What is your MMC and what you should know about it – yeah it actually connects with Covid (Dr Holly)

Last Update: August 5, 2020 at 11:52 am

DATE August 4, 2020

SOURCE: News for the Soul


What is your MMC and what you should know about it – yeah it actually connects with Covid


By Dr Holly, heard Wednesdays at Noon PST on News for the Soul Radio:




MMC is an acronym for Migrating Motor Complex. It is a very specific electrochemical process that occurs in the gastrointestinal smooth muscle. That’s a mouthful. The membrane lining of the intestines has a layer of “smooth muscle”. These are not like the large muscles in the skeletal system. They are very small muscles that expand and contract to move your digestion through the intestinal tract.

So lets just take a moment to think about what happens when you eat. When you think about eating – you actually start the process of hormones – the brain sends messages down to the gut that we are going to have food. Next the gut starts to secrete enzymes to digest that food.

When you start eating the food, enzymes are released in the mouth.  The food moves down the throat aka esophagus and through the LES aka lower esophagus sphincter into the stomach. By this time, the stomach has already started to secret hydrochloric acid in the stomach which predominantly breaks down proteins. By-products are also produced that allow us to absorb compounds like vitamin B12 and iron.

Then the resulting material moves through the pyloric valve into the first part of the intestine called the duodenum. Where gastric, biliary and pancreatic compounds start to digest the food.  Each of the secretions aid in breaking down the material you have eaten. After you have eaten, and much of the digestive process has occurred, then the MMC movement starts. Our current understanding is that it prevents material building up in the intestines, which includes bacterial or pathogenic material, in any of the segments of the digestive tract. That’s pretty important.

So now let’s look at the MMC. It probably does things we haven’t yet figured out, but we do know that it moves residual material through the digestive tract, and it occurs about every 1.5-2 hours and it has four components:

  1. During the first 45-60 minutes there are only a few contractions
  2. Then about 30 minutes where the contractions occur more frequently, gradually increasing in frequency. This is called peristalsis. It starts in the stomach and moves down through the small and large intestine
  3. Then for 5-15 minutes we have rapid but evenly spaced peristalsis. The pylorus valve that opens from the stomach into the first part of the small intestine – the duodenum – stays open during this time.  This is when you may hear growling in the gut.
  4. The last period oscillates between phase 3 and phase 1 until phase is once again established.

Currently, it is believed that this MMC is controlled by the two factors: the brain or the CNS and a hormone called motilin. A factor that will disrupt the MMC is eating. When we eat, a whole other series of hormones and enzymes populate the digestive tract and work at digesting our food so that we can absorb the nutrients. So, for most of us, the majority of MMC occurs while we are sleeping.

So why is it important to understand this process?

  1. If you are taking pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals, that will be metabolised and/or absorbed differently depending on whether you are in a digestive process or the MMC process. For instance, when I provide herbal tinctures for clients, I usually want them to take it on an empty stomach. However, for various supplements you may want to take them while eating so that you have the necessary compounds available to absorb them the nutrients
  2. If you suffer from a noisy gut, you can stop the growling noises, simply by eating
  3. On the other hand, if you are constantly nibbling/grazing throughout the day – you don’t allow the MMC to initiate and clean out the gut
  4. It is an important component of your gut immune system – are you starting to get the connection with covid?
  5. If you don’t take care of it there are a number of issues that can result

What can cause MMC dysfunction?

  1. Issues with the vagus nerve including brain injury, inflammation, infection (Lyme, herpes, HIV, Hep C, etc)

The vagus nerve is one of the 12 cranial nerves and is the one that makes the gut-brain connection. The cranial nerve initiates the MMC movement. (did you know that there are over 500 million neurons that form the enteric nervous system aka the gut nervous system!)

  1. Chronic stress

Chronic stress decreases vagus strength, which then reduces the capacity and effectiveness of the MMC

  1. Gut dysbiosis – imbalance in gut microbiota; insufficient fiber; gas/bloating

There are many issues that can come under the umbrella of gut dysbiosis, any of which can disrupt or prevent the MMC.

  1. Thyroid dysfunction

The thyroid hormones regulate the smooth muscle function and the MMC. Consequently hypothyroidism is associated with reduced peristalsis and thus delayed gastric emptying – which often results in constipation.

What happens if your MMC is not working effectively?

  1. You can get a build up of bacteria causing issues like SIBO
  2. Other issues like bloating, indigestions, heartburn, etc- which may also be indicative of issues like SIBO or IBS
  3. IBS
  4. Diverticulitis
  5. Constipation (too little) or diarrhea (too much)

So how does that all connect with covid? Well think about it. Most of your immune system is in the gut. The microbiota in the gut has a symbiotic relationship with your immune system. If the MMC can’t clean out the gut effectively, there can be an imbalance in the microbiota or a predominance of pathogenic material, which of course, is going to interfere with your immune system. If the immune system is overloaded or cannot function effectively for any reason, then you are more susceptible to flu infections.

Yes, we believe the coronavirus is just a simple flu bug that is being hugely overmarketed with a lot of fear mongering. But at the same time, who wants the flu or any other pathogenic infection. So, at all times we want a healthy immune system that is able to fight off the bacteria, viruses, molds, yeasts, worms, etc that are found in our air, water and food.

So do we ensure a good healthy gut:

  1. Eat a good probiotic diet
  2. Eat a good healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables, organic meats, nuts and seeds
  3. Eliminate unhealthy foods: microwaved, pasteurized, processed, GMO, etc
  4. Eat foods that help maintain a healthy MMC

How to resolve or restart the MCC?

  1. Learn to fast between meals so that the MMC can kick in – if you are constantly snacking between meals, you stay in a digestive process rather than engaging in the MMC process. Some people will resort to eating only a good breakfast and dinner to make sure their MMC has time to function
  2. Other dysfunctions in the body, ie., diabetes, adrenal or thyroid issues; or issues like leaky gut syndrome – when endotoxins leak into the blood causing systemic inflammation and insulin resistance need to be resolved.
  3. Prokinetic foods and herbs include: ginger, bitters, (dandelion root/leaf, burdock, wormwood), fiber rich foods (whole grains, leafy vegetables, fresh fruit)
  4. Herbal formulations like triphala or lions mane (derived from mushrooms)
  5. Castor oil – yuck – but it does stimulate MMC
  6. Bifidobacterium that is found in goat/dairy products (Greek yogurt, kefir), fermented and pickled foods, seaweed, miso soup, kimchi, whole grains, and breast milk
  7. Probiotic supplements that include Bifidobacterium animalis and Bifidobacterium lactis (fermented foods)
  8. Magnesium stimulates peristalsis – green leafy vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, whole grains, black beans, potatoes
  9. Maintain a healthy thyroid – the thyroid hormones modulate the smooth muscle and MMC function in the gut
  10. Going for a walk before or after meals can blunt sugar spikes in the blood and liver – make sure it is not intense as intense exercise will increase adrenal/cortisol production and cause more issues
  11. You can also exercise the vagus nerve – the 10th cranial nerve that simulates your organs and the peristalsis movement. Gargling, singing, humming are all ways to exercise the vagus nerve
  12. Stress management is big with the vagus nerve – chronic stress raises the cortisol levels which in turn shuts down the digestive processes – one reason that meditation can help not only the stress levels but the gut functioning.