Yes we do. It’s not in our head, it’s in our gut. It has about 100 million more nerve cells than the spinal cord or peripheral nerves. These are the nerves that come out of our spinal cord. Bacteria in the gut directly affect the cells along the vagus nerve. This is the longest cranial nerve that passes through the neck and thorax to the abdomen. Those bacteria in the gut are very important regarding brain function not just digestion. Later this month, I’m speaking at a functional medical conference on this subject, so in this article, I’ll discuss some of the latest information regarding what is called the gut-brain axis.
How does the gut act like a brain?
It’s complicated. The gut’s health is extremely important for healthy neurological functions. Imbalance of intestinal organisms may cause a person to develop serious diseases now or in the future. Some of these diseases are ADHD, allergies, asthma, cancer, type 2 diabetes, & dementia. Some of the gut’s neurons and microbes release neurotransmitters that speak to the brain in its own language. Gut bacteria both produce and respond to the same neurochemicals such as GABA, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine and melatonin that the brain uses to regulate mood and cognition. In a 2011 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, mice were given a specific lactobacillus bacteria. Although harmful bacteria can increase anxiety, these good bacteria caused anxiety-prone mice to calm down.
Are all probiotics the same?
No. As good as some probiotics can be for you, there are certain bacteria that may be harmful in supporting the health of a patient with specific psychological conditions. Conditions like PANDAS, (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections). These disorders involve the sudden onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder or tics in children following a strep infection such as a strep throat or scarlet fever. S thermophilus may be contraindicated for these conditions. According to The Microbiota in Gastrointestinal Pathology, 2017, “ S. thermophilus is and will continue to be an incredibly useful bacterium in the dairy industry in the production of fermented foods”. This could cause problems for these children if they consume yogurt produced using this bacteria.
There are also some bacteria that are very helpful and balancing the gut flora. However, when they are added together in a probiotic formula, they don’t work together at all. Formulas with these specific bacteria put together are not good choices to increase your gut or brain health. This is a common practice with many companies from health food store grade to medical grade. There are good products out there that combine bacteria that are compatible.
I can’t stress enough, the importance of the right medical grade probiotics. Not just for digestive health but brain health as well. Researchers are finding more every day supporting this. All probiotics sold in my office are made of compatible bacteria, and I can help you choose the one that’s right for you.
For any questions regarding my articles, please feel free to contact me.
Leisa-Marie Grgula, D.C.
Accurate Care Pain Relief Center
21043 N. Cave Creek Rd. #A9
Phoenix, AZ 95024