We followed our stomachs today through their 27 foot long x 4 football pitches wide route to digestion. As ever, it’s never that simple and the movement through the body (Pharmacokenetics) of the chemical constituents of food, herbs and drugs and the way they work on the body (Pharmacodynamics) has several stages.
David Pirie, had returned to coalface of the classroom to teach us the fundamentals of Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Elimination. Each of these processes from the actions of the GIT through to the life-giving and drug distributing channels of the bloodstream and lymph system was under scrutiny.
We always digress at every opportune moment, and so immediately we were arguing the case of man as a natural vegetarian v. omnivore. As humans have a long digestive tract akin to most vegetarians (dogs and tigers have very short ones) the assumption is that we should be vegetarians. Certainly autopsies on the guts of mainline meat-eaters (lots of coagulated blood, if you need to know) show that their systems fail to absorb the full benefits from elements passing through. Same is true of alcoholics, caffeine freaks, laxative addicts and probably most Scots. But natural selection would argue that it was only when Man stated to eat increased levels of proteins, including fish and brains (high in EFAs) that he started to evolve the mental abilities so remarkable in humans today….......hhhhmmm.
However you look at it, the state of your digestive tract is fundamental to maintaining optimum health. What we can learn is how each individual’s GIT will also affect their ability to benefit from diet and herbal remedies. The action of eating carbohydrates releases alkalines in your mouth that start the digestive process, If you eat these on their own (according to the Hay diet) then you will reap their full reward. Proteins likewise should be eaten separately as they require acids to break them down. It is when you combine the two that the stomach must choose and proteins (being God-like to the GIT) will win and the poor carbs will be left to fester in your tummy.... burp, belch.
The process of absorption from the secretion of digestive enzymes and the action of microflorii in your stomach is what in turn becomes the distribution process of carrying the essential nutrients to their goal. At this point, it is the blood that is the main protagonist moving the chemical constituents across the capillary walls to deliver their effect to the cells. Interestingly, the only thing the chemical does is to give the receptor cell a nano-second handshake telling it what to do – in other words - cell, heal thyself. The ‘drug’ then returns to the circulatory system, gets passed to the liver, broken down and made water-soluble to be eliminated through the GIT, skin, lungs, menstrual cycle or tears.
What’s extraordinary is that the immune system is watching every step. In fact, it has receptor cells of its own on virtually every cell in your body – from those in your brain, to your internal organs, to your armpits. Using the lymph system as its ally and fighting arm, it determines whether it likes the proteins entering the body or not (such as wheat or lactose), and takes action accordingly. Lymph will send out white blood cells to destroy infections and just as readily assault those allergens it wants rid of. Much to the distress of so many people in modern society with allergies….
Fortunately the body is a clothes horse that regenerates itself completely (well about 98%) every year. The liver regenerates every 3 months so there is always a chance to recover. But as with all of us, aging DNA gets frayed around the edges and so the regeneration process is not quite as good as first time round. The liver will regenerate, but takes on the same history of its previous life, which sadly might be a pattern of disease or destruction.
Ethereal thinkers (and in this I include Shamans and Faith Healers) however believe that it is possible to re-programme the body to rebuild organs in their original form … perhaps via immune cells receptors? A fine chance for young Psycho-Neuro-Endo Immunologists to prove that scientifically.