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.
Ancient Medicine Berberine Could Help with Leaky Gut Syndrome
Many call it “leaky gut.” Researchers and health practitioners call it “increased intestinal permeability,” “dysbiosis,” or “hyperpermeable intestine,” but no matter how you name it, leaky gut syndrome could be the jumping-off point for a huge range of “first-world” diseases. Leaky gut syndrome could be responsible for eczema and psoriasis, autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease to name a very few.
Symptoms of leaky gut include diverse complaints including acne, cramps, gas, bloating, allergies, joint pain, brain fog, memory loss, or fatigue. Taken alone, any one of these symptoms may indicate a number of conditions, but when they show up in combination, and the root cause cannot be determined, it might pay off to explore leaky gut syndrome. Trying to treat symptoms when the underlying cause is leaky gut can be frustratingly unsuccessful.
There’s a way out, and research is showing that along with dietary changes and probiotics, recovery can be significantly potentiated with berberine, an ancient plant medicine.