I’d like to get into some higher-level thinking today—but I make no promises. You see, before age 30, I wasn’t aware of all of the toxins in the world that had conspired to take down my gut bacteria and thus my brain capacity. Tracing the path of my health and the lack thereof throughout my life, the many instances of overexposure I’ve experienced are very apparent. The ups and downs of life, butterflies, anxiety, mania, depression, nerves, and obsession all follow a pattern predetermined by the condition of my gut biome as it has struggled for stability and balance. You see, the compromised nature of the average gut biome equates to mental disorders across the board. That’s the bad news. The good news, however, is much more uplifting, because the bad news means your mental destiny is not entirely set in stone.
If you’re dealing with any degree of psychological problems in this minefield of chemicals and toxins that is modern life, the key to surviving it and transcending it has recently come closer to being within your grasp. That key just happens to be knowledge. While you probably will have to do some work breaking the patterns of negative thought you’ve developed in the absence of this knowledge, you can actually approach the problem practically and physiologically. So stop beating yourself up. It’s not your fault—but once you know these simple things that can help and don’t act on them, your state of mind becomes even more your responsibility. So listen up!
The Message of the Medical Majority
I believe I’ve discussed previously the farce that the media and the government are perpetrating of equating “being healthy” with “having good healthcare.” While I agree it’s good to have healthcare coverage in case of emergencies that no amount of grass-fed butter can gloss over, I think it is folly to expect your PCP to guide you through the multifaceted labyrinth of decisions that lead to stellar mental, physical, and spiritual health. Just as we’re being lead to believe in the powers of these slipshod gurus, we’re also expected to believe that taking SSRIs is a healthy step toward mental health. This is simply not so.
Even if you’re willing to look past the weight gain and potential exacerbation of the mental disruption you’re experiencing, SSRIs are at best a band-aid. They of course do not address the root of the problem. Mayo Clinic describes how selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work:
“SSRIs ease depression by affecting naturally occurring chemical messengers (neurotransmitters), which are used to communicate between brain cells. SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Changing the balance of serotonin seems to help brain cells send and receive chemical messages, which in turn boosts mood.”
I’ve been on these things before. This was like 9 or 10 years ago, I believe, and my doctor prescribed Paxil for some anxiety/depression I was dealing with. At the time I weighed about 200 lbs, and I got up to about 230 lbs within 2 months or so. I even doubled my dose on the recommendation of my doctor when I told her I didn’t feel any different. An average night of sleep was about 12 hours (which felt awesome) and I accomplished just about nothing in my professional, spiritual, and intellectual life. Before I knew it, I had dropped 2 semesters of college, officially promoting me to Super Senior status for all the wrong reasons.
I guess I had enough sense left in my brain to notice how fat and dumb I’d gotten, because I made a decision after about a year of being on stupid pills. My realization was that I couldn’t do advanced math problems on pills. I thought of the scenes in a Beautiful Mind where Russell Crowe’s character was on meds and was quite ineffective in his forté and passion. Math wasn’t my passion, mind you, but I wasn’t about to throw away the three years of full-ride education I’d invested in, so I steeled my resolve, kicked the meds, and let the ups and downs come rushing back into my brain. Within a year, I accomplished my goal of graduating, with a GPA (that year at least) of well over 3.5. Best year of my academic life—as well as the last… Good riddance!
The Problem with SSRIs
Besides the side effects, they don’t exactly work. Here’s an article from Psychology Today that gives a few reasons why you shouldn’t take them. Among them are their ineffectiveness compared to placebo, their overprescription and frequent poly-pharmacy, and the proliferation of excuses to prescribe them, such as “lifestyle diseases” that need to be treated. Even if you’re buying that they’re effective at treating people’s anxieties as well as little idiosyncrasies that are undesirable, you’re looking at a spiritual void that avoids a realistic and holistic approach to mental health informed by millenia of wisdom from countless gurus—medical, shamanic, and otherwise. Taking these happy pills, you’re also missing out on some novel and practical physiological approaches to fixing your brain, as I mentioned above.
Also, from the description of how the drug works, you know it’s just a band-aid. What is causing the disruption involved in depression is a lack of serotonin, and the intervention of SSRIs is to essentially block the reuptake of serotonin into the presynaptic neuron (neurotransmitting cell). Clearly this does nothing to help you generate serotonin you need, or prevent the dysfunction that causes its excessive reuptake. The lack of serotonin could be being caused (according to mainstream neuroscientists) by:
- low production in brain cells
- decreased number of receptor sites
- inability to bind properly with receptor sites
- shortage of precursor chemical (tryptophan)
All of these sound simple enough, local to the relevant biological (specifically the Nervous) system, and treatable. However, interestingly enough, that treatment comes in the form of a pill. It looks like the scientists have tipped their hand showing they understand how the body actually functions. They do take the Hippocratic oath after all, and Hippocrates said that “all diseases begin in the gut.”
Thinking with Your Gut (Your Second Brain)
It is such a compelling thought to me the paradigm that these Hippocratic oath swearers treat systems locally, and even the ones that do purport to treat the digestive system, gastroenterologists, feign that they know very little about the gut. They even throw random drugs down there to try and fix stuff, and they try to diagnose problems with gross laproscopic tubes that don’t even have a way of determining overgrowth/balance of microbes. Come on, guys. Do you just apply Hippocrates’ principles enough to understand that these particles of manufactured chemicals will pass through the intestinal membrane readily and be distributed through the bloodstream? There has to be something being concealed here, because this has obviously been known for centuries. In any case, don’t go to a gastroenterologist unless you’re in terrible pain or bleeding from your rectum.
Even Kurt Cobain got the major runaround from the GE scene:
“Most gastrointestinal doctors don’t know anything about stomach diseases. They just have a PhD, ya know? They just get paid a lot of money for pretending and prescribing you different drugs, and um… it’s a total scam as far as I’m concerned, because I went—I’ve been going to doctors for six years, and I’ve tried every drug available. Except for this one last one, it’s brand new. And it finally worked.”
He continues on, bemoaning the fumbling nature of a GI doctor’s approach:
“…It can’t be a specific stomach ailment. It doesn’t have a name or anything. It wasn’t a matter of finding out what disease I had. It’s… ‘psychosomatic,’ you know, ‘it’s part of my Nervous system.’ You know, ‘there are millions of people all over the world that have irritable bowel syndrome.’ And that’s the common term that all doctors call a stomach problem. And they just say, ‘oh yeah, you have irritable bowel syndrome,’ but I can’t fix it, you know. I don’t have anything to fix it, but there’s just a variety of ulcer medicines that can slow down ulcers and eventually heal them. But I didn’t have an ulcer. I just had a red irritation in my stomach.”
So according to his account, the doctors he went to were blaming his gut problem on his brain, which is totally backwards and effed up if you ask me. When your gut is hurting, your entire being is in trouble. If you listen on from the end of my quote from the YouTube, he goes on to describe the kind of pain he was dealing with every day. When your guts are hurting, you’re just hating life. I’ve been there, and I hope to never go back.
This interview was, of course, in 1993, which was before the probiotic revolution went full-swing. But I just can’t get over the way they switched the paradigm completely and said that his gut problems were from his mental kinks. I’ve heard the exact same story before, and I didn’t buy it after about the fifth time. That’s how they operate, I suppose. Through guilt. Like, “Oh, that must be just from anxiety.” As if your brain is the ultimate cause of your own health problems. Bull!
I mean, yes, state of mind is everything, and the power of positive thinking and all that—but like so many things psychological, there are two sides to the system. Let’s start with something tangible and work on some practical steps that you can take to start thinking and feeling better right now!
Redirect: Mental Health Begins in the Gut
You have to realize this fact, or you will not survive the labyrinth of medical dangers this modern life embodies. Protect your gut at all costs, because it’s pretty much your body’s main line of defense against intruders into your bloodstream. Whoever it is that is behind most public and corporate policy seems to know this, as there seems to be a war on for your gut. It’s being directly attacked by:
- Bt toxin in genetically modified corn
- Glyphosate in Roundup, the most popular weed killer, applied to clothing, bedding, and crops
- Chlorine in tap water
- Antibiotics (prescribed)
- Antibiotics in CAFO meat (not prescribed)
- Toxins in vaccines and flu shots
- Various other chemicals we’re exposed to on a daily basis (constantly really)
So if your gatekeepers are slain in battle and you develop leaky gut, inflammatory proteins are allowed to get through, like gluten, lectins, soy proteins, histamine, and other particles. Some of these in turn cross the blood-brain barrier, and thus we have a connection to myriad disorders of the mind, particularly autism and multiple-sclerosis. Vaccines figure particularly heavily in autism. This used to be controversial, until William Thompson, a high-up CDC guy, admitted to falsifying data to cover up the link found between vaccines and autism in a peer-reviewed study. Sorry, skeptics, but this one can’t be debunked anymore.
Also, 95 percent of serotonin is manufactured in the gut, so it’s no surprise that expressions like “going with your gut” and the notion of the gut as a second brain have arisen. If I felt like going to medical school, I’d love to be among the world’s first neurogastroenterologists to focus only on the gut microbiome.
Fixing the Problem
You can start the process of preserving and restoring your gut bacteria by avoiding the negative stimuli that reduce good bacteria as enumerated above. Go further by adding a quality probiotic supplement, as well as a fermented veggie that you can trust. I go with Farmhouse Culture every time for their excellent selection of sauerkraut.
Some people say you can eat certain foods for brain health. Images come to mind of bananas, fish, and similar potassium- and omega-3–rich sustenance. (I’m personally not a fan of bananas, as they have too much fructose.) However, you need to eat to restore gut bacteria first and foremost. Make sure you feed the bacteria in your gut for optimal mental performance.
I do this by eating:
- tons of avocados
- green veggies
- a decent amount of starchy carbs (especially on workout days)
When I go too long without any of these foods, I usually start to get digestive troubles, and then it eventually manifests mentally as distraction and a bit of fogginess. Don’t bother with yogurt. It’s not the right kind of bacteria, and it’s not really a health food in my opinion.
Probiotics for Insomnia
There is a very good reason they are saying that probiotics are the new Prozac. Tryptophan may figure prominently in this, because its metabolism by the gut bacteria into serotonin could be compromised with an imbalanced gut microbiome. It has been shown that this can probably be affected through intervention in the gut microbiota. Again, this is great news!
I have personally had a lot of good results taking probiotics at night when I can’t sleep. It looks like I’m not the only one. I take Mercola’s Complete Probiotics as of a couple weeks ago. It also just so happens that good sleep affects your gut microbiome, because it balances your cortisol secretions, which when out of whack can cause disruptions in your gut bacteria. So it is.
Now, I just want to remind you that even though I recommend probiotics readily, it’s very important to always consider fermented veggies, prebiotics, and your general state of being, which all affect gut bacteria and thus your brain. Also, your environment plays so prominently in your gut bacteria. EMFs probably has an effect on gut bacteria as well. There is virtually no research on the effects of EMFs on gut bacteria, which makes the conspiracy theorist in me think that their negative effects are well known and being suppressed. In lieu of these studies, I’ll just remind you of the birds and the bees (and how EMFs affect them). Little guys like that seem to not be doing so well with this type of radiation, so imagining the effects on something infinitesimal in comparison is not very difficult.
Ah, I got it! The key is looking for articles on the effects of EMFs on bacteria just, not specifically gut bacteria. It turns out I’m right so far (study shows decrease in growth rate of bacteria exposed to EMFs). (I’ll get into it more in a future article.) So be sure to eliminate as many sources of wireless frequencies in your house as possible, especially at bed time. Definitely don’t sleep on your cell phone or have two wireless routers running at the same time in your house.
I personally believe the mental effect of EMFs has more to do with the disruption in your gut than the actual bombardment of your brain with the frequencies, mainly because EMFs ricochet off the hard shielding of your skull very readily. Your gut, however, is not protected by bone at all, so your microbiota suffer, and thus so does your brain function. That’s my pet theory anyway, based on experience, logic, and reading between the lines of the research.
And if they are getting through the skull, they’re probably immediately affecting your brain by disrupting neuronal firing. In a study, cell cultures of avian brain tissue subjected to cell phone frequency had abnormal neuronal firing in over half of the cell samples, or else an abnormal shut down. Read more about EMF effects on humans and wildlife here.
An Opposite and Equal (or Evil) Truth
So it’s time to celebrate, really. The burgeoning science dealing with the gut microbiome will have so many great and natural solutions to the suffering we’re experiencing from modern disease and disorders. However, at the same time there are basically “mad scientists” pushing the boundaries of unnatural manipulation as they continually probe and prod the human genome with stem cell research, cloning experimentation, pharmaceutical research, and transhumanist biotechnology. As they progress, they’ll surely continue to offer the kinds of pharmaceutical solutions you’ve either grown accustomed/addicted to or perpetually disappointed by. Much worse, they will offer extremely unnatural solutions that disconnect you from nature and God even further (as if the Prozac/Zoloft/Vicodin aren’t enough to make you lose touch completely).
Where will you draw the line? I say embrace a natural solution using real natural nanobots (bacteria) harvested and strategically relocated for your benefit. Heck, you could get a fecal transplant right now if you want! They’re about 90% effective for c. diff. Sounds like good enough odds that if you found a healthy happy donor with no history of anxiety/depression, he’d incidentally probably be easygoing enough to donate his feces if you asked, and the magic concoction you’d receive from him could have you in shiny happy land in no time. Even better than that, maybe it could even help you be truly and finally balanced. As the science progresses, if they do it right and aren’t sabotaged by the genetics/Big Pharma camp, I’m sure they’ll find ways to ensure that the cultures settle in correctly where you can be assured the mental fix is effective. We’re not there yet, but it could happen very soon, in a town near you!
Update: Use L-glutamine to improve mental health through the gut and directly in the brain! New article here!