Enhancing GI Health Naturally
Review by Jule Klotter
You Gotta Have GUTS!: The Natural Way to Enhance G I Health, by Victoria Bowmann
© 2009; $17.95; 170 pp
You Gotta Have GUTS!, by Victoria Bowmann, PhD, is a highly informative, lay-friendly guide about natural ways to improve gastrointestinal health and function. During her 30-plus-year career, Bowmann has worked as a licensed massage therapist, licensed colon hydrotherapist, and homeopath. Her book explains the many factors that can disrupt GI function, including processed foods, medications (antibiotics), toxins, parasites, stress, dehydration, and even some naturopathic treatments (i.e., enemas, oil of oregano). Sluggish bowels can also result from low thyroid function. Good health depends upon good assimilation of nutrients and consistent (at least once a day) elimination of wastes via the bowel.
Bowmann explains that a great deal of useful information can be gained by paying attention to bowel function and stool – a fact that Asian medicine has long recognized. Color reflects the diet. Vegetarians have a tan stool; it looks greenish tan if they eat a lot of leafy green vegetables. Eating large amounts of red meat will turn the stool dark brown because of the bile needed to digest the fats in these meats. Nervous or stressed people tend to have long, thin “pencil” stool, resulting from constriction of the colon muscles. “Rabbit pellet” stool can denote a lack of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Undigested food in the stool signifies that the person needs to chew his food more thoroughly. An allergy or intolerance to dairy often shows up as mucus in the stool. Mucus can also indicate a sinus or digestive infection. Healthy stool floats under the water line. “If there is excess fat and oil or incomplete digestion of the oil and fat, the stool will float above the water line or leave a residue on the porcelain sides of the toilet bowl,” Bowmann explains. “. . .if a stool sinks into the bottom of the toilet, there is excessive protein in the diet, the toxic load is high, or heavy metals are being eliminated.”
In Bowmann’s experience, healthy colonies of probiotics – beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria – are vital for healthy GI function. Lactobacillus creates a mildly acid environment that aids metabolism and ahs a role in the production of digestive enzymes. These bacteria also stimulate peristalsis. Lactobacillus has the added benefit of inhibiting pathogenic organisms and the overgrowth of Candida albicans. Bifidobacteria also promote a beneficial pH in the GI tract and protect against pathogens as well. In addition, Bifidobacteria produce B vitamins and vitamin K. Bowmann recommends “reflorastation” of the colon, a rectal injection of 20 different strains of beneficial probiotic organisms. “In my clinical experience, the rectal introduction of these live microorganisms establishes much more rapidly than oral consumption,” she explains. “This is because of the pH of the stomach, which has the property of killing bacteria to protect the body. This doesn’t occur when introduced through the rectum.” Medical literature as well as her clinical experience shows that rectal reflorastation relieves constipation and diarrhea, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. Moreover, it improves immune function and skin problems.
In addition to reflorastation, You Gotta Have GUTS! offers specific exercises, diet and supplement suggestions, and other natural methods for supporting GI health and healing. Bowmann also discusses other self-care measures to promote overall health and detoxification, including liver and lymphatic cleanses. A supplemental CD of three 20-minute relaxation exercises is also available. The relaxation meditations are very positive; I found them effective and enjoyable. GI function lies at the core of any detoxification program; it is the foundation. You Gotta Have GUTS! is an excellent guide for understanding and improving this vital system.