New Research on How the Gut – Brain Axis Helps Improve Your Symptoms
You’ve heard the saying, “You are what you eat,” and you may or may not have bought into it. I know, I know… When someone starts saying things like that, you brace yourself for sermons on eating kale, removing the sugar addiction from your life, avoiding gluten, eating chia seeds. And you may have thought to yourself, I can make my own choices, thank you very much! But the microbiome gut-brain axis can turn all sorts of things in your mental health around.
An important part of your body is home to a ginormous community that actually affects your mood for better or worse… and your psychiatric symptoms, too.
We’ve talked before about the microbiome and how it impacts your mood. Well, neuroscientists have been digging deeper to learn more. And knowledge is power. So let’s talk about how the organisms in your intestines impact your mental health.
Did you know that you have over 100 trillion bacteria thriving in your body? This bacteria is not an invader to be removed. It is part of the balance you find all through nature and helps your body function — and your emotions, too.
But what happens when something causes all these bacteria to shift out of balance? Like for instance, when you take an antibiotic?
It’s not hard to guess that when you take an antibiotic, it may destroy your good bacteria right along with the bad.
Research Reveals Changes in Microbiome Gut-Brain Axis Trigger Mood Changes
Well, when you lose the bacteria that are supposed to be living in balance in your intestines, you pay a price…every time.
A team of researchers in China has published a review of some things research has revealed about your micro biome and what attacks on it can do to your mental health.
Their work demonstrated a wide array of consequences you experience when you take antibiotics, when you take probiotics or prebiotics, or when you’re stressed.
First of all let’s get a picture of where to find this community of microbes.
From your mouth all the way through your digestive tract…esophagus, stomach, intestines, and colon, there are trillions of bacteria helping you to stay healthy, and helping your body function properly.
Along with similar pathways in your immune and endocrine (or hormonal) systems, these massive numbers of bacteria, fungi, and viruses create the microbiome brain-gut axis.
And that connection includes the nerve cells that run from the brain throughout your body along the same pathway. As a result, the gargantuan community of microbes in your gut affect your emotions in dramatic ways.
A team of researchers led by Lu Liu at China Medical University conducted a review of 41 international studies on the gut-brain axis which they published in May 2018.
Stress Impairs the Balance of Your Microbiome
One group of studies they reviewed showed how chronic stress changed the balance of the microbes, and that change resulted in depression.
In contrast, they found that when they had a reduced amount of these microbes in the intestines, they had depression and anxiety.
And that stress produces cortisol. But by introducing a certain organism, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, the cortisol production dropped, and with it so did anxiety and depression.
Mood and Cognition Effects of Your Microbiome
It turns out that organisms in the microbiome secrete neurotransmitters that improve your cognition, memory, and mood, as well as your sleep and appetite.
In another study, bacteria from a person with depression were transplanted to a person without depression, and that person became depressed, too. (Pretty wild, right?) The reason is because specific strains of organisms cause depression, and when the balance of the microbes in a healthy person are thrown out of balance, depression-causing bacteria can swell and dominate the microbiome.
One research team found that when depressed people drank yogurt, a bacteria that fights depression, Bifidobacterium, increased in their system.
Another team studied the microbiome in people with bipolar disorder compared to others without psychiatric disorders.
People with bipolar disorder showed lower amounts of Faecalibacterium.
Prebiotics Improve Mental Health
It turns out that when you take prebiotics it can increase mRNA and brain-derived-neurotrophic-factor (BDNF).
We’ve talked about how ketamine treatment turns on mRNA to increase BDNF which works like a compost to turbo-charge branching of synapse connections between neurons in the brain.
Prebiotics can help with that too. The more synapses that are developing, the more neuroplasticity is happening in your brain, and the more you can make the kind of changes in your thinking that will improve your overall mental health and wellbeing.
In addition, we know that elevated cortisol is associated with anxiety and depression. When prebiotics are introduced, cortisol levels drop and with that, anxiety, vigilance, and focusing on negative thoughts drops, too.
So what is the result? Happiness, confidence, energy to tackle challenges!
What About Probiotics?
Probiotics regulate the balance of the microbes in the microbiome. When probiotics in food were given to someone with anxiety and poor sleep regulation, that person’s sleep improved which reduced chronic stress and anxiety.
Probiotics also changed the microbiome in the lining of the intestines, called the mucosa. This change resulted in healthier mucosa by reducing the bacteria that cause inflammation there.
In terms of anxiety and self-criticism, probiotics demonstrated they could reduce self-criticism in those facing stressful circumstances, and improve their ability to evaluate and re-evaluate circumstances to foster better problem-solving.
Antibiotics Change the Microbiome Gut-Brain Axis for Better or for Worse
One study showcased how reduced anxiety could follow the use of neomycin, bacitracin, and anti fungal medicines, which disrupted the balance of microbes.
However, the BDNF also changed, resulting in slower developing of synapses…and depression. But when the antibiotics and anti- fungal medicines were stopped, the microbes returned to a better balance, and mood was restored.
In another study, introduction of infection-producing microbes resulted in poor cognition, reduced BDNF and dendritic branching, and increased anxiety.
While more study is needed, there is a strong suggestion from all these studies that disruption in your microbiome gut-brain axis, including anything that throws it out of balance, causes not only the commonly known symptoms of infection but also various psychiatric symptoms as well.
The effects of the state of your microbiome go both ways.
Disrupt the balance and you’ll likely experience negative psychiatric and emotional symptoms.
Build up the microbes that keep your microbiome in balance, and you’ll experience the rewards in countless ways … not the least of which is your emotional balance.
Ok, we get it…
Research Reviews Can Tell Us What We Know…
They make it so beautifully clear. Elegant. Like it all makes sense. Until you realize that after you’ve read the review, you don’t quite know what to do. Next.
Like how exactly to improve your gut microbiome. What to eat? What to buy?
Food or powders or capsules or apple cider vinegar?
How do we KNOW that our microbiome is improving? How long does it take — and how quickly can we wreck everything if we slip?
If this doesn’t give you anxiety…..
You Can Get Better… You Can Retool Your Microbiome and You Can Reboot Your Mood
Wonder how you can you retool your microbiome? We’ve got lots of recommendations.
Maybe you’ve found too little help from treatments you’ve tried that haven’t worked for you.
You may need a more novel, advanced treatment like ketamine treatment to restore you to the best place possible for you.
At Innovative Psychiatry, we see people dramatically improve and even achieve remission of severe treatment-resistant depression, and bipolar depression every week. We see marked improvements in PTSD, OCD, social anxiety. And we see people who struggle with addictions lose the drive to drink or use.
Ketamine treatment can be transformative. From restoring the signaling structures in your brain along with restoration of other brain systems, to improving initiative while reducing – or obliterating – anxiety and depression symptoms.
We love working with your psychiatrist and therapist and healthcare team to help bring about the rapid and robust benefits of carefully targeted ketamine infusion treatment.
If you’re weary of treatments that don’t help, call us. We have the expertise and experience to get the very most from your ketamine treatment for you.
You can live a fuller, more rewarding, life.
And if you’re using probiotics and prebiotics already, respond in the comments below and tell us what you use — and if they’ve improved your mood or helped relieve depression or anxiety. Sound good? Let’s share information about what works.
To the restoration of your best self,