If you’re a follower of natural, integrative, nutritional, and/or holistic health news, you’ve probably heard about probiotics. Who would’ve thought that in our germ-a-phobic times, many health seekers would be swallowing capsules of bugs by the billons?
This is because we’ve been made aware-through mass marketing and various health gurus- that a happy community of bugs (termed our microbiome) will assist in calming our mood, quieting inflammation, and aiding our digestive woes.
This is due to the fact that the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is home to over 70% of our immune system. (It’s termed the gut-associated lymphoid tissue or GALT). It is also the major site of our neurotransmitter production (the enteric nervous system, or ENS). This means our belly plays a role as a powerful influencer for modulating our immune system, digestion, and mood. So, it’s no wonder that our society is paying so much attention to the little buggy bacteria that live in our colon!
In fact, the National Institute of Health undertook the Human Microbiome Project, a massive research initiative to study our gut microbes. Their goal was to first map out microbial communities that exist within the mucosal surfaces of our body. (A big project considering the microbiome’s collective genes of its 10,000+ species outnumber human genes 150 to 1.) (1) Their next step is in progress which is to study the various species attributes and how they affect our health and our disease processes.
Currently, the documented role that our microbiome plays in wellness is much more extensive than anyone imagined. I previously wrote, good microflora has been reported to have many roles in our health.
Now it’s time for an update in new research and more tips on how to keep our bellies happy!
Below is a current summary of the role our microbiome plays in our health:
- They manufacture B-vitamins, such as biotin, niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6) and folic acid.
- They have anti-tumor potential. (2, 3)
- They aid in controllingthe spread of undesirable microorganisms. (4)
- They play a role in heart disease and cholesterol levels. (5, 6)
- They have been shown to be helpful in relieving mood issues and symptoms of anxiety.(7, 8)
- They play a role in protecting against environmental pollutants and assisting in their removal. (9-11)
- They help considerably to enhance bowel function. (12)
- They help to remove inflammatory hormones and prevent their recirculation. (13)
- They assist with fat signaling and energy metabolism. (14)
- They play a role in our metabolism and weight as well as blood sugar modulation. (15-17, 18)
- They aid with skin health by assisting in controlling acne. (19-21)
- Beneficial microbes may help break down gluten peptides. (22)
- A recent study concluded that 94 strains of bacteria, mostly in phyla Firmicutes and Actinobacteria (Lactobacillius, Sterptococcus, Staphlyococcus, Clostridium, and Bifidobacterium), could play a role in gluten metabolism and provide clues for a treatment for celiac disease.
- Unfortunately, this does not mean we can all take probitoics and go on eating gluten. In fact, eating gluten and genetically modified foods may contribute to an overgrowth of pathogenic microbes that cause inflammation and other undesirable health effects by wiping out our good bugs. (23).
- Oral health- an imbalance in your mouth of microbiota could down regulate and disarm your immune system. (24) Furthermore, probiotics may promote healthy oral mucosa and gum integrity. (25)
Read more updates on how microbiotia is connected to ASD and stomach health and how exercise may help increase our gut bug diversity.
How to Make Sure Your Belly Bugs are Happy
For the most part, I do recommend probiotics to most of my client. Eating fermented foods such as organic kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh can also provide a whole food source of probiotics. It is imperative to also provide our microbiome with proper “bug food” to keep them strong and healthy. This means including “prebiotics” in the diet such as jerusalem artichoke, and fruits and vegetables that are good sources of soluble fiber (sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, asparagus, turnips, mango, avocados, strawberries, apricots).
Different Bugs for Different Folks
Just as everyone had different genetic makeups, our bug blueprint in our gut differs and has different metabolic and nutritional needs from one person to the next. As discussed above, current research is suggesting that the beneficial actions the probiotics play on our biochemistry may be more important than the number of probiotics. In fact, I have seen cases where the wrong probiotic for the wrong amount of time actually produced more gastrointestinal irritation.
This is why I suggest to my clients to rotate strains and brands as their health conditions change. I tend to use probiotic products that differ in their actions according to the specific strains that are present which signal modulation of inflammation, weight loss, and/or gastrointestinal motility, depending on what is needed at the time. However, we may need to keep them on a specific species modulator for extended periods, depending on their genetics, health condition, and environmental interactions.
When Diet and Bug Pills Aren’t Enough
There are other things to consider for digestive and overall health, these include digestive enzymes, removing small intestinal bowel overgrowth (a condition in which probiotics are actually contra-indicated!), hormonal balance, oxidative stress, neurotransmitter formation, energy metabolism, and inflammation. Furthermore, if one has chronic yeast (Candida) infections or adrenal fatigue, it may be wise to first kill off the pathogen with natural or conventional antimicrobials first. (I like to use essential oils first-see below).
So, if you are experiencing “side effects” from probiotics or prebiotics, you could have a “bug war” going on in your gut and it may be wise to explore how to calm the buggers down, due to their impact on overall wellness in order to prevent more issues down the road. For these individuals, it may be time to pay a visit to your friendly naturopathic or functional medicine doctor.
Essential Oils for Hormonal Health
Applying essential oils is a powerful way to calm the body, mind, and spirit to alleviate hormonal symptoms. Essential oils contain potent, yet gentle, constituents that are anti-inflammatory, relax muscle cramping, ease stress, and assist with hormonal balance.
A recent study just reported on the effects of inhalation of the essential oil of Citrus aurantium L. var. amara (neroli oil) on menopausal symptoms, stress, and estrogen in postmenopausal women. The study measured menopausal symptoms, libido, serum cortisol and estrogen concentrations, blood pressure, pulse, and stress in sixty-three healthy postmenopausal menopause after inhalation of neroli oil. The neroli group received significant benefits in sexual desire and reduced blood pressure. Neroli oil was thought to have a potential as an intervention for stress reduction and endocrine system support (1).
Other oils for hormonal support include:
1. Lavender for menstrual pain (2)
2. Thyme, which beat out ibuprofen for pain in one study (3)
3. Clary Sage, Sage, and Nutmeg also support healthy hormonal levels and may aid in symptom relief (4,5)
For more information on the oils or to order, please visit my website.
You can also learn about the oils at workshops or listen to the teleseminar recordings on your own time here.
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic, Grade A essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been AFNOR and ISO standardized. There is no quality control in the United States and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin.
This information is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness.
BREAKFREE MEDICINE NEWS
1. What Am I Listening to?
So, many of you are aware, I’m “an information health junkie.” Well, this weekend, in-between my trip to the new Whole Foods store in Albany and various family outings, I was jiving with Lucas Rockwood’s interview with Donna Gates on this very topic.
2. Did you miss my quick essential oil tip for the week? Sign up for additional essential oil information and enjoy a healthier lifestyle with essential oils.
3. MOST EXCITING NEWS- MY BOOK EPROOFS ARE IN.
Now is the fun part, design and getting the word out. Any help you guys can do with following me on social media and spreading the word will be much appreciated. I really want people to know they have the power to be and stay healthy!
SOURCES AND REFERENCES
(1) TuftsNow. The Microbiome. September 23, 2013.
(2) Leon Chaitow, N.D., D.O. and Natasha Trenev. Probiotics. Thorsons Publishing Group, Northamptonshire England, c1990 ISBN 0-7225-1919-2 http://www.holisticmed.com/detox/dtx-probio.txt
(3) Schwabe, RF, & Jobin, C. The microbiome and cancer. Nature Reviews Cancer October 2013. 13; 800-812. doi:10.1038/nrc3610
(4) Anti-infective mechanisms induced by a probiotic Lactobacillus strain against Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium infection. Int J Food Microbiol. 2010 Apr 15;138(3):223-31. Epub 2010 Feb 1.
( 5) Metagenomics: the role of the microbiome in cardiovascular diseases. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2006 Apr;17(2):157-61. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16531752
(7) Neufeld, K. M., Kang, N., Bienenstock, J. and Foster, J. A. (2011), Reduced anxiety-like behavior and central neurochemical change in germ-free mice (abstract). Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 23: 255–e119. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2982.2010.01620.x
(8) Rochellys Diaz Heijtza,b,1, Shugui Wangc, Farhana Anuard, Yu Qiana,b, Britta Björkholmd, Annika Samuelssond, Martin L. Hibberdc, Hans Forssbergb,e, and Sven Petterssonc,d,1. Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior. PNAS.
(9) Cho KM, et al. Biodegradation of chlorpyrifos by lactic acid bacteria during kimchi fermentation. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Mar 11;57(5):1882-9.
(10) PMID: 19199784
(11) Dr. Mercola. The food that helps you detox pesticides. July 16, 2011. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/16/this-food-helps-you-to-detox-pesticides.aspx
(12) Probiotic Therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). Jan 2010; 6(1): 39–44. PMCID: PMC2886445
(13) Fecal microbial determinants of fecal and systemic estrogens and estrogen metabolites: a cross-sectional study. J Transl Med. 2012; 10: 253. doi: 10.1186/1479-5876-10-253
(14) Whitman, Claire. Controlling obesity: Is it more than just diet and exercise?. Biogenesis Newsletter. January 2010. http://www.bio-genesis.com/pdf/newsletter/January-2010.pdf
(15)Kallus & Brandt. The intestinal microbiota and obesity. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2012 Jan;46(1):16-24. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e31823711fd.
(16) Frequency of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes in gut microbiota in obese and normal weight Egyptian children and adults. Arch Med Sci. Jun 2011; 7(3): 501–507. Published online Jul 11, 2011. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2011.23418.
(17) Stephen Daniells. Gut health linked to excessive weight gain during pregnancy. Nutra. March 2010.
(18) Larsen N, et al. Gut microbiota in human adults with type 2 diabetes differs from non-diabetic adults (abstract). PLoS One. 2010 Feb 5;5(2):e9085.
(19) Bowe WP, Logan AC. Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future? Gut Pathog. 2011 Jan 31;3(1):1. PMID: 21281494
(22) Alberto Caminero, et al. Diversity of the cultivable human gut microbiome involved in gluten metabolism: isolation of microorganisms with potential interest for coeliac disease. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2014 Feb 6. Epub 2014 Feb 6. PMID: 24499426.
(23) Ji, S. Why Eating Wheat and GMOs Will Destroy Your Health. GreenMedInfo.com. May 5, 2014.)
(24) University of Pennsylvania. Gum disease bacteria selectively disarm immune system, study finds. ScienceDaily. June 11, 2014.
Essential Oil Sources:
(1) Seo Yeon Choi, Purum Kang, Hui Su Lee, and Geun Hee Seol. Effects of Inhalation of Essential Oil of Citrus aurantium L. var. amara on Menopausal Symptoms, Stress, and Estrogen in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2014), Article ID 796518, 7 pages
(2) King, M. Inhaling Lavender Oil Eases Menstrual Pain. GreenMedInfo.com. May 6, 2014.
(3) Salmalian H, et al. Comparative effect of thymus vulgaris and ibuprofen on primary dysmenorrhea: A triple-blind clinical study. Caspian J Intern Med. 2014 Spring;5(2):82-8.
(4) Han, S., Hur M., Buckle, J., Choi, J., Lee, M. (2006). Effect of aromatherapy on symptoms of dysmenorrheal in college students: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complentary Medicine, Jul-Aug, 12(6), 535-41.
(5) Lis-Balchin, M., Hart, S. (1997). A preliminary study of the effect of essential oils on skeletal and smooth muscle in vitro. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 58, 183-7.