The impact of gravity on irritable bowel syndrome
By Dr. Maria Teresa Galiano
Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Service, Servimed, Bogota, Colombia
About this article
In a recent paper , it has been suggested that IBS may result from ineffective anatomical, physiological, and neuropsychological gravity management systems designed to optimize gastrointestinal form and function, protect somatic and visceral integrity, and maximize survival in a gravity-bound world.
Could you comment on this hypothesis with your clinical point of view?
This hypothesis is very interesting. I think it can be considered among the multiple hypotheses that seek to explain irritable bowel syndrome. However, it must be tested. Studies must be conducted to prove that physical alterations due to the changes in gravity affect gastroenterological physiology. I think it may be true that gravity affects an organism’s physiology and that we are usually in balance with this permanent force to which humans and all living things on Earth are subjected. The consequences arising when this equilibrium is altered can include IBS.
Do you agree with the author explaining that consequences of gravity result in gut microbiota alteration?
I agree with the author that gravity can alter gut microbiota and that it can also alter its functioning, including fermentation. I think it can also alter the volume of gas that acts upon the bowel wall. This also must be tested in the corresponding studies, but I agree with the author’s point regarding gut microbiota’s susceptibility to gravity.
Would you share this hypothesis with your patients?
I would share this hypothesis with patients to whom I believe this hypothesis may apply based on their physiopathology and as a possible explanation for their symptoms. As a matter of fact, I see in changes in my patients when they travel to places that are at sea-level and come back to Bogota where I live. Bogota is located 2,600 meters above sea-level. When these patients return to Bogota, they exhibit more symptoms because of changes in barometric pressure. Changes in barometric pressure cause changes in sensation, distension, and gas in the bowels. On many occasions, I explain their symptomatology based on the changes in their physiology that result from the different altitudes that they experience. The changes that occur due to variations in the equilibrium with the force of gravity could be used to explain these patients’ symptoms.