Tag Archives: Gut Feelings

Antidepressant Bacteria in Soil – Boosts Serotonin

 

 

 

 

(Source: www.ecology.com)
(Source: www.ecology.com)

 

 

Nature provides! There’s a bacterium living naturally and ubiquitously in the soil that we’re likely to ingest or inhale when we spend time outdoors in natural environments: Mycobacterium vaccae – also called  The Golden Bacillus. You can see why it’s called that:

 

Mycobacterium vaccae

Mycobacterium vaccae (Source: www.flickr.com)
(Source: www.flickr.com)

 

 Beautiful, isn’t it?
This bacterium is highly beneficial. It boosts our serotonin levels, reduces anxiety and makes us feel happier.
Golden Bacillus, Mycobacterium vaccae, has been shown to act like a natural Prozac (without the bad side effects). Like Prozac, it apparently stimulates serotonic production, making you feel more relaxed, less stressed, and generally happier.
In studies, when the bacterium was given to cancer patients, they reported feeling less stressed and experiencing a better quality of life. (Grant, 2014) (Hemmingway, 2015)

 

 

henna-tatoos-offer-message-of-hope-for-female-cancer-patients-3

 

 

In  a lab rat study,  Mycobacterium vaccae received by injection and via feeding led to improvement in the animals’ cognitive ability, increased concentration when performing tasks, and lowered stress level compared to a control group that didn’t receive the soil bacteria. And the effects were seen for up to three weeks. (Grant, 2014).

 

 

(Source: organicfitness.com)
(Source: organicfitness.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEROTONIN

(Cann, 2015) (McIntosh, 2015) (Wikipedia, 2015A)

 

The Serotonin Molecule

serotonin

 

Serotinin is an important chemical manufactured by our bodies that acts as a neorotransmitter, enabling brain and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other – though some prefer to regard serotonin as a hormone. The vast majority of the body’s serotonin, 80-90%, is produced in the GI tract’s intestinal mucosa (by enterochromaffin cells). The small amount made in our brains cannot cross the blood-brain barrier so must be produced there.
Serotonin plays many essential roles in the body, affecting:
  • Mood and social behavior
  • Appetite and digestion
  • Bone metabolism
  • Breast milk production
  • Liver regeneration
  • Cell division
  • Intestinal movements
  • Sleep
  • Memory and learning
  • Sexual desire and function

 

 

 

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SEROTONIN IMBALANCES

If your body produces too little or too much serotonin, you’re likely to experience all kinds of common gut issues: Too little serotonin and you’re likely to feel depressed and anxious – and be constipated. Too much and you’re likely to feel nervous and nauseated – and have diarrhea.

Too Low Serotonin Level

 

 

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Symptoms of low serotonin levels include (Boeree, 2009)  (Wilson, 2015):
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Negative thinking
  • Problems with anger control
  • Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
  • Suicidal thought and behaviors
  • Craving carbohydrates (starchy foods)
  • Obesity
  • Fibromyalgia pain
  • Migraine headaches
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

 

 

susan-kleiner-quote-its-what-anti-depressants-are-all-about-these-drug

 

Too High Serotonin Level

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Having too much serotonin, can lead to excessive nerve cell activity, a state called Serotonin Syndrome, that often begins within hours of taking a new medication that affects serotonin levels or from greatly increasing the dose of one you’ve been taking. Symptoms include (WebMD, 2015A):
  • Confusion
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Changes in blood pressure and/or temperature
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremor
  • Loss of muscle coordination or twitching muscles
  • Shivering and goose bumps
  • Heavy sweating
In severe cases, taking too much serotonin can be life-threatening. If you have these symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome, get medical attention promptly:
  • High fever
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Unconsciousness

 

 

 

 

 

 

ON PROZAC

(Naish, 2013)

 

Prozac-001

 

Prozac (fluoxetine) is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) pharmaceutical widely used for treating major depression and depressive disorder, OCD, premenstrual syndrome, panic disorder, and bulimia. It was first developed and marketed by Eli Lilly in 1988 and was an instant hit … as the “Happy Pill”. 27 years later, more than 20% of Americans (children, adults, the elderly) regularly take mood-altering drugs prescribed by their doctors. Even anxious dogs are put on Prozac.
Scientists at Eli Lilly first found that fluoxetine reduced hypertension in some animals but were disappointed when it didn’t have this same effect when tested on human subjects. Then the company thought the chemical could be marketed as an anti-obesity pill but again their clinical trials failed. When they tried it out on five volunteers who had mild depression, the subjects felt much better. Eureka!, they’d discovered a gold mine of profits. Fluoxetine apparently had the ability to improve mood.
Fluoxetine was rebranded as an anti-depressant by marketing experts and sold as Prozac. The two-syllable name combined something positive sounding (pro) with something zippy sounding (zac). Doctors now had a one-pill fix for all those people in their practices suffering from depression and its accompanying variety of pesky symptoms. These people could now be zapped into positivity. Prozac’s great success then led to a spate of other SSRI anti-depressant drugs – including Aropax, Celexa, Cipralex, Cipramil, Lexamil, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Seroplex, Viibryd, and Zoloft.
What a great boon for humanity.
Well, perhaps not.

 

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The following side effects are associated with Prozac (WebMD, 2015B):

Common side effects of Prozac:

  • Anxious
  • Chronic Trouble Sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizzy
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Feel Like Throwing Up
  • Feeling Weak
  • Head Pain
  • Indigestion
  • Involuntary Quivering
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nervous
  • Rash
  • Sinus Irritation and Congestion
  • Throat Irritation
  • Yawning

Infrequent side effects of Prozac:

  • Chills
  • Hives
  • Trouble Breathing
  • Abnormal Dreams
  • Abnormal Heart Rhythm
  • Altered Interest in Having Sexual Intercourse
  • Chest Pain
  • Confused
  • Cough
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Feeling Restless
  • Fever
  • Flu-Like Symptoms
  • Frequent Urination
  • Gas
  • Hair Loss
  • Heart Throbbing or Pounding
  • Hyperactive Behavior
  • Inability to have an Erection
  • Incomplete or Infrequent Bowel Movements
  • Itching
  • Joint Pain
  • Problem with Ejaculation
  • Problems with Eyesight
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Sexual Problems
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Taste Problems
  • Weight Loss
  • Widening of Blood Vessels

Rare side effects of Prozac:

  • A Spasm of the Larynx
  • Abnormal Liver Function Tests
  • Allergic Reaction causing Serum Sickness
  • Angle-Closure Glaucoma caused by Another Disease
  • Behaving with Excessive Cheerfulness and Activity
  • Bleeding of the Stomach or Intestines
  • Bronchospasm
  • Erythema Multiforme
  • Giant Hives
  • Having Thoughts of Suicide
  • Hepatitis caused by Drugs
  • Increased Risk of Bleeding
  • Inflammation of Skin caused by an Allergy
  • Life Threatening Allergic Reaction
  • Low Amount of Sodium in the Blood
  • Mild Degree of Mania
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome
  • Prolonged Q-T Interval on EKG
  • Reaction due to an Allergy
  • Seizures
  • Serotonin Syndrome – Adverse Drug Interaction
  • Stomach or Intestinal Ulcer
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Throwing Up
  • Very Rapid Heartbeat – Torsades de Pointes
  • Abnormal Bleeding from the Uterus
  • Abnormally Low Blood Pressure
  • Difficult or Painful Urination
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Grinding of the Teeth
  • Loss of Memory
  • Loss of One’s Own Sense of Reality or Identity
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Mood Changes
  • Sun-Sensitive Skin
  • Uncoordinated

 

Serious birth defects are also associated with a woman’s taking Prozac during pregnancy, especially during the last four and a half months. (DrugWatch, 2014)

 

 

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YOUR GUT FEELINGS

So maybe you’re anxious or depressed and prefer avoiding the side effects of pharmaceuticals. In my psychotherapy practice over the years, I’ve noticed that people on long term anti-anxiety/anti-depressant drugs are often separated from their feelings. They may not feel very depressed or anxious but they also don’t have easy access to who they are or how they actually feel – ie, they tend to make decisions based on their thoughts rather than with their vital gut feelings.
Maybe this doesn’t appeal to you.

 

 

imgres

 

We already know that the health of the microflora living in our intestines is directly connected to the overall health of our bodies – including mood.  And remember that the vast majority (80-90%) of the serotonin (our natural feel-good chemical)  in our bodies is produced inside our intestines, in the gut’s mucosal layer – which is also, not coincidentally, where the bacteria and other micro-organisms that make up our gut microbiome live. So it’s not the least surprising that a bacterium found in soil would have anti-depressant qualities.

 

Mycobacterium vaccae (The Golden Bacillus)

(Source: exploringtheinvisible.com
(Source: exploringtheinvisible.com

 

 

 

 

OTHER RESEARCH ON MYCOBACTERIUM VACCAE

Scientists are looking into whether exposure to mycrobacterium antidepressant microbes in soil can improve Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis (both are autoimmune conditions stemming from chronic inflammation caused by an unbalanced gut microbiome), as well as cognitive functioning. (Grant, 2014)
Research is also underway to see if a killed Mycobacterium vaccae vaccine can be effective in the treatment of asthma, cancer, leprosy, psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, and tuberculosis. (Wikipedia, 2015B)

 

 

 

(Source: dagmaramach.com)
(Source: dagmaramach.com)

 

 

 

 

 

A GOOD READ

 

 

(Source: www.nytimes.com) )

 

 

 

I highly recommend taking a look at Michael Polan’s excellent New York Times article “Some of My Best Friends Are Germs“. He discusses the importance of our gut bacteria, how our modern obsession with finding and killing all germs is making us ill (The Hygiene Hypothesis), the fact that children who are exposed to dirt have healthier immune systems, and lots of other fascinating information.
This is a photo from the article:

 

 

(Source: www.nytimes.com Image Credit: Credit Hannah Whitaker for The New York Times)
(Source: www.nytimes.com
Image Credit: Hannah Whitaker for The New York Times)

 

 

 

 

 

THE HEALTH OF THE EARTH’S SOIL

The presence of Mycobacterium vaccae, the Golden Bacillus, in dirt gives us yet another compelling reason to do something to stop the great rate at which we’re depleting the soil’s microbiome with GMO crops, herbicides, and other toxins.  Healthy soil presumably contains more Mycobacterium vaccaeis than depleted soil. If humans continue destroying the earth’s resources, we may succeed in killing off the beautiful Golden Bacillus.
How depressing.

 

(Source: grist.org)
(Source: grist.org)

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Boeree, E.G. (2009). Neurotransmitters. See: http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/genpsyneurotransmitters.html

Cann, K. (2015). Low Serotonin and Gastrointestinal Disorders. RobWolf.com. See: http://robbwolf.com/2013/01/10/serotonin-gastrointestinal-disorders/

DrugWatch.com. (2014). Prozac. See: http://www.drugwatch.com/prozac/

Grant, B. L. (2014). Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy. Ecology.com. See: http://www.ecology.com/2014/08/25/antidepressant-microbes-soil/

Hemmingway, W. (2015). Happy Dirt: A Microbe Found In Soil Mimics Prozac. See: http://www.healthfreedoms.org/happy-dirt-a-microbe-found-in-soil-mimics-prozac/

McIntosh, J. (2015). What is serotonin? What does serotonin do? Medical News Today. See: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232248.php

Naish, J. (2013). The Jekyll and Hyde happy pill: It’s brought relief to millions but is linked to suicide, low libido and birth defects, and we still don’t know how Prozac works. DailyMail.com. See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2275333/Prozac-Its-brought-relief-millions-linked-suicide-low-libido-birth-defects.html#axzz2KNt7FK00

Polan, M. (2013). Some of My Best Friends Are Germs. New York Times Magazine, May 15 2013. See:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

WebMD. (2015A). What Is Serotonin Syndrome? See: http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/serotonin-syndrome-causes-symptoms-treatments

WebMD. (2015B). Prozac: Side Effects. See: http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6997/prozac-oral/details/list-sideeffects

Wikipedia. (2015A). Serotonin. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serotonin

Wikipedia. (2015B). Mycobacterium vaccae. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycobacterium_vaccae

Wilson, J. (2015). Low Serotonin Levels Symptoms. Livestrong.com. See: http://www.livestrong.com/article/245341-low-serotonin-levels-symptoms/



© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

How the Gut Microbiome Influences the Brain – and Vice Versa

 

 

Brain4

 

Maybe you’re used to thinking of the brain in your head as your only brain – but your body actually has TWO BRAINS: In fact, the ‘brain’ in your gut does a lot more than digest your food. While this brain doesn’t produce thoughts, it contains its own independent nervous system along with more neurotransmitters and serotonin than the brain in your head.
Sheaths of neurons are embedded in the walls of the entire alimentary canal. Technically known as the enteric nervous system, this gut brain measures about 9 meters (29.5 feet) from esophagus to anus and contains about 100 million neurons, more neurons than exist in either the spinal cord or the entire peripheral nervous system. Equipped with its own reflexes and senses, this second brain can control gut behavior independently of the brain. Here’s a single example to  give you an idea of the importance of the gut brain for the entire body:  About 90% of the fibers in the vagus nerve, the largest of the visceral nerves, carry information FROM the gut TO the brain – but not the other way around. (Hadhazy, 2010)
Living inside the intestines of the gut brain is a huge population of microbes – our gut microbiome, which contains 10’s of trillions of microorganisms and weighs up to 5 pounds. The gut microbiome  consists of at least 1,000 different species of known bacteria and other microscopic life forms comprised of more than 3 million genes.  To put it another way: The number of NON-human genes living in your gut is vastly greater than the genes in your human genome.

 

imgres-4

 

One third of the micro-organisms living in your particular gut microbiome is also found in most other people’s gut microbiomes – but two thirds of the micro-organisms in your gut are specific just to you. In other words, the microbiome in your intestines is like an individual identity card.

 

 

 

gut-microbiome

 

 

With that gut microbiome information under your belt, I hope you’re ready to watch a delightful TEDMED talk given by the illustrious John Cryan.

 

John F. Cryan is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at University College Cork (Ireland) and a Principal Investigator at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre there. His research focuses on the neurobiological basis of stress-related neuro-psychiatric disorders – including depression, anxiety and drug dependence. His group is also looking into the interaction between the brain and gut microbiome as it affects stress and immune-related disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, and neuro-developmental disorders such as autism.

 

Professor Cryan, on right, receiving a Researcher of the Year award
Professor Cryan, on right, receiving a Researcher of the Year award

 

Cryan’s research has far-reaching public health implications: How we view C sections versus vaginal births, how the gut microbiome influences brain development, the impact of probiotics on mood, how to prevent and repair IBS, and much more.
It also suggests that the term gut feeling makes neuro-biological sense.
In this 2014 TEDMED talk, Dr Cryan shares some intriguing facts and insights on how our thoughts and emotions are connected to our guts.

 

TEDMED Video – Food for thought: How gut microbes change your mind

 

JohnCryan_1120x640

 

If you want to read, watch or listen to more fascinating information on the topic of the gut microbiome’s two-way relationship with the brain, here are some other resources. I’m particularly fond of Cryan’s Radiolab interview:

More than a gut feeling
Q&A with John Cryan on the TEDMED blog

Gut Feelings
Radiolab, Robert Krulwich, WNYC, Season 10, Episode 7.

Can the bacteria in your gut send message to your brain?
Science Friday, Ira Flatow, WNYC, Aug. 27, 2014.

Probiotic Material Chill Out Anxious Mice
Science Friday, Ira Flatow, WNYC, Sept. 02, 2011.

Cesarean birth alters immune system, social behavior in mice
Hughes, V. Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. Nov 18 2014.

Mental Health May Depend on Creatures in the Gut
Schmidt, C. Scientific American. February 2015.

When Yogurt Affects the Brain
Khazan, O. The Atlantic. Sept 23 2014.

Our Microbiome May Be Looking Out For Itself
Zimmer, C. New York Times. Aug 14 2014.

Understanding psychobiotics
Lawson, C. WIRED Health. Mar. 9 2015.

Body bacteria: Can your gut bugs make you smarter?
Swain, F. BBC. Feb. 21, 2014.

Mental Health: Thinking from the gut
Schmidt, C. Nature. Feb. 26, 2015.

Gut-brain link grabs neuroscientists
Reardon, S. Nature. Nov. 12, 2014.

Friends with social benefits: host-microbe interactions as a driver of brain evolution and development?
Stilling, R, SR Bordenstein, et al. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. Oct 2014.

Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behavior
Cryan JF, TG Dinan. Nat Rev Neurosci. Oct 2012. 13, 701–12.

 

 

 

oct2012nl_probiotics

 

 

Study of the gut microbiome and its influence on the body is in its infancy now and John Cryan is one of its pioneers. Stay tuned … we’re going to find that probiotics and prebiotics (nutrients necessary for probiotics) become central to the practice of psychiatry, gastroenterology, obstetrics, gynecology, neonatology and pediatrics, allergy and immunology, cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, infectious disease, neurology, pulmonology, urology, surgery and likely across all medical fields.
And then there are the the body’s OTHER microbiomes, which I didn’t even talk about in this piece!

 

My thanks to Matt Keschner, DC, for bringing this video to my attention.

 

 

REFERENCES

Cryan, J.F. (2014). TEDMED Video – Food for thought: How gut microbes change your mind. See: http://www.modernhcp.com/tedmed-video-food-for-thought-how-gut-microbes-change-your-mind/?utm_source=ModernHCP&utm_campaign=e1513feace-04-08-15+-+MHCP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c7098f57a2-e1513feace-235695269

Hadhazy, A. (2010). Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being: The emerging and surprising view of how the enteric nervous system in our bellies goes far beyond just processing the food we eat. Scientific American. See: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/

 

 

© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Exercise to Connect Your Brain and Gut

 

 

The Enteric Nervous System (Source: ivingwellnessblog.wordpress.com)
The Enteric Nervous System (Source: ivingwellnessblog.wordpress.com)

 

 

BRAIN VS BODY: BODIES OUT OF BALANCE

As human animals we’re born as bodies with big powerful brains sitting up top in our heads. Our culture teaches us to value what goes on in the brain over what takes place in the rest of the body. Many of us learn to believe information generated by our brains and more or less ignore information available from the rest of the body – until something goes wrong down there.
And there’s so much that can go wrong from this disconnected, out of balance way of living. We then see a doctor to try to fix the symptoms of our ailment with medicines or surgery.

 

The way too many of us live – staying mostly up in our heads with little idea of our feelings and our true needs, all information generated by our guts:

 

Living Up In Your Brain - Relying Too Much on Thinking
Living Up In Your Brain – Relying Too Much on Thinking

 

 

The way we’re meant to be – brain and gut connected in constant communication:

 

The Gut and Brain Need to Interact for Good Physical and Mental Health
The Gut and Brain Need to Interact for Good Physical and Mental Health

 

 

The human gastrointestinal tract:

 

digestive_system

 

 

 

 

 

YOU HAVE TWO BRAINS – ONE RESIDES IN YOUR HEAD AND ANOTHER VERY IMPORTANT ONE LIVES IN YOUR GUT

We’re used to thinking of the brain in the head as the body part that’s running the show but, in fact, we also have a second brain. It resides in our digestive tract.
Parts of the enteric nervous system (the gut brain) and their functions:

 

The Brain In The Gut

 

 

 

A BRIEF COURSE ON OUR TWO BRAINS (Hardin, 2014 A-C)
  • On average, the human brain, the seat of all our thinking, contains 86 billion neurons engaged in transmitting information to and from the rest of the body.
  • The human enteric nervous system (the gut) contains 100 million neurons – about 1000th the number in the human brain and about equal to the number in the human spinal cord.
  • The autonomous nervous system of the gut allows it to work independently of the brain.
  • Our guts make more independent decisions for us than any other part of the body.
  • The gut’s endocrine signaling to the entire body is quite elaborate. Communication from our gut-dwelling microbes to the brain affects our emotions, motivation, cognition, memory and behavior.
  • Just like our thinking brain, our gut brain is also able to learn and remember.
  • In the lowest, most primitive part of our brains, a neural network called the basal ganglia is constantly evaluating the outcomes of our every behavior, extracting decision rules: ‘When I said that, it worked out well.’ ‘When I did this, bad things happened.’ And so on, like a tireless experimental scientist tasked with guiding us wisely through our lives.
  • The basal ganglia in the brain store our accumulated life wisdom. But when we are faced with a decision, it is the brain’s verbal cortex that delivers our thoughts about it, often drowning out the wisdom accumulated inside the basal ganglia’s storehouse.
  • And the most interesting part: The basal ganglia area is so primitive it has NO CONNECTION to the verbal cortex so it can’t share its knowledge in words – but its connections to the gut are plentiful. The basal ganglia area tells us what is right or wrong for us as a GUT FEELING.
  • So trust your gut, your felt sense, your intuition – not what comes to you in words from your brain!
  • Nearly every brain-regulating chemical found in our skull brains is also found in our gut brains. This includes major neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine and nitric oxide), brain proteins called neuropeptides, major immune system cells, a class of the body’s natural opiates (enkephalins), and even benzodiazepines (the family of psychoactive chemicals found in drugs such as Valium and Xanax).
  • The gut has opiate receptors much like the brain. Drugs such as morphine and heroin attach to opiate receptors in the brain and also in the gut, causing constipation. Both brains can be addicted to opiates.
  • Our emotions are greatly influenced by chemicals and nerves inside the gut. Most of us know Prozac as a best selling anti-depressant pharmaceutical. In 1971, when Eli Lilly was developing the drug, they expected it would become a treatment for high blood pressure or obesity.
  • Prozac works by increasing brain levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of well-being. Serotonin also affects sleep, appetite and aggression.
  • Known side effects of Prozac include nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, and a lowered sex drive – clear evidence of a gut-brain interaction.
  • 90% of the body’s serotonin is located in the gut, where it regulates intestinal movements. Only 10% is synthesized in the central nervous system, where it serves many functions – including mood regulation, appetite, sleep, and the cognitive functions of memory and learning.
  • I’ve noticed as a psychotherapist that people’s voices relax and become lower pitched when they’re speaking their gut truths and get tenser and higher pitched when they’re saying what they think.
  • I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked somehow how they feel about something and am instead told how they think they feel. Not so useful.
Makes you realize how important it is for those two brains to communicate with each other – and how mistaken we are when we look to the brain in the head to tell us how we feel and what we need.
As Joan Rivers always said:

 

joan_rivers_can_we_talk_uk-show

 

So how can you improve the communication between your gut and your brain? Here’s an exercise to try.

 

 

 

STAIRCASE EXERCISE

 To help you spend less time in your head and more time in your body – and find it easier to go back and forth between them

 

 

  • Picture a lovely old circular stone staircase, maybe one winding down inside a medieval castle tower.
  • Imagine the top of the staircase is the  brain up in your skull. Its steps lead down to the GI tract down in your gut.
  • Stand quietly for a moment up at the top of the staircase breathing slowly, letting your eyes look down a few steps. What color are they? What kind of texture do they have?
  • Notice the old stones the make up the stairs and walls. What color are they? What kind of texture do they have?
  • What’s the quality of the light inside the staircase?
  • Is it quiet in this staircase?
  • What emotions do you feel?
  • What bodily sensations do you notice?
  • Slowly step down to the second stair. Stand there a moment, breathing slowly and deeply, looking around.
  • Slowly step down to the third stair. Stand there a moment, breathing slowly and deeply, looking around.
  • Continue slowly down the other stairs, pausing between breaths on each stair.
  • If you can’t pause between breaths yet, rest for a few breaths on each stair before moving on.
  • Slowly descend the whole staircase in this manner observing what you see and what you’re feeling along the way, emotionally and sensations in your body.
  • When you reach the bottom of the staircase, spend a few easy breaths down there, in your gut. What do you see down there? What sensations do you feel?
  • When you’re ready, turn around and slowly walk back up the staircase to your brain in this same manner, noting what you see and how you’re feeling along the way.
  • When you reach your brain again, spend a few easy breaths up there. What do you see up there? What sensations do you feel?
  • Do you notice anything that’s different from the last time you were up there at the start of this walk?  How’s your breathing?

 

 

1 c

Don’t worry if you’re unable to move down from the top step when you first try this exercise. Can you let yourself just be where you are on your staircase, breathing and looking around? Without chastising yourself?
Eventually, you’ll find you’re able to move further down toward your gut, which will be happy to greet you whenever you arrive.

 

 

 

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winding castle stairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castle_staircase_in_Germany

 

 

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REFERENCES

Hardin, J.R. (2014-A).  Intriguing Facts About the Gut and Brain. AllergiesAndYourGut.com.  See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/the-gut-brain-axis/intriguing-facts-about-the-gut-and-brain/

Hardin, J.R. (2014-B). Our Second Brain – The Gut Mind. AllergiesAndYourGut.com.  See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/our-second-brain-the-gut-mind/

Hardin, J.R. (2014-C). The Gut Microbiome – Our Second Genome. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/the-gut-microbiome-our-second-genome/

 

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.