1. Mind-Altering Microbes: How your gut microbiome may influence your mood


    By Jill Carnahan, MD

    “I’ve got a gut feeling about this”

    While we have certainly heard that appetite and digestion are controlled by the enteric nervous system  (also known as “the master control panel in your gut”), who would’ve thought that the gut might also control your emotions and mood?  It’s no wonder the old sayings, like “I’ve got a gut feeling about this“, “That movie was gut-wrenching“, or  “Come on, gut it out!” ring so true.  In fact I’d venture to say when we are trusting our intuition we associate it with having a “gut feeling” about something.

    From the research it is now clear that gut microbes have an affect on inflammation, pain, eating behaviors, food cravings, mood and other seemingly unrelated symptoms, such as depression or uncontrolled anxiety.  In addition, it is common for depression and anxiety to co-exist with disorders such as IBS (irritable bowel disorder).

    It goes both ways…

    Yes, it’s true!  Did you know the gut-brain axis provides a way of communicating both directions using signals, such as neurotransmitters, hormones and cytokines?  This means that your gut bugs actually talk to your brain to influence emotions.  Equally important the emotions you feel and neurotransmitters produced by the brain have a profound effect on the gut as well.  We know that dysfunction in this communication between gut and brain can lead to various diseases, including depression and anxiety.  Who knew that the composition of your gut microbes could play such a great role in your mood?  The next time you get angry at your spouse or are overcome with sadness making you want to curl up in bed you can simply say, “Don’t blame me…It’s my gut microbes’s fault!”  and you may be right on target!

    The human gut is populated by more than 100 trillion microbes, which means there is more bugs in your gut than cells in your body.   And the genetic material contained by microbes in your gut is 150X that of the genetic material from human origin.  Most experts agree we have more than 1000 different species in our gut and over 7000 different strains.  We know that as we are exposed to stress, chemicals, antibiotics, and toxins, the diversity of the microbiome decreases and we know that the less diverse or microbiome, the more susceptible we are to illness and disease.

    A baby’s colonization of the gut first occurs at birth with vaginal exposure to the mother’s microflora.  Did you know that c-section baby’s have gut microbes more akin to skin flora than gut flora after birth?  And some studies show that throughout the entirety of life, they may never regain the normal diversity of vaginally delivered infants.

    These are just a few of the functions of these bugs residing in your gut:

    •     Development of your immune system function
    •     Assisting with bowel movements and gut motility
    •     Maintaining intestinal cell barrier integrity (keeping the the good stuff in and the bad stuff out)
    •     Aiding in digestion and absorption of specific vitamins and minerals
    •     Controlling fat absorption and distribution


    Microbes and Stress

    What is increasingly clear is that there is bi-directional communication between our gut microbes influencing the central nervous system and brain… and the reverse; communication between our brain influencing microbial composition.   Did you know that stress affects the gut microbes, too?

    These are the top 3 ways that chronic stress affects the gut:

    1. Increases the levels of inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, TNF-alpha) which can changes gut microbe populations.
    2. Increases permeability of the gut lining, which is linked to many autoimmune diseases  (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and many others).
    3. Allows bacteria to cross over into the bloodstream where the bacterial coating (LPS) can trigger an intense inflammatory response in the body.

    So how do the gut microbes contribute to anxiety and depression?

    Here are some of the mechanisms by which the gut microbes influence the brain and emotions:

    • Altered microbial composition: Both probiotic (“good guys”) administration and harmful infectious bacteria (“bad guys”) have both shown to have an effect on the brain and emotions.  One study showed supplementation with probiotics decreased anxiety.
    • Immune Activation:  Bacteria in the gut have been shown to activate the immune system and increase production of harmful pro-inflammatory cytokines.   There are many studies showing a link between increase in certain cytokines and depression (see below if you want to read more)
    • Vagus nerve:  This is one of the main controls of the parasympathetic system that calms our fight or flight response and allows our body to relax and feel calm.  Activation of the vagus nerve and release of acetyl-choline has been shown to have a profoundly calming and anti-inflammatory effect on the body.  Most of the effects of gut microbes on the brain and body have been shown to be dependent on vagal nerve activation.
    • Tryptophan metabolism:  Tryptophan is an extremely important amino acid and the raw material needed to make serotonin (think “the happy neurotransmitter”) by the body.  There is a pathway, called the kynurinine pathway that involves metabolism of tryptophan and accounts for nearly 95% of the stores of tryptophan in the body.  In the case of pathogenic microbial infections in the gut (bacteria, yeast, or parasites) this pathway may be activated and “steal” from your body’s tryptophan stores.  This leads to depletion of serotonin stores and may result in insomnia and depression.
    • Microbial metabolites:  Bacteria in the gut help produce bile acids and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which are essential for human physical and mental health.
    • Neurometabolites: Crazy but true… bacteria have the ability to produce many neurotransmitters and metabolites that have direct action on brain and thought.   Did you know studies show microbes can even influence your food cravings?!
    • Bacterial cell wall sugars:  Perhaps most fascinating of all, the outer coatings of bacteria contain sugar molecules that can directly signal immune and hormonal systems into action.  This is the mechanism thought to be responsible for the healthy effects of probiotics on the gut and brain.

    The bottom line is there is a growing body of evidence that suggests gut microbes play a large role in regulation in behavior and brain chemistry and are relevant to development of depression and anxiety.

    So perhaps the best antidepressant is a healthy whole food diet and a high potency probiotic to fuel a healthy gut microbiome!

  2. Cancer and pH balance – The Connection

    Ph“An Alkaline diet can help you lose weight and avoid problems like arthritis and cancer” Dr Robert O Young

    One in 3 of us will get cancer, two out of 3 of us are too acidic – this is no coincidence! The correct acid/alkaline balance is absolutely crucial for the body to maintain good health. Over acidification leads to the overgrowth of microorganisms in the body whose poisons create disease. Microorganisms, germs, bacteria, viruses, fungus (Candida) and mould thrive in an unhealthy, acidic environment. – LotusRain’s Integrative Cancer Care

    Maintaining pH balance allows us to experience good health, energy and vitality by avoiding harmful overgrowth of disease and cancer forming microorganisms. Being out of balance encourages overgrowth of microorganisms and the waste products from these microorganisms create more acidity.

    How to measure your pH

    Test your urine and saliva 3 times a day for 28 days Follow the directions on your alkalizing strips.
    Test urine & saliva first thing in the morning before you do anything else or swallow anything, test in the afternoon 2/3 hours before or after eating and test before you sleep 2/3 hours after eating if possible.
    See what zone you are in on the pH scale.
    The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 1 being highly acidic 7 being neutral 14 being highly alkaline.

    The scale is logarithmic, meaning that a pH reading of 6 is 10 times more acidic than a reading of 7 and a reading of 5 is 100 times more acidic than a reading of 7.

    The urine is usually most acidic in the morning as the body is excreting acids accumulated overnight so expect a more acidic reading in the morning.
    You will get to see your rhythms and patterns. Keep a record of results and watch your progress.
    You will be able to see the effects of your diet on your pH levels.
    Test yourself after an acidic meal and an alkaline meal.
    The results are not definitive but you will be able to see your cycles and rythms.
    Urine pH is more accurate than saliva and changes in response to diet, saliva pH is much more variable and sensitive to diet/food intake.
    If your urine or saliva are in the acidic zone you are out of balance.
    Your test strips will indicate your acidity or alkalinity readings

  3. The Senate Business & Professions Committee Votes YES on SB 538!

    SB-538On Monday the 27th, SB 538 (the CNDA sponsored Scope Modernization Bill) was voted on and passed the Senate Business & Professions Committee! The vote was 5 in favor, 2 opposed, and 2 members abstained. We had great support from our schools who sent their professors to testify, the NMC, AARP and the California Chiropractors Association as well as many of our fellow doctors who rearranged their schedules to be present and show support. Thank you for helping make this happen!!

    We cannot do this important work without support. YOUR support letters and YOUR donations have pushed us to the next step in making SB 538 law. Our bill will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee and then the Senate Floor within the next 4-5 weeks.

    This means we don’t have much time to ensure we have a minimum of 21 votes to move out of the Senate and into the Assembly. We need to continue this great work and show our California legislators that the ND community is committed to the success of SB 538 100%.

    Every effort matters! Here is what you can do to help:

    (1) Schedule an in-district meeting with your local senate representative even if you have already spoken with them.

    (2) Renew your membership.

    (3) Donate to the CNDA! All of your donations will go directly to hiring more lobbying power and ensuring that we get the votes to pass this bill!

    Call (310-670-8100) or email (coordinator@calnd.org) Frances at the CNDA Home Office today and let us know how you can help!

    SB 538 is on step 2!