Tag Archives: OCD

Saffron for Depression, Anxiety, OCD, Cancer, Alzheimer’s, & More

Updated 6/18/2016, 6/22/2016 & 7/2/2016..

(source: www.intercaspian.com)
(source: www.intercaspian.com)
Reading about the health properties of saffron has driven home what I’ve been learning about the differences between our woeful Western diet (often called the Standard American Diet, or SAD – how  unfortunately apt is that?) and the traditional, spice and herb rich diets of India, Persia, and other Middle Eastern cultures.
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of the Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus.  Saffron is so highly prized for culinary and medicinal uses, as an ingredient in perfumes and dyes, and so labor intensive to grow and harvest, it’s often referred to as ‘red gold’.
80% of the world’s saffron is grown in Iran. While there last fall, we saw beautiful heaps of saffron stigmas (called threads) for sale in the bazaars we visited – and it often appeared as an ingredient in our food. I bought some lovely saffron filaments from this spice merchant (and his son?) in the vast and beautiful Grand Bazaar in Esfahan.

 

Photo by Joan Rothchild Hardin
Photo by Joan Rothchild Hardin

 

I could happily have spent days exploring this bazaar (Qeysarriyeh Bazaar in Farsi) – and also the bazaars in other cities we visited: Hamadan, Tabriz, Zanjan, Shiraz, and Yazd! Each is different and quite wonderful in its own way.
I also saw small patches of saffron crocuses growing in the dry soil on the much trod paths in front of desert monuments such as Naqsh-e Rustam – four tombs carved into the side of a cliff embellished with intricate relief carvings. King Darius I (550-486 BCE), the builder of nearby Persepolis, is in the first tomb. The other tombs are attributed to Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. Wish now I’d taken a photo of these brave little crocuses to show you.

 

To my amazement, I saw saffron crocuses growing in the dry, tamped down soil in front of the tombs at Naqsh-e-Rustam, Iran

(Source: ususmundi.info)
(Source: ususmundi.info)

 

“Saffron’s use is ancient. Saffron-based pigments have been found in 50,000 year-old paintings in northwest Iran. It conjures romance, royalty, and delicacy wherever it appears. Alexander the Great bathed in saffron to cure battle wounds. Cultivated saffron emerged in late Bronze Age Crete, bred from its wild precursor by selecting for unusually long stigmas making the plant sterile. Called Kumkum or Kesar in Ayurveda, it also appears as an important medicinal herb in many ancient texts including Ayurveda, Unani, and Chinese Medicine.” (Joyful Belly Ayurveda, 2016)
The first known mention of saffron appeared in a 7th century BCE Assyrian botanical reference. Since then, documentation of saffron’s use in the treatment of some 90 illnesses as been found. (Srivastava, 2010)

 

A detail from the “Saffron Gatherers” fresco of the “Xeste 3” building, one of many frescos depicting saffron found at the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri, on the Aegean island of Santorini

(Source: en.wikipedia.org)
(Source: en.wikipedia.org)

 

 

AYURVEDIC MEDICINE

In Sanskrit, ayur means ‘life’ and veda means ‘wisdom’. The aim of Ayurveda, an ancient form of traditional medicine originating in India over 5,000 years ago, is to create a state of harmony in the body – physical balance, mental balance, and emotional balance. In Ayurveda, this understanding of health is called swastya (a Sanskrit word meaning health). Being in a state of swastya helps us live with good energy, enhances immunity, prevents the onset of ill health, and nurtures the body back into good balance if it does fall sick.
Swastya also includes the idea of being firmly established in one’s self. (Art of Living Retreat Center, 2015)
As a psychotherapist who focuses on mind-body balance, this approach makes a lot of sense to me.

 

Dhanvantari , the deity associated with Ayurveda

Godofayurveda

 

THE DOSHAS

Ayurveda sees the body as having three basic energies, called doshas
  • Vata: kinetic energy
  • Pitta: energy transformation
  • Kapha: cohesive energy
Balance among the three doshas produces swastya, a state of health.

 

(Source: www.pinterest.com)
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

 

 

 

 

 

SAFFRON IN AYURVEDIC MEDICINE

“Saffron helps pacify all three doshas. It improves immunity, increases energy, helps fight phlegm and respiratory disorders, improves vision and reduces inflammation. Its tonic can lower cholesterol, improve digestion and help treat spleen ailments, insomnia, impotency, premenstrual syndrome and neurodegenerative disorders.” (Sharma, 2016)

 

PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATIONS FOR DEPRESSION

Modern psychopharmacology has been marketing a variety of antidepressants world wide for more than 50 years. The use of these antidepressant medications in the US has increased by 400% in the last 28 years – over 11% of Americans age 12 and older now take them. (Downey, 2013)
The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2003 that 1 in 10 adult Americans described themselves as depressed and the World Health Organization estimated that depression is expected to be the world’s second-leading cause of disability by 2020, second only to cardiovascular disease. (Swartz, 2003)
This dire situation is compounded by yet another: Taking these psychotropic medications is often accompanied by at least one of many physiological adverse side effects – anxiety, agitation, emotional numbness, suicidal thoughts, improper bone development, improper brain development, insomnia, constipation, weight gain, gastrointestinal bleeding, sexual dysfunction, and more. (Downey, 2013) & (Kresser, 2008)
Seems to me that experiencing any of these side effects would be quite depressing, especially for people who are feeling depressed to begin with.
On top of all this, taking antidepressant drugs often doesn’t resolve the original depression.

 

 

 

 

SAFFRON FOR DEPRESSION

 

(Source: stampedepanik.blogspot.com)
(Source: stampedepanik.blogspot.com)
If depression is a problem for you, you might want to look into an alternative to pharmaceutical antidepressants with their undesirable side effects and try an age old remedy from Ayurvedic Medicine:  saffron.
There is compelling scientific evidence that saffron (Crocus sativus) is as effective as some pharmaceutical antidepressants for alleviating depression – without the unpleasant side effects. And for people not wanting to give up their existing antidepressants, saffron has been found to work as a highly  effective adjunct therapy to block adverse sexual side effects.
Saffron also has been shown to treat other conditions for which antidepressants are often described – such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. (Downey, 2013)
Traditional Persian medicine prized saffron for relieving depression. Now 21st century research has studied saffron extract and found it produces a powerful antidepressant benefit. (Downey, 2013) & (Dharmananda, 2005)

SAFFRON FOR ANXIETY

Research findings  demonstrate that constituents in saffron known as crocins reduce anxiety without adverse reactions. (Downey, 2013)

 

(Source: www.slideshare.net)
(Source: www.slideshare.net)

 

 

 

SAFFRON FOR OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are often treated with combinations of antidepressants.
Research evidence has suggested a functional interaction between the crocins found in saffron and the serotonin-neurotransmitter system, leading scientists to study the effect of saffron on OCD. In an animal model of this condition, crocin compounds from saffron substantially reduced both obsessive and compulsive symptoms without significant adverse effects. (Downey, 2013)

UNCONTROLLED EATING AND SNACKING

Neurotransmitter imbalances, particularly low levels of serotonin, have been shown to increase vulnerability to food cravings, overeating and obesity.
Appetite-suppressing medications can cause numerous, sometimes  deadly side effects—including heart valve damage, birth defects, liver injury, and increased blood pressure.
Scientists conducted a clinical trial using a saffron extract  with 60 mildly overweight female volunteers, at least half of whom suffered with compulsive snacking behavior.
Study subjects were randomly given either daily doses of 176.5 mg of patented saffron extract or a placebo. They were all instructed to maintain their normal dietary habits and all between-meal snacking was recorded.
“Over 8 weeks, the number of snacking events for the placebo group decreased by 28%. In the saffron group, between-meal snacks decreased by 55% and they reported a reduced feeling of the “need” to snack!
“After 8 weeks and without any dieting, the saffron group had lost an average of 2 pounds and reported increased energy and alertness. These small weight loss results show how its takes more than reduced snacking to achieve meaningful weight loss.”
The subjects experienced no unwanted side effects. (Downey, 2013)

 

 

 

SAFFRON FOR ASTHMA

Asthma is an autoimmune disease in which lung tissue becomes inflamed, resulting in a narrowing of the airways. Saffron reduces inflammation so helps open the airways. (Downey, 2013) & (HealthyLifeInfo.com, 2014)

 

(Source: www.salinetherapy.com)
(Source: www.salinetherapy.com)

 

SAFFRON FOR INSOMNIA

The compound safranal in saffron has been found to increase total sleep time without any negative impact on motor coordination. (Downey, 2013).

 

SAFFRON FOR CANCERS

 

(Source: www.slideshare.net)
(Source: www.slideshare.net)
Western Medicine generally treats cancers, which cause over 7.5 million deaths each year, with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
“Recent scientific evidence, both in vitro and in vivo, has suggested that saffron extract and its main active constituents can help inhibit carcinogenesis and tumor genesis. Rodent studies further demonstrate that saffron can reduce the serious negative effects of the anticancer drug Platinol® (cisplatin). These anticancer findings have prompted extensive current research on saffron and its components, including safranal and crocin, as promising preventive agents against cancer.” (Downey, 2013)
Saffron’s biochemical compounds zea-xanthin, lycopene, α- and β- caroteneaffron have also been shown to be helpful for cancer prevention. These compounds act as immune modulators to protect the body from cancer. (Gyanunlimited, 2016)

 

 

 

 

SAFFRON FOR ALZHEIMER’S

 

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An enormous increase in the number of people developing Alzheimer’s is expected, eventually reaching nearly 15 million within 40 years.
Doctors commonly prescribe antidepressants for Alzheimer’s patients even though the published data strongly suggest antidepressants are not helpful and often cause adverse reactions.
A double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial testing the efficacy of saffron for Alzheimer’s patients demonstrated that saffron improved both cognitive and clinical profiles after 16 weeks in subjects with mild to moderate Alzheimers – without side effects. (Downey, 2013)

 

 

MORE ABOUT SAFFRON

 

Picking saffron on in Shahn Abad village in northeast Iran

(Photo credit: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo credit: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

 

The saffron crocus is native to Iran and Southwest Asia. It takes stigmas from 50,000 to 75,000 Crocus sativus blossoms (an acre of flowers) to make a pound of the spice. ‘Saffron’ derives from the Arabic za’faran, meaning yellow – possibly the Arabized form of the Persian word zarapan, meaning ‘golden stamens’ or ‘golden feathers’. Sumerians, Persians’ predecessors in the 3rd millennium BCE, called saffron ‘perfume of the gods’. (Batmanglij, 2011)

 

Hand separating saffron filaments from crocus flowers

(Source: www.florasaffron.com)
(Source: www.florasaffron.com)
Saffron from Crocus sativus possesses a number of medicinally important properties, such as:
  • Anti-inflammatory effect
  • Anti-convulsant effect
  • Anti-tussive effect
  • Protection against cancers (anti-genototoxic and cytotoxic effects)
  • Anti-anxiety effect
  • Relaxant property
  • Anti-depressant effect
  • Positive effect on sexual functioning
  • Improvement of memory and learning skills
  • Increased blood flow in retina and choroid (the pigmented vascular layer of the eyeball between the retina and the sclera)
  • Anti-oxidant effect to deter coronary artery disease
  • Reduction in sensitivity to painful stimuli (anti-nociceptive effects)
              – (Srivastava, 2010)
See Crocus sativus L.: A comprehensive review for additional (and thorough) information on saffron: its chemical constituents, pharmacological actions, uses, formulations, toxicity studies, and contraindications.

 

 

 

 

SAFFRON AS A NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT

David Miller, MD, the highly knowledgeable nutritional supplements guru at LifeThyme Market on 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village (NYC), recommends this  (and only this) version of saffron:

 

(Source: www.lifeextension.com)
(Source: www.lifeextension.com)

 

Life Extension Optimized Saffron with Satiereal, Veggie Caps: 1 capsule/day for 6 weeks. Take after your largest meal OR the meal containing the most fat. (Miller, 6/7/2016)
NOTE ADDED ON 6/22/2016:
I had time to stop by LifeThyme yesterday and have another talk with Dr Miller about this saffron supplement. This is what he said:
It’s OK to take saffron longer than 6 weeks. In fact, it can be taken long term if it works for you. If you start taking 1 capsule/day and want to increase to 2 capsules/day, that’s OK.  The reason he’d said to take it for six weeks is that six weeks is, as with antidepressants, usually long enough to tell whether it’s working and he wanted my patient to let him know at that point how she’s doing on the saffron supplement.
If it’s not working by six weeks and you’re otherwise doing OK on it, take for another few weeks. As with antidepressants, it can take longer than six weeks for some people to feel a therapeutic effect. Saffron works for mood much like an SSRI – but without the side effects of  pharmaceuticals. (MILLER, 6/21/2016)

 

 

 

 

 

COMPREHENSIVE INFORMATION ON SAFFRON RESEARCH TO DATE

 

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For comprehensive information compiled by Examine.com on findings from saffron research to date, see Summary: All Essential Benefits/Effects/Facts & Information. (Examine.com, 2016)
It would be wise to inform yourself more fully by taking a look at this article before starting on saffron.

 

HOW AYURVEDA AND FOOD AS MEDICINE CAME TO BE REPLACED BY WESTERN MEDICINE AND PHARMACEUTICALS

After 5,000 years of Ayurvedic practice in India and Sri Lanka, Ayurveda was viewed as ‘primitive’ by the British when the subcontinent became a colony of great Britain and was supplanted by Western Medicine during the British Raj between 1858-1947. After India regained its independence from Britain in 1948, Ayurvedic medicine enjoyed something of a renaissance there but Western Medicine and its approach of reducing symptoms went on to be considered the gold standard around the world while Ayurveda was looked down upon as an ‘alternative’ approach – unsophisticated and inferior.
(Source: medilifeayurveda.com)
(Source: medilifeayurveda.com)
Here’s a brief video on the history of Ayurveda with its emphasis on achieving and maintaining balanced health and how it came to be replaced by Western Medicine with its focus on reducing symptoms of disease and neglect of how to achieve health.
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the Developed World’s looking down on traditional healing techniques is pure hubris. We’re the ones hell bent on destroying our own health along with the health of the entire planet. Maybe ‘primitive’ knowledge offers us something we desperately need.
“HEALTH IS NOT THE MERE ABSENCE OF DISEASE. IT IS THE DYNAMIC EXPRESSION OF LIFE.”
– Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of Sri Sri Ayurveda

 

 

100-pure-premium-saffron-extract-satiereal-saffron-extract-natural-appetite-suppressant-60-capsules-one-month-supply_652010_500-1

 

 

ADDED ON 7/2/2016

FOR THOSE WANTING MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SATIEREAL SAFFRON

 I asked Dr David Miller why it was only the satiereal form of saffron he recommends so he sent me the following articles to explain.  
See pages 64-71 in the current issue of Herbalgram (Journal of the American Botanical Council) for this article about saffron: Saffron: The Salubrious Spice – Emerging Research Suggests Numerous Health Benefits. (Woolven & Snider, 2016). 
And see Satiereal: Women Taking Satiereal Report Decreased Hunger. (PLT Health Solutions, undated).

 

 

(Source: www.pinterest.com)
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Art of Living Retreat Center. (2015). Ayurveda 101: The Aim of Ayurveda. See: https://artoflivingretreatcenter.org/8-limbs-ayurveda-aim-of-ayurveda/?keyword=ayurvedic&campaignid=339107161&adgroupid=22739666521&feeditemid=&cname=&targetid=kwd-13050861&gclid=CKbi3armrc0CFVclgQodPtMEmw

Batmanglij, N. (2011). Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies. See: https://www.amazon.com/Food-Life-Ancient-Persian-Ceremonies/dp/193382347X

Dharmananda, S. (2005). Saffron: An Anti-Depressant Herb.  See http://www.itmonline.org/articles/saffron/saffron/htm

Downey, M. (2013). A Safer Alternative for Managing Depression. Life Extension Magazine. See: http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/7/a-safer-alternative-for-managing-depression/page-01

Examine.com. (2016). SAFFRON – Summary: All Essential Benefits/Effects/Facts & Information. See: https://examine.com/supplements/saffron/

Gyanunlimited. (2016). 31 Surprising Health Benefits of Zafaran (Saffron). See: http://www.gyanunlimited.com/health/31-surprising-health-benefits-of-zafaran-saffron/9146/

HealthyLifeInfo.com. (2014). Saffron Health Benefits. See: http://www.diethealthclub.com/health-food/health-benefits-of-saffron.html

Herb Wisdom. (2016). Saffron (Crocus Sativus). See: http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-saffron.html

Joyful Belly Ayurveda. (2016). Saffron. See: http://www.joyfulbelly.com/Ayurveda/ingredient/Saffron/52

Kresser, C. (2008). The dark side of antidepressants. See: https://chriskresser.com/the-dark-side-of-antidepressants/

Miller, D. (6/7/2016). Personal communication.

Miller, D. (6/21/2016). Personal communication.

Petri, O. (2008). History of Ayurveda. (Video). See: https://youtu.be/l2Zw-vYn270

PLT Health Solutions. (undated). Satiereal. Women Taking Satiereal Report Decreased Hunger. See: http://www.plthealth.com/sites/plthomas.com/files/ckfinder/userfilesfiles/SATIEREAL%20Product%20Sheet_2016.pdf

Sharma, K. (2016). Saffron Benefits: Ayurveda’s Golden Spice. See: http://www.curejoy.com/content/saffron-ayurvedas-golden-spice

Srivastava, R. et al. (2010). Crocus sativus L.: A comprehensive review. Pharmacognosy Review, 4:8, 200–208. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249922/

Swartz, H.A. & Rollman, B.L. (2003). Managing the global burden of depression: lessons from the developing world. World Psychiatry. 2003, 2:3, 162-3. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1525095/

Woolven, L. & Snider, T. (2016). Saffron: The Salubrious Spice – Emerging Research Suggests Numerous Health Benefits. Herbalgram. (Journal of the American Botanical Council), 110, 64-71. See: http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/pdfs/HG110-online.pdf

 

 

© Copyright 2016. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

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

BIMUNO – PREbiotics for Anxiety, OCD, Depression & Overall Health

 

 

prebiotics-and-probiotics-14-638

 

I was looking for a non-pharmaceutical way to help my anxious and OCD patients so asked my supplements guru, David Miller, MD at LifeThyme (a health food store in NYC). He sent information about a new PREbiotic supplement that’s been demonstrated to be helpful for anxiety and OCD thinking – and the entire immune system located in the gut microbiome. It’s called Bimuno®. (Miller, 2015)
Bimuno® isn’t readily available yet in the US but can be ordered from the company’s website in England. Research on it and the information on the company’s site are very interesting.
It comes as sachets of tasteless powder to sprinkle over food or add to drinks and also as soft chewable pastilles. I just ordered some (the pastilles) to try myself – especially to use during travels outside the country, which often lead to upsets in my gut microbiome.
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Bimuno® is a new PREbiotic product that feeds the good, PRObiotic bacteria living in our guts (such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria) to the detriment of the bad bacteria (pathogens). As the good bacteria multiply, they flush out the bad bacteria.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER!?

 

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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRE- AND PRO-BIOTICS

 

case-study-kiwifruit-extract-subpage-probiotics-prebiotics
PREBIOTICS are specialized plant fibers containing complex sugars (such as inulin,  fructo-ogliosaccharides and galacto-oligosaccharides) that are indigestible by humans but promote the growth of beneficial bacteria (PROBIOTICS) living in our gut microbiomes by serving as food for them.
PROBIOTICS are helpful, live bacteria and yeasts our bodies need to function and maintain good health. They are found in fermented foods such as kefir, live-culture yogurt, real sauerkraut and pickles (not ones made with vinegar), kimchi, kombucha and other naturally fermented foods. If our gut flora has already become seriously out of balance, we can also benefit from taking high quality probiotics as supplements to populate the necessary array of friendly bacteria in our gut microbiomes. There are hundreds of probiotic species living in the human gut – some that are known to be ancient life forms and many that scientists haven’t even been able to identify yet.
Sometimes PREBIOTICS and PROBIOTICS are combined in the same supplements, called SYNBIOTICS.
See my earlier posts Prebiotics and Probiotics and  PREbiotics and PREbiotics for more information.

 

 

prebiotics-and-probiotics-41-638

 

 

 

 

 

SCIENTIFIC BASIS FOR THIS PREBIOTIC PRODUCT’S EFFICACY

From the Bimuno® website:

Scientific studies have demonstrated that Bimuno can significantly increase levels of Bifidobacteria (good bacteria) in the gut.1

Bimuno is the only second generation Galacto-oligosaccharide prebiotic available. It is a truly unique prebiotic with a powerful Bifidogenic effect.

3D Model of the patented prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharide

Bimuno’s unique galacto-oligosaccharide structure

It selectively boosts Bifidobacteria which play a key role in immune function and maintaining and building a healthy digestive system.

Bimuno is the result of many years of intensive research by a team of international digestive health experts and the University of Reading.

A number of clinical trials have been published and there is an ongoing research and development program into Bimuno across a number of health areas including:

  • The Immune system
  • Various aspects of digestive Health
  • Digestive health while abroad
  • Various aspects of human metabolism

Reference: 1. Am J Clin Nutr 2008; 87 :785-91

 

Bimuno® original powder is the natural way to increase and energise your good gut bacteria helping you to manage your gut health.  Bimuno works in a similar way to prebiotics naturally found in human breast milk which promote a healthy bacterial balance within the gut.

Scientific studies indicate that the unique second generation Galacto-oligosaccharide formulation of Bimuno powder, can help to encourage and sustain a healthy level of your friendly gut bacteria(Bifidobacteria). In fact Bimuno has the most potent bifidogenic (Bifidobacteria promoting) effect of any available prebiotic.

Published scientific studies have shown that, with daily use, the majority of Bimuno users experience a significant increase in their gut Bifidobacterium within just 7 days.

This in itself is impressive but by a unique anti-adhesive action it also helps flush ‘bad’ bacteria from your gut at the same time for a healthy microflora balance.

Give your digestive system a healthy boost

Bimuno powder:

  • Increases your Bifidobacteria levels, helping to maintain a healthy intestinal balance.
  • Reduces gas producing bacteria
  • Reduces bad bacteria levels
  • Energises your friendly gut bacteria
  • By maintaining a healthy digestive balance you can support overall well-being

 

 

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GUT DYSBIOSIS AND ANXIETY

Christian John Lillis, of the Peggy Lillis Foundation, reports noticing an uptick in the number of people on Clostridium difficile Facebook groups who mention that they’re also struggling with anxiety. (Lillis, 2015)
This overlap between C. diff (a serious bacterial infection of the colon) and anxiety isn’t at all surprising. An out of balance (dysbiotic) gut microbiome produces a wide variety of symptoms – including anxiety, depression, and OCD.

 

http://www.peggyfoundation.org/
http://www.peggyfoundation.org/

 

 

Animal studies have previously shown a link between mood and brain function and probiotics in the gut microbiota. Ingestion of Lactobacillus rhamnosus (a strain of PRObiotic) has been demonstrated to modulate information processing strongly linked to anxiety and depression and to improve the neuro-endocrine stress response in lab animals – in plain English, this probiotic turned anxious, fearful mice into mellow ones.
Now new research on healthy human adults conducted by a group of neurobiologists at Oxford University demonstrated that supplementation with PREbiotics (Bimuno® galacto-oligosaccharides, B-GOS) lowered the subjects’ neuro-endocrine stress responses and increased their ability to  process positive versus negative attentional vigilance. In other words, PREbiotic supplementation with Bimuno REDUCED THEIR ANXIETY LEVELS AND OCD THINKING.
The researchers assessed how subjects processed emotional information, such as positively and negatively charged words, after they’d been taking the prebiotic supplement. Results showed that the supplemented group paid less attention to negative information and more attention to positive information than either a group given another type of prebiotic (fructooligosaccharides, FOS) or a group given a placebo. The people who had taken Bimuno® also had lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone linked with anxiety and depression) in their morning saliva.
A similar effect has been observed in people taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pharmaceutical medication. (Schmidt et al, 2014) (Gregoire, 2015)
This is very good news for people suffering from anxiety and OCD. Taking a prebiotic supplement may relieve their life-impinging symptoms while also improving their overall physical health – without the adverse effects of pharmaceuticals.

 

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BIMUNO‘S INGREDIENTS

Information listed on the box of Bimuno powder sachets:
  • Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)
  • Lactose (from milk)
  • Glucose syrup
  • Thickener (gum arabic)
  • Galactose
  • Acidity regulator (trisodium citrate)
  • Free from artificial colors, flavours and preservatives
  • Gluten-free
  • 16 Cal/sachet
The galacto-oligosaccharides in Bimuno® are a mixture of disaccharides, trisaccharides, a tetrasaccharide and a pentasaccharide.

 

 

 

 

THE BIMUNO WEBSITE

I recommend checking out the Bimuno website. The pull down menus are chock full of useful and fascinating information about digestive and whole body health, prebiotics/ probiotics and the immune system.
See the information under:
  • Maintain your digestive health
  • Digestive problems & solutions
  • Support your immune defences
  • Digestive health for traveling

 

 

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REFERENCES

Bimuno. (2015). Bimuno’s website. See: http://www.bimuno.com/

Depeint, F. et al. (2008). Prebiotic evaluation of a novel galactooligosaccharide mixture produced by the enzymatic activity ofBifidobacterium bifidum NCIMB 41171, in healthy humans: a randomized, double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled intervention study. See: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/3/785.full

Gregoire, C. (2015). The Surprising Link Between Gut Bacteria And Anxiety. The Huffington Post. See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/04/gut-bacteria-mental-healt_n_6391014.html

Hardin, J.R. (2013). Probiotics and Probiotics. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/superimmunity/prebiotics-and-probiotics/

Hardin, J.R. (2014). PREbiotics and PRObiotics. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/?s=prebiotics

Lillis, J.C. (2015). Private communication.

Miller, D. (2015). Private communication.

Schmidt, K. (2014). Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers. See: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-014-3810-0

Vulevic, J. et al. (2008). Modulation of the fecal microflora profile and immune function by a novel trans-galactooligosaccharide mixture (B-GOS) in healthy elderly volunteers. See: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/5/1438.short

 

 

© 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.