Much research is now being done on the gut-brain axis – the biochemical and neuronal communication that’s constantly taking place between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. The gut-brain axis works in both directions – from gut to brain and brain to gut – and affects GI functioning as well as hormones, immunity, mood, motivation, and higher cognitive functions.
That’s all pretty amazing in itself but how’s this for mind blowing?
A new study shows that the composition of a person’s gut microbiome can be improved through electromagnetic brain stimulation – leading to weight loss. The technique is called deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) and is non-invasive.
Research has found that an imbalance in the mix of beneficial and harmful micro-organisms inhabiting the gut microbiome affects the brain’s signals for hunger and satiety (fullness), leading to obesity.
Building on that, a team of researchers at the IRCCS Policlinico San Donato and the University of Milan worked jointly to examine how dTMS could improve the make up of obese subjects’ gut microbiomes, causing them to lose weight.
“This study expands on the researchers’ previous finding that dTMS reduced food cravings and induced weight loss in obese individuals. Unlike deep brain stimulation, dTMS does not need an operation or implantation of electrodes. Instead, an electromagnetic coil is placed on the scalp and sends magnetic pulses to stimulate specific deep regions of the brain. Currently approved in the U.S. for treating major depression, dTMS is being studied in some countries for the treatment of other neuropsychiatric disorders, especially addiction.” (Endocrine Society, 2017)
By the end of the five weeks of treatment, the people who’d received dTMS lost over 3% of their body weight and more than 4% of their fat, significantly more than the control subjects.
The most interesting finding: At the end of the five week study, stool sample analysis of the dTMS-treated subjects showed the quantities of several beneficial bacterial species possessing anti-inflammatory properties in their gut microbiomes had also greatly increased. And more good news: The dTMS-treated subjects had more abundant bacterial species correlated with improvements in metabolic and hormonal functions, including glucose, insulin, some pituitary hormones, and norepinephrine.
“These changes suggest a beneficial effect of dTMS on both weight loss and change in microbiota composition,” Livio Luzi, MD, head of the research team, said. “Our research shows the innovative ability of dTMS in exerting anti-obesity effects through alteration of the gut-brain axis.” (Endocrine Society, 2017)
In recent years, transcranial magnetic stimulation has also shown promise as a treatment for a variety of health problems, including major depression, migraines, and boosting memory function. (Haridy, 2017)
Many thanks to Leni Fuhrman for sending me the Haridy article about this fascinating work.
Endocrine Society. (2017). Magnetic brain stimulation causes weight loss by making gut bacteria healthier. See: http://www.endocrine.org/news-room/current-press-releases/magnetic-brain-stimulation-causes-weight-loss-by-making-gut-bacteria-healthier
Haridy, R. (2017). Healthier gut bacteria and weight loss achieved through magnetic brain stimulation. See: http://newatlas.com/magnetic-brain-stimulation-alters-gut-bacteria/48755/?utm_source=Gizmag+Subscribers&utm_campaign=1983600d4f-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-1983600d4f-91903797
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