Articles by natural health author Tony Isaacs
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Study Finds That Anxiety May Originate in Your Gut, Not in Your Head
by Tony Isaacs
(The Best Years in Life) We're all familiar with the term "gut feeling". As it turns out, the term may be more apt than we realize. In recent years, research has increasingly identified the role the gut can have on mood and behavior, leading many scientists to refer to the gut as the "second brain". Now, for the first time, researchers have found conclusive evidence that conditions such as anxiety can originate in the gut instead of the brain.
In a study published in the journal Gastroenterology, researchers at McMaster University found that bacteria residing in the gut influence brain chemistry and behavior. The research is important because several common types of gastrointestinal disease are frequently associated with anxiety or depression. In addition there has been speculation that some psychiatric disorders, such as late onset autism, may be associated with an abnormal bacterial content in the gut.
"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 of research at McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. Collins and Premysl Bercik, assistant professor of medicine, conducted the research in the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.
Working with healthy adult mice, the researchers found that disrupting the normal bacterial content of the gut with antibiotics produced changes in behavior; the mice became less cautious or anxious. This change was accompanied by an increase in brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has been linked to depression and anxiety.
When oral antibiotics were discontinued, bacteria in the gut returned to normal and Collins reported that there was "restoration of normal behavior and brain chemistry."
To confirm that bacteria can influence behavior, the researchers colonized germ-free mice with bacteria taken from mice with a different behavioral pattern. They found that when germ-free mice with a genetic background associated with passive behavior were colonized with bacteria from mice with higher exploratory behavior, they became more active and daring. Similarly, normally active mice became more passive after receiving bacteria from mice whose genetic background is associated with passive behavior.
Collins said that his team's
research indicates that while many
factors determine behavior, the
nature and stability of bacteria in
the gut appear to influence behavior
and disruptions from antibiotics or
infections might produce changes in
behavior. Bercik said that these
results lay the foundation for
investigating the therapeutic use of
probiotic bacteria in the treatment
of behavioral disorders,
particularly those associated with
Note: This author does not approve of the inhumane use of animals for laboratory experiments.
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About the author
Tony Isaacs is a member of the National Health Federation and the American Botanical Council. He is a natural health advocate and researcher and the author of books and articles about natural health including "Cancer's Natural Enemy." Mr. Isaacs articles are featured at The Truth About Cancer, the Health Science Institute's Healthiertalk website, CureZone, the Crusador, Health Secrets, the Cancer Tutor, the Silver Bulletin, the New Zealand Journal of Natural Health, and several other venues. In addition, he hosts the Yahoo Oleandersoup Health group of over 3500 members and the CureZone Ask Tony Isaacs - Featuring Luella May forum. He is also the local moderator of the CureZone Cancer Alternatives forum. Tony and his partner Luella May host The Best Years in Life natural health website where their motto is "It's never too late or too early to begin living longer, healthier and happier lives."
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