Did you know the connection between your gut and your brain is not a one-way street? If you’ve ever felt really anxious and then got nauseas or had some ‘butterflies,’ you are probably connecting the dots that what your brain experiences, your gut feels. The same happens in reverse. Have you ever eaten something that doesn’t agree with you and then had a terrible headache, or your brain starts to feel really slow and foggy? There’s an ever growing body of research connecting your gut health to your brain health, and it’s spreading way past integrative medicine lines.
More than just difficulty remembering your grocery list, your gut health can impact your mental health as well. If you’re suffering with generalized anxiety or depression, your doctor may have clued you in that imbalances in your brain’s neurotransmitters can contribute to those symptoms. And they also may have been quick to prescribe an antidepressant that may have helped mitigate some of those symptoms. But then the prescription just stopped working. Why? Because you haven’t yet addressed the underlying cause.
Within the walls of your gut is a web of nerves that all talk to each other and send messages back to your brain. We call this web your gut-brain or more scientific, your enteric nervous system. When your gut-brain is not happy, that ‘unhappy’ message travels through your nervous system and back to your brain-brain (the one in your skull!).
So what makes your gut-brain unhappy? Several things:
- Chronic gut inflammation (from disease, eating food intolerances, amongst others)
- Yeast (Candida albicans)
- SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
- Gut microbiome imbalance (even certain species of bacteria that live in your gut can have an impact on your mood)
What do you do next? Getting the proper testing that identifies what exactly is making your gut-brain unhappy and inflamed will make all the difference in how fast your symptoms resolve. This is often the step that gets skipped but it can be the most important piece.
Once you know the cause, cleaning up your diet, making lifestyle modifications, and taking targeted herbs and nutrients, we can correct the imbalances that are in your gut, allowing it start sending positive messages back to your brain to improve your mood.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.