The Magaziner Center for Wellness has long been recognized for our clinical advances in the treatment of mental health and neurological disorders. We have pioneered various alternative, natural, and complimentary care options in helping patients with these challenges. Rather than using medication to mask symptoms, we take an holistic approach for each patient. Offering extensive testing to help determine all causes and contributing factors to their challenges.
While medications generally work by suppressing, blocking or disabling normal reactions in the body, our therapies work by facilitating, enabling, and assisting normal physiologic reactions to occur. We create a unique and personalized treatment plan for every patient, based on their individual triggers, detoxification pathways, immunologic factors, nutritional status, lifestyle, lab work results, and more. As a result, our patients can experience excellent clinical outcomes and fewer side effects. In short, our treatments work in concert with the body rather than attempting to battle it.
In this article we will focus on one aspect of concern we see in our patients. A condition of inflamed gut and its impact on mental health.
The new science of gut-brain interaction and its implication in mental illness
A June 2016 study in The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, (1) tells its fellow neuropsychologists: “The potential role of gut microbiota in influencing brain function, behavior, and mental health has attracted the attention of neuroscientists and psychiatrists.” Furthermore, “the communication of gut microbiota with the brain, through what is referred to as the microbiota-gut-brain axis, represents a new biological axis by which novel diet-based therapies can be designed to influence brain function and behavior.”
Recent advances have shown that the gut microbiota (the collective name for the bacteria that lives in the digestive/intestinal tract) and its interaction with the brain, has an influence on behavior and mental health.
In a 2018 study in the Journal of Microbiology (2) scientists described this gut-brain relation.
“It is increasingly evident that bidirectional interactions exist among the gastrointestinal tract, the enteric nervous system (that part of the nervous system that governs the function of the gastrointestinal tract) and the central nervous system.Recent preclinical and clinical trials have shown that gut microbiota plays an important role in these gut-brain interactions. Furthermore, alterations in gut microbiota composition may be associated with pathogenesis of various neurological disorders, including stress, autism, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, the concepts of the microbiota-gut-brain axis is emerging.”
When gut-brain communications block bad thoughts and when they can’t
In the opening paragraph of a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine (3) investigators keyed on the communication aspect of how the gut and the brain send messages to each other:
“The brain-gut-microbiota axis has been put forward as a new paradigm in neuroscience, which may be of relevance to mental illness. The mechanisms of signal transmission in the brain-gut-microbiota axis are complex and involve bidirectional communications which enables gut microbes to communicate with the brain, and the brain to communicate with the microbes.”
While this indicates a positive relationship between brain and gut, inflammation can open a gate that allows negative communication through
In the journal Trends in Neurosciences, (4) investigators from Oxford University suggested that pro-inflammatory cytokine concentrations (the inflammation that makes a disease worse) are capable of increasing the permeability of the blood–brain barrier permitting access to the potentially physically and mentally pathogenic entities. In simplistic terms – the makers of bad and altered thoughts get through – because they can alter and lower levels of serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate (an amino acid involved in mental health) that would typically block them.
The new consensus in the medical community is that when the gut and brain talk to each other, inflammation is perhaps the most important topic
Returning to the doctors at Oxford research, here is a summary of their fascinating findings on how the gut and brain talk to each other.
Gut bacteria produce a range of neurotransmitters through the metabolism of indigestible fibers. These include the following with a very simple and general explanation of its influence
Dopamine (reward and pleasure)
Noradrenalin (alertness and sexual arousal)
GABA Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (low levels linked to anxiety and issues of chronic pain)
Serotonin (low levels implicated in depression)
Acetylcholine (reward and arousal)
The gut produces the neurotransmitters, the neurotransmitters talk to the brain.
The gut talks to the brain through the metabolization of dietary fiber which produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) – a communication link that may control inflammation related to depression.
A high fiber diet can produce short-chain fatty acids than can reduce low-grade inflammation.
A high fat diet can produce short-chain fatty acids than can increase inflammation and its negative effects on depression.
A great amount of research from the medical community is now centering on helping the gut reduce inflammation through probiotics. Why probiotics?
In the medical journal of Reviews in the neurosciences (5) doctors writing in support of probiotics in helping patients with major depressive disorders wrote that the attention being given to probiotics stems from ineffective treatments currently being offered. “Despite intensified research efforts to improve the treatment options and remission rates in mood disorders, no disease modifying treatment exists for these disorders. Accumulating evidence implicates the involvement of the gut microbiota in processes relevant to etiopathology (the origins of) of central nervous system-based disorders. . . The concept of psychobiotics, which is bacterial-based interventions with mental health benefit, is emerging in the field.”
Dr. Brittany L. Mason, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center wrote this in the journal Psychosomatics about the gut and patients with anorexia nervosa and depression. “Physical and mental health is dependent on the environment, and feeding (eating disorders) is a prime example of this environmental exchange. . . (Growing understanding shows) that gut bacteria regulate basic physiologic processes and are implicated in various disease states and contribute to regulation of mood. Responses to stress have effects on feeding behavior and mood and the regulation of the stress response by the gut microbiota could contribute to the dysfunction seen in patients with psychiatric illnesses.”
When the gut is stressed, the gut may communicate bad thoughts to the brain that lead to psychiatric illnesses. This is a common and developing theme.
Dr. Mason concludes: “Gut microbiota may contribute to dysfunction in psychiatric illnesses. New opportunities to modulate existing gut microbiota using probiotics could be novel targets for clinical interventions.” Probiotics may be the key for certain patients.(6)
If you would like to explore more information, please contact our office so we can start a conversation with you.
1 Foster JA, Lyte M, Meyer E, Cryan JF. Gut microbiota and brain function: An evolving field in neuroscience. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2015 Oct 4. pii: pyv114. doi: 10.1093/ijnp/pyv114.
2 Kim N, Yun M, Oh YJ, Choi HJ. Mind-altering with the gut: Modulation of the gut-brain axis with probiotics. Journal of Microbiology. 2018 Mar 1;56(3):172-82.
3 Dinan TG, Cryan JF. Brain-gut-microbiota axis and mental health. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2017 Aug 11.
4 Sarkar A, Lehto SM, Harty S, Dinan TG, Cryan JF, Burnet PWJ. Psychobiotics and the Manipulation of Bacteria–Gut–Brain Signals. Trends in Neurosciences. 2016;39(11):763-781. doi:10.1016/j.tins.2016.09.
5 Rios AC, Maurya PK, Pedrini M, Zeni-Graiff M, Asevedo E, Mansur RB, Wieck A, Grassi-Oliveira R, McIntyre RS, Hayashi MA, Brietzke E. Microbiota abnormalities and the therapeutic potential of probiotics in the treatment of mood disorders. Reviews in the Neurosciences. 2017 May 8.
6 Mason BL. Feeding Systems and the Gut Microbiome: Gut-Brain Interactions with Relevance to Psychiatric Conditions. Psychosomatics. 2017 Jun 8.