The Essential Role of the Gut in Immunity

Is the Gut the Driving Force of Systematic Inflammation?

Dr Robin Martingale (2019)

Film Review

In the following video, ICU general and trauma surgeon Dr Robin Martingale explains the role of gut bacteria in protecting human beings from infection and inflammation. The key take home from his presentation is that it always seems to take the medical establishment at least 20 years to catch up with basic science research. Peer reviewed research about the role of the gut microbiome first appeared in medical journals about 20 years ago. When the mainstream media began reporting on the research around 2010, many¬† “alternative” health practitioners (naturopaths, homepaths, etc) began incorporating the knowledge into patient care. It’s only thanks to efforts of pioneers like Martingale, that some mainstream medical practitioners are finally incorporating it into mainstream medical practice.

The research Martingale presents shows a direct statistical link between modern humans declining diversity in gut bacteria* and the the epidemic of chronic illnesses we presently experience (eg diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autism, obesity, cancer, asthma, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and even mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder). The mechanism here is a loss of “good bacteria” (symbiants and commensual) that protect us against endotoxin-producing pathogens (“bad bacteria”) that lead to chronic inflammation.

Martingale blames the loss of microbiome diversity to our increasing exposure to pesticides (especially Roundup), vaccines, chlorine, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers (in processed food) and overuse of antibiotics.

He also presents numerous animal and human studies showing that obesity correlates far more closely with gut dysbiosis and systemic inflammation than lifestyle.

I found the ICU-related research he reported on the most interesting. For example, he cites one study that shows an 30% increase in ICU mortality in patients who have taken antibiotics in the past six months. And another showing a significant correlation between “leaky gut” syndrome and sepsis and multiple organ failure in ICU patients.

In the ICU at Oregan Health Sciences, where Martingale works, he has significantly increased survival rates by prescribing probiotics for all ICU patients and even fecal transplants** for patients with sepsis and multiple organ failure.


*Human immunity is based on friendly gut bacteria that prevent pathogenic bacteria from producing endotoxin. When absorbed into the blood stream, the latter can can cause systemic inflammation.

**A fecal transplant involves the transfer of stool of a healthy patient to one with dysbiosis, an imbalance in normal gut bacteria.

The Healing Benefits of Forest Therapy

The Healing Forests of India

Directed by Nitin Das (2019)

Film Review

An exquisitely beautiful documentary about the field of forest therapy – a form of healing is most practiced in India and Japan (which has 50 healing forests).

There are numerous studies demonstrating the calming effect of forests on children. Research from both India and Finland show that holding classes there makes children calmer, helps them focus better and reduces misbehavior and violence. It’s especially effective for kids diagnosed with ADHD.

Research in adults reveals that the forest environment can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol* levels, inflammation, depression, stress and anxiety. At the same time, it also improves serotonin** levels and immunity. Forest therapy has proved helpful in treating diabetes, hyperthyroidism and addictions. In young people, it helps alleviate depression and anxiety stemming from excessive social media exposure.

It makes perfect sense that people would find forests more inducive to health than overcrowded hyper-polluted cities. As one researcher reminds us, human beings co-evolved over hundreds of thousands of years with forest plants and animals. This means our bodies are programmed to thrive in the presence of other living beings.

The recommended dose of forest therapy is five hours a month.


*Cortisol is a steroid stress hormone.

**Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain and elsewhere that is believed to mediate mood.