We are coming round to the ancient view that the digestive system really is the seat (Latin: fundament) of many health problems. This should not be surprising. The gut wall is where we are most exposed to contact with the outside world (mainly our food). It is therefore where by far the greatest part of our immune system is based (thought: our gut IS our immune system…).

Gut-associated tissues also generate more hormones and brain-active chemicals than the rest of the body together (thought: our feelings mostly come from the gut …). It is also of course our main channel of elimination.

Above all it is the home of our biggest microbiome, the trillions of organisms, bacteria, fungi, viruses and others, that live moreorless peaceably within us. We are certainly realising that the gut microbiota have huge influences on the rest of the body.

So we find digestive and gut factors involved in more and more chronic diseases, especially inflammatory and immunological ones. Faulty diets are an obvious factor (half the food consumed in the UK is ultra-processed) though there are other factors that prevent digestion performing well.

Many of the first plant medicines in human experience have their main impact on the digestive system, and are actually often poorly absorbed into the body. They are opening up new avenues into the management of some very complex and hard-to-treat diseases and even degenerative conditions like dementia.

A GUT-centred approach to improving health has prospects. Many future pasts will come back to this!