Chinese Medicine and Digestive Health

CNY2014On January 31st 2014, we say goodbye to the Year of the Snake, and welcome the Year of the Horse. We wish all of our customers a happy and healthy Chinese New Year.

It is interesting to take a look at traditional Chinese medicine, and see the similarities with the principles that underpin our work with probiotics. Our philosophy is that the gut and intestines form a “second brain”, which is strongly connected to our primary brain. Great intestinal health leads to stronger natural defenses, a brighter mood, a healthier body, and fewer digestive issues.

Similarly, traditional Chinese medicine emphasizes good food and nourishment as key to a healthy life. In Western medicine, the spleen is responsible for recycling and replacing red blood cells. Chinese medicine views the spleen very differently, and expands that role as a central point of nutritional absorption. Food is transformed into nutrients for the body, and “Qi” (chi) – your life force. When the Qi in the spleen is deficient, symptoms materialize such as bloating, diarrhea and indigestion. These are all symptoms that we associate with poor digestive health.

It is no accident that traditional Chinese and Asian foods share many of the same properties that are part of our probiotic diets. In fact, one of the best-known fermented Western foods – sauerkraut – was actually introduced to Europe from China in the 12th century by Genghis Khan (who was also born in the Year of the Horse!). Many other probiotic-rich foods have a history in Asia – fermented cabbage (kimchi), soy (soy sauce and fermented soy beans) and miso have all been consumed for centuries for great digestive health.

In addition to treating digestive issues through foods, Chinese medicine has identified acupuncture points throughout the body. For centuries, practitioners have used acupuncture to relieve stress in the body to aid digestion. This again parallels our own beliefs that reduced stress and a relaxed mind improves digestive health through the gut-brain connection.

The study of probiotics, including the pioneering work performed at Natren, is gaining momentum as a science-based health field, however it is good to step back and realize that cultures throughout the world have realized for centuries that great digestive health comes from a probiotic-rich diet.

恭禧发财-  Gong Xi Fa Cai!