Brain - Gut connection

A lot of people don't know about gut - brain connection. Those who do acknowledge that it's related to vagal nerve. But is appears to be much more than just nerve conduction. The gut microbiome plays a massive role in signaling throw the whole body. 

Gut connection for Parkinson Disease

Vagal nerve signaling from the gut to the brain was attributed in Parkinson’s disease with recent studies of patients who have undergone vagotomy and had much less chance to develop Parkinson’s than those who had did not have this procedure. In addiiton, excess milk use and develop Parkinson’s.

The following concept is much more than just about brain-gut connection, but also the entire body. It's not limited to Parkinson's disease, because its much broader than that.

Gut bacteria in involved in signaling in our body. Gut bacteria are extremely sensitive to environment into lifestyle as well as nutrition. That’s all lifestyle and all other factors profoundly affect our bacteria, like significant antibiotic use, especially during childhood.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Recent study suggested that gut microbiome and levels of Butirate (short chain fatty acid) have been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This is a big development connecting poorly understood and typically untreatable disorder to our gut bacteria. This presents a new way to approach the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complex disorder, with no clear cause and no known cure. The disease itself is defined as excessive physical or mental fatigue that lasts for more than 6 months and cannot be explained by any underlying condition. Patients diagnosed with CFS experience widespread pain and often report:

• Cognitive problems (such as memory loss)

• Headaches

• Unrefreshing sleep

• Muscle or joint pain

• Swollen lymph nodes

• Multiple chemical sensitivities

The disease is not well understood. There are no lab tests to diagnose it, so doctors have to rule out other conditions, such as Lyme disease or depression. This can be very difficult for patients. Estimates of the prevalence of chronic fatigue syndrome vary widely. They depend on where you live, how your doctor defines it, and whether you are blood donor, among other things. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that there are about 4 million cases in the United States alone, but most experts agree that this is a gross underestimate because many people go undiagnosed.

Causes of chronic fatigue syndrome

The cause of CFS is unknown, but it appears to be triggered by some kind of infection, physical or emotional stressor , or some combination thereof. Viruses often enter the picture as well as bacteria such as mycoplasma and parasites such as bartonella and blastocystis hominis.

Gut bacteria is a key contributor to chronic fatigue syndrome. Studies of patients with CFS found significant differences in the numbers and types of gut bacteria from healthy people . In one study, researchers found that many of these bacteria were not only lacking but also very small in size. This suggests that CFS may be caused by damage to or lack of some kind of microbe that is essential to human health.

In fact, CFS patients often have considerable gut inflammation as well as signs of injury to the intestinal wall. In some cases, this may point to a leaky gut . These findings suggest that bacterial toxins or proteins can circulate from the intestine into the bloodstream and cause widespread damage throughout the body – including to the central nervous system.

One of the most intriguing theories about chronic fatigue syndrome is that it results from viral infections triggering damage to the vagus nerve . There are dozens of known viruses that attack the nervous system, and many can be located in muscle tissue for years after an initial infection .

Many CFS patients report feeling sick immediately after they get the flu. In fact, they may be twice as likely as healthy people to develop CFS after getting sick with mononucleosis, coxsackievirus B3, and other infections . Infections of the nervous system also appear to raise the risk for autoimmune diseases by several orders of magnitude .

One study compared gut bacteria in 7 CFS patients with 10 healthy controls . They found significantly reduced levels of butyrate producers (11 bacteria) and increased levels of lactic acid bacteria (9 bacteria). This makes sense given that gut inflammation reduces the ability to make short-chain fatty acids. In addition, the altered microbiome of chronic fatigue syndrome may provide a good environment for the development of mycoplasma and related infections.

The researchers also found that there were significantly lower levels of fungi in the CFS patients. This is interesting because many types of bacteria that can't survive in an acidic environment – such as lactic acid bacteria – increase the pH, which makes it easier for yeast and fungi to thrive. In addition, fungi are common triggers of inflammation .

This is a great example how gut bacteria can affect our body.

How to evaluate your gut bacteria and its' function?

It is relatively simple to test levels of butyrate and evaluate dysbacteriosis, presence of fungi or parasites in our gut. It all can be done through home based stool test. Genova Diagnostics GI Effects is the best test for this type of evaluation.  This test is simple to do, but does require professional interpretation. Here is a link to the video  that discusses this test in the great details.