Study Finds Lack of These Two Gut Bacteria May Lead to Depression

Study Finds Lack of These Two Gut Bacteria May Lead to Depression

As studies of our microbiota become more focused, scientists have realized that our guts are inextricably linked to the brain and its functions. We now know our gut definitively factors into decision making, though we’ve probably known this informally for hundreds of years, hence the phrase “go with your gut instinct.” And now a new study believes it has pinpointed two specific species of bacteria that, when missing from our microbiome, may lead to depression.

According to the study recently published in the journal Nature Microbiology, out of a group of 2,000 participants, researchers found that those reporting symptoms of depression were lacking two particular strains of bacteria in their gut – Coprococcus and Dialister.

Coprococcus in particular was found to be a pathway for dopamine, the neurotransmitter believed to play a role in our brain’s reward system – one that’s known to dysregulate in people experiencing depression.

Though their results are only early indicators that will require significantly more research to be applicable for any future treatment, these two bacterial strains could lead to a future in which doctors might prescribe probiotics to treat mental disorders, or what some are referring to as “psychobiotics.”

The ability for our gut bacteria to send neurotransmitters between the brain and our gut’s brain, the enteric nervous system, is not found in bacteria outside of our guts and is believed to have evolved as we did.

This enteric nervous system, often called our second brain, contains somewhere in the range of 200 to 500 million neuronal pathways of its own – about the same as a dog’s brain – and communicates with the cerebellum through a two-way highway called the vagus nerve.

Our gut microbiome has something in the range of 500 to 1000 different species of bacteria, with scientists continuously discovering new ones. And in this most recent study, of the more than 500 strains tested, 90 percent of those strains were capable of producing neurotransmitters.

These bugs in our gut form somewhere in the range of three to five pounds of biomass and have essentially evolved to control our behavior. Along with the fungi, viruses, archaea, and other microbial cells, our guts are believed to contain somewhere in the range of 37 trillion bacterial cells. And unless we proactively maintain them, losing diversity in our microbiota can have severely negative side-effects. Now we’re closer to knowing that depression may be one of them.



380 Trillion Viruses Live In Us; How Do We Live Symbiotically With Them?

380 Trillion Viruses Live In Us; How Do We Live Symbiotically With Them?

Interest in the microbiome has been steadily increasing over the past decade or so, and for good reason. The role of our internal ecosystem (gut flora) is one of the greatest scientific discoveries of our times, offering an insight into how we heal, fight off disease, and stay healthy — even in difficult times. In “Immunity and the Microbiome,” microbiologist Compton Rom presents a compelling argument for why we need to pay attention to the ecosystem of good bacteria in our digestive system. 

Once we realize the great implications of how remarkable the microbiome within us can make or break our state of health, then we can boost our immunity over viruses, bacteria, and infections. 

While the term “immune system” is relatively common in our daily vernacular, Rom does not limit it to the body alone. Rather, he has a holistic vision and ties the health of all life on this planet with the health of the Earth, including global warming, as well as the nature of disease-causing organisms. This holistic approach allows us to appreciate our unique role as conscious beings existing in various ecosystems that need to be recognized and respected. 

Rom discusses historical evidence, showing that humans have evolved to live symbiotically with the life not just around us, but within us. This becomes particularly relevant when discussing the role of our virome, or the trillions of viruses and phages that live within our body and its cells. This he says is a major facet in maintaining proper health, by promoting symbiosis with viruses, so they don’t cause disease and illness.

We can optimize our virome and microbiome by introducing probiotic fermented and anti-inflammatory herbs, as well as a diverse diet of fruits and roots, to lower risks of infectious disease. In fact, the bacterial cells within our microbiome outnumber our human cells by tenfold.

Rom suggests our immunity from illness, as well as our relationship with the planet, begins at home. The best place to start our journey to optimum health and ideal immune function is by improving our diets, meditating, doing breathwork, exercising, and most importantly, proactively diversifying our gut microbiomes. 

Compton’s philosophy is to take a non-chemical and non-pharmaceutical approach to healing, using natural herbs, and oils to eliminate pathogenic bacteria. 

Our bodies, he notes, respond “best to natural compounds that have evolved alongside us for millennia. Synthetic compounds are singular in nature, while whole earth compounds carry numerous micronutrients and co-factors necessary for growth, many of which scientists have yet to discover. 

This is why natural compounds are so much more effective. Modern medicine has yet to use them because they are impossible to patent; synthetics can be sold at a much higher profit than naturally derived and sustainably harvested herbs.”

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