By now, you’ve probably heard how important gut health is. That’s because gut health is inextricably tied to immune function. There’s a continuous feedback loop between the brain and the gut, which is often called the body’s second brain.
Because of the constant communication between your gut and brain, the state of your microbiome (the trillions of bacteria and other invisible organisms living in your gut) has a profound impact on your cognitive function, mood, psychological balance, inflammation levels and other factors that determine overall wellness.
These days, many people are hoping their immune system is strong enough to fight new pathogenic threats. So let’s focus on the gut health-immunity connection. Then, we’ll see if adaptogenic herbs can help contribute to a healthier gut…
Why Your Gut Health Controls Your Immune System
It’s estimated that 80% of the human body’s immune cells reside in the gut. That in a nutshell is why there’s such an important connection between gut health and immunity. But let’s dive a little deeper and explore the symbiotic relationship…
Your colon (aka, the large intestine) is host to this mind-boggling number of microorganisms: 10,000,000,000,000. That’s 10 to the 12th power, which is 10 trillion. But that’s not the grand total of bacteria you have in your gut. The total number is much higher, because 10 trillion is only the amount per gram of luminal contents (which are tubular structures such as arteries or other tissues.)
Just like a police officer patrolling a dangerous neighborhood, the organisms in your large intestine face the threat of potentially harmful pathogens more than any other organ in the body. And it’s in the protective barrier of the large intestine where pathogens infiltrate. This protective barrier is the intestinal mucosa. It’s amazing to think that this layer, which is like your body’s bouncer, allowing good guys in (nutrients) and keeping the bad ones out, is only one cellular layer thick. In order to have a healthy gut, you need high-effective, healthy lymph tissues to activate balanced immune responses. It’s here in the mucosal barrier that your army of immune cells fight for you, including T cells, plasma cells, mast cells, dendritic cells and macrophages.
Gut Permeability And Immune Function
Any weakness in this mucosal barrier can negatively affect gut health, which, of course, can negatively impact your immune system function. Leaky gut, or gut permeability, occur when the protective layer of the endothelial junction of the large intestine loosen, allowing undigested food particles and pathogenic bacteria to flow freely into the bloodstream. This causes systemic hyperinflammation, which can cause the body to attack itself. This is the root cause of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and fibromyalgia.
So in order to have a healthy gut, and therefore a balanced immune system, you need to eat foods that colonize the gut with friendly bacteria. And, if you have symptoms of leaky gut (bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc., inflammation, brain fog), you also need to eat foods and take supplements that help tighten the junctions of the mucosal barrier.
Adaptogens And Gut Health: Is There A Connection?
Stress is a contributing factor to leaky gut and poor gut health. Because adaptogens help restore homeostasis (balance) in the body, neutralizing the harmful effects of stress, they may help improve the digestive system.
But is there any research that supports adaptogens for improved gut function?
Research in the journal, Gut Pathogens, suggests rhodiola rosea may increase the lifespan of fruit flies, by altering the insects’ microbiome. Obviously, we are not flies but the study is promising. The study used the bacteria, Drosophila melanogaster, which , the researchers state, “can serve as a good model to enhance our understanding of animal–microbial symbiosis.”
Another study concludes that ginsenosides, the main active compounds in ginseng, can increase the bioavailability of an anti-cancer metabolite produced in the gut by bacteria.
A 2017 study published in The International Journal of Molecular Sciences shows how adaptogenic mushrooms can improve gut health. For instance, the constituents in reishi, “the king of mushrooms,” are one of the most important sources of prebiotics. Prebiotics, or prebiotic fiber, is what bacteria feeds on. The more foods you eat with prebiotic fiber, the more likely the good bacteria in your gut will flourish and colonize.
Rhodiola, ginseng and reishi are three of the 13 adaptogenic herbs featured in Sun Horse Energy’s Global Resonance Formulation, created by master herbalist Daniel Moriarty, who has researched herbal medicines for over 40 years.
If you’re new to adaptogenic herbs and considering purchasing a formula to adapt to stress, consider Ultimate Energy.