New research in rodents is suggesting that bacteria can exert a powerful influence on psychological wellness. Microbiome is the bacteria in the gut that affects the gut and the mind. Neuroimmunologist John Bienenstock states that the microbiome can impact neural development, brain chemistry, behavior, emotional responses, pain perception and the stress system in the body. Findings assert that beneficial and disease-causing bacteria can alter brain chemistry and influence an animal to become more relaxed or anxious.
Scientists are predicting that beneficial or probiotic bacteria may be used to treat anxiety or mood disorders by administering microbiomes or developing drugs that emulate metabolic functions. Prior to the advancement of such research, scientists must identify what constitutes a healthy gut micriobiome.
The human gut is a brilliant system that is often referred to as the “second brain.” It is the only organ to encompass its own independent nervous system, an intricate network of 100 million neurons embedded in the gut wall. This amazing neural network allows the gut to continue to function even when the primary neural conduit between it and the brain, the vagus nerve is severed. In addition, gut bacteria manufactures hundreds of neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate physiological processes as well as mental processes such as learning, memory and mood. Recognizing that communication between the brain and the gut is bidirectional provides hope for treating psychological disorders along with gastrointestinal problems (Monitor on Psychology).
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