In my previous blogs I highlighted the importance of the gut for health and wellbeing.
I made the point that as the gut is central to many functions of the body, as reflexologists we need to make this an area of focus in our work.
Those in the naturopathic community have long been advocating that the gut can be the harbinger of a variety of diseases.
What is becoming evident is that it is not just diseases of a physical nature, but also neurological. This link has seemed tenuous, but there is mounting evidence that there is a much stronger link than expected.
The gut is something of an island, by this I mean that it can operate independently, even if all the nerve innervations from the brain and spinal cord are severed, it will continue to function merrily along on its own. The reason it is able to do this is because it has its own brain, composed of a hundred million neurons.
Apart from this, the adult human gut is home to an astonishing 100 trillion bacteria. To put this into perspective, it is has ten times as many bacterial cells as were descended from the sperm and egg of the parents. In other words we are more alien than human.
The egg and sperm provide approximately 23,000 different genes
the microbiome (which is the name for the alien civilisation in the gut) has around 3 million genes.
The microbiome should really be considered as an additional human organ.
Weighing just over two pounds (around a kilogram) it deserves this title.
When the bacteria of the microbiome are working in harmony they support the smooth working of the body. The bacteria have many vital and life-supporting functions (far too many to mention here) such as providing immunity, vitamins, and hormones such as testosterone and oestrogen.
Problems occur when this finely-tuned system is thrown out of balance, either through perversions of diet, drink, and not forgetting prescribed and OTC pharmaceutical drugs, which leads me to the following-
Earlier this year a headline in the London Daily Telegraph caught my eye:
Indigestion drugs taken by millions of people linked to dementia
The article was highlighting how a study has shown that a common group of drugs taken for heartburn, acid reflex and peptic ulcers could increase the risk of dementia by 44%
(German centre for neurodegenerative diseases)
It may be that the drugs throw the microbiome out of balance, causing disease of this nature to manifest.
Diseases such as multiple sclerosis, autism, asthma, heart disease diabetes and obesity are now being considered as linked to a disturbance in the microbiome.
Dr Barry Peatfield writes:
‘Now I want you to think of the cells of the microbiome as acting together, like some enormous brain-but alongside our own brain, helping our own genetics and other needs.
What an extraordinary powerful weapon we have when all these things operate; together we can be masters of our own destiny, our own health, our own wellness. This brain is able to intervene at almost any level, working alongside our own brain’.
The Peatfield clinic for metabolic health advice
Since my early days in physical therapy I have increasingly become aware of the role of the gut in many health issues. That is why, as reflexologists we should, whatever the presenting symptoms of the patient, always abide by the maxim of ‘Treat what you find and not what you are looking for’
As an example, in the case of hormonal issues, it can be easy to let our judgemental bias take over and ignore what the reflexes to the gut are trying to tell us.
In my next Blog I will focus on, how different types of contact need to be utilized to be able to obtain an accurate reflex assessment.
Tony Porter seminars