All Diseases Begin (and End) in the Gut

by Andrea on November 2, 2011

in GAPS,Healing,Nutrition,Wellness

All Diseases Begin in the Gut.

You might be familiar with that quote. It’s from Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, who lived 400 hundred years before Christ. That’s a long time ago, and nevertheless, the guy was right.

This is a truth that makes plain sense; it’s right under our nose. Is it so close that we can’t get it? What that statement means is that if you are sick — no matter the nature of your illness — you will find the cause right in your gut.

But, by the same token, you can find the solution right in the same place: your gut.

I know you can understand that, if your illness is obviously digestive — say IBS, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, Celiac — then it probably has something to do with your gut. But modern medicine doesn’t consider that, if you suffer from heart disease, then you really are sick in the gut. What about arthritis? Or asthma? Or cancer? Now, what about depression? Or ADHD?

Am I saying that not only physical diseases, but also mental ones, start in the gut? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

The desperate doctor who got disappointed on medicine.

Once upon a time, there was a smart Russian doctor who was going her merry way, living her life, being a doctor.

And then she became a mother.

At the beginning everything seemed fine with her son. But as the months went by, she started noticing things weren’t quite normal. At the age of 3, the boy was diagnosed with autism.

The doctor was confident that she could find what she needed to help her child within the realms of her profession (and you probably would think the same, if you were a practicing neurologist and your child were suffering from something that’s considered a learning disability).

So she searched and searched, but found nothing. Medicine, the way this doctor had learned it, had nothing meaningful to offer to an autistic child.

Luckily for us, this woman ain’t no quitter. She wouldn’t settle until she found legitimate help. Hippocrates’ wisdom dawned on her; was it possible that this disease too, began in the gut?

She went back to school and got yet another masters degree — this time in human nutrition, and took up as her duty to learn everything there was to learn about nutrition for autistic children.

With much patience, love, experimentation, and the help of a few experts, the boy started making progress; the dramatic changes came about from changing his diet. Nowadays, this boy is almost an adult and if you hadn’t heard this story, you would never know he was sick once.

The name of this doctor is Natasha Campbell-McBride. Her experience with her son became the seed that would sprout into what I believe is the most powerful digestion healing — and hence body healing — protocol there is.

What a tree wants, what a tree needs…

“A human body is like a planet inhabited by huge numbers of various micro-creatures. The diversity and richness of this life on every one of us is probably as amazing as the life on Earth itself! Our digestive system, skin, eyes respiratory and excretory organs are happily co-existing with *trillions* of invisible lodgers, making one ecosystem of macro- and micro-life, living together in harmony. It is a symbiotic relationship, where *neither* party can live without the other. Let me repeat this: we, humans, cannot live without these tiny micro-organisms, which we carry on and in our bodies everywhere.”

Excerpt from Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride

Let’s say you have a tree. What’s the most important thing the tree needs to grow? You could say water, or you could say sun. But what if the tree had plenty of sun and water, but didn’t have a place to root? It could not grow because trees intake nutrients by soaking them up through the soil using their roots.

We also have soil; only we can’t see it because it’s inside of us. There are layers of micro-organisms covering organs and tissues everywhere in the body, but especially along the digestive track. These *trillions* of tiny, microscopic inhabitants make up the soil of our body.

Just like the soil supports the tree, our internal flora supports our tissues and organs. And just like the nutrients get filtered and modified through the soil so the tree can utilize them, so do the nutrients in our body get filtered and modified through our internal flora, and in this way, we can utilize them.

The good guys and the bad guys

There are opposite forces, forever attempting to balance each other, everywhere in nature; our bodies are no exception.

Not all the micro-organisms that live inside of us are beneficial. Some of them are… shall we say lazy? And then there are others that are just plain detrimental; they cause a lot of harm.

But we need them all, including the bad ones. The immune system is constantly gathering data from whatever bad guys (AKA pathogens) are hanging out in the body at any given time. This data is what tells the immune system how to kick off the defenses when the body is under attack. Without detrimental micro-organisms in the body, our immune system wouldn’t know what to do.

In a healthy body, the good guys keep the lazy and the bad ones under control, but in an unhealthy body, the bad ones have the power.

The good guys thrive on healthy food that they transform into nutrients for us. In doing so, they make us healthier as they grow in strength and numbers.

The bad guys on the other hand, prefer the unhealthy foods that they transform into all sorts of toxic stuff. Many of these toxins are addictive to us — this is one definite reason why we crave foods we *intellectually* know don’t do us good. In this way, slowly but surely, the bad guys reproduce, conquer the good guys over and damage the body they inhabit.

There’s another piece to this puzzle. As we said earlier, layers of bacteria protect the organs and tissues, and filter nutrients. Well, this is a critical function at the point were food actually becomes nutrients and is absorbed into the blood stream, which is in the small intestine.

But if the layer of healthy bacteria is debilitated then it works like eroded soil. Food matter doesn’t get broken down as it should and it passes through the digestive wall into the blood stream *undigested* and adding toxicity to the body. Did you ever heard the term Leaky Gut? Well, this is it.

It’s a total vicious cycle: the more pathogens, the more toxicity, the more addiction, the more we feed the pathogens and the stronger they get, the weaker the good bacteria, the weaker the intestinal wall, the more pathogens, etc.

When the maid can’t clean up!

We are design to cope with a certain level of toxicity in the body. This is actually the most important role of the liver — to help transform toxins into stuff that can be eliminated out the body through the bowels, the bladder or the skin. But as the good micro-organisms lose battles against the bad ones, the level of toxicity increases. Add the full-on chemical and environmental toxins that enter the body non-stop, everyday to the mix and the result is a clogged elimination system.

Now you got toxins in the blood stream, traveling freely all over the body. The immune system is trying to do its job, but there are so many different pathogens and toxins all over the place that it gets confused and overwhelmed; it becomes overreactive and starts fighting everything back, including the body’s own cells, tissues and organs. This is what’s known as Autoimmunity.

What Dr. Campbell-Mc Bride brilliantly came to understand is that, in her son’s case, the toxic and pathogenic buildup had gotten concentrated in the brain, but the same principle applies to any illness. The place in the body and the form this buildup takes depends on many factors, including the health history, genetic makeup, diet, lifestyle, age, and emotional health of the person. It could be the lungs, the skin or the brain. It could be arthritis, diabetes or depression. Doesn’t matter. They all began in the gut.

She called this GAPS, which stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome — if the issue manifests predominantly in the brain, or Gut and Physiology Syndrome — if the issue manifests predominantly somewhere else in the body. I say predominantly, because it’s never just one OR the other, you know? Usually there is a puzzling mixture of symptoms, sprinkled all through the body with a few — or a lot of — mental symptoms added to mix.

GAPS is a condition that establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system and the rest of the body, including the brain.

How does this affect YOU?

If I’ve done a good job explaining this so far, then you already know. However, let me be more specific:

ANY kind of chronic digestive malfunction, is a GAPS condition.

ANY kind of autoimmune issue, is a GAPS condition.

Chronic infections of ANY kind are GAPS conditions.

Allergies of any kind are GAPS conditions.

Skin conditions including acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis and more, are GAPS conditions.

Hormonal conditions, including chronic fatigue, PMS, hypothyroidism and more are GAPS conditions.

Issues of the circulatory system including atherosclerosis, heart disease, high and low blood pressure, are GAPS conditions.

Mental conditions including autism, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, OCD, eating disorders and more, are actually GAPS conditions.

And if you are one of those people who is not healthy, in spite of the fact that no doctor can ever give you a conclusive diagnosis, who has forever suffered from apparently unrelated, random, puzzling symptoms, then I can almost bet that what you have is GAPS.

So what now?

Understand that if you have GAPS, that is not going anywhere. Unless you address the root of the issue and heal your gut, you will always struggle with your health. You might have suffered from the same set of problems for many, many years and are on medication for life. Or you might have had different issues at different times in your life, but you know you aren’t healthy. Either way, the problem is the same.

And so is the solution: you need to heal your gut.

I’m not going to lie to you. The GAPS healing protocol requires a level of commitment that usually only those who are desperate are motivated enough to bring forth.

Healing the gut takes time and attention, but it’s no doubt the best thing you will ever do for your and your family’s health. This stuff is profound!

It’s not like Dr. Natasha is a crazy loner making stuff up out of thin air, you know? She’s had a clinic since 1998 and has treated thousands of patients. And there are many other doctors and even more alternative practitioners who are using the protocol, or a modified version of it, with great results. Not isolated great results, but systematic great results.

The principles of GAPS are sound and stand on the shoulders of good science. But what I love most is the simplicity of the theory. Once you understand GAPS in the context of your own health, things just make sense. I’ve had a few clients get really emotional and cry when I explain this to them. After years and years of never-ending doctor visits, tests, meds and treatments, they finally get it. What an awakening!

What I think you should do…

You might still be confused, but if these 2000 words have resonated with you in the slightest, I encourage you to get Dr. Natasha’s book. She’s a way better teacher than I am.

Continue your search! Don’t settle for mediocre health. The body has an immense capacity to heal. Commit to getting healthy and the right resources will appear in your life.

And if you already know that this is a path you want to walk, or if you want to understand GAPS in the context of your own health, like… now, then contact me! I am honored to be one of only very few certified GAPS practitioners and I might be able to help you.

I feel very blessed to have come across these teachings in this lifetime. I am grateful to Dr. Natasha and all of the doctors and healers whose insight of human health and of nature has helped shape these principles. I am committed to deepening and spreading this knowledge. This is my mission.

(For you P. I love you.)

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Scott Tillitt 11.03.11 at 11:23 am

Well put, Andrea. Your thinking (and your writing) have evolved in a profound way over the years. Plant your flag!

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Andrea Reply:

Thanks Scott! Such comment coming from you means a lot.

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Brenad Reply:

Thank u so much, will be posting this to family and friends who don’t seem to understand when I try to explain what we are doing and are concerned my son will not enjoy his birthday or xmas as there is no sugar for him
Brenda

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2 Jennifer Rodriguez 11.03.11 at 11:46 am

Thank you Andrea! This is awesome, eye-opening, and informative. I know now where to start healing my body. Thank you!

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3 kerry 11.03.11 at 12:14 pm

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this! It’s like I’ve been playing the shell game, always trying to find the rock under the right shell. The information you shared is that “rock” for me. I’ll definitely check out Dr.Natasha’s book and I’m glad to be guided toward a new direction. Andrea, Thanks again! Take good care :-)

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Andrea Reply:

May you be the person whose life is changed by reading this ;-)

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4 Paola Devescovi 11.03.11 at 12:18 pm

Thank you for this informative post, Andrea! I have been treating myself and my children with omeopathy and alternative medicines for many years, always with very good results. I know how important it is to keep your gut in good health. However, I must say that the way you have described the whole story is so clear, that probably this is the first time I’m able to get the whole picture!

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Andrea Reply:

Thank you! I’m glad I could explain myself. I was worried I could be confusing by trying to pack up so much information in little space.

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5 susie 11.03.11 at 2:07 pm

Andrea,
This is so solid! Thank you for writing this and taking the time to research and share this. You articulated so beautifully what I’ve known intuitively for some time. I’ve tweeted this because I am so on board with this!

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Andrea Reply:

Thanks Susie. I foresee many more health coaches gearing this direction in the coming years. As you say, it’s a very solid theory and its application is yielding consistent profound results.

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6 Elizabeth 11.03.11 at 2:44 pm

I understand why this took some courage for you to write, I know from experience this is not an easy position to take! I’ve been dancing around with GAPS protocol for awhile now, and haven’t yet found the motivation or the resources to commit fully. But I’ve been gluten-free and nearly grain-free for a year and a half and although my celiac-like symptoms diminished for awhile, during a stressful period earlier this year, they returned. I will definitely look forward to reading more about this protocol from your perspective. To jump right in, I have a question for you. I understand from Dr. Campbell’s work that if the gut is not populated with the correct micro-flora during infancy, it can never be populated correctly. Can micro-floral balance really be found in these cases? What are the dietary implications (does it mean a lifetime of GAPS protocol and probiotic supplementation)? Thank you Andrea, I appreciate and respect your journey!

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Andrea Reply:

Hi Elizabeth,
Please point me to the place where you got this information. I don’t think Dr. Natasha would make such statement. Yes, it is possible to repopulate the gut with the appropriate flora. You might need to be on GAPS for several years, but eventually you can transition — with the understanding that you’re not just going back to gluten and junk food — and you will be able to let go of the probiotics as well.

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Andrea Reply:

Pg 253 of the book: “To maintain the probiotic you do not have to carry on taking commercial preparations. You can supplement your diet with fermented foods in the form of fermented yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods.” This is the way we all — GAPS or not — are meant to eat anyway. That’s why you find probiotic-rich foods in every traditional culture around the world.

Dr. Natasha also says that we MIGHT not ever have a chance to repopulate the gut with healthy flora. Keep in mind that we really know very little about the gut flora and how it behaves. This is a huge area of study that unfortunately, no one will be taking on any time soon because there’s no money in it. Even if that is the case — that the gut will never repopulate with healthy flora, there’s more than enough evidence that there is recovery. 100% in many cases.

Again, is not like you are going back to the Standard American Diet after you’re done with GAPS, but the range of food your body can assimilate will undoubtedly widen. CAREFUL not to take this as an objection to do the protocol! The mind is tricky that way! If someone is going to find a better way to do this, that person is in the GAPS community and we’ll know about it.

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Elizabeth Reply:

Hi Andrea, I’m pretty sure I read it in Dr. Natasha’s book, unfortunately I am living surrounded by piles of boxes and I’m not sure where it is right now. I have been doing a lot of researching in the past 18 months, so I could have confused the source. I’ll let you know as soon as I find it. Again, I love your commitment to this (and I hope I can find the courage to mirror it)!

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Andrea Reply:

Right. Yeah, this is what I commented above. She does indeed talk about probiotics for life and then goes on to say they don’t have to be commercial preparations, which are fermented foods. I also commented to the possibility the gut might not ever repopulate with healthy bacteria…

7 Judith 11.03.11 at 6:56 pm

Andrea,
I am a fellow IINer who has really enjoyed your blog for a couple of years now. Your devotion to GAPS and the profound healing it offers touches me deeply. I cannot applaud you enough for following this path! I wish you hugh successes and look forward to seeing more about this from you! BTW I ordered Natasha’s book today! Thank you.

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Andrea Reply:

Thanks Judith. No doubt you shall see much more of this from me :-).

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8 Kim 11.03.11 at 9:06 pm

Great post, Andrea. Two of my children have eczema and we had such a run-around with their doctors. Even traveled hours away to visit a specialist (dermatologist) when all I wanted was an allergist! FINALLY I got my way and of course the eczema was due to allergies! It was wonderful once we knew for sure what to avoid (food & environmental). We tried elimination dieting which helped but it can be tricky. Now I am trying to bring further healing by using probiotics and a dietary change. Glad I didn’t believe their teachings or I’d still be slathering on steroids!

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Andrea Reply:

Good for you Kim. I encourage you to learn the GAPS way. I have no doubt your children’s eczema would be a thing of the past using the protocol.

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9 Pablo A. Medina 11.04.11 at 8:57 am

I loved reading this. I was impressed and inspired by your tenacious writing. How about a version in Spanish? Bravisimo. Un beso.

[Reply]

Andrea Reply:

Spanish version as soon as I find a good translator ;-). Oh, Google does a heck of a good job…

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10 Caterina 11.10.11 at 10:51 am

Hi Andrea:
This is valuable and great info – I will spread the word and purchase the book…now, I have a question, I have suffered and am still suffering from bad allergies, my sinus’ are always inflamed and I have a lot of Post nasal Drip- can diet really cure this issue for me? I would love for you to get in touch. I am ready to try something other than meds which have only suppressed the problem.

Thank you again
Caterina

[Reply]

Andrea Reply:

Yes indeed. No doubt diet can make your allergies and post nasal drip a thing of the past ;-)

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11 Kathy Morris 11.10.11 at 11:23 am

Thanks Andrea! I so admire your relentless pursuit of spreading “the word” towards a healthy living and growing in the natural health care profession. Your article was beautifully written.. thorough and easy to understand. May success in your quest continue to follow you.

[Reply]

Andrea Reply:

Thank you Kathy!

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12 Tammy 11.11.11 at 11:07 am

Andrea,
I know this takes courage but I also want you to know that many, many medical doctors are coming to GAPS an important tool in healing!

I am a psychotherapist who has seen profound healing both mind & body for babies, children & moms (and dads) with families using GAPS. I specialize in pregnancy & postpartum mood disorders, grief and loss as well as the stress on a family when a baby/child’s health is compromised.

Also, I have come (kicking, screaming & crying) to the absolute proof in my own body, that GAPS is essential for some beings to stay healthy in a human body. I am forever grateful Dr. Campbell-McBride but I can’t tell you what an absolute gift YOU are to being working with those of us who need help implementing this into our lives!

I will be in touch Andrea!
Bless you,
Tammy

[Reply]

Andrea Reply:

Thank you Tammy ;-).

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13 Dena Allen 11.29.11 at 12:33 am

Not sure why you think this is controversial. It makes perfect sense to me and I know it experientially. I’m glad you are promoting this truth. Well communicated.

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14 Crystal 08.18.12 at 6:42 pm

I did all the things people list when clearing up the gut and intestines for my daughter. A very Strict candida diet, exercise, long laundy list of supplements. We even were trying to chelate slowly with herbs and supplements. she did wonderful for a while. She still ended up with very heavy psychosis and now has been committed to a state hospital where they will not try any of it of course. I am devestated. Can you tell me what I could have gone wrong? I just need to kmow, if its so simple then why did my daughter end up back worse than ever?

[Reply]

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