Over the last 5-10 years, probiotics have become popular in health food stores, pharmacies and even in the supermarket. They have been considered a sort of cure-all for bowel health. They vary greatly from fresh, live bacteria kept under refrigeration, to dried powders kept on the shelf. The probiotic bacterium in each brand may vary from 1 to 16 different types. In practitioner terms, the severity of the problem would determine the number of probiotics used or the type of problem would be treated with a specific probiotic.
Treating bowel health with probiotics is one way to treat a bowel problem but should not be considered the only way. Probiotics may bring temporary relief but they are unlikely to solve gut problems on their own.
Take constipation for example. Probiotics may temporarily solve the problem of constipation but once they are stopped, the constipation may return. This is because probiotics will, for a short time, provide a variation in bacteria or bowel flora but these new bacteria will only flourish if they have the time and environment in which to flourish. In order for good bacteria to grow and proliferate in the bowel, much more is required than probiotics alone.
Constipation is partly due to bowel compaction. The bowel, working so slowly and filled with petrified matter, labours under extreme duress to push the food through the alimentary canal to finally pop out a stool. Bowel compaction slows and dries the mucosal lining of the bowel so that the nutrients from food have a poor absorption rate. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies. The proliferation of bad bacteria in the lining can be so extreme that new investments of good bacteria may not survive in the putrid environment.
Bowel compaction can be the result of years of consuming a low fibre/high meat diet combined with regular low hydration. When the bowel compaction is dense, the mucosal lining is unable to do its job of moving and cleaning the bowel wall regularly. it can become paralysed and shrink with the inability to move freely. Worms and parasites live very happily and freely in a compacted bowel adding to the overall dis-unity and dis-eased state. Food allergies, swelling, bloating, cramping and flatulence are common problems with a compacted bowel. Overweight, obesity and problems losing weight may also be associated.
The reasons for bowel compaction are more than physical. In understanding the mind-body connection, emotional symptoms may also be involved.
Emotional layering in the bowel can contribute significantly to difficult bowel health. Over the years of life, many emotions are felt in the area of the intestines (e.g. butterflies in the tummy). Emotional layering can contribute to the paralysis of the bowel. Emotions may be felt but not expressed, held in instead of being let out, held back instead of being given a hearing. If you think about these words - not expressed, held in, held back - they sound like the way constipation could be described.
Solving the problem of constipation long term requires time and a number of sequential steps to firstly, clean, hydrate and feed the bowel, and secondly to remove the compacted matter. These steps include:
* examining the diet and how it it is contributing to the overall probiotic balance
* hydration and how it is contributing to the flexibility of the bowel
* adding probiotics long term to help establish a new internal garden of healthy bacteria
* increasing exercise to help produce blood flow to the area and
* supplementing with nutritional directives to take up deficiencies.
It also requires:
* adding a gentle fibre supplement to help clean out the bowel
* juicing therapy to replace lost or low biochemical elements
* enemas to remove old feacal matter
* parasitic treatments to kill off and remove parasites and worms
*dietary changes that will support and feed the new proliferation of good bacteria and, finally,
* removal of the emotional layering in the bowel to allow the paralysis of the bowel to return to a normal peristaltic movement.
Wrapping up, probiotics are helpful but not a cure-all. To enjoy good bowel health over the long term, all of these strategies need to used together. This requires a commitment to time, dietary change and regular, consistent therapy.