Ancient Wisdom Around the Human Microbiome

Written by Tasha Merchant on Aug 18, 2022

# Information # Probiotics

Medical texts have described the connection between gastrointestinal microbiota and the brain for centuries. This bidirectional communication regulates not only digestive homeostasis, but also higher emotional and cognitive functions.  


The idea that human health and healing revolves around the condition of the microbiome has been at the core of countless cultures for ages. 

The traditions that surround microbial balance are especially at the forefront of Eastern medicine, health, and lifestyle. The unique dietary culture and habits of Japanese people are reflected in the fact that their gut microbiomes have more genes for polysaccharide-degrading enzymes derived from aquatic plants compared with those of Americans.

The Japanese traditional medicine (Kampo), that came out of ancient East Asia, uses bioactive compounds to strengthen and replenish the microbiome. Kampo is used for treating a variety of diseases and ailments, and in general, contains various bioactive compounds, such as flavonoids, alkaloids, triterpenoid saponins, and lactones. Kampo medicines have been found to promote intestinal immunity and protect against bacterial infections. 

Jars containing remnants of wine have been discovered in the Zagros Mountains of Iran, dating back to almost 7,000 years ago. The creation of what we now call yogurt has been attributed to Neolithic herdsmen in Central Asia around 6,000 B.C. 

Furthermore, Ancient Indian medical texts and relics dating to before the second century CE advocated the adage that mostly all ailments of the body, including brain disorders, can be attributed to the gut and our microbiome. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates penned that “all disease begins in the gut”. In the nineteenth century, the French anatomist Marie-François-Xavier-Bichat postulated that gut brain connections are key to metabolic functions, and hold influence over almost anything the human body is able to do. Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian immunologist, investigated the beneficial effects of intestinal commensal bacteria and probiotics. He observed that certain Bulgarian villages who regularly consumed fermented dairy products (rich in pre- and probiotics) had improved health and longevity. 


At present, probiotics are defined as microorganisms that confer health benefits on the host. Research into substances that help stimulate growth of these microorganisms followed, and led to the introduction of prebiotics in 1995. 

Today, most of us consume fermented products on a daily basis regardless of culture, including foods such as yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, bread, olives, cheese, beer or wine. There is a correlation between the consumption of fermented foods and better health outcomes – such as improved immune function, gut function and digestion, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and even increased bone strength and neural function – proving the truth behind these ancient practices. 

int​​ō uses the same probiotic ingredients that the ancient Japanese people uncovered from regions such as a Shirakami-Sanchi, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. Inspired by the balanced diet and intuitive application of fermented ingredients, int​​ō combines ancient wisdom and historical references with the most advanced skincare techniques to carefully formulate our products.