Your anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, and even autism may have their roots in your gut and not your brain.

Mood and Gut Bacteria health at rosman whole person healthcareFor each person, the gut is home to about 1,000 trillium bacteria with which we live in harmony. These bacteria perform a number of functions vital to health.  Researchers at at McMaster University have conclusive evidence that bacteria residing in the gut influence brain chemistry, mood and behavior.

The findings are important because several common types of gastrointestinal disease, including irritable bowel syndrome, are frequently associated with anxiety or depression. In addition there has been some research that suggests that even late onset autism may be associated with an abnormal bacteria living and thriving in your gut before deciding to migrate to other parts of your body – – below and above the neck.

“The exciting results provide stimulus for further investigating a microbial component to the causation of behavioral illnesses,” said Stephen Collins, professor of medicine and associate dean research, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. Collins and Premysl Bercik, assistant professor of medicine, undertook the research in the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.

Working with healthy adult mice, the researchers showed that disrupting the normal bacterial content of the gut with antibiotics produced changes in behavior; the mice became anxious. This change was accompanied by an increase in brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has been linked, to depression and anxiety.

Joan, a 26 year old school teacher, contacted me from Michigan about her anxiety with which she suffered for more than a decade.  A Functional Lab test for stool and another for urinary acid markers turned up data showing an imbalance in healthy and unhealthy bacteria in her gut, along with signs that serotonin may be channeling into a molecule called quinolinate which resulted in less serotonin ( and less melatonin related to sleep) to help with her emotional distress.

Serotonin is a chemical messenger produced mostly in the gut, although it is the target of many medications for anxiety, depression, OCD and other disorders most people associate with the brain.  When there is inflammation in the brain, which can be initiated or aggravated by unhealthy gut bacteria, your body’s attempts to produce serotonin to calm your anxious brain are thwarted and a molecule known as quinolinate in produced instead.

Does this mean that all anxiety and other mood disorders start in your gut?  No.  However, some do, and most of your physicians are not trained in functional medicine and functional lab tests needed to rule this in or out.

Another patient, a man named James who is an engineer and 35 years old, came to learn that neurotoxins in food and the environment, an overactive thyroid, and excess cortisol (a stress hormone) contributed significantly to his anxiety.  So, just like people resemble snowflakes in that no two people are alike, to someone trained in Functional Medicine, being a medical detective and looking for clues hidden in many places in the body’s biochemistry and physiology is critical to care.

Is it your bugs or your brain or something else?  There is no need to suffer any longer.  You have options, hope and help.

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