Most of us believe that emotional/mental issues like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, panic attacks and many others are strictly a problem of the brain. The brain chemicals called neurotransmitters get out of balance for some reason causing these symptoms to develop. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, glutamate, dopamine, GABA, epinephrine and acetylcholine. However, new research has indicated in a high percentage of cases that something else is a play here.
Neurotransmitters commonly get out of balance due to the presence of inflammation in the central nervous system. This inflammation can change the Ph within the nerve cells resulting in an increase or decrease in specific neurotransmitters. But, how did this inflammation start? It didn't just materialize and start reeking havoc. What we are seeing is a breakdown in the blood-brain barrier, the barrier which selectively protects the brain, opens up and allows inflammation chemicals in. But what caused this break down in this highly needed barrier to begin with? Where did this inflammation originate? You guessed it, the gut.
As I mentioned in an earlier blogg, inflammation and the resulting leaky gut syndrome is at epidemic levels in our world. Anything that breaks down the gut blood barrier will also, in time, have the same effect on the blood-brain barrier. In other works, inflammation that originated in the gut can go systemic and also greakdown the blood-brain barrier. LPS or lipopolysaccharides, comprise the coating of some of our intestinal bacteria. LPS are not viewed as a friend by our bodies especially in the blood where it is considered highly antigenic or allergic. This LPS infiltration into the blood due to LGS, will not only cause gut or regional inflammation but also wander to the blood-brain area and begin to ”open” it up too.
Let me run through a typical cycle for you. Stress causes Dysbiosis in the gut, the breakdown of the microbiome. This dysbiosis results in gut porousness, LGS. LGS allows LPS, lipopolysaccharides, from gut bacteria to seep into the blood causing inflammation and an immune response at the gut level. Over time these LPS compounds will drift to the brain and cause a “leakiness” in that barrier also. Inflammatory chemicals called cytokines and the LPS enter the brain, changing its Ph and cause an imbalance in neurotransmitters. This imbalance in neurotransmitters causes anxiety, depression and emotional stress. This mental stress further supports a poor microbiome balance and dysbiosis starting the whole cycle all over again.
In a Functional Medicine practice we have found the actual cause of a particular symptom is many times distant from the symptom as in this case. Local inflammation will always inevitably go systemic in time. So what's the take away? The first place to go in attempting to resolve a myriad of emotional and mental disorders is the gut. When you put the fire out that has been raging in the gut for perhaps years, the fire in the brain will eventually go out too. So, before you go for a prescription to alter the brain's delicate balance of neurotransmitters, resolve the fire gut first and watch the magical body heal itself and rid itself of these symptoms in just a few short weeks.Schedule an Appointment