I recently returned from 2 weeks in Mexico, specifically Cancun. Most people, even the locals recommend that you should not drink the tap water there. However, showering, brushing your teeth, boiling or heating water enough for drinks such as coffee are fine. So, that is what I did. My hotel room however, did not have a coffee maker or a kettle. Instead I had to microwave my coffee water. I’m sure that was the cause of my gassy abdomen. Towards the last few days of my time in Mexico, I would awaken in the middle of night with slight cramping and loud uncomfortable gurgling. Fortunately, I’m educated enough to know what was going on. Gases such as CO2 and CH4, the biproducts of germs (bacteria/ microorganisms) were growing or colonizing inside my abdomen. I know that sounds scary, we’re conditioned to be scared of germs. The reality is that we as human beings are primarily made up of germs, bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc. The amount of foreign microorganisms outnumber our own cells by 10 to 1, it is said. Most of these germs are either beneficial and/or have no effect on our health status whatsoever. Sometimes we come into contact with a strain which will cause an unhealthy balance to our normal microbiome. And that is exactly and simply what happened with me.
When I travel I always take a few choice herbs. I bring along some essential oils which have antimicrobial properties. I also wanted oils which act as decongestants since the Corona scare is so prolific; I do not want to risk any excess build up of mucus being misconstrued as symptoms for this supposed pandemic. So I tucked away small vials of peppermint and eucalyptus…. and some chamomile for the sleep and nerves. Therapeutic grade essential oils, which I always use, can be administered internally by experienced and knowledgeable practitioners. Since I self administered, and just telling you my story, it goes to say, that you need to be responsible and informed for your own situation and usage.
The other herb I carry with me on overseas travel is a Chinese herb called Coptis chinensis (Chinese goldthread). This herb is effective for many GI problems as it contains the bitter alkaloid berberine. It’s so effective and extremely safe. So I took three tiny pills on my last two days and immediately felt about 50% less gassy.
when I returned, I was able to add another herb I had in my herbal pantry. That herb is Artemisia vulgaris, plain mugwort. Mugwort is also a very bitter herb useful for many GI conditions. There was a possibility that it was more than just bacteria festering inside my abdomen; it could have been parasites. Mugwort, like it’s cousin wormwood, another Artemisia is very effective as a vermicide (parasite killer). So, now about one and a half day later, I feel 100% back to normal!
I should mention that it’s not just about consuming medicine, I also made changes to my diet and was strategic in certain activities. Bacteria generally thrives when fed sugar, the more refined the faster they colonize. So, I was mindful to not feed these disruptive germs and avoided sugary foods and drinks as much as possible. Parasites on the other hand generally love protein, and so I also avoided excess protein just in case I had parasites. I also noticed that they were most active at night, and so I was deliberate with when I took my berberine pills and oils (on an empty stomach before bed and upon waking).
So you see, it’s very simple to coexist with germs. The bottom line is you must be intuitive with your body, know your herbs and respond normally! There is no need to panic or act drastically. Germs are normal and keeping the balance of our microbiome is a normal everyday, every second activity. It’s just sometimes we need intentional support.