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  • Writer's pictureJoan Rothchild Hardin

The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis: My Article in the Oriental Medicine Journal

The article that became the starting point for this Allergies and Your Gut website is The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis, which I’d written for the Oriental Medicine Journal. The issue of the Journal containing the article is now in print (Spring 2014, 22:3).

This is the introduction the OMJ‘s editor, Mary Rogel, wrote: wood/spring 2014|5  notes from the editor’s desk The more we learn about life on this planet, the more we discover that is strange and wonderful. It used to be, for example, that we only encountered “symbiotes” in comic books or science fiction, where aliens invaded the bodies of humans and used them for their own benefit, sometimes turning the human into a zombie and sometimes giving the human added powers. As it turns out, truth is stranger than fiction. As we learn in this issue of Oriental Medicine Journal, humans not only are involved in symbiotic relationships with other species, but many of these relationships are mutual and obligate, meaning that neither species involved can survive without the other. If we did not have bacteria living in our digestive tracts, we could not digest our food; nor can those bacteria survive outside our digestive tracts. In this issue, psychologist Joan Hardin takes us on a journey through our guts to learn about our mutual symbiotic relationships (both parties benefit), commensal relationships (one party benefits and the other is not significantly harmed or helped), and parasitic relationships (one party benefits while the other is harmed). Anyone who has had food poisoning will have some idea what it feels like to share a body with a parasitic symbiote. But you will be surprised and amazed to learn how much we depend on the mutual and commensal relationships. The human microbiome, i.e., all our colonies of symbiotes, has a profound effect on our very existence. Not only is a healthy microbiome absolutely necessary for our survival, but it even affects our decision making and our psychological state. What is even more incredible is the fact that our ancestors in the practice of our medicine somehow knew these things. They assigned the role of The General, the decision-maker, to the Gall Bladder, which functions as a part of our digestive system. Hardin explains how our gut and our brain are in constant communication, so much so that some of our decisions are made by our guts . . . as in “gut reaction.” It is a real thing, and scientific findings are now beginning to be able to explain just how it happens. Just as a well-balanced and fully functioning microbiome is essential to life, dysbiosis is the root cause of much of our ill health, whether it manifests in the body, the mind, or the spirit. Hardin helps us understand how the microbiome can become out of balance, what the consequences are, and how to restore it to health. Prepare to embark on an incredible journey!      Mary J. Rogel, PhD, LAc If you’re interested in reading the article in its published form, you can find it here: The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis

REFERENCES Hardin, J.R. (2014). The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis. Oriental Medicine Journal , Spring  22:3, 1-37.  See:

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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