Cool tattoo. Who knew it was your second brain?

Gut mind connection

When it comes to dealing with a mood or anxiety disorder, seems to me there isn’t a cause or treatment option that can be automatically dismissed. I mean, no stone is to be left unturned. Right? And so it is with the gut. How ’bout we take a trip downstairs?

Research shows that more than 40% of people suffering from digestive disorders are likely to develop depression and anxiety.

We’ve talked about the role of the gut in the mood and anxiety disorders here on Chipur. Actually, it was within the context of probiotics – “psychobiotics.”

Given it had been a year-and-a-half since the last article was posted, I jumped on a guest post offer from Mary Toscano, producer of Probiotics Hub (10.31.20: looks like the site no longer exists). I mean, I find the material fascinating and very mood and anxiety disorder relevant.

So enough from me. Let’s get into “The Surprising Link Between a Healthy Gut and Happy Mind.” Thank you, Mary…

Why the Gut Is Also Called the Second Brain

What goes on in your gut has a profound influence on your mood. This is exactly why you often come across the expression, “Gut Feeling.”

Research shows that a healthy gut contains trillions of good bacteria that control disease and maintain wellness. The microbiome makeup plays a crucial role on your physical and mental health because it is structurally and chemically connected to the brain through an orchestrated symphony of nerves.

The enteric nervous system (ENS) of the gut facilitates back and forth communication to the nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system through a neural network. While the ENS of the gut may not process cognitive functions, it can surely influence your cognitive abilities and this is exactly why the ENS is termed as the second brain of the body.

Now you know why a gastrointestinal disorder or an irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) triggers an instant change in your mood!

How Your Mental Health Impacts Your Digestive System

probiotics for depression

The Digestive System & Mental Health

Psychological therapies can influence the gut physiology and improve bowel symptoms. To confirm these findings, a pilot study was conducted on 48 patients suffering from IBS by a medical center in Massachusetts. After a nine-week session of meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the patients reported a drastic improvement in pain reduction and inflammation.

This study makes it clearly evident that mental wellness has the power to alter the gut microbiome and reduce dependency on antibiotics. As stress reduces, overall health improves and so does the quality of life. Psychiatric disorders cause an imbalance in the gut flora which leaves the digestive system susceptible to infections, inflammation, and eventually leads to bowel disorders.

The possibilities of probiotics are being investigated across the globe because of their ability to induce changes in the brain activity that relays and controls the mind-body harmony.

How Poor Gut Health Leads to an Emotional Imbalance

Research shows that more than 40% of people suffering from digestive disorders are likely to develop depression and anxiety. The strong connect between the central nervous system and the ENS makes it clear that any abnormal activity in the digestive system adversely impacts mental health. Multiple studies have shown that an unhealthy gut has lasting neurological implications like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence to substantiate the fact that the intestinal microflora can lower anxiety and stress. The gut mircobiome can be manipulated to ease anxiety and mood disorders using probiotic supplements. Read on to know how.

How Probiotics Can Alter Your Emotions

Probiotic supplements have the power to prevent and treat psychiatric disorders by restoring the imbalances in the gut flora. The good bacteria in the gut play a vital role in lowering bad cholesterol, preventing allergies, and fighting stomach infections and liver disease. They have the power to alter neural functions that control emotions and alleviate psychological stress.

In a research study undertaken to test the efficacy of probiotic supplements on patients of depression, 25 patients were administered a specific probiotic formulation for a period of 30 days.

When the results were assessed, it was revealed that this regimen dramatically alleviated anxiety and stress in the patients. This is because a daily intake of probiotic supplements improves general well-being and digestive comfort, which in turn has a positive effect on the functioning of the nervous system.

Probiotic supplements are shown to produce neurotransmitters that can regulate glycemic control which has been linked to depression and anxiety. Making probiotic supplements as part of your daily diet can improve your digestive health and mood naturally. All you need to look for is brands that contain a combination of bifidobacterium bifidum and lactobacillus acidophilus.

Let’s Wrap It Up

Thanks, Mary. I respect and appreciate your expertise and willingness to share. Glad you dropped me a line.

No doubt, folks, no stone is to be left unturned when it comes to mood and anxiety disorder cause and treatment. This gut thing is pretty amazing, and I’d recommend you do your due diligence.

Hey, relief is out there, but it’s up to each of us to roll up our sleeves and find it…

Oh, I mentioned a previous Chipur article that’s a fit with this subject matter. Here ya’ go: Probiotics in That Gut of Yours | Soothing the Mood and Anxiety Disordered Beast

Speaking of Chipur articles, check-out the titles.

  • npeden May 25, 2016, 8:29 pm

    Love how you embrace alternatives, Bill. And generally, I agree. And I think Kelly Brogan, MD, would also agree. I have poor absorption, personally. I am on a very specific probiotic.

    There is a whole other discussion here regarding how depleted our soils are due especially to pesticides and gmo/roundup ready foods. Our guts are messed up because our food and our soil are poisoned and I bet Mary agrees.

    Thus we turn to probiotics. A very sad state of affairs. I am a part of ubiomes test group; waiting for my next results.

    Still all this begs the question, do these bugs cross the bbb (blood brain barrier)? Mary says they do. Taking probiotics, I tested very high in all the good guys, serotonin and gaba, but in my body. only. It was not till I started using lysine with p5p (aka co-enzymated b6) that my too high glutamate dropped and I bet my gaba increased and sleep improved. I was told, though I do not have the research, that the p5p made the lysine cross the bbb.

    Now I am on a poorer diet, under lots of stress, and drinking, which at least raises dopamine. So I want to study Mary’s site. It makes sense that they would cross the bbb but my experience is they do not.. (But simply improving digestion may be the real point here.)

    Thanks for approaching a very important, complex topic. Lots to learn but this is primarily an environmental degradation problem. Thank goodness for probiotics! God bless the earth.

    • Chipur May 25, 2016, 9:50 pm

      Always good to have you, Nancy. And, see, this is what works so well with the article/comment dynamic. Sure, the article contains valuable information – that’s the point. However, when well-considered comments are added to the mix, the information flow exponentially increases, and that’s great for all who stop-by.

      Thank You…

  • npeden May 25, 2016, 8:33 pm

    Wanted to edit something. Poor digestion is one thing and getting good neurotransmitters awake in the brain may be different. Not sure how they connect, but feel they do.

  • Mary Toscano May 26, 2016, 2:11 am

    Thanks for chiming in with your comments, Nancy!

    I think the point you make is very valid and we are living in a world where our food intake isn’t as “natural” as it used to be. The depletion in yield from our soil definitely pushes more usage of fertilizers as well, so it’s not just the pesticides! No wonder there is a growing demand for organic food now.

    One thing we must realize is that Pre/Probiotics will never be an actual medicine for mental issues but a very powerful (and natural) aid into resolving them. As Oxford neurobiologist Dr. Philip Burnet rightly says — “I think pre/probiotics will only be used as ‘adjuncts’ to conventional treatments, and never as mono-therapies” (Source –

    While you are on the topic, you might also want to study a couple of posts I did on the direct connection that our brain shares with our gut and why I feel so strongly about this subject —

    Hope this helps and thanks again for your comments!


    • Chipur May 26, 2016, 6:43 pm

      Hi, Mary!

      Thank you for stopping-by and replying to Nancy. Readers, Mary is the author of the post – and producer of


  • npeden May 26, 2016, 7:09 am

    I am like a dog on a pork chop on this. Mary’s site is wonderful, though because of many of the conditions I have, I would not personally do some of them, like take soy products or fermenteds. I am still on the trail of the gut as our real brain. Buddhists have long taught this. Look up “joriki” sometime, a web name I often use. To further my concern as to how gut health connects to mental health, I offer this long quote from Chrs Kresser, I hope you will allow. It has citations I must read. “Social behavior in primates is also thought to be a critical factor in the evolution of human intelligence (32). Access to microbes may have been a driving force in the evolution of animal sociality, since microbes confer many benefits to the host (33). Social behaviors like grooming, kissing, and sex increased the transfer of microbes from one organism to another. Studies in social mammals have found that development of the forebrain and neocortex in social mammals depends on signals from the microbiota (34), and germ-free mice that lack a microbiota also lack social behavior and show deficits in social cognitive abilities (35).” From

    • Chipur May 26, 2016, 2:51 pm

      Appreciate the info, Nancy. (“…dog on a pork chop?”)

      • npeden May 26, 2016, 3:15 pm

        That’s a quote from an old therapist…I am done for the day so this puppy is going “home” and for sure taking her probiotics….

      • Chipur May 26, 2016, 5:49 pm

        Ruff, ruff…