You have a second brain – your gut! And you are smarter than you think. Literally! This is old news that became ‘news to me’ a short time back. We all have what scientists now refer to as a ‘second brain’ – our gut (stomach, esophagus, small intestine and colon). And this second brain can have an effect on our emotions such as feelings of depression and anxiety.
For real. Not just in a metaphorical way or how we assume to have ‘gut feelings’ or are told to trust our ‘gut instincts’ – your gut really can feel all on its own… and act. On its own meaning without getting input from the brain or spinal cord. And then send that information back to the brain.
That’s where you come in… your higher thinking processes then process the information. And you feel happy, depressed, calm, anxious, etc.
The fancy name for this is the enteric nervous system (ENS). It was discovered by Michael Gershon, M.D., a researcher and specialist in enteric neurobiology. He is the author of the book “The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine.” It was first published in 1998.
You can read a chunk of the book (26 pages) that covers how this discovery was first made before Gershon, then ignored by scientists for decades, then ‘rediscovered’ by Gershon – on Google Books.
Your Gut Can Heal Depression
The below is an article from Psychology Today.com titled: Your Backup Brain.
“It also sends signals north to the brain that directly affect feelings of sadness or stress, even influence memory, learning, and decision-making.”
“It relies on, and in many cases manufactures, more than 30 neurotransmitters, including serotonin, that are identical to those in the brain.”
“What’s more, tinkering with the second brain in our gut has lately been shown to be a potent tool for achieving relief from major depression”
You can read the full article here: The Backup Brain.
A Prescription of Probiotics Instead of Prozac? To Treat the Second Brain?
This is exciting news as if more natural treatments for depression are found (that actually work!) then many more folks will be treated successfully and become well… not medicated to death with psychotropic medications.
Psychotropic meds such as antidepressants are toxic and all have serious side effects. Also, the ‘proof of their efficacy’ (whether they work or not) is being strongly debated. In walk a new class of drugs that affect the gut directly, not the brain?
The below is quoted from the article Can Probiotics Treat Depression on Psychcongress.com.
“Timothy G. Dinan, MD, PhD, and colleagues from the University College Cork in Ireland, defined a class of probiotics, called psychobiotics, as “a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness.”
That may be what is in store for the future. Prescriptions for a gut bug that has been identified to have a specific affect on the brain and is then used to treat your mental illness. Wow, no? That is seriously exciting info. Take Probiotics to Treat Your Depression?
Targeted, isolated strains of probiotics may be the replacement for our current arsenal of chemical antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs. Studies are being done to test the effects of probiotics on moods. So far the results are promising.
A randomized control study at the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition at Leiden University in the Netherlands found that:
“There was no difference between the two groups before the intervention began. But after four weeks, people who took the probiotic reported significantly less reactivity to sad mood than the control group—meaning that when they were put in a sad mood, they had fewer recurrent distressing or aggressive thoughts.”
Exciting news for anyone who suffers from anxiety and depression. And of course anyone with Manic Depression.