The bowels are the foundation of health and are composed of the small (upper bowel) and large (lower bowel) intestine. The small intestine is roughly 20 feet long with the large intestine measuring 5 feet in length. It’s amazing to think they fit so compactly inside you! Most people think that the stomach is where the majority of food is digested, when in fact 90% of digestion actually occurs in the small intestine, with the remaining 10% in the stomach and large intestine. The small intestine is devoted to digesting carbohydrates, proteins and fats, along with absorbing water and the various vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients your body needs to thrive and survive. The large intestine is basically the sewage system of the body, designed to move any waste and toxins leftover from digestion out of the body.
On top of all this, the bowels also house some very important microbes, your personal gut flora. That’s right, there are billions upon billions of bacteria living harmoniously or inharmoniously inside your bowels. This gut flora can influence bodily processes such as metabolism, nutrition, energy production and even gene expression. When your bowels are not functioning properly or there is an imbalance of gut flora you may get gassy, bloated, stinky, irritated, headaches, lowered immune system, lethargic, back aches, loss of nutrients, acne, constipated, diarrhea etc.
The Lower Bowel Formula was created by Dr. Christopher to repair and strengthen not only the lower bowel but the entire intestinal tract. The formula is a brilliant combination of Barberry bark, Cayenne Pepper, Ginger Root, Lobelia, Cascara Sagrada, Turkey Rhubarb, Fennel, Goldenseal and Red Raspberry leaf. This formula is not a regular laxative; think of it more like bowel food that will feed, nourish, repair and rebuild. The herbs in the formula are all whole plants and contain no isolations of molecules. We use whole herbs so we can get the maximum healing properties from them.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these herbs and why they are in the Lower Bowel Formula.
Barberry Bark is an excellent liver tonic and has been used to help treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (1). Why is a liver supporting herb in the Lower Bowel Formula? Barberry helps clean the liver and stimulate bile production. Bile is your body’s natural laxative and helps break down protein, fats and carbs. Without adequate bile production, your food becomes more difficult to digest and eliminate.
Cayenne pepper is a healing spice from the Gods. In this formula it was put in to stimulate peristaltic motion of the intestines, draw out toxins and help close small lesions on the delicate colon wall. Contrary to popular belief, cayenne pepper actually helps rebuild the tissue in the stomach and heal stomach and intestinal ulcers. I know, you are thinking we are crazy for saying that a hot spice will help heal ulcers, but it’s true. Try it!
Ginger is the leader herb in this formula, guiding the herbs deep into the bowels for maximum repairing. Ginger also helps keep flatulence and is a well known digestive aid helping relieve feelings of nausea, motion sickness, upset stomach and bloating. Ginger is also a diaphoretic, stimulating the body to sweat. Try drinking ginger tea on a cold day to help warm you up.
Lobelia is an antispasmodic herb and was added to the formula to calm a spastic bowel and strengthen the bowel nerves.
Golden Seal is quite possibly the “golden” herb for health. Golden Seal is a known stomachic, tonic, detergent, alterative, antiseptic and even antineoplastic! Goldenseal was added to clear up any infection in the GI tract, tone the bowel muscles, increase appetite and help fight inflammation.
Fennel is a soothing/relaxing herb used to help with flatulence as well. Fennel can break up obstructions in the liver, spleen and gall. Fennel also has antiseptic properties.
Turkey Rhubarb increases peristalsis by stimulating the muscular layer of the bowel, tones the bowel tissue and stimulates the liver to produce bile for better digestion and easier flowing bowel movements. Turkey Rhubarb also fights inflammation in the bowel which heavily influence the occurrence of constipation and diarrhea.
It isn’t a surprise why this herb with laxative effects was given the name Cascara Sagrada by Spanish conquerors, or Sacred Bark in English. If one day goes by and I don’t have at least one bowel elimination, I can develop a pretty sour mood indeed. For those who have experienced days of constipation (unfortunately, I am a member of this group as well), a good bowel movement is like a gift from God, relieving tension, pressure, irritation, frustration, anxiety and even depression. The active constituents in Cascara Sagrada are anthraquinone derivatives and their action is to stimulate peristalsis. The good thing about Cascara Sagrada, when taken as a whole herb as opposed to a tea or a decoction, is that the herb not only stimulates peristalsis, but also heals and strengthens the colon muscles. Proper elimination is key when detoxifying, and Cascara Sagrada helps support the digestive elimination channel.
Red Raspberry leaf is extremely high in vitamins and minerals that feed the colon tissue and cleanse the colon walls. It has amazing anti-inflammatory properties and also helps soothe and calm the digestive tract. Red Raspberry leaves make for a great tea for children suffering from stomach and bowel complaints.