Tag Archives: Stress

Psychobiotics: Your Gut Bacteria – Your Mood

Updated 7/5/2015 & 7/9/2015.

 

(Source: jama.jamanetwork.com)
(Source: jama.jamanetwork.com)

 

Very good news! An exciting new field of medicine is on the horizon: PSYCHOBIOTICS.
PROBIOTICS are micro-organisms that have beneficial effects on the body when consumed.
Ted Dinan, Catherine Stanton, and John Cryan, pioneering researchers in the field, define a PSYCHOBIOTIC as “a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness”. (Dinan, Stanton & Cryan, 2013)

 

(Source: www.youtube.com)
(Source: www.youtube.com)
Scientists are discovering that some probiotic micro-organisms living in our guts are also psychoactive. That is, they deliver neuroactive substances such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin that influence the brain via the gut-brain axis.
I’d say that the field of psychobiotics in the not so distant future will be understood more broadly to include all of us, not just those with diagnosable mental illnesses. For example, we’ll be able to fine tune our anxiety levels day to day – by taking particular probiotics before events we know make us anxious (public speaking, flying, big dates, exams). And, even better, we’ll be able to AVOID depression’s deep troughs of despair and the exhausting paralysis of anxiety by nourishing healthy populations of the appropriate probiotics in our guts.
(Source: http://www.maryvancenc.com/
(Source: http://www.maryvancenc.com/

 

As we understand the gut-brain axis at this point, communications between the gut and the brain (and vice versa) travel via the long vagus nerve, spinal cord, and/or neuroendocrine systems to mediate various physical and mental states – including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Here’s a diagram of the vagus nerve’s path, showing the organs it connects between the brain at its top end and the intestines at its bottom end. You can see what an important communication highway it provides for the body, allowing the brain, lungs, heart, spleen, liver, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, and intestines to ‘talk’ to one another.

 

THE VAGUS NERVE

It runs from the brain stem down each side of the neck, across the chest, down through the abdomen allowing the brain, lungs, heart, spleen, liver, pancreas, kidneys, stomach and intestines to communicate bi-directionally along its network.

(Source: emedicine.medscape.com)
(Source: emedicine.medscape.com)
“So far, psychobiotics have been most extensively studied in … patients with irritable bowel syndrome, where positive benefits have been reported for a number of organisms including Bifidobacterium infantis. Evidence is emerging of benefits in alleviating symptoms of depression and in chronic fatigue syndrome. Such benefits may be related to the anti-inflammatory actions of certain psychobiotics and a capacity to reduce hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. ” (Dinan, Stanton & Cryan, 2013)
Did you notice the mention of the anti-inflammatory actions of probiotics in the quote above?
Most physical and mental diseases have inflammation as their root cause. The vast majority of our immune system, about 70% of it, is located in the gut microbiome. Unbalance in the composition of microbes there creates inflammation inside the intestinal linings, increasing gut permeability, leading to chronic inflammation elsewhere in the body – and disease.
This is my short hand explanation for how the connection works:
Chronic imbalance of microbes in the gut –> chronic inflammation in the gut –> increased gut permeability –> chronic inflammation elsewhere in the body –>  diseases in the gut and/or elsewhere in the body

 

(Source: www.nature.com)
(Source: www.nature.com)

 

These signaling irregularities affect our emotions, mental abilities, behaviors, and perception of and reactions to pain (nociception). The whole system is something like an enormous, highly complex switchboard. If something interferes with signaling somewhere in the system, a circuit can malfunction and perhaps cause the entire switchboard to break down.

 

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

 

Chronic imbalances in our gut bacteria that lead to gut-brain axis signaling irregularities can also lead to a wide variety of other health problems – including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, thyroid problems, dental issues, cancers, degenerative neurological diseases, obesity, ADD/ADHD, allergies, asthma, autism, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic Lyme disease … and many, many more. And they all begin with the health of the several pounds of miniscule critters living in our gut microbiomes.

 

 

gut-microbiome

 

Our gut microbiome, the 100 trillion micro-organisms (500-1,000 species of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other tiny life forms) living in our intestinal linings, is so important to the proper functioning of the entire body that many scientists now regard it as an organ in and of itself. The theory is that these micro-organisms  communicate with the nervous system using some of the same neurochemicals the body uses to relay messages in the brain. (Smith, 2015)
These several pounds of micro-organisms in our guts secrete a large number of neurochemicals, including dopamine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the very same chemicals our neurons use to communicate and regulate mood – and chemicals that also play a role in GI disorders, which, not strangely, are associated with high levels of depression and anxiety.  (Smith, 2015)

 

(Source: www.itsokaytobesmart.com)
(Source: www.itsokaytobesmart.com)

 

 

 

 

ANXIETY, OBSESSIVE BEHAVIOR, LEAKY GUT AND BACTEROIDES FRAGILIS

 

(Source: www.find-happiness.com)
(Source: www.find-happiness.com)

 

In 2013, microbiology researchers Mazmanian and Hsiao published research results that linked a specific variety of probiotic bacteria with anxious behaviors in mice. The mice were known to have alterations in their gut microbiota and GI barrier defects  (increased gut permeability, AKA leaky gut) and also exhibited anxious, obsessive behaviors (such as obsessively burying marbles). When they were given oral doses of  one of two strains of the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis (probiotic bacteria found in normal gut flora), both their GI problems and maladaptive behaviors improved. (Hsiao et al, 2013) (Smith, 2015)

 

 

 

 

STRESS, DEPRESSION AND THE PROBIOTICS LACTOBACILLUS AND BIFIDOBACTERIUM

 

 

(Source: www.menshealth.co.uk)
(Source: www.menshealth.co.uk)

 

A recent study found that a combination of the probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum (probiotic bacteria found in healthy human gut microbiomes) reduced anxiety, depression, and stress levels and improved coping strategies. (Messaoudi, 2011)
Our psychological and physiological reactions to fear and stress play a large role in depression. People suffering from major depression also have elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone our adrenals release to get us ready to fight for our lives or flee from the danger. Back when we frequently encountered predatory animals and were often in a fight or flight situation, this elevated release of cortisol was a very useful thing.
What often happens now is that we live in a state of chronic cortisol overproduction, over stimulated, afraid, unable to calm down, wearing out our adrenals. Chronically elevated cortisol production interferes with learning and memory, lowers immune functioning, decreases bone density, increases weight gain,  raises blood pressure and cholesterol levels, leads to heart disease, increases risk for depression and anxiety, decreases resilience – and is generally exhausting. A combination of the probiotics, Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum, was found to reduce cortisol levels. (Berglund, 2013) (Davidson, 2014)
GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is our central nervous system’s chief inhibitory neurotransmitter, playing a central role in reducing neuronal excitability throughout the body and regulating muscle tone. (Wikipedia, 2015)
Many physiological and psychological processes associated with depression, including negative ruminations, can be traced to a deficiency in the neurotransmitter GABA. Microbes that actively secrete GABA in the gut have been identified by researchers. Chief among them are strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Bifidobacterium longum has anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and antimutagenic properties and may protect you from developing colon cancer.  It’s present in breast milk and is one of the first probiotics to colonize a newborn’s gut.

 

Emmenthaler Cheese
(Source: cheesecrafters.ca)
(Source: cheesecrafters.ca)

 

Swiss and Emmenthaler cheeses contain Lactobacillus helveticus. (We’re talking about real cheeses, not the tasteless, processed kinds often found prepackaged in the US.)

 

(Source: draxe.com)
(Source: draxe.com)

 

Bifodobacterium longum is found in unprocessed yogurts, various types of fermented dairy foods (kefir’s a good choice), and fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut.
(Source: www.rsc.org)
(Source: www.rsc.org)
Good news for those of us who love dark chocolate: The plentiful polyphenols in dark chocolate serve as PREbiotics, nourishing the beneficial Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium  in our guts.  (Davidson, 2014) The higher the cacao and lower the sugar content the better. Organic and fair trade also if possible.
Both L. helveticus and B. longum can also be taken as supplements.

 

 

 

 

MOOD, OXYTOCIN AND LACTOBACILLUS REUTERI

 

(Source: www.bbc.co.uk)
(Source: www.bbc.co.uk)
A team of biologists at MIT found that another probiotic strain, Lactobacillus reuteri, improved mood, restored a youthful appearance to the skin, and promoted general health by increasing levels of oxytocin, the love hormone. (Davidson, 2015)
L. reuteri is one of the fastest colonizing probiotic bacteria available. This is a good thing – colonizing probiotic strains of bacteria in your gut can restore your health.

 

 

 

 

ANXIETY, DEPRESSION AND LACTOBACILLUS RHAMNOSUS (Davidson, 2014) (Mercola, 2011) (Saey, 2011)

 

(Source: www.drperlmutter.com)
(Source: www.drperlmutter.com)
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a bacterial strain that has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in anxious mice.
GABA, the central nervous system’s principal inhibitory neurotransmitter, regulates many physiological and psychological processes in the body. Alterations in GABA receptor expression are linked to the the development of anxiety and depression.
Study results published in 2011 shed light on exactly how L. rhamnosus in the gut impacts the brain’s chemistry.
The researchers found that the probiotic L. rhamnosus markedly affected GABA levels in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.
When the vagus nerve was severed, GABA receptor levels and the animals’ behavior remained unchanged after treatment with L. rhamnosus, confirming that the vagus nerve is most likely the primary pathway of communication between the bacteria in the gut and the brain.
The researchers allow that the vagus nerve is the obvious communication route but perhaps not the only one, that messaging may also occur via other nerves or chemicals in the blood.
If you doubt there’s a direct connection between the health of the gut microbiome and mental health, keep in mind that functional bowel disorders and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are generally comorbid (they generally occur together).

Strains of L. rhamnosus  are found in some dairy products such as live culture yogurts, cheeses (eg, real Parmigiano Reggiano), and kefir. They’re also found in fermented dry sausages and some fermented soy cheeses. (Panyko, 2015)

 

 

 

PAIN, CHRONIC FATIGUE, DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND LACTOBACILLUS ACIDOPHILUS

 

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

 

Lactobacillus acidophilus improves the functioning of canabinoid receptors in the spinal cord that are important for regulating pain perception. (Davidson, 2014)
A 2009 study to see if treatment with live L. acidophilus was helpful for chronic fatigue syndrome and the depression that’s part of it showed promising results. When the researchers supplemented chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers with a live casie strain of L. acidophilus for two months, they saw a significant decrease in the subjects’ depression, anxiety, and general emotional distress. (Rao et al, 2009)
Food sources of L. acidophilus include live culture yogurt and other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice, kimchi, miso, chutneys, and kefir.

 

 

SEROTININ, CHRONIC INFLAMMATION AND BIFIDOBACTERIUM INFANTIS

 

(Source: www.amazon.com)
(Source: www.amazon.com)
A number of microbes can produce other neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. For example, Bifidobacterium infantis, taken as an probotic, alters serotonin levels – just like Prozac but without the undesirable side effects. (Davidson, 2014)
Bifidobacterium infantis has been clinically demonstrated to be very good at reducing the symptoms caused by chronic immune activation in the gut, autoimmune diseases, and excessive cortisol release. So it, along with some other probiotic bacteria, is a good choice for people with leaky gut, IBS, IBD, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease. (Nootriment, 2015)
Infantis in this bacteria’s name indicates that it’s a strain vitally important for infant health.  B. infantis is usually one of the first probiotics mothers pass on to their babies during vaginal births. Many scientists and doctors therefore recommend that pregnant women take it as a supplement.
The main benefit from B. infantis is to improve digestion and protect us against infection and sickness. It has also been shown to fight allergies and prevent kidney stones. It accomplishes all this by producing large amounts of acid to make our digestive tracts and vaginas inhospitable to pathogenic bacteria and parasites. (Jerkunica, 2015)

 

 

 

(Source: www.starrybrook.com)
(Source: www.starrybrook.com)

 

 

 

 

 

FERMENTED FOODS

(Source: http://www.sacfoodcoop.com)
(Source: http://www.sacfoodcoop.com)

 

NOTE:
If you’ve decided to add ready-made fermented foods like sauerkraut or pickles to your diet for their probiotic benefits, remember it’s only the truly fermented versions that are helpful. The ones made with vinegar, although they may say ‘pickled’ on their labels, aren’t actually fermented and don’t offer any probiotic or enzymatic benefits. Look for the fermented versions in the refrigerated areas in stores.
Fermented foods contain living cultures. Refrigeration slows down the fermentation process. The brine may be cloudy – full of lactic acid bacterial growth (the desirable probiotics) created during fermentation. The jar lids may be slightly swollen from the  ongoing fermentation process. Fermented pickles have a complex taste – they’re alive on your tongue. Pickles made with vinegar taste like vinegar.

 

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Years ago, when I was living in Cambridge, MA, my neighborhood grocery store was Savenor’s. Mrs Savenor kept a huge, wooden pickle barrel next to the checkout counter.  The top of the barrel was open. The brine was cloudy, sometimes scummy looking, and every once in a while the barrel emitted a big belch of gas. I thought the whole thing was unsanitary and never bought her pickles. Now I wish I’d known then what I’ve since learned about the benefits of that living culture.
Savenor’s was also where Julia Child shopped for her meats. The Childs lived in the neighborhood of beautiful big houses on the north side of Kirkland Street. I was in the neighborhood of old apartment buildings on the south side of Kirkland, where students and other people with little money lived.
Here’s a fond memoir about Mrs Savenor by one of her grandsons, Alan Savenor: How a Matriarch Ran Savenor’s. She was a character. Reputedly, she’d smuggled her young boys out of Lithuania by walking across the border with them under her voluminous, floor length skirt when the Nazis set about exterminating all the Jews there.

 

1165_Savenor_1

 

 

 

For those of you interested in improving your gut microbiomes and overall health by eating probiotic-rich foods, here’s a good article on Probiotics & Fermented Foods written by the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop.

 

 

(Source: fundrazr.com)
(Source: fundrazr.com)

 

 

 

YOUR BRAIN ON BUGS

This is what pioneering Integrative Health doc J. E. Williams, OMD, has to say about psychobiotics and how best to get them into your body:
“Microbiota, those microscopic bugs that live in your body—mainly in the gut—can influence brain chemistry and consequently behavior. We know that Clostridium difficile, the nasty gut hospital-based gut infection that kills 14,000 people each year in the U.S., is associated with depression and dementia. Two antidepressants, mirtazapine (Remeron) and fluoxetine (Prozac), are linked to a nearly 50 percent increased risk for Clostridium difficile infection.
“Doctors have long known that foods and changes in the gastrointestinal system are associated with mood changes. Does the pathway to happiness actually exist in your gut?

Sources of Psychobiotics

“Probiotics come in a variety of forms, from powders and capsules to foods such as yogurt, dairy drinks, infant formulas, cheese, and even some energy snack bars. Any of these forms may be effective for digestive problems as long as they contain the right kind of beneficial organisms in adequate numbers.
“In my clinical experience, I’ve found that supplements with live friendly bacteria in high dosages are more effective for treatment of depression, immune deficiency, and gastrointestinal problems then consuming yogurt or fermented vegetables alone.

Friendly Psychobiotics

  • Bacteriodies fragilis
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus helveticus
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus brevis

Brain-Immune-Gut Axis

“We’re finding that most diseases, including psychiatric illnesses, have inflammation as their root cause. Inflammation is associated with immune system imbalance and disruption of hormone activity. Probiotics may also influence how your genes work. Psychobiotics could target genes responsible influencing neurotransmitters like GABA that have a strong connection to mood and behavior.
“We know that “gluten brain” is a type of mental fog common in people with gluten sensitivity. People with gluten sensitivity feel better when eliminating wheat, but the benefit is limited. If you have tried the gluten-free diet and wonder what’s next, consider psychobiotics
“The autonomic nervous system links the brain and gut largely through the vagus nerve. More than 90 percent of the body’s serotonin, a feel good neurotransmitter, lies within the gut. In fact, your gut has a mind of its own and it’s called the enteric nervous system.
“Changes in diet have immediate effects on the bacterial composition in your gut. Antibiotics have disastrous effects on gut bacteria. Now we have good research and more than enough clinical evidence that specialized probiotic bacteria are essential for health, and also profoundly influence mood.
“So, it’s not surprising that when your gut is healthier, so is your brain and mood. Your immune system works better too, so you have fewer episodes of the cold and/or flu.”
– Williams, 2014

 

 

 

 

IS YOUR FATE IN YOUR GENES?: GENETICS VS EPIGENETICS

 

Time_DNA_Destiny_Cover

 

If there’s been mental illness – say depression, anxiety or panic disorder, OCD, autism, schizophrenia – in your family as far back as anyone can remember, you needn’t feel that you or your children are doomed. Genetics is the study of genes, heredity, and genetic variation in living organisms. Epigenetics is the study of factors that turn genes on and off and affect how cells read genes.
Your genetics account for only 25% of the chance you’ll develop a disease. The other 75% is environmental (both internal and external) and therefore largely up to you. So take very good care of your gut microbiome. Provide it with lots of good microbes (probiotics and psychobiotics) to keep a good balance in there and avoid the bad ones (bacterial pathogens and other toxins) as much as possible.
This is also true of genetic predispositions for heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer,  and pretty much every other illness. You are not a prisoner of your genes. Probiotics influence activity in our genes, allowing them to express their contents in a positive, disease-fighting manner.
Research has shown that probiotic bacteria produce positive changes in the mucosal lining of the small intestines which affect gene activity and cellular reactions.

“Consumption of a dairy drink containing three strains of probiotic bacteria was associated with changes in the activity of hundreds of genes, with the changes resembling the effects of certain medicines in the human body, including medicines that positively influence the immune system and those for lowering blood pressure.”

– Mercola, 2010

 

 

 

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STAY TUNED! There’s lots of good research being done now on the relationship between probiotics in the gut,  mood – and pretty much every other working of the body.

 

 

 

(Source: www.medscape.com)
(Source: www.medscape.com)

 

 

Many thanks to both Liz Poirier and Alex Tatusian for pointing me to the New York Times Magazine article by Peter Andrey Smith, which prompted this post: Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?  It’s very good and I recommend reading it.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Berglund, C. (2013).  Cortisol: Why “The Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1: 5 simple ways to lower your cortisol levels without drugs. See: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

Davidson, J. (2014). Nature’s Bounty: The Psychobiotic Revolution. Psychology Today. See: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201404/natures-bounty-the-psychobiotic-revolution

Dinan, T.G., Stanton, C., Cryan, J.F. (2013). Psychobiotics: A Novel Class of Psychotropic. Biological Psychiatry: A Journal of Psychiatric Neuroscience and Therapeutics. See: http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(13)00408-3/abstract

Hsiao, E.Y. et al. (2013). Microbiota modulate behavioral and physiological abnormalities associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Cell, 155:7, 1451-63. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24315484

Jerkunica, E. (2015). Facts About B. Infantis Probiotic Strain. See: http://probiotics.org/9-health-benefits-of-bifidobacterium-infantis/

Mercola, R. (2010). The Healing Power of Probiotics Impresses Researchers. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/11/probiotics-healing-power-impresses-researchers.aspx

Mercola, R. (2011). Hike Up Your Happy Hormones With Probiotic Supplements. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/22/this-supplement-can-actually-make-you-happy.aspx

Messaoudi, M. et al. (2011). Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition, 105:5, 755-64. See

Nootriment. (2015). Bifidobacterium Infantis Probiotic Supplements Review. See: http://nootriment.com/bifidobacterium-infantis/

Panyko, J. (2015). Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Probiotic Bacteria with Impressive Health Benefits. See: http://www.powerofprobiotics.com/Lactobacillus-rhamnosus.html

Rao, A.V. et al. (2009). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Gut Pathogens, 1:6. See: http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/6

Sacramento Natural Foods Coop. (undated). Probiotics & Fermented Foods. See: http://www.sacfoodcoop.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=438%3Aprobiotics-a-fermented-foods&catid=59%3Aconsumer-guides&lang=us&Itemid=65

Saey, T. H. (2011). Belly bacteria boss the brain: Gut microbes can change neurochemistry and influence behavior. Science. News. See: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/belly-bacteria-boss-brain

Savenor, A. (2013). How a Matriarch Ran Savenor’s. See: http://www.theeditorial.com/think/2013/12/10/how-a-matriarch-ran-savenors

Smith, P.A. (6/28/2015). Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood? New York Times Magazine. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html?_r=1

Wikipedia. (6/23/2015). gamma-Aminobutyric acid. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-Aminobutyric_acid

Williams, J.E. (2014). YOUR BRAIN ON BUGS—WILL BACTERIA BE THE NEXT TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION? See: http://renegadehealth.com/blog/2014/02/28/your-brain-on-bugs-will-bacteria-be-the-next-treatment-for-anxiety-and-depression

 

 

 

© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

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

AUTOIMMUNE SUMMIT – dedicated to reversing & preventing autoimmune disease. Nov 10-17 2014. FREE online event.

 

 

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AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS

An autoimmune disease, disorder or condition develops when your immune system, which defends your body against disease, becomes unbalanced and treats healthy cells as if they were pathogens needing to be destroyed. As a result, your immune system attacks healthy body cells. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue. It can also cause abnormal organ growth and changes in organ function. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), autoimmune diseases affect up to 50 million Americans. (Roddick, 2014)
When the micro-organisms living in the body’s gut microbiome, a major part of our immune system, become chronically out of balance (gut dysbiosis), chronic inflammation develops there and elsewhere in the body and eventually leads to a diagnosable autoimmune problem or other illness – even cancer.

 

 

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Here’s a useful A to Z list of over 100 autoimmune diseases, disorders and conditions and their symptoms. (autoimmunediseaselist.com, 3/18/2014)
The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association lists 80 autoimmune diseases and autoimmune-related diseases on its site. (American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, 2014)
Commonly occurring autoimmune diseases include (Roddick, 2014):
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: affects skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs
  • Multiple Sclerosis: affects the brain and spinal cord
  • Celiac Sprue Disease: a reaction to gluten (found in wheat, rye, and barley) that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine
  • Pernicious Anemia: decrease in red blood cells caused by inability to absorb vitamin B12
  • Vitiligo: white patches on the skin caused by loss of pigment
  • Scleroderma: a connective tissue disease that causes changes in skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs
  • Psoriasis: a skin condition that causes redness and irritation as well as thick, flaky, silver-white patches
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): a group of inflammatory diseases of the colon and small intestine
  • Hashimoto’s Disease: inflammation of the thyroid gland
  • Addison’s Disease: adrenal hormone insufficiency
  • Graves’ Disease: overactive thyroid gland
  • Reactive Arthritis: inflammation of joints, urethra, and eyes; may cause sores on the skin and mucus membranes
  • Sjögren’s Syndrome: destroys the glands that produce tears and saliva causing dry eyes and mouth; may affect kidneys and lungs
  • Type 1 Diabetes: destruction of insulin producing cells in the pancreas

 

 

 

FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE

Functional Medicine is a way of practicing medicine that focuses on optimal functioning of the body and its organs, usually involving systems of holistic or alternative medicine.
The Institute for Functional Medicine describes the approach like this:

Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual. (Institute for Functional Medicine, 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 THE AUTOIMMUNE SUMMIT

 

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Amy Myers, MD, is a well known and highly respected Functional Medical doctor practicing in Austin TX and the author of The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases (available January 27 2015).
She has organized a very interesting  online AUTOIMMUNE SUMMIT dedicated to teaching you about the root causes of autoimmune diseases so you can reverse and prevent them.  It’s FREE and takes place November 10-17 2014. You can sign up for it here.
The participants in this AUTOIMMUNE SUMMIT are experts in the fields of Functional Medicine, nutrition, and autoimmune disease who will explain how leaky gut, genetics, and environmental triggers such as toxins, food sensitivities, infections, and stress all play a part in the development of autoimmune disease.

 

 

(Source: hypothyroidmom.com)

 

 * Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with one or more of the autoimmune diseases, disorders, or conditions?

 

* Do you have a family history of autoimmunity and want to learn how to prevent it?

 

* Or are you a healthcare provider who wants to better treat your autoimmune patients?

 

* If these describe you or you just want to learn more about preventing, treating, and reversing these conditions, The Autoimmune Summit is for you! The information you will learn will put you on the road to better physical, mental and spiritual health.

 

 

(Source: lookfordiagnosis.com)
(Source: lookfordiagnosis.com)

 

 

A sampling of the speaker line up and what you’ll learn about how to manage your autoimmunity problems naturally:
  • Mark Hyman, MD:  A Functional Medicine Approach to Autoimmunity
  • Alessio Fassano, MD: The Role of Gut Permeability in Autoimmune Diseases: How To Distinguish Facts From Fantasies
  • Robb Wolf:  What is the Paleo Diet, and How Can It Help Reverse Autoimmunity?
  • Sarah Ballantyne, PhD (AKA The Paleo Mom):  The Problem with Grains and Legumes in Those with Autoimmunity
  • Terry Wahls, MD: Macronutrients, Micronutrients, Mitochondria, and Autoimmunity
  • Datis Kharrazian, DC: Understanding Hashimoto’s and Other Thyroid Conditions
  • Chris Kresser, Lac: Updates on Low Dose Naltrexone and Autoimmunity

 

 

AMY MYERS, MD

This is Dr Myers’ website. It’s worth taking a look at and reading her own story of the route that led her to practice Functional Medicine.

 

 

(Source: www.amymyersmd.com)
(Source: www.amymyersmd.com)

 

 

 

REFERENCES

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (2014). Autoimmune and Autoimmune-Related Diseases. See: http://www.aarda.org/autoimmune-information/list-of-diseases/

AutoimmuneDiseasesList.com. (3/18/2014). Autoimmune Diseases List. See: http://autoimmunediseaselist.com/

Institute for Functional Medicine. (2014). What is Functional Medicine? See: https://www.functionalmedicine.org/about/whatisfm/

Myers, A. AmyMyersMD.com. See: http://www.amymyersmd.com/

Myers, A. (2015). The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases. See: http://www.amazon.com/Autoimmune-Solution-Spectrum-Inflammatory-Symptoms/dp/0062347470/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415576888&sr=1-1&keywords=amy+myers+md

Roddick, J. (2014). Autoimmune Disease. Healthline.com.  See: http://www.healthline.com/health/autoimmune-disorders#Types2

 

 

 

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

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

 

Vibrational Sound Therapy: Healing with Tibetan Singing Bowls

 

 

Source: www.samanaayurveda.com
Source: www.samanaayurveda.com

 

 

I was very fortunate to be able to take two workshops with singing bowls Master Teacher Suren Shrestha and some of his students at the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in NYC this past weekend: Vibrational Sound Therapy (1.5 hours) and Learn to Heal with Singing Bowls (3 hours).

 

 

Suren Shrestha , Master Teacher, Healing with Tibetan Singing Bowls
Suren Shrestha , Master Teacher, Healing with Tibetan Singing Bowls

 

The workshops were both didactic and experiential. We learned various ways to play singing bowls and ting-sha (Tibetan cybals or chimes), a bit about their history and how to use them for healing, and about the body’s Chakra System (both the Indian Vedic and Tibetan systems).

 

sound_treatment_header

 

The best singing bowls are made of a special seven-metal alloy of gold, silver, iron, mercury, tin, copper and lead. Each bowl is tuned to the specific note that affects one of the body’s seven chakras. The art of making traditional Tibetan singing bowls has been handed down from generation to generation within family clans. Craftsmen in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal today are reviving the ancient techniques, traced back to the time of the Buddha – 2,500 years ago.
These singing bowls, when struck on the side or made to sing, produce multiphonic and polyharmonic sounds which are unique, complex, subtle … and healing. (Shrestha, 2013)
Suren grew up in the small village of Khandabari in Nepal, 45 miles from Mount Everest in the Himalayas, and now lives in Boulder, CO. In Khandabari, people were healed by herbalists, monks and shamans using drums, gongs and mantras. He learned from them how to practice the ancient techniques using sound and vibration and is now a Master Teaching traveling the world to educate others.
This is his website, including a calendar of his workshops.

 

 

 

 

HOW TO MAKE A TIBETAN BOWL SING

  1. Set the bowl in the palm of either hand without touching the sides of the bowl as that is where the vibration occurs.
  2. Holding a striker with an even pressure in the other hand, rub it in a circular motion on the outside rim of the bowl. Sometimes it’s easier to strike the bowl first to get the vibrations going before rubbing.
  3. When the sound becomes full, remove the striker from the bowl and let the bowl continue to sing without touching its sides.

 

How to play a Tibetan singing bowl - Shakti Gray
How to play a Tibetan singing bowl – Shakti Gray

 

Here’s a short video (4:01) demonstrating some basic techniques for playing Tibetan singing bowls.
Crown Chakra Singing Bowls
Shakti Gray performing a Singing Bowls Meditation for the Crown Chakra
And a longer video (10:00) of a Singing Bowl Meditation: Crown Chakra Set.

 

 

Tibetan Musician Nawang Khechog
Tibetan Musician Nawang Khechog

 

 

You can also use a striker on the outside of the bowl to ring the bowl like a bell. An upward motion towards the rim works best.

DianawithSingingBowl-279x258

 

 

It's easy!
It’s easy!

 

 

 

 TING-SHA (TIBETAN CYMBALS)

 

 

Ting-sha Cymbals for Meditation and Healing
Ting-sha Cymbals for Meditation and Healing

 

This short video (0.25) demonstrates another Tibetan vibrational technique,  Ting-sha Cymbals being played.

 

 

 

 

VIBRATIONAL HEALING

 

 

Fractal Art: DNA (Source: http://apogeeacutone.blogspot.com/)
Fractal Art: DNA
(Source: http://apogeeacutone.blogspot.com/)

 

 

What is Sound and Vibration Healing?

Everyone has a vibration that is a signature of their health and wellbeing. You could think of it as a natural results of the processes that ran our physical bodies as well as your mental, emotional, and subtle bodies. Similar to a musical instrument that can fall out of tune through use, our bodies can also fall out of vibrational harmony and potentially develop illness. Stress and negativity create blockages of a healthy flow of energy, showing up in the energy field around our body as lower energy disturbances at first, and later as illness in our physical body.

Sound and vibration can be used to re-tune us to health and one of the most powerful modalities for this is the use of Tibetan singing bowls. When there is a deep relaxation through soothing, resonant sound, the body is affected on a cellular level, opening up the flow of energy to move us back toward vibrational alignment with health. Sound can help us shift our energy frequency from lower to higher, removing the lower frequencies of emotions such as fear, anger, and resentment. If fact, whenever you are immersed in lower frequency emotions you can simply chant “Om” to elevate your energy.The sound of the bowls is calming, and they are frequently used as a meditation aid as the sound induces a sense of peacefulness.

Quantum physics has proven that everything has vibration, whether it’s a table, a chair, a person, a planet, or a cosmos. And wherever there is a sound, there is a vibration. When we use sound coupled with intention, which is the most important aspect of healing, we can direct sound vibration to raise the body’s vibrational frequency.

Negative energy can make us physically ill or mentally depressed. Each bowl emits a soothing vibration that radiates out negative energy, which restricts your ability to reach your full physical, spiritual, and mental health….

Healing through sound and vibration has been known to reduce stress, improve concentration, reduce blood pressure, stimulate life force flow in the body, improve immunity, harmonize the chakras with the energy field, heighten intuition and perception, synchronize the brain hemispheres, remove mental and emotional negativity, and enhance creativity.

Most importantly, stress is at the root of many of our twenty-first century diseases and it’s through relaxation of the body that balance, health, and happiness can be restored… As much as 70 percent of the human body is made up of water, so when you strike a singing bowl next to your body, the vibration makes a mandala (a pattern) in your body, which is healing and relaxing.

– From the Introduction to How to Heal with Singing Bowls, by Suren Shrestha, pages 13-15

 

 

Suren Shrestha  with some of his singing bowls
Suren Shrestha with some of his singing bowls

 

 

 

 

HOW TO HEAL WITH SINGING BOWLS

I recommend Suren Shrestha’s book, How to Heal with Singing Bowls for learning more about this kind of vibrational therapy.

 

 

by Suren Shrestha
by Suren Shrestha

 

Suren is donating all profits from this book, along with a large portion of the proceeds from the healing workshops he teaches in Boulder and around the world, to the Aama Orphanage Education Foundation (AOEF) to build a new orphanage in his native village in Nepal. The Foundation’s goal is to provide quality education to orphans of Eastern Nepal, giving priority to orphaned girls.
Here’s more information on the Aama Orphanage Education Project.

 

 

 

 

TIBETAN BOWLS USED IN HEALING AND MEDITATION

There are many ways to use Tibetan singing bowls in healing. Here are some examples:

 

ON AND AROUND THE BODY

 

Tibetan Bowls Placed On and Around the Body.
Tibetan Bowls Placed On and Around the Body. The Bowls are Gonged or Made to Sing – the Vibrations To Be Absorbed.

 

 

wellness-tibetian

 

 

web2_fumiko

 

Singing Bowl Used with Crystal (Source: thehealingplacemassagetherapy.com)
Singing Bowl Used with Crystal on Third Eye Chakra
(Source: thehealingplacemassagetherapy.com)

 

AS AN ADJUNCT TO ACUPUNCTURE

 

Tibetan Bowls As an Adjunct Acupuncture (Source: xnagashakti.wordpress.com)
Tibetan Bowls Used To Enhance  Acupuncture
(Source: xnagashakti.wordpress.com)

 

AS AN ADJUNCT TO MASSAGE

 

Massage Enhanced With Tibetan Bowls and Ting-Sha (Source: www.massagearoundtheworld.com)
Massage Enhanced With Tibetan Bowls and Ting-Sha
(Source: www.massagearoundtheworld.com)

 

 

 

ON THE HANDS

 

The Vibrations Travel From the Hand, Up the Arm and into the Body (Source: www.askaudiomag.com)
The Vibrations Travel From the Hand, Up the Arm and into the Body
(Source: www.askaudiomag.com)

 

singing_bowls_atx

 

 

ON THE FEET

 

Tibetan Bowl Struck While Placed on Feet
Tibetan Bowl Struck While Resting on Feet (Source: ddbphysiotherapy.co.uk)

 

 

INVERTED ON THE HEAD

 

Singing Bowl Head Treatment   (Source: redscarabtravelandmedia.wordpress.com)
Singing Bowl Head Treatment
(Source: redscarabtravelandmedia.wordpress.com)

 

 

Tibetan Bowl Inverted on the Head (Source: healingsoundsofjoy.blogspot.com)
Tibetan Bowl Inverted on the Head
(Source: healingsoundsofjoy.blogspot.com)

 

 

 

WITH WATER
Warm water inside the bowl helps transmit the positive energy of its harmonics to the client. (Shrestha, 2013)
Tibetan Bowl  Warm Water Therapy (Source: www.bbc.co.uk)
Tibetan Bowl Warm Water Therapy
(Source: www.bbc.co.uk)

 

 

 

Sound waves create a "Water Mandala" from the vibrations in the Tibetan Bowl (Source: www.internationalsoundhealinginstitute.com)
Sound waves create a “Water Mandala” from the vibrations in the Tibetan Bowl
(Source: www.internationalsoundhealinginstitute.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 TIBETAN SINGING BOWLS IN WESTERN MEDICINE

 

 

Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, a New York oncologist, strikes one of his Tibetan singing bowls with a mallet to produce soothing tones; he might add rice to change sound. Dr. Gaynor, the author of a book on sound healing, considers it a complement to traditional Western medicine. (Source: www.nytimes.com)
Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, a New York oncologist, strikes one of his Tibetan singing bowls with a mallet to produce soothing tones; he might add rice to change sound. Dr. Gaynor, the author of a book on sound healing, considers it a complement to traditional Western medicine.
(Source: www.nytimes.com)

 

Western healers, including respected, board certified physicians, have taken an interest in the ancient art of using sound to heal.
Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, a well-respected oncologist practicing in New York City, considers healing with sound as integrative medicine – a complement to it, not an alternative.  He distinguishes between curing and healing. To cure means physically to fix something, whereas healing refers to wholeness, a union of the mind, body and spirit. He compares sound healing to music therapy.
In “The Healing Power of Sound” he cites studies indicating that music lowers blood pressure, reduces cardiac complications among patients who have recently suffered heart attacks, reduces stress hormones during medical testing and boosts natural opiates.  (Gaynor, 2002) (Rosenbloom, 2005)
 
Researchers from the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at the Centenary Institute in Sydney, Australia, have shown that 97% of human DNA programs or encodes proteins in our bodies.  One of the researchers said, “this discovery, involving what was previously referred to as ‘junk’, opens up a new level of gene expression control …”
These findings form a scientific basis for the claim that we can reprogram our DNA to heal ourselves with vibrations. Numerous scientists – in the tradition of 1,000’s of years of spiritual adepts – claim light and sound can alter our DNA, directly influencing our biology.
Russian linguists, Dr Pjotr Garajajev and Vladimir Poponin found that DNA follows patterns and rules similar to human language.
Biologist Dr David Deamer and Susan Alexjander, an MA in music, have discovered that DNA makes its own beautiful music – on its own, before any attempts to alter it. The pair measured tha molecular vibrations of DNA,  recording it using an infrared spectrophotometer. They exposed each section of DNA to infrared light and measured the wavelength it absorbed to determine its sound frequency. Alexjander described the combinations of frequencies as “hauntingly beautiful” music. “… they are just stunning. It sounds alive to me.” (Health Freedom Alliance, 2014)

 

 

MEDITATION ON ANTIQUE TIBETAN SINGING BOWLS

 

Master Percussionist Emile de Leon Playing a Meditation on Three Antique Tibetan Singing Bowls
Master Percussionist Emile de Leon Playing a Meditation on Three Antique Tibetan Singing Bowls

 

As a bonus, here’s a short video (4:30) of master percussionist Emile de Leon of Temple Sounds playing some large, high quality antique Tibetan singing bowls.

 

 

 

IPHONE SINGING BOWLS APP

If you’ve fallen in love with Tibetan singing bowls, have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, and want to be able to hear them wherever you are, there’s an app for that.

 

imgres

Bowls – Authentic Tibetan Singing Bowls
By Oceanhouse Media
Compatibility:Requires iOS 5.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.
$1.99 in iTunes

 

 

iPhone Screenshot of the Bowls - Authentic Tibetan Singing Bowls app
iPhone Screenshot of the Bowls – Authentic Tibetan Singing Bowls app

 

 

 

 

 

images

 

 

quote-music-hath-charms-to-soothe-a-savage-breast-to-soften-rocks-or-bend-a-knotted-oak-william-congreve-365601

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Gaynor, M.L. (2002). The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-Threatening Illness Using Sound, Voice, and Music. See: http://www.amazon.com/The-Healing-Power-Sound-Life-Threatening/dp/1570629552

Health Freedom Alliance – Alice (2014). Science Theory Shows We Can Reprogram Our DNA to Heal Ourselves with Vibration. See:  http://www.healthfreedoms.org/science-theory-shows-we-can-reprogram-our-dna-to-heal-ourselves-with-vibration/

Rosenbloom, S. (11/24/2005). What’s the Buzz? Sound Therapy. The New York Times. See:  http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/24/fashion/thursdaystyles/24sounders.html?pagewanted=all

Shrestha, S. (2013). How to Heal with Singing Bowls. See:  http://surenshrestha.com/singingbowlsbook.shtml

 

 

© Copyright 2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

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