by Sam Adkins
There is a big connection between your gut health and your emotional health. Homeopathy treats you as a whole person taking ALL your symptoms on all levels into account; and I am increasingly becoming more and more aware of the prevalence of gut issues when treating psychological states such as anxiety, stress and depression. If you want to understand more about your gut and it’s significant role as our ‘second brain” you might want to read my blog post: Is Your Gut Your Problem? and how you can use Homeopathy to treat acute gut ailments in Your Homeopathic Gut Toolkit.
What’s Your Gut Instinct?
So do you ever wonder what your ‘gut instinct’ is all about? Your gut has 100 million neurons, -that’s more than the peripheral nervous system; and it is now understood as a second brain. In fact, science has established that our gut reacts to situations and produces a corresponding physiological response in the body before we are actually aware of it. Think of that! Your gut tells your body systems how to respond before you know anything consciously. We also know that 90% of all messages between the gut and the brain go from the gut to the brain. This is a very important piece of information for our health as it means that if our gut is not healthy and in balance we are going to be getting some less that happy messages to our brain. Our gut instead will be sending messages about things not being right….”hey brain….there’s an issue down here!” So our gut instinct, is real, powerful and proven to exist and is playing a significant part in how we feel physically and emotionally.
Anxiety and your Microbiome
Anxiety is prevalent in our western society and I see many people among my counselling and Homeopathy clients who are seeking to be free from anxiety and come off their medications. It is highly likely in many cases that the health of our gut and particularly its biome (the 2 kg of bacteria that inhabit it) is playing a significant role. One of my clients even said to me at her first consult that she has felt ongoing severe anxiety from years and she is sure “it’s coming from a medical state her body”. I think she might be right!
So how can our gut biome cause such strong psychological symptoms? Well 90% of our Seratonin – one of our key neurotransmitters is made in the gut. So if the gut bacteria are out of balance or lacking and cannot make it, our Seratonin levels for a start are going to be out of wack. What has been established is that similar features exist in those people suffering from anxiety and depression:
- Higher levels of inflammation
- Lower levels of the brain’s growth hormone BDNF
- Higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone)
- an over reactive stress response
- Increased gut permeability (not a good thing)
Dr David Pearmutter who writes in his book “Brain Maker” says that:
“It’s becoming clear that anxiety disorders as well as depression are caused by a combination of factors that most definitely include the state and function of the gut and its inhabitants”.
When I treat anxiety and depression, I always take a thorough medical history with a focus on gut health. I actively look for signs of gut imbalance as it is vitally important to have a healthy gut if we want to have a healthy emotional state; and both the physical and emotional symptoms need careful addressing. So if you would like to be treated for anxiety and depression, make sure you see a practitioner like myself who has the experience to take an holistic approach to what initially can seem like a purely psychological one.
Source: Perlmutter, D: ‘Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your brain – for Life.’ Great Britain 2015