The majority of health issues are caused by three major underlying factors. These 3 body systems play a very big role in our overall health.Trio of Health

When we experience sickness we experience symptoms. Symptoms are the things you notice in your body that cause discomfort or are a deviation from normal functioning. The doctor or health professional also determines what signs they notice, i.e. temperature, blood pressure, test results and observations. Together signs & symptoms point to what may be going on in the body. To treat the problem the doctor must find the cause of the illness, be it infection, inflammation, injury or other and treat this. This is the basic medical model and it works very well. Doctors learn the signs and symptoms of various diseases and learn how to determine what is causing your illness {diagnosis}. Diagnosis is the corner stone of modern medicine, allowing us to determine what and how to treat.

However, underlying causes are the areas within our body that affect and influence our health. These three body systems go on to affect our other body systems such as cardiovascular, skin, musculoskeletal, hormonal, respiratory, urinary and reproductive health. Consequently, if we look after these main three body systems we go a long way to avoid or reduce the potential inherent risk factors that we all have.

The three major underlying factors that influence our health are: Stress, Digestion & Immunity.

Digestion – Digestion primarily affects the liver and the blood and more recently has been shown to affect the brain. The liver is responsible for the clearance of toxins but also clearance of hormones so this affects our skin too. As we have come to know recently, digestion also affects inflammation and immunity. So our digestive process affects nearly everything. If you have an inflammatory process going on in the body you can bet your bottom dollar that you also have an underlying digestive issue. Signs and symptoms include bloating, constipation or runny/loose stools, indigestion, reflux, or a pain or tenderness when palpated in the gut region {you can do this yourself at home lying on a bed ~ take both hands and start just under the ribs, push in deeply and release, then move along and repeat until you have gone around the whole gut area from the ribs around and down to the pelvis}. Digestive capacity determines what we absorb from our food, what the liver has to process and what gets into the blood. Of course diet quality matters too. Our gut health determines what we actually absorb and get from the food we ingest. Gut microbes also affect the messages and signals that the gut sends to the brain and forms what is known as the microbe-gut-brain axis. This determines our hypersensitivity reactions to a certain extent as well as our autoimmune reactions to a certain extent as well. Hypersensitivity and autoimmune reactions are aberrant immune responses. Modern science is researching some of the things that we’re allergic to – such as peanuts and pollen, which carry compounds that resemble proteins found in parasites. To protect us, our bodies are attacking similar but harmless compounds. A healthy gut lining is essential for keeping out what shouldn’t be let in. The gut lining is like a skin on the inside, a barrier and an absorptive surface. If the gut lining is damaged from reactions to food, dysbiotic bacteria or candida we can get into a leaky gut situation which is the pathway to immune problems in the future. Bad food choices {processed foods, gluten, casein and sugar} antibiotic use and stress all affect gut health. Antibiotics kill off our own good gut bacteria and this allows opportunistic infections like candida to take hold. {Note: If you do have to use antibiotics – no problem – these days we recommend probiotics during your course of antibiotics. Find one that contains Lactobacilus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacteria plus Sacromyaces bouldarri}. This goes a long way to reducing the symptoms of diarrhea or candida {thrush} after antibiotics. In short, if your digestion isn’t great then you need to do something about it.

Stress – Stress primarily affects the nervous system, digestive system and the hormonal system. Stress is the number one cause of anxiety and depression but stress is also a major contributor to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, thyroid hormone imbalance, sex hormone imbalance and blood sugar imbalance. Stress also affects inflammation in a major way. Stress hormones can upset any condition because there are stress hormone receptors on every cell in the body. If they are too high for too long or conversely too low, stress hormones can lead to inflammation. Stress therefore is a major hormone disruptor.fern bud

Immunity – A low immunity will affect the cardiovascular system, our energy, our inflammation levels, our skin, our respiratory organs, and urinary health. If our immune system isn’t working for us then we start to notice and it affects everything. The immune system is controlled by the stress hormones and if the immune system isn’t happy then neither will be the rest of us as this is the final call in terms of health and wellness. When things go pear shaped it is usually the immune system causing it. As we know the immune system is also affected by Digestion.

So these are the three major underlying causes of all illness, Stress, Immunity and Digestion. Often when we see you in clinic we are addressing one of these major body systems as well as your specific complaints. Get these three right and the rest will surely follow.

Viva la Resistance!

Simone Reddington is the founder of the Apothecary, a Medical Herbalist and thinker. She holds a degree in Psychology and is a professional member of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists.