Fire in the Gust : Fire in the Brain

January 2, 2016

If you have an infection, like a parasite or overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria or pathogenic bacteria like H Pylori, then you have dysbiosis which means an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut, then it leads to leaky gut (intestinal permeability) where the gut barrier system breaks down and you get a penetration of molecules into the bloodstream, all these produces inflammation, a chronic low-grade state of inflammation.  These inflammatory cytokines will travel through the blood and cross the blood brain barrier.  They make the blood brain barrier permeable and you get a leaky brain in addition to having a leaky gut.  These inflammatory cytokines activate the microglial cells in the brain.

 

We have two types of cell in the brain, we have neurons and then microglial cells.  The microglial cell are basically the immune system in the brain.  When these cells get activated that's inflammation of the brain.   Once inflammation is turned on it suppresses nerve conductions and then decrease nerve conductions.   Decrease in nerve conductions is what causes all these characteristic symptoms and conditions like depression, brain fog, and cognitive problems, mood and behavioral issues.

 

You also get a reduced motor activity in the vagal motor nucleus because about 90% of the output of the brain goes into the pontomedullary area which in thorn goes into the vagus nerve, the pneumogastric, and that's why we have a saying in functional medicine, "Fire in the gut, fire in the brain."  A lot of the brains output goes right into the gut.  This explains why there's  such a tight correlation between gut and brain problems and if you think about two of the populations that have the most messed up guts, they would be seniors and autistic children. 

 

Seniors have their Alzheimer's, dementia, memory issues, all kinds of cognitive problems, and they also have hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), atrophic gastritis, constipation, they suffer from a lot of gut issues, incontinence, etc.  Then autistic kids, show me an autistic kids that doesn't have gut issues.  I've never seen one in my practice.  I've never heard of one. There are degeneration of the neurons and also neuro inflammation which is the activation of those microglial cells.

 

In typical scenario inflammation is not all bad, it's necessary for life.  We can't heal without inflammation.  Once healing process is finished with T regulatory cells or T3 cells it starts to turn off the inflammation and clear away the debris and get back to a normal state of functioning thats basic normal immunology.  But in the brain, the microglial cell is a lot less sophisticated and can't turn off brain inflammation.  Once your brain is inflamed it's very difficult to turn off without some kind of intervention.  

 

The brain needs three things primarily to function well, that's glucose, oxygen, and mural stimulation.  Stimulation is of course things like being engaged in something you enjoy doing, exercising our brain.  Neurons need that kind of stimulation to function well.

 

Everything we need to heal and function is in the blood.  Glucose, oxygen, immune cells, analgesics, anti-inflamatories... the blood is the main transport media, that's how we send it around in different parts of the body.  Exercise can improve the blood flow.   Two of the best ways to increase blood flow to the brain are exercise and acupuncture.  Acupuncture has three beneficial effects, one is increasing blood flow, the other is reducing inflammation, and the third is regulating Th1(a type of T helper cells) and Th2 balance.  Those are two different sides of the immune system that often get imbalanced in autoimmunity.

 

There are specific compounds that have been studied that can turn off brain inflammation.  Turmeric is one of them (curcumin).  Most forms of oral curcumin aren't very well absorbed.  There's a phytosomal version of curcumin.  Phytosomal curcumin is better absorbed and has a better effect than just eating turmeric.   Skullcap is an herb that has been studied in this regard, it tends to reduce neural inflammation, as does green tea extract. 

 

Alpha lipoid acid can be helpful in healing blood brain barrier, and then glutathione repletion.  Taking glutathione is not a very effective way of repleting your glutathione status.  It will just be digested to the combination of three amino acids.  It won't really raise intracellular serum glutathione levels.  The best way to do is by taking glutathione precursors like ALA and NAC.   The non-denatured forms of whey is really good way of raising glutathione levels (if you tolerate whey), or even better you can just do it by having raw dairy products or fermented dairy products that have whey in them.  To get the maximum impacton glutathione status is to take whey on an empty stomach.

 

Irritable bowel syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means if they rule out that you don't have inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn's or ulcerative colitis, you don't have an infection, then they say you've got irritable bowel syndrome.   In many cases it's not just a functional disorder, it's caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.  The small intestine should be mostly sterile, contrary to the large intestine.  What happens in this condition is you get a translocation of bacteria from the colon into the small intestine, particularly the loser parts of the small intestine.  Now the terminal ileum (last part of the small intestine) is where a lot of our nutrients get absorbed and the final stages of digestion happens. 

 

If you've got an overgrowth of bacteria in your terminal ileum you are not going to absorb nutrients from food very well, you may experience bloating, experience changes in stool frequency, and then of course, you're probably going to experience brain related dysfunctions.

 

Another connection that a lot of people aren't aware of is the connection between SIBO and skin problems, including acne vulgarism, acne rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, most skin problems.  In my practice, whenever anybody comes in with a skin issue, the first thing I do is treat their gut.  This is true even if they don't have gut symptoms.  It may manifest for them with other things like cognitive issues, depression, etc.  

 

The first thing I do is to put them on Paleo primal type of diet.  If they're already on a Paleo primal dupe of diet and they're still experiencing symptoms, skin issues, I'll put them on a low tyramine and histamine diet.  I found this to be very helpful in most cases.  Some people have problems breaking these compounds down due to reduced enzyme activity.  Monoamine oxidase is what breaks down tyramines and diamine oxidase breaks down histamines.  There are genetic mutations that can cause insufficiency of enzyme activity .

 

Reducing the intake of those compounds which are mostly histamines and tyrannies are found in fermented foods,  which are also very good for the gut.   

 

If the SIBO is really bad and the gut is really inflamed I'll use the GAPS diet, which is similar to the Paleo diet, it actually completely removes disaccharides and polysaccharides.  On the GAPS diet you don't eat any starch and it really emphasizes bone broths which are rich in glycine, which is involved in the regeneration of the intestinal lining.

 

I believe that most skin problems are autoimmune, in the sense that they're mediated by leaky gut.  Some researchers like Alessio Fasano believe that you ca't even have autoimmune disease unless you have a leaky gut.  I will treat people...particularly eczema and psoriasis for autoimmunity and that involves, of course a dietary strategy.  An autoimmune Paleo diet is a good start where you remove nightshades and eggs and see how they can affect you.  But hen it also involves immune system as does vitamin D and a number of other strategies for helping bring the immune system back in balance.

 

The gut bacteria comprises 75~80% of our immune system.  It has impacts on everything from weight regulation to brain function to circulation.  There is pretty much nothing that the gut isn't involved in.  Because leaky gut is a precondition for autoimmunity and because dysbiosis in the gut is one of the major contributors to leaky gut, I think it's pretty easy to make a case that this irrevocable change in the gut micro biome that has been brought about by poor diet, antibiotic, and other medication use is really one of the significant contributors to this modern disease epidemic.

 

I think in general pasteurized dairy should only be consumed if it's fermented.  Pasteurized dairy fat probably still has some benefits like butter with conjugated linoleum acid and some of the fat soluble vitamins but the problem with pasteurization of dairy is that it kills the beneficial bacteria that play a really important role in helping us to break down lactose and digest the milk proteins.  When you remove those bacterias through pasteurization it creates a problem for a lot of people who don't have the ability to break down lactose.  

 

Raw dairy has all of the beneficial bacterias still in it, but also it tends to be higher in the things such as fat soluble vitamins, like A, D, and Ks, conjugated linoleum acid.  When cows are grazed on Grass, particularly lush green grass in the fall and the spring you'll see much higher amounts of these micronutrients than you will from cows that are raised on grains. 

 

Source: Bullet Proof Radio #22

Chris Kresser is a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of integrative medicine; author of Your Personal Paleo Code; host of his podcast: Revolution Health Radio

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