By Amanda Boyle, Contributor
I was thinking the other day about the application of herbicides and pesticides as well as all of the other agricultural products available now, and what this must be doing to the soil. The soil itself is it's own little ecosystem, scientists refer to the life living inside the soil to be it's microbiome. These little creatures (bacteria, fungi, microorganisms, etc) consume the secretions plant's roots leave in the soil(plant sugars), and when they are consumed by other organisms and decompose themselves they deposit back the many micro and macro nutrients your plants need to thrive and contain nutrients.
I was sitting down having a conversation with my younger brother about a soil microbiologist he had heard discussing soil biology and soil health who had said you must have many diverse organisms, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, etc in soil to retain and release micro and macro nutrients your plants need to thrive and have high nutrient content. You can watch her describe this complex interrelationship in many different youtube videos such as this one: https://youtu.be/x2H60ritjag.
I told my brother about an article I had just read about Roundup weed killer being found in a study linked to the overgrowth of certain strains of fungi, you can read this article about the study with a link to the study here: http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/breaking-study-links-roundup-weedkiller-to-overgrowth-of-deadly-fungal-toxins/ . Some of the overgrowth is likely accounted for by the lack of the other normal soil microbes that are unfortunately killed with the application of the weedkiller, there is no longer a synergistic balance in the soil microflora, so those who are not harmed as much thrive while others die away.
Then I told him about this connection that I was seeing, It was as if the soil microbiome and the microbiome of our intestinal tract are affected in very similar ways. When you are given an antibiotic to take, it is designed to kill off bacteria, most antibiotics kill off certain strains of bacteria while other forms of bacteria have a resistance to the antibiotic. Your doctor tries to find an antibiotic that the strain of bacteria causing you the problem is sensitive to. This is typically done in the lab by growing out the culture for a few days and then testing to see which antibiotic kills it most effectively and which ones it is resistant to, also known as a culture and sensitivity test. What is unfortunate is that antibiotics each kill a wide swath of bacteria, and it doesn't care if it is your beneficial normal flora which keeps your gut health in balance from overgrowth of harmful or too large concentrations of bacterial and fungal strains, or if it is a harmful pathogenic bacteria. The aftermath done to your intestines after you complete a course of antibiotics to rid yourself of an infection is typically going to look like a severe imbalance of the microflora regulating and lining your intestinal walls, many of your natural bacteria are responsible for producing vitimins and nutrients necessary for your health, plus they line and protect your intestinal walls from harmful things you are possibly trying to digest, as well as help you to absorb and digest nutrients in your food. You can see this at work if you have taken an antibiotic for a few days, an upset stomach and diarrhea usually ensue, and sometimes it can be weeks after your have finished the antibiotic that your finally able to return to a more normal pattern of bowel movements. This is because it takes your body a while to recover it's balance of microorganisms. I told my brother that I remember as a child being prescribed yogurt pills or acidophilus capsules to take so that I would not get a yeast infection, because the antibiotic doesn't kill yeast it can grow out of healthy proportions. Many people are not told this any longer, men are even less likely to know about this problem as they are not typically warned about the possibility of a yeast infection, since they don't have the anatomy for the typical overt symptoms a woman has with the vaginal area.
There have been many articles on canadia overgrowth (a common fungus) in the human body and all of the many problems associated with it, here is one: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8376/10-signs-you-have-candida-overgrowth-what-to-do-about-it.html …...Here is an excerpt of the symptoms from this article:
Autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis
Difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lack of focus, ADD, ADHD and brain fog
Doesn't this sound like the same problem?? There is an exposure to something designed to kill life (Anti= against; Biotic= pertaining to life), Weedkiller is also designed to kill certain strains of plants(Life) more than others(incidentally includes bacteria in the soil). So the microbiome, or balance in microorganisms, or normal flora is disturbed to the degree that harmful bacteria and fungi, (that is normally kept at bay by the natural now killed of bacteria), can grow rampant and damage your body aka your crops.
So I asked my brother how did that microbiologist suggest she could remedy the situation with the soil? He said well oxygenated compost needed to be worked into the soil because it contains tons of good bacteria and nutrients for the microbes in the soil to live off.
Compost is defined as “A mixture of various decaying organic substances such as dead leaves, manure, kitchen plant waste, used for fertilizing soil. Decaying is defined as “The process of breaking down organic material, such as dead plant or animal tissue into smaller molecules that are available for use by the organisms of the ecosystem. Decomposition is carried out by bacteria, fungi, worms, and other organisms.
So then I asked him, since we are dealing with essentially the same problem, then how can we transfer that solution to healing our own microbiome? He answered with a queer look on his face in a questioning tone, “Eat Compost?”. We both laughed hard about this, imagining people trying to eat compost, I mean come on, can you imagine people trying to eat a mixture of decaying organic substances?! And there I froze in my tracks, huh, decaying organic substances....I had heard of this before in reference to human consumption, what was it refered to again there has been huge news in this area about human gut health, oh yes Fermented Foods! I looked up Fermented foods and told my brother hold on, eating compost might not be a ludicrous of an idea as we thought at first. Fermented foods are “foods which have been produced or preserved with the action of microorganisms”! I read the description to my brother who almost fell on the floor I mean MIND=BLOWN... This sounded just like the process of making compost, except Fresh foods are used instead of kitchen waste and dead leaves etc. Curious about a which foods are produced with fermentation by healthy microbes here are a few, yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, natto, here is a list from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fermented_foods .
Now that we see this parallel perhaps we can be more careful when we use things to “help” or soil or body, and look to nature for the answers first instead of trying to arrogantly think we can invent and patent the solutions ourselves. Nature has had the answers for some time, we just need to ask her to share them with us, and be open to see the parallels that exist in this world that are trying to teach us something.
▪Fermentation. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved May 16, 2015, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fermentation
▪10 Steps To Gardening With Nature: Using Sustainable Methods To Replicate Mother Nature written by Carole Ann Rollins, Ph.D. and Elaine Ingham, Ph.D.
Author: Amanda Boyle Certified Herbalist/LPN
proprietor of Amanda's Herbal Health Alternatives LLC.