Prolonged and chronic stress, food sensitivities, intestinal dysbiosis and hormonal imbalances are major factors that can lead to gastrointestinal problems, for example issues like chronic gas and bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic constipation. 

These are common ailments, for example IBS affects 7-21% of the population (1) yet its pathology is still not clear - a number of possible causes have been implicated including intestinal mucosal inflammation, infection and dysbiosis of the gut microbiome (2,3). It is now known that the gut microbiome has important links with brain health via the “microbiota-gut-brain axis” (4,5), and is a major line of defence in the immune system so its disruption can weaken immunity. Studies have implicated gut microbiota in conditions including autism, anxiety, obesity, schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. 

 

In Traditional Oriental Medicine, the spleen and stomach are the digestive organs and the spleen particularly can be negatively affected by stress, anxiety and worry. Irregular eating, skipping meals, as well as eating foods that are hot, greasy or damp can all damage the spleen. Pathogens can also invade when the environment permits, so strengthening and balancing the microbiome is always crucial 

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References:

  1. Chey WD, Kurlander J, Eswaran S. Irritable bowel syndrome: a clinical review. JAMA. 2015 Mar 3;313(9):949-58. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.0954. PMID: 25734736.

  2. Holtmann GJ, Ford AC, Talley NJ. Pathophysiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Oct;1(2):133-146. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(16)30023-1. Epub 2016 Sep 8. PMID: 28404070.

  3. Ringel Y. The Gut Microbiome in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Other Functional Bowel Disorders. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2017 Mar;46(1):91-101. doi: 10.1016/j.gtc.2016.09.014. PMID: 28164856.

  4. Quigley EMM. Microbiota-Brain-Gut Axis and Neurodegenerative Diseases. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2017 Oct 17;17(12):94. doi: 10.1007/s11910-017-0802-6. PMID: 29039142

  5. Cryan JF, O'Riordan KJ, Cowan CSM, Sandhu KV, Bastiaanssen TFS, Boehme M, Codagnone MG, Cussotto S, Fulling C, Golubeva AV, Guzzetta KE, Jaggar M, Long-Smith CM, Lyte JM, Martin JA, Molinero-Perez A, Moloney G, Morelli E, Morillas E, O'Connor R, Cruz-Pereira JS, Peterson VL, Rea K, Ritz NL, Sherwin E, Spichak S, Teichman EM, van de Wouw M, Ventura-Silva AP, Wallace-Fitzsimons SE, Hyland N, Clarke G, Dinan TG. The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis. Physiol Rev. 2019 Oct 1;99(4):1877-2013. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00018.2018. PMID: 31460832.

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