Health Briefs Gut-Brain Connection

Published on September 30th, 2020 | by Dr. Doug Pucci


Imbalance in the Gut-Brain Connection

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of today’s most common gastrointestinal (GI) disorders that can significantly impact health and life. It’s estimated that between 10 and 25 percent of adults worldwide and between 5 and 20 percent of kids suffer with IBS. The uncertainty of not knowing when an immediate need to find a bathroom will occur (or what triggered the episode) is enough to cause those who suffer to avoid public or social settings.

Symptoms may include lower abdominal cramping/pain, frequent diarrhea, frequent constipation, alternating constipation and diarrhea, mucus in stools, changes in stool consistency, foods that trigger symptoms (intolerances), gas, bloating, depression, fatigue, anxiety and poor quality of sleep

The sources of IBS isn’t typically diagnosed by doctors, and the syndrome itself is not well understood among the medical community; causes nay include stress, antibiotics, trauma, adverse personal experiences and hormonal changes. Among functional medicine doctors, the latest findings get to the root of these causes, such as a strong connection between imbalance in gut microbiota (dysbiosis), either killing off good bacteria or causing bacterial overgrowth.

While it’s claimed that there is no known cause of IBS, the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility reports, “Gut microbiota is thought to play important roles in the pathogenesis of IBS. This is evident from the fact that IBS occurs more frequently after intestinal infection or antibiotics treatment. Studies have shown that the alterations of the intestinal microbiota are observed in IBS patients.”

Although genetics are said to be another factor in developing IBS, a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states “Recent research suggests that environmental factors such as diet, drugs and lifestyle exert a greater influence on the gut microbiome than genetics.” This indicates that we can take measures to prevent IBS even if it runs in our family. Another study published by the NIH stresses, “… the intestinal microbiota in some IBS patients was completely different from that in healthy controls, and there does appear to be a consistent theme of firmicutes enrichment and reduced abundance of bacteroides” (two types of gut bacteria).

The NIH reports that because certain probiotic bacterial species are typically reduced in people with IBS, giving patients specific probiotics with anti-inflammatory properties improved their IBS symptoms. On the other hand, “Antibiotic use can have potential side effects such as depleting levels of beneficial commensal gut microbiota, thus opening niches for nonspecific species to establish themselves.” In addition, “The administration of antibiotics in an attempt to solve the problem has potential side effects by depleting levels of commensal microbiota, thus resulting in an opening for nonbeneficial microbiota to establish themselves.” Commensal bacteria are those that work together without either helping or harming the other.

Although there have been successful results in treating IBS with probiotics, it’s not a singular or one-size-fits-all solution; each IBS sufferer needs to find out exactly what is at the root. Something about the gut-brain connection is out of balance and needs restoration. It’s helpful to have comprehensive lab tests done prior to starting on any prebiotic or probiotic supplementation. It’s equally important that any necessary lifestyle changes—diet in particular—be incorporated to keep our microbiome in balance, reducing or eliminating intestinal inflammation and minimizing or eliminating IBS symptoms.

To dig a little deeper into your own unique biochemistry and discover changes you can make, schedule your free Discovery Call by visiting or contacting the office at (201) 261-5430.

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About the Author

Dr. Doug Pucci, DC, DPSc, FAAIM, offers seminars and provides nutritional, homeopathic, brain and body care. For more information, call 201-261-5430 or visit

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