The Gut-Brain Axis
The Gut-Brain Axis refers to the continuous feedback loop between sensory neurons in our gastrointestinal tracts (from lips to rectum) and motor responses generated in our central nervous systems.
This constant two-way communication has a profound influence on almost every aspect of our beings – from how the brain develops and functions, to GI disorders, how well our immune systems work, whether we develop conditions like heart disease or diabetes, what and how much we choose to eat, how sensitive we are to pain, whether we become depressed or anxious … and much more.
Thanks to recent methodological advances in genetics which have opened doors to detailed research into the ways the gut and brain interact, the field of neuro-gastroenterology, study of the Gut-Brain Axis, has become an exciting new frontier of neuroscience, offering great promise for how we can stay healthy and how we can fix ourselves when we fail.
The Gut-Brain Axis
From a Western medical perspective, this is just in the nick of time since the antibiotics era, which began with the commercial production of penicillin during World War II, is coming to an end. Extensive use of antibiotics has produced bacteria containing mutations that render them immune to antibiotics. These mutated bacteria can transfer their antibiotic immunity to their offspring, turning ordinary bacteria into superbugs.
Pharmaceutical companies have lost interest in trying to develop new, more powerful antibiotics which will be taken for only 7-14 days. Their profits are in more expensive drugs that are taken indefinitely.
The main culprit in the overuse of antibiotics is the agricultural industry, which gives 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics each year to livestock for non-medical purposes.
Then there is the genetic engineering of our foods. Many believe that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food transfers genetic material into normal gut bacteria, making them antibiotic resistant and turning them into superbugs. Studies have shown that GMOs can activate and deactivate hundreds, perhaps thousands, of genes. This sounds serious but has not been studied yet. The US has embraced genetically modified crops. New Zealand and many European countries have banned them.
Add that to many physicians’ over- and inappropriately-prescribing antibiotics to their patients and you see how we got ourselves to this place. (Mercola, 11/9/2013)
Mercola, R. (11/9/2013). The Age of Antibiotics is Coming to an End, as Wider Variety of Bacteria are Now Impervious. See http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/09/antibiotic-drugs.aspx?e_cid=20131109Z1_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20131109Z1&et_cid=DM33171&et_rid=331501235
A version of this page content will appear in my forthcoming 2014 Oriental Medicine Journal article THE MICROBIOTA-GUT-BRAIN AXIS: The constant two-way communication between our guts and our brains.
© Copyright 2013-2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.