Holistic Health Journal


“If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than any other.” Dr. Schulze

“In 35 years of practice, and working with the people and teaching, I have never on house calls lost one heart attack patient and the reason is, whenever I go in–if they are still breathing–I pour down them a cup of cayenne tea (a teaspoon of cayenne in a cup of hot water, and within minutes they are up and around).” Dr. Christopher


Dr. Patrick Quillin “Cayenne pepper – prized for thousands of years for its healing power. Folklore from around the world recounts amazing results using cayenne pepper in simple healing and in baffling health problems. But cayenne pepper is not just a healer from ancient history.

Recent clinical studies have been conducted on many of the old-time health applications for this miracle herb. Again and again, the therapeutic value of cayenne pepper has been medically validated.

In a recent letter to the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine, three Italian doctors describe how they were able to reduce patients’ reported dyspepsia symptoms by more than half – by prescribing red pepper powder. In a study of 30 patients with functional dyspepsia, half of the participants received a placebo, while the other half took 2.5 grams of red pepper powder each day (divided into capsules taken before each of three meals). Both groups took their respective treatments for five weeks, and rated their symptoms each day on a scale of zero to three (higher scores indicated more severe symptoms). By the third week, the red pepper group showed a significant advantage over the control group. And by week five, the pepper group’s symptoms had declined 60 percent from their baseline scores – while the control group’s scores had only decreased about half as much. The symptom scores included ratings for pain, a feeling of fullness, nausea, and an overall score. The red pepper powder produced significant gains in all four areas.


When was your last green drink?


If you thought cashews were only good for improving your brain power, then you haven’t heard the entire story! While these seeds are a valuable source of iron, magnesium, protein, and monosaturated fats – they also do an important job fighting off one of the most unhealthy types of bacteria that can be detrimental to your health.


Have you heard of gram positive bacteria?

It can be the central cause behind tuberculosis, tooth decay, acne, Streptococcus pneumoniae (which can lead to a number of issues, including pneumonia and meningitis in kids), and leprosy. Basically, you don’t need it; and thankfully, the anacardic chemicals in the cashews actually do a fantastic job stopping the bacteria before it can cause damage.

Why are cashews so useful here?

Cashews are actually constructed in such a way that make them have a direct impact on the health of gram positive bacteria. The previously mentioned anacardic acids can effectively kill off this bacteria in as low as one part acid to 2,000,000 parts water. That’s hardly any acid at all – yet it still gets to work in under 15 minutes.

And that isn’t even the end of the story…

Liquid forms of the shell, when combined with these acids even carry a number of powerful antioxidants and antitumor properties. These factors offer you cancer fighting tools that also tie into preventing gut ulcers and internal damage. Basically, cashews give you the weapons that you need to keep your body healthy and capable of fighting off free radicals.

Cashews have always been an interesting food – and for a number of reasons too. First things first, cashews are seeds. Often mistaken as nuts, these unshelled heroes are packed full of phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and more. You’ll usually find them unshelled in stores because their outer shells contain a balm that has to be removed (and carefully, might I add) prior to eating. This balm has a corrosive effect on organic tissue, making it a central ingredient in a number of varnishes and insecticides. It’s the little, unshelled seed that you want in your diet.

These seeds offer your body a number of valuable nutrients and healthy benefits that it needs to maintain a strong overall health. Over 80% of the fat content comes from unsaturated fatty acids – where almost seventy of that eighty come from monosaturated fats, which you need to keep your heart working optimally. These fats are capable of lowering high levels of harmful triglycerides, which effectively reduce you risks of developing heart disease.

Note: Especially if you have a history of heart disease in your family, talk to your doctor about how you can use cashews and in particular, monosaturated fats to help the issue.

That isn’t even the end of the story.

While cashews have been shown to fight off gram positive bacteria, and reduce your risk of developing various cancers and heart disease, research even shows that it can prevent the development of gallstones in women. And that’s not all. Studies even show that bringing nuts and seeds into a diet can significantly improve weight loss.

In a nutshell (or should I say seed shell), cashews are a perfect option for bettering your overall health and improving the function of your body. You’ll develop and maintain a stronger immune function, which means you’ll be able to fight off harmful bacteria and free radicals without putting your body into a severe state of stress.




http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11122711 http://textbookofbacteriology.net/S.pneumoniae.html


Vitamin D3The truth about vitamin D is finally leaking out into the mainstream media. While Nature’s Sunshine has led the way for years, showing various ways one can empower their own immune system, the mainstream media outlets have been hell bent in covering up the fact that something as simple as vitamin D can help the body mitigate cancer.

Now the big news is slipping off the tongue of the mainstream media outlets.

From the local CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl reported, “Vitamin D, which comes from the sun, is known to make bones stronger and boost the immune system. Now Philadelphia researchers are testing it to help fight cancer.”


Vitamin D being added to cancer treatment studies and showing great results

The story reports that a specific vitamin D injection is helping a New Jersey resident named Kris Van Orden overcome stage II pancreatic cancer. “It’s just very exciting to not have a death sentence hanging over my head,” said Kris. To assist Kris, doctors are empowering her with an entirely new philosophy. Instead of giving the patient a death sentence, the doctors are helping her see a future with more options and less suffering. Instead of trying to poison her back to health with chemotherapy, the doctors are giving her injections of the sun vitamin — vitamin D.

Of course, the doctors could go all out, let go of the fear, and treat the patient with only immune-system-empowering methods, but instead, they are taking it slow, combining both vitamin D and chemotherapy — a sort of contradiction, but progress nonetheless. Let’s empower your immune system with vitamin D, but just to be medically legit, let’s suppress the immune system too with some chemotherapy drugs.

Dr. Peter O’Dwyer, an oncologist at Penn Medicine, is treating Kris with a conjunct therapy of vitamin D injections and aggressive chemotherapy. “This is something totally novel in pancreatic cancer. It’s uh I believe it will usher in a new way of treating the disease,” he said. He believes that the vitamin D injections will make the chemotherapy more effective, but what he’s really doing is suppressing the potential of the vitamin D to activate the immune system by diluting it with chemotherapy.

At least the doctors are heading in the right direction, though. When speaking about the usual run-of-the-mill chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment, Dr. O’Dwyer said that “More than 50 percent of patients relapse later.” Dr. O’Dwyer is seeing signs that vitamin D conjunctive therapy will lower Kris’s chance of relapse. According to a recent study in the journal Cell, when vitamin D is used alongside chemotherapy, the extra layer of cells that fuel pancreatic cancer are broken down more readily.

Using vitamin D helps mitigate the fear surrounding cancer

Dr. O’Dwyer commented on the study: “By making those support cells less active, [than] the tumor cells become more sensitive to the chemotherapy.” He believes that the conjunct therapy can shrink tumors before surgery is needed. This means that patients wouldn’t need to be rushed immediately into surgery. The fear could be stripped away, and vitamin D injections could be used to help the immune system shrink the cancer before invasive and expensive medical procedures commence. For now though, Dr. O’Dwyer’s new protocol is a combination of vitamin D, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation if he deems it necessary. The vitamin is still prohibited from patients with metastatic cancer.

The hopeful Kris said, “I just think it’s amazing. I’m looking forward to 20 more years after this now with my grandchildren.”


http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com http://truthwiki.org/Vitamin_D

Vitamin CVitamins and minerals are important for the overall health of the body, and of those Vitamin C is probably one of the most vital. Most people know that it helps to strengthen the immune system and help ward off illness. However, it does much more than that: it also contributes to the growth of cells, promotes good circulatory health and generally contributes to the body’s ability to develop and maintain itself. A deficiency in this nutrient, therefore, can be a serious issue, though that issue can be treated through diet and supplementation; a list of eight warning signs of this deficiency is given in the paragraphs below.


People with low levels of Vitamin C often report getting tired easily even after a good night’s rest and an overall reduced energy level. However, because fatigue can be related to a variety of symptoms, Vitamin C deficiency can be hard to diagnose based on this alone.


Mood Changes

This deficiency can also affect one’s emotional state, and those with this issue can frequently report being short-tempered or easily irritated, even if it is otherwise out of character for them.

Weight Loss

Low levels of Vitamin C can also lead to unexplained weight loss and can even cause someone to become underweight. This sort of “wasting” is common in many nutrient deficiencies.

Body Ache

A dull, throbbing ache in the muscles and/or joints can also signal a nutrient deficiency such as Vitamin C, although sometimes this symptom can go unnoticed or be mistaken for other conditions like arthritis.


Another sign that may indicate that there is a problem with Vitamin C levels is if someone bruises easily. If you notice that you are developing bruising even from very light bumps, or if you have unexplained bruises that you do not remember getting, this should be reported to your doctor.

Oral Conditions

Because Vitamin C is so necessary for good oral health, then a lack of it can cause problems like gum deterioration. In the olden days, this condition was known as scurvy and it is a sign that the deficiency is fairly severe.

Dry Hair and Skin

Hair that is dry, even when conditioned, and skin that is dry, irritated or reddened despite the use of lotions or moisturizers, could also be an indication that Vitamin C levels are not sufficient.


Because Vitamin C is necessary for a strong and healthy immune system, a lack of this nutrient can lead to an immune system that is compromised and can make it much easier for you to develop colds, flus and other infections more frequently.

If you have two or more of the symptoms described above, it is a good idea to make an appointment to discuss these concerns with your doctor. A simple blood test can reveal with your levels of Vitamin C are in a healthy range and, if they are not, you can discuss a plan of care that will help to correct it before it leads to a serious compromise of your health.

It can often seem harmless to drink a bottle of Coke.

But the negative affects of soda might be too great to ignore. So how bad is soda for your health?

That question is answered well in this graphic by the Consumer Media Network:




Consumer Media Network first tackles the problem of Asthma. Sodium benzoate, found in sodas, us used as a preservative in foods. Sodium preservatives add sodium to the diet and reduce the availability of potassium. Some reported reactions include recurring rash, asthma and eczema. Each day, 11 Americans die from Asthma, and the annual cost of asthma to the healthcare system is estimated to be nearly $18 Billion.

Dissolves Tooth Enamel

Sugar and acid, which is prevalent in soft drinks, is a nasty, two-punch combination that dissolves tooth enamel. Many dentist chairs have been filled with soda-drinking mouths. 

Heart Disease

Many people associated weight gain and diabetes with soft drinks. But heart disease can be a devastating symptom from drinking too much soda. Most soft drinks (especially in the United States) contain high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that’s recently come under considerable scrutiny. High fructose corn syrup has been associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition associated with an elevated risk of both diabetes and heart disease.

Kidney Problems

Colas contain high levels of phosphoric acid, which has been linked to kidney stones and other renal problems.

Reproductive Issues

Soft drink cans are coated with a resin that contains BPA. This is the same cancer causing chemical found in plastic baby bottles, water bottles, and plastic containers that wreaks havoc on the endocrine system, potentially causing premature puberty and reproductive abnormalities.

Sugar Overload

Twenty minutes after drinking a soda, your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar into fat. Forty minutes later, caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises; as a response, your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked, preventing drowsiness. Forty-five minutes later, your body ups your dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way. 


Soft drinks contain phosphoric acid. A high phosphate diet has been associated with bone breakdown and an increased risk of osteoporosis. When phosphorus is excreted in the urine, it takes calcium with it, depriving the bones and the rest of the body of this important mineral.


The relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers calculate that for each additional soda consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times. 

Increased Risk of Diabetes

Those who drink more soda have an 80% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Approximately 1 in 10 health care dollars is spent on diabetes.

weight-loss-men-and-womenBelly fat is the bane of most dieters, but unfortunately – as you probably already know – is one of the more difficult places to firm and tone up. There are, however, things you can do to help lose weight from this area. Fifteen tips for firming up your tummy are listed below.

Girls’ Time on the Track
Suggest a weekly walk-and-talk session with your girlfriends so you can both catch up as you’re getting fit. If you have a walking buddy, you are more likely to stick with your program.


Keep up with Cardio
If you are really after burning the belly fat, aerobics are still the way to go. They burn 67% more calories than strength training and will tackle even problem areas like the tummy.

Ramp Up the Fiber
For every 10gms of fiber you eat daily, your body belly will carry nearly 4% less fat. Great sources of fiber include fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, and cereals like bran flakes.

Order First
Don’t be afraid to be pushy and order first when at a restaurant. This will generally mean a shorter wait time before your food arrives so you will not feel like you are starving and overeat.

Wipe the Windshield!
Lie face up with arms extended, palms down, and legs bent at a 90 degree angle so your feet are off the floor. Keeping abs tight, lower your right legs to the floor, keeping shoulders firmly planted, then raise leg up again. Repeat with left leg and do 20 reps.

Vacuuming actually provides a great workout for your tummy, especially if you tighten your abs while you are doing it. You will get a cleaner house and a slimmer waistline!

Beware of the Salt
Too much salt in your diet will cause you to retain more fluid and contribute to water weight. So watch your salt intake.

Indulge in Avocadoes
Avocadoes are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids which stop the blood sugar spikes that can lead to more belly fat. They also are easy to work into anybody’s diet.

Skip the Soda
The calories you get from these fizzy drinks usually wind up on your belly. Try sparkling water or unsweetened iced tea instead.

Avoid Alcohol
Too much alcohol in the diet can raise your levels of cortisol, which can send fat straight to your belly. Opt for virgin drinks and you will save a ton of calories.

Kayaking is loads of fun but also provides a great workout for your abdominal muscles – and your upper body, too!

Eat Sunflower Seeds
Sunflowers are also a great source of monounsaturated fats and adding them to your diet is as simple as sprinkling them on your lunchtime salad.

Tummy Tuck
Tucking your tummy in while you walk or do housework is a simple way to help tone muscles while you go about your day.

Get Fishy
Salmon and other fish are good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which also help you in the war on fat. Try to get several fish servings a week.

Good hydration keeps your whole body functioning better – including your metabolism. You also need more water if you are working out.

Following these tips is not difficult, and it can really pay off in the form of a firmer, tighter belly!

Magnesium ComplexMagnesium is a vital nutrient in the body that is needed for more than 300 different biochemical reactions in your body and is crucial for optimum health. Research studies have shown that magnesium can help prevent cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and is a nutritional powerhouse that helps create the energy molecules in the body known as ATP.

 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium

Lifestyle choices such as alcohol, coffee, and soda consumption, processed food diets, excess calcium supplementation, stress, and prescription and illegal drugs can severely impact your magnesium levels. Studies have shown that almost 80% of Americans are deficient in this important nutrient. Long-term deficiency of magnesium can lead to increased disease risk and other ailments such as asthma, anxiety, and heart disease (among many others).


Magnesium deficiency can cause a number of symptoms, 5 of them being:


Even a mild deficiency in magnesium can cause fatigue and if you are deficient in magnesium then your fatigue will not be cured by anything other than an increase in magnesium. Caffeine and prescription medications will only mask the fatigue and not get to the root of the problem.

Red overlay to the face

In ‘Facial Diagnosis of Cell Salt Deficiencies,’ David Card outlines the 12 cell salts that are crucial for human health and the symptoms associated with each deficiency. A physical symptom of a magnesium deficiency is a red overlay to the face. If you are experiencing a chronic red pigment on your cheeks and forehead then most likely you need to get your magnesium levels up.

Chocolate cravings

Our bodies are highly intelligent and know what to crave based on a nutrient deficiency. If you are craving chocolate constantly, most likely you are deficient in magnesium and need to supplement. Cocoa powder is full of magnesium. Add raw, organic powder to your smoothies and desserts for added magnesium in your diet.

Flushing red in uncomfortable situations

If you typically flush red in an uncomfortable situation then this is a sign of a deficiency in magnesium as spelled out in the book ‘Facial Diagnosis of Cell Salt Deficiencies’ by David Card.

Cramping (especially menstrual cramping and leg cramping)

Menstrual cramps and cramping in general are associated with a magnesium deficiency. Leg cramping is also a typical sign of magnesium deficiency. In fact, studies have shown that 78% of leg cramp sufferers are deficient in magnesium. By taking magnesium you will loosen muscles and help prevent leg cramping. It also increases the absorption of potassium, decreases pain by blocking pain receptors, dampens inflammation in the muscles, and relaxes blood vessels.

How to increase your magnesium levels

Magnesium deficiency is very hard to test for because only 1% is stored in the blood. Millions of people are suffering from this deficiency. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms then speak to your doctor or purchase a high-quality magnesium supplement. Magnesium glycinate and liposomal magnesium are some of the best choices for those that are experiencing a deficiency. The typical recommended daily allowance by the world health organization is 400-500 mg daily, although most experts are recommending as high as 1,000 mg. Dr. Carolyn Dean, magnesium expert and the medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association, recommends taking a 1:1 ratio of magnesium and calcium to ensure the absorption and metabolism of both calcium and vitamin D.

To increase your intake, choose foods that are naturally rich in magnesium such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, black beans, quinoa, cashews and sunflower seeds. Be careful when taking magnesium, as an excess of this in the diet can cause gastrointestinal issues. If you experience diarrhea after increasing your intake then reduce the amount taken to cure this issue.






Candida ClearSo you think you have a fungus infection? Or is it a yeast infection? Is there a difference?

Mold, yeast, mildew – they are all fungi. Sometimes the words are used interchangeably. And sometimes the words yeast and fungus are used to describe different stages of the same infection.

Candida is the number one yeast infecting Americans. Due to our diet and our conventional medical practice of overusing antibiotics (not to mention their use in raising livestock and their pollution of our municipal drinking water) too many of us are dealing with an overgrowth of Candida in our bodies along with bad bacteria. Even when dealing with other fungal infections, like with athlete’s foot, a body susceptible to fungal infections always has an abundance of Candida.


Candida begins as a single cell yeast and transforms into hyphae – filaments that bore into your tissues. And Candida doesn’t stay in the gut. It can become a systemic infection that feeds off of various organs as it releases enzymes and toxins, creates free radical damage, and kills cells. Vaginal yeast infections are caused by Candida.

Dermatophyte fungi is responsible for athlete’s foot, jock itch, fingernail and toenail fungal infections, and ringworm.

Yeast/Fungal DetoxMolds and mildews can cause allergic reactions as well as respiratory infections. Blastomyces, a fungus common and widespread in the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri valleys, begins as a respiratory illness but can cause a systemic infection that infects almost any organ. Coccidioides, also known as valley fever and indigenous to dry climates in the Southwest, may cause the most virulent fungal infection. It also begins as a respiratory infection but causes systemic infections that can affect skin, bone, joints, adrenal glands, lymph nodes – even the central nervous system.

It is best to treat fungal infections quickly before they can take root and cause a great deal of damage to your body. Diet is key when dealing with any fungal infection because fungi’s primary food (besides you) is sugar. Any kind of sugar (even too much fruit) and simple carbohydrates will feed the fungus, helping it to grow and spread. (For more information on diet, see below).

To treat dermatophyte infections, the following essential oils can be used directly (thought they might burn) or in a water solution to soak the feet for athlete’s foot or toenail infections or the hands for fingernail infections, or add 6-8 drops to a tablespoon of coconut oil and rub the skin or nails.

Garlic and apple cider vinegar are also very effective.

Although you will find many sites advising the use of corn starch for athlete’s foot or other fungal infections of the skin, DO NOT DO THIS! Corn starch will feed the fungus and make it worse.

To treat systemic fungal infections, you can use many herbs and supplements in a variety of forms including essential oils, teas, tonics, and in some cases, gelcaps. 

Black walnut, Pau D’Arco, and wormwood should not be used when pregnant or lactating.

Coptis Chinensis, Barberry, and Goldenseal are not to be used when pregnant, and limit use to 7 days for adults–3 days for children (followed by 3 days off).

To learn more about natural cures for fungal infections, check out How to Kill Fungal Infections Naturally. Be sure to read Balance the Eco System to learn more about Candida.


http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com http://truthwiki.org/Garlic http://www.fungusfocus.com http://www.thecandidadiet.com http://en.mr-ginseng.co http://nutritionreview.org http://wholeintentions.com http://www.candida-yeast-explained.co


Leaky Gut LowWhat is leaky gut syndrome? You hear the term leaky gut syndrome and imagine holes poked into your intestines. Unfortunately, your image is pretty much spot on.

In a healthy gut, the walls are lined with cells that are sealed together, providing a barrier that contains its contents. Villi, which contain a tiny vessel from the circulatory system and a vessel from the lymphatic system, absorb nutrients from our food. This exchange through the villi is designed to be the only means whereby nutrients enter the bloodstream and the lymphatic system.


When the gut is permeable, the cells lining the wall of the intestines do not provide a proper barrier. Toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles leak through the intestinal wall directly into the bloodstream and the lymphatic system. The immune system goes into overdrive, attacking these foreign particles that do not belong in the blood or the lymph fluid.

What causes leaky gut syndrome?

Parasites, a buildup of bad bacteria, allergens, and toxins all cause inflammation and destruction of the tight bonds holding the cells together that line the intestines. Some blame gluten for the destruction of the cell lining. Common sense says Candida is the most common, primary cause and most likely the precursor to gluten sensitivity.

Candida begins as a one cell yeast. As it grows and multiplies, it changes into a form called hyphae, filaments that spread and grow, boring into tissue. The filaments exude enzymes that feed off of our tissues, actually digesting our tissues before absorbing nutrients from them.

There is no possibility of sealing the gut wall without elimination of Candida overgrowth, elimination of parasites, and elimination of inflammation.

What damage does leaky gut syndrome do to the body?

A constant spillage of toxins, proteins, microbes, and particles into the blood and lymph activates and overworks the immune system. This constant onslaught is believed to be the underlying cause of auto-immune disease as an over-worked and over-taxed immune system loses the ability to differentiate between pathogens and host cells in the body. In addition, the spillage of particles creates an allergic response to foods that would normally be tolerated. Gluten proteins, for example, are leaked into the blood and lymph, creating a gluten intolerance. When gluten is ingested, it inflames the intestines, increasing permeability, and the cycle continues.

Intestinal Soothe and buildHow to heal a leaky gut & irritable bowel

The first step to healing a leaky gut is a thorough cleanse and detox. Through this process, toxins are flushed from the body and parasites are eliminated. Following a cleanse, Candida overgrowth must be eradicated. The proper gut balance is restored through diet and the addition of probiotics. When the gut is brought back into balance and the body is fed a proper nutrient dense diet, the gut will heal


http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com
http://www.womentowomen.com http://www.fungusfocus.com

feature_image_template35-620x400When treating those with anxiety, my clients and I work together to help balance different aspects of life: body, mind and spirit.  Science is showing us that cultivating good digestive health is a crucial piece of the treatment puzzle. Research is showing that the bacteria in your gut can directly affect your behavior and emotions…. This might be surprising for many, however it’s a critical, and often overlooked factor in treating anxiety. Healing and restoring balance to one’s digestive tract, ideally with the help of an integrative medical doctor can make a huge difference in symptoms. Your digestive tract can be damaged by chronic stress, medication use and exposure to foods that aren’t great for your body (to name a few). Many factors besides poor digestive health may contribute to your symptoms.  


Maybe you’re in an unhealthy relationship, suffer from low self-esteem, struggle with panic attacks, or worry needlessly about little things.  No matter what the issues that are contributing to your anxiety, experiencing it can leave you feeling isolated, scared and mentally exhausted. When it comes to treating emotional distress, utilizing multiple agents of change is the most beneficial way to experience relief. For example, when treating anxiety, it’s extremely beneficial not only to receive therapy, but also to change your diet, exercise, patterns of self-talk, methods of self-care and introduce relaxation techniques.  Working on balancing your gut flora can be a very healing addition to the aforementioned therapies. While research is still emerging, science is supporting the idea that your gut bacteria affects your emotional health. Dr. Michael Gershon first brought this groundbreaking science to the public with his lab studies with rodents. He was first prompted to study the connection because of his interest in serotonin; 90% of our serotonin is produced and manufactured in the gut! He wrote, The Second Brain, which describes the role of the digestive tract in regulating emotional health and decision making. 

Some fascinating research has been conducted to further this idea. Researchers swapped the bacteria in anxious mice and fearless mice by changing diet, adding antibiotics or adding probiotics. They found that the timid mice actually started taking more risks and acting more gregarious and the opposite also happened: the fearless mice acted more timid. In a 2013 study published in Gastroenterology, researchers studied the effects of probiotics in humans. After 4 weeks of ingesting probiotics, they scanned the brains of each participant. The researchers found subtle signs that the brain circuits involved in anxiety were less reactive. 

But, how do the brain and the gut communicate? The brain and the gut are in constant communication via the vagus nerve, a large nerve that connects the two. The concept of “gut feeling” and butterflies in your stomach is actually a real thing! In a study conducted in Ireland, researchers found that when the vagus nerve was cut in mice, they no longer saw the brain respond based on changes to the rodent’s gut flora.  Scientists have also begun to study certain neurochemicals that have not been described before being produced by certain bacteria, thus suggesting that gut microbes can produce their own version of neurotransmitters. This is another way that gut microbes may communicate with the brain. Pretty fascinating, right?! 

Wondering how to nourish your digestive tract? Here are 4 tips. 

1.)    Start eating more and more WHOLE foods. Limit processed foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Choose fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and lean proteins.  Check out this article from Dr. Mark Hyman on the subject. Start with small changes. Choose a sweet potato instead of fries, eat half of your dessert rather than the whole plate, or order an open faced sandwich. Changes should feel do-able, not overwhelming and anxiety producing! 

2.)    Increase your body/food awareness. Notice how you feel after eating. Take note of fatigue, bloating, anxiety, gas, reflux or any other symptoms that you might be experiencing. This will allow you to start mapping patterns and become aware of what foods might be troublesome for you. If you continually eat foods that don’t react well to your body, it can damage your delicate digestive lining and balance of good bacteria.  Log your findings for at least a week. 

3.)    Eat foods rich in probiotics. This can include yogurt, kefir, fermented foods and sauerkraut. 

4.)    Reduce Stress. Stress can damage your very thin digestive lining. Practice relaxation techniques, meditate, use positive self-talk and engage in activities that bring joy. Managing stress will help you to heal from the inside out and also reduce anxiety symptoms. 

Most of all, if you are struggling with anxiety, reach out for help from a therapist who specializes in anxiety or your doctor. Relief from symptoms is possible!