New research demonstrates that bacteria in the digestive tract can have a direct influence on neurotransmitter function in the brain. This is what scientists call the brain-gut connection, but it's something they don't yet understand well.
Researchers say the bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus, when fed to mice, altered receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA, which calms the brain. GABA dysregulation is implicated in depression, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome, as noted in the study, and also in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
The mice in the study showed lower anxiety levels when put in situation that normally cause them to show signs of stress.
Researchers believe the vagus nerve was responsible for the changes in the brain. A known function of this nerve is carrying signals from the internal organs to the brain. (Read more about the vagus nerve and a possible fibromyalgia treatment.)
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a probiotic bacteria that's believed to be good for your overall health. It's available as a supplement and also in some dairy products, especially yogurt (not all yogurt, though -- check the label.)
This bacterium is also being studied as a treatment for yeast infection, which is a common problem in people with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Learn more or join the conversation!
- Anxiety & Depression in Fibromyalgia
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- What is GABA?
- Food of the Week: Yogurt
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