Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons
By Maria, Contributing Writer
I grew up in Bulgaria where gargling was taught early and used often. Pretty much every time my sister and I would have a sore throat we would be told to gargle boiled Tetra or Smradlika, a medicinal plant that only grows in our part of the world and boy, does it taste gross. Thankfully, there is an alternative, gentler remedy for a sore throat.
Naturally, one would think that I would continue in this tradition with my son. However, at 3.5 years I had still not attempted to teach him how to gargle. Then I watched a video interview with Dr. Datis Kharrazian speaking about the brain and gut connection. In it, he talked about gargling benefits as a way to heal the brain gut connections. All the information he presented applied to my son, who has intestinal permeability (leaky gut). I’d been making him the best foods and giving him supplements to help heal his gut for a while; yet my lingering question was always, when will he stop needing these digestive support supplements?
Months later, my son is now a pro at gargling and I’ve noticed some other benefits that I’m going to share. All children and people are different, so take the information and decide how, and if, you would like to apply it.
4 Gargling Benefits and How It Could Benefit Leaky Gut
#1 Soothes Sore Throat
Instructions: gargle purified warm (almost hot) water with lots of sea salt. Use approx. 1/2 tsp of salt to 1/2 cup water. This will provide temporary relief to your sore throat and will need repeating. I must add that our medicinal herb, despite it tasting gross, was really more effective than the salt water.
There are a multitude of other warm recipes to gargle, including broth, but it is best to keep it simple when you introduce to a child. They will like to be involved and shake the salt in their own cup!
#2 Removes Mucus in the Throat
Instructions: gargling helps extract that yucky mucous you get in your throat when you have a cold or suffer from post-nasal drip.
My son would urgently tell me that he needed to gargle when he had mucous running down his throat. Additionally, you really want to encourage your child not to swallow mucous. It is full of bacteria and or viruses, which can upset a sensitive tummy; i.e. have low gut microbiome diversity, Candida or a leaky gut.
#3 Improves Children’s Oral Hygiene
Gargling emphasizes the need to spit instead of swallow and is a gateway to teaching how to swish liquid in the mouth.
After teaching my son this technique he learned to stop swallowing his toothpaste and spat it out instead. He became more open to swishing water in his mouth, and spitting out any residue toothpaste.
#4 Neurological Rehabilitative Exercise
This is possibly the single most important reason to gargle daily.
Instructions: gargle aggressively (loudly) and make it a habit. The key is to do it multiple times a day, so add it to something you plan to do habitually, every day. It may help to have a thermos of warm water with you or located where you plan to gargle.
This exercise helps with Brain to Gut Access Disorder, which may be particularly helpful for those suffering from Intestinal Permeability (“Leaky Gut”). Specifically, if you have been trying to heal your leaky gut with the proper diet / supplements and are still not seeing a full recovery, this could be a critical missing piece to your healing journey.
In the video interview, Dr. Datis Kharrazian explains the methods by which you can tell if a person has a brain to gut access disorder. First, you must listen to the sounds the digestive system makes with a stethoscope. There are normal sounds similar to a heart beat in that it is rapid and repetitive and then there are the very slow and intermittent sounds. If you have the latter, then you may have a brain to gut access disorder.
Second, you can watch for signs that the patient is suffering from a motility issue, which is the pace of how fast or slow the food is moving through the body. Motility, the movement of food through your gut is a brain phenomenon. Does the patient need to drink coffee to get bowel movement, or take other supplements like magnesium or natural laxatives?
The gargling benefits described by the Doctor were how gargling, and even singing loudly, helps re-create those brain connections needed to neurologically release digestive enzymes and stomach acid. The brain needs to fire neuron connections to your vagus nerve, and your vagus needs to establish connections to your gut nervous system for it all to function the way it was designed.