The digestive system (gastrointestinal tract) is a series of organs that converts food into essential nutrients that are absorbed into the body and eliminates unused waste material. Without the good health of this system, the body cannot be nourished or rid itself of waste.
The digestive system begins at the mouth, includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (the colon), the rectum, and ends at the anus, and is approximately 30 feet long!
Even the smell of food can generate saliva, secreted by the salivary glands in the mouth, which contains the enzyme salivary amylase which breaks down starch. Teeth, which are part of the skeletal system, pay a key role in digestion. Swallowing pushes chewed food into the esophagus, where it passes through the oropharynx and hypopharynx. Peristalsis, a series of muscular contractions, transports food through the rest of the system. The esophagus empties into the stomach which contains primarily a mix of hydrochloric acid and pepsin – the stomach’s gastric juice. These start breaking down proteins and killing potentially harmful bacteria. A thick semi-liquid paste, called chyme, forms after about an hour or two, and it mixes with digestive enzymes from the pancreas and acidic bile from the gallbladder. The next stop for the chyme is the small intestine where the majority of the absorption of nutrients occurs. These nutrients them move into the bloodstream and are transported to the liver.
The liver creates glycogen from sugars and carbohydrates to give the body energy and converts dietary proteins into new proteins needed by the blood system. The liver is also responsible for breaking down unwanted chemicals.
Whatever material is left goes into the large intestine, also known as the colon. The primary function of the large intestine is storage and fermentation of indigestible matter. The colon has four parts: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon, and the sigmoid colon. This is where water from the chyme is absorbed back into the body and feces are formed from water, dietary fiber, and other waste products.
Diseases of the Digestive System
Symptoms of problems: abdominal pain, blood in the stool, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, incontinence, nausea and vomiting and difficulty swallowing.
- Colon cancer: third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the US. Polyp growth and irregular cells, which may or may not be cancerous, are the most common development paths for colorectal cancers, and can be detected during a routine colonoscopy.
- Irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, GERD (acid reflux) and Crohn’s disease – can be chronic and are difficult to diagnose and treat.
Symptoms and their Emotions
- Constipation: Incomplete releasing. Holding on to garbage of the past. Guilt over the past. Sometimes stinginess.
- Appetite, Excessive: Fear. Needing protection. Judging the emotions.
- Bulimia: Hopeless terror. A frantic stuffing and purging of self-hatred.
- Crohn’s disease: Fear. Worry. Not feeling good enough.
- Diarrhea: Fear. Rejection. Running off.
- Fat or weight issues: Oversensitivity. Often represents fear and shows a need for protection. Fear may be a cover for hidden anger and a resistance to forgive. Running away from feelings. Insecurity, self-rejection and seeking fulfillment.
- Arms: Anger at being denied love.
- Belly: Anger at being denied nourishment.
- Hips: Lumps of stubborn anger at the parents.
- Thighs: Packed childhood anger. Often rage at the father.
- Indigestion: Gut-level fear, dread, anxiety. Griping and grunting.
- Intestines: Represent assimilation and absorption.
- Liver: Seat of anger and primitive emotions. Chronic complaining. Justifying fault-finding to deceive yourself. Feeling bad.
- Stomach: Holds nourishment. DIgests ideas. Dread. Fear of the new. Inability to assimilate the new.
- Throat: Avenue of expression. Channel of creativity. Throat problems: The inability to speak up for one’s self. Swallowed anger. Stifled creativity. Refusal to change. Sore throat: Holding in angry words. Feeling unable to express the self.
- Tongue: Represents the ability to taste the pleasures of life with joy.
- Tonsillitis: Fear. Repressed emotions. Stifled creativity.
Holistic ways of Healing: