotics won’t be able to take root. And you’ll be needing another bottle very soon. Forever.
Because we are following a proven process in a specific order, by the time we begin working with the digestion, a lot of the heavy lifting has already been done to secure the immune system.
This means that the changes we start to make in the gut microbiota will actually have a chance to stick, without needing to compete with excessive pathogens, or develop in a hostile, inflamed environment.
Better yet, we accomplish all of this without probiotics at all. You can take them if you want, but they’re not required.
There are now personalized microbiome tests that you can order to have the gut flora analyzed. These can be interesting, and you’re encouraged to always be learning more about yourself. They are not necessary for this stage however. You can learn a lot about the state of your gut bacteria by looking at your tongue.
The bacteria in our body uses slime to protect themselves called biofilms. As it turns out these biofilm layers are not just in your intestines, they reach up through the entire digestive tract all the way to your tongue.
When you see a slimy coating on your tongue, that is a direct snapshot of what’s going on deeper into the body.
Based on the thickness, moisture content, and color of the coating, we know what types of bacteria are dominant in your system and how to restore balance using specific herbs.
An ideal tongue has a slightly moist, pink color, with a very thin, clear-white coating.
Once the coating becomes thick, dry, greasy, chalky, white, yellow, green, etc, we know there is an issue in the microbial makeup of the gut flora.
Additionally, the tongue shouldn’t be too puffy, as that is a sign of pathological fluid retention, and often hidden pathogens. If there are scalloped marks on the sides of the tongue that means it is too swollen to fit in your mouth, and the teeth are pressing into it. You're likely retaining water all over your body.
Stage 2 is vitally important to correct this.
Digestion and Brain Fog.
Your brain, like every other part of your body consumes fuel and creates waste. At night when you sleep, your brain effectively flushes its waste products in a process called Glymphatic Drainage. This healthy process allows for cognitive function, memory, focus, good mood, and all of the other attributes we usually associate with positive mental health.
Your brain is protected by a boundary called the blood-brain barrier. This semi-permeable layer is designed to protect the brain from pathogens.
When we have too many pathogens, chronic inflammation, leaky gut, or a combination thereof, the blood brain barrier will tighten down to protect the brain even further and restrict movement. This defensive mechanism is meant to keep pathogens out of the brain (great!) but has the side effect of blocking the nightly glymphatic drainage that our brain needs in order to eliminate metabolic waste (not so great...).
The resulting lockdown causes waste to build up, and we experience a sense of brain fog. Difficult short term memory (“now what did I walk into this room for?”), trouble focusing, malaise, low energy, and low motivation to do even seemingly simple tasks.
Trouble sleeping deeply can also prevent the brain from being able to give itself the much needed "deep clean" at night.
When we do it right, moving steadily stage by stage, we first balance the immune function and pathogens, and then correct the digestion, including “leaky gut.” This allows the blood brain barrier to normalize, and the glymphatic drainage to resume at night. And that’s how the brain fog starts to lift in Stage 2.
It’s an incredible feeling to regain cognitive function.
Another approach that is common in alternative medicine for helping the digestion is to add digestive enzymes into your system.
Again these can be beneficial in the short term, but the law of the body is “use it or lose it.”
When we provide too many enzymes from external sources, your system has no incentive to make its own. Over time your endogenous production will downregulate and you’ll be eating bottle after bottle of enzymes just to break even.
We bolster the digestive system, not by launching probiotics at it or flooding you with external enzymes.
Instead we use herbs and practices to train your digestive system to be more resilient, dependable, and stable.
Creating a natural environment for beneficial bacteria to thrive, a self-regulating ecosystem.
How do we do this?
In Stage 2 we continue and enhance the work of the previous stage by using herbs and practices that have been shown to:
- Dissolve Biofilms
- Regulate Gut Bacteria
- Tighten Gap Junctions (repair “leaky gut”)
- Decrease Food Sensitivities
- Encourage Lymphatic Flow
- Encourage Glymphatic (Brain Waste) Drainage
- Increase Internal Enzyme Production
- Have Antiviral, Antifungal, Antibacterial Properties
- Regulate Peristalsis (Intestinal Movement)
During Stage 2 you will continue your self care training and learn new techniques to further regulate gasotransmitters such as Nitric Oxide (NO) for a more effective immune response, and balanced gut microbiome .
You will also learn how to optimize your digestion by taking advantage of the circadian rhythm that nature provides us.
We do not require any radical dietary changes.
Most of the people we work with have already tried diet changes, and have seen some benefits, but not enough.
The less processed food you eat, the better you’ll do in general. However our protocols have been designed to work in the real world, not an ideal fantasy land of 100% perfect clean eating.
Remember, this program is designed to increase your resilience and options in life, not shrink your world even further.
The majority of the immune system is in the gut itself. Stage 2 builds on that foundation while simultaneously sealing in the immune system work from stage 1.
During Stage 2 we know changes are taking hold in your digestion by observing the following signs:
- Fixed, Dull, Aches Decrease or Go Away Entirely
- Energy Level Continually Improves
- Appetite Regulated
- Bloating is Gone
- Food Sensitivities Decreasing
- Feeling of “Brain Fog” Dissipates
- Mental Focus and Clarity Improve
- Decreased Cravings and Night Time Snacking
Often in Stage 2 we will see regulated bowel activity and a decrease in IBS-like symptoms.
However in cases where bowel irregularity is primarily due to chronic stress we will often see that shift in Stage 3 when we address neuro-endocrine function more directly.
Your digestive system is often referred to as your center.
And as we improve that center, many people find themselves feeling more mentally stable and, well, centered.
Additionally as the digestive system becomes more reliable, we notice many people develop more pronounced intuition and “gut feelings.”
Interestingly enough, as your core gets stronger, so does your sense of self.
You feel as if you've got a strong set of legs under you, and a deep connection to the earth.