On Gut Health and Change

Gut health, and digestive health, are the foundations of our entire life. We are quite literally made of what we eat. If you were a tree, your guts would be your roots. Weak roots mean a weak tree. Health always starts in the gut.

Leaky Gut is a modern condition, and can go undiagnosed and untreated for years and years, and in cases like mine, decades. It is not widely recognized in modern medicine as an actual condition, so it is not looked for. It has not been studied extensively, and because of that, it is treated as something people who practice alternative forms of healing have made up. Modern medicine, as it does in most cases, likes to focus on symptoms and disease, rather than cause and prevention. 

Leaky gut is caused when the integrity of the intestinal lining is compromised. Our intestines are meant to keep larger molecules out of our body, while letting smaller molecules in. Damage to the intestinal lining can occur through misuse and overuse of antibiotics which wipe out gut flora, and steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which inhibit the regeneration of gut lining. It can also be caused by chronic stress, malnutrition, sleep deprivation and chronic exposure to food allergens. All these factors cause the intestinal wall to become more permeable, allowing larger molecules through, molecules that in a healthy gut, would never be allowed into the bloodstream. These larger molecules cause an immune response in the body. If this continues for a long period of time it can lead to a backed up liver and lymphatic system which then leads to systemic toxicity, which causes all sorts of other problems like inflammation, anxiety, depression, weight gain, acne, brain fog, malnutrition, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune disorders, just to name a few...

I have battled with my gut health my whole life. It got worse in my early 20s. When I would eat something that did not agree with my body, my guts would purge. This would happen a couple times a month. Sometimes the purge would last for hours and I would be left feeling weak and depleted. My body wanted whatever I had eaten out, as fast as possible. I can remember one particularly scary experience in a restaurant where I was sure I was going to black out on my way to the bathroom and fall onto someone else’s table! I’ve had it happen camping where the only place to go was an outhouse! I’ve had it happen while alone with a newborn, nursing in the bathroom while my body got rid of the perceived toxin. 

I’d talk to allopathic doctors and they’d call it Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which seems to be a handy blanket name for anything bowel related that doesn’t fit into one of their neat little boxes. Or they’d blame my Gallbladder, saying I must not be able to digest fats because a lot of the triggers (but not all) seemed to be deep fried. Recently, I even had a doctor tell me that the hives and the rash I had been experiencing for a month could not possibly be linked to wheat and it must be something my kids brought home because “kids bring viruses home all the time”.  I wanted to know WHAT was going on and WHY. I didn’t just want to be giving a name for my symptoms and sent on my way again.

It took two 3 month elimination diets, and a couple of appointments with an ND to figure out what was actually going on in my body. Turns out, I had been living my life with a hidden dairy intolerance and a wheat allergy, as well as a couple other more minor food intolerances, most likely triggered by heavy antibiotic use as a child, which destroyed my gut flora allowing the allergies to develop, and also compromising my liver, Gallbladder and overall digestion. My body coped with the perceived toxins as best it could. It took eliminating the allergens from my diet, and then reintroducing them to discover the problem.

I drastically changed my diet, and took gut and liver herbs to help heal my intestines and liver. It was hard at first, and for a while I missed cheese SO MUCH!  It has now been over 2 years since I have had a purging experience. My life has changed drastically. My skin is clear, my mind is clear, my body has energy, and all the sugar cravings I used to have are gone. I didn’t realize what a fog I had been living in until it was gone, and I no longer miss cheese even a little. 

When I look at my birth chart, with the knowledge I have now, I can see how it began to play out. My Sun is in Taurus in my 6th house. The 6th house is the main house of health. When I was young I had several ear infections as well as strep throat...all requiring antibiotic use. Taurus rules the ears, nose, throat and lower jaw. Taurus being in my 6th house makes me prone to these types of problems. My North Node is also in Taurus. The North Node equals excess, and a North Node in Taurus can cause mucus build up in the eustachian tubes (I had tubes put in my ears when I was 5 to help them drain), impacted wisdom teeth (which I also had) as well as other things that deal with the ears, mouth and throat, like polyps, canker sores and tonsillitis. 

Scorpio rules the colon. Scorpio is opposite Taurus, so in my chart falls in the 12th house. The 12th house is another health house, more specifically the house of hidden health issues. Things that affect the 6th house can also reflex to the 12th house, and visa-versa, because they are opposite each other. Another interesting thing to note, is that Taurus is the mouth and Scorpio is the colon and anus. One is where food goes in, the other is where it goes out. They are linked. The 12th house tends to weaken any planet or sign that is in it.  My South Node is also in Scorpio, which adds to the weakening effect of the 12th house because the South Node equals deficiency. My colon has two indications for weakness. Looking at all this, it is easy to see that my 6th house problems (ear infections, strep throat), triggered the 12th house problems (a weakened colon susceptible to permeability). This is why I love Medical Astrology so much. It adds a whole other level to my consultation work. Medical Astrology combined with proper Herbalism education is a powerful tool for healing. 

When I sit down with a client, the most important things that we talk about are diet and lifestyle. These are also sometimes the hardest things for someone to change. One of my biggest frustrations is when someone wants my help and advice, I give it to them, then they don’t follow through and wonder why they aren’t getting better! I have said this before and I’ll say it again, I AM NOT YOUR HEALER...you are! I will use my training, and life experience, to help YOU heal yourself. If you do not put in the effort and the leg work, nothing is going to happen. Nothing at all. 

It is also HARD! Very hard. It takes a lot of hard work and willpower to change the way you live to be healthier. It also does not happen overnight. It took me almost a year to recover from the inflammation that was caused when I reintroduced wheat into my diet. So many people give up before they even start. It is human nature to do things the easy way, and humans don’t like change. When you have lived a certain way for a long time, or eaten certain foods for a long time, it is hard to think that they could be to blame for all your problems. That gluten you’ve always eaten, or all that sugar you’ve always eaten, or that dairy you’ve always eaten, just might be the cause of everything. I like to think of it like the frog in boiling water. Drop a frog straight into boiling water and it will die instantly. Place the frog in the water and gradually heat it, it won’t. If you’ve been slowly feeding yourself allergens your whole life, you might not notice until that water hits the boiling point, and that boiling point could be an autoimmune disease, or kidney disease, or chronic fatigue or something worse…

It all goes back to the gut. Without a healthy gut, we will not have a healthy body, mind or spirit. We need to learn to look after ourselves, in a way that our individual body needs, and usually that means taking the reins of our own life and health and finding the will power for deep, substantial change.