Botanicals To Support Healthy Gut Flora

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Guest blog by Designs for Spot

Gut flora refers to the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome, which has been shown to support neurological health, gastrointestinal function, healthy response to inflammation, and many other aspects of human health. Recent research has shown that certain botanicals may support a healthy gut microbiome.

Berberine is an alkaloid compound found in several botanicals, such as goldenseal, Oregon grape, and barberry. These have been used in Chinese medicine and other Asian traditions for more than 1,000 years. Berberine is currently used to support metabolic and GI health and may play a role in supporting the GI microbiome.

Berberine has been shown in recent research to interact with the gut microbiome and support metabolic health through multiple pathways. According to this research, berberine has been shown to promote the synthesis of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that is produced by bacteria in the gut microbiome. Studies indicate that butyrate has been shown to support lipid and glucose metabolism.

Short-term exposure to berberine has been associated with the alteration of certain populations of intestinal bacteria, such as Clostridium cluster XIVa and IV. This may in turn modulate the activation of the intestinal farnesoid X receptor. The farnesoid X receptor is a nuclear receptor expressed in the intestines, liver, kidneys, and adrenal glands, and it participates in the metabolism of glucose, lipids, and bile acids.

Another botanical that may support GI health and the body’s response to certain harmful bacteria is Tribulus terrestris (T. terrestris). T. terrestris is a plant that contains many health-supportive constituents, which include flavonoids and sterol saponins. It has been traditionally used in folk medicine. It is currently being used for its potential and supportive role in genitourinary health and for its support of the body’s response to oxidative stress and certain harmful bacteria.

A recent review article highlighted the potential role of T. terrestris in the presence of certain harmful bacteria found in the GI tract. Extracts from T. terrestris containing flavonoids and other constituents have been shown in studies to exhibit activity against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Streptococcus mutans, and many other strains. Saponins from T. terrestris have been shown to modulate ion channels of the cellular membranes of bacteria. They have also been shown to lead to bacterial cell death due to their surfactant and amphiphilic properties.

Black walnut (Juglans nigra) is another botanical with GI-supportive properties. It has been shown to modulate certain cytokines related to the inflammatory response, including interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, IL-1beta, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Extracts from black walnut have also been shown to support the body’s response to harmful bacteria, including S. aureus.

The gut microbiome is a complex system that supports human health in many ways. Certain botanicals may support the body’s response to harmful bacteria, the integrity of the gut microbiome, and several other aspects of GI health.