The Digestible Guide Volume III
12th January 2017
The more we learn about gut health, the more science is understanding the link between immunity and a healthy digestive system.
It appears that many aspects of our immune system, including the cells that fight off nasty invaders like bacteria and viruses, are educated through exposure that occurs within our gastrointestinal tract.
In fact, it may be one of the ways our cells learn how to determine what are friendly bacteria and what are disease causing bacteria. Some of our immune cells can even produce their own version of antibiotics to fight off the bad guys. It therefore stands to reason that looking after your digestive system is crucial to maintaining and promoting good health.
In Ayurveda, the term ‘ojas’ is used to refer to an individual’s genetic and acquired health reserve. An ancient Ayurvedic text, Charaka Samhita, writes:
‘It is ojas that keeps all living beings refreshed. There can be no life without ojas…It constitutes the essence of your whole body.’
If your ojas are depleted, then disease has the potential to set in and we may suffer symptoms associated with a low immunity such as fatigue, anxiety and a sense of imbalance.
Herbs have been used for centuries to promote digestive health and immunity:
Ginger root, a fiery and aromatic herb, is as a ‘carminative’ – this is a substance that reduces bloating and digestive discomfort. However, it also has been demonstrated in research to work as an anti-inflammatory and an antiviral. This is likely due to compounds called gingerols found in the root.
Liquorice is another common herb that has excellent application to gut health. It acts as a gentle laxative and a ‘demulcent’ – it coats the inside of the gastrointestinal tract to prevent irritation and promote healing. Again, like ginger, liquorice is antiviral, anti-inflammatory and, through its action on the gut, supports immune function.