The Importance Of Probiotics In Chinese Medicine

Probiotics is one modern form of medicine promoted by holistic and natural healers today. If you are one of these who haven’t heard of probiotic, it simply is the intake of beneficial bacteria to improve digestion and digestive health.  We all have beneficial bacteria in our intestines and women have them inside their vaginas (yeast infections develop when there is a lack of these beneficial bacteria in their genitalia).  Both good and bad bacteria are destroyed by antibiotics, and so these drugs are not really recommended in treating infections except in emergencies. This is why after taking antibiotics many people experience digestive symptoms. Probiotics can help restore the amount of good bacteria, which you have lost. Antibiotics aren’t the only thing that can exhaust the amount of good bacteria in our body. Stress and a poor diet can, over time also take a toll.

Chinese Medicine Perspective

From the viewpoint of Bellingham Chinese Medicine, digestion is the responsibility of the Spleen. In the food we consume, this organ is capable of separating the “pure” from the “turbid” with the pure being converted into Blood and Chi while the turbid is converted into waste. Overconsumption of cold, raw, or refined foods or sugar can overburden or weaken the Spleen, which can lead to symptoms such as abundant phlegm (such as chronic sinus blockage), flatulence, constipation, loose stools, fatigue, and bloating. Antibiotics can easily injure the Spleen as they are considered very cold (since they destroy infections, which are hot), which may lead to the aforementioned symptoms. Because they promote digestion, probiotics, are considered as a Spleen tonic. They enhance and warm the function of the Spleen thereby fixing the injury caused by antibiotics.

The Spleen can also be injured even without the use of antibiotics. Poor diet can adversely affect the Spleen as mentioned, but emotions as well can also damage it. Other factors the can injure the Spleen include too much physical and/or mental work, obsessive thoughts, and over-thinking. You only hurt your Spleen when you’re stuck in your head. You know your emotions have negatively affected your Spleen when you experience bowel irregularities (incomplete bowel movements, alternating between hard and loose stools), when these bowel irregularities becomes chronic, like colitis or IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome or when you feel a “knot” in your stomach. These conditions can be addressed by using probiotics as it has the ability to regulate bowel movements, which can be seen is Chinese Medicine as benefiting the function of the Spleen.

From the standpoint of Western physiology, 70 percent of your immune system is more or less located in your gastrointestinal tract. In Chinese medicine physiology, on the other hand, the Spleen creates the Wei Qi. Whatever perspective you choose, your digestive system plays a key role in the state of health of your immune system. Regular intake of probiotics can significantly facilitate the strength and health of your immune system. You can find probiotics in fermented foods like kombucha, miso, natto, kefir, high quality yogurt, and sauerkraut and in raw dairy foods. Probiotic supplements are readily available at local vitamin and natural food stores. 

A little goes a long way to keeping you healthy. By regularly taking probiotics and eating easily digestible warm cooked foods your immune system and Spleen are ensured of good health.

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