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Some gut bacteria appear to communicate with the brain (bbc.com)
322 points by gardenfelder 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 188 comments





I believe it for anecdodal reasons. Since a few years ago I started eating vegetables and whole foods and greek yogurt, cottage cheese, my cravings for what foods I want to eat and what foods I like have changed so much. I can't stand the foods I used to love, and I love always having veggies now in my food. I'm always joking with my partner that my gut bacteria have mindcontrolled me and that I'm a zombie for my gut microbiome.

I did a project during undergrad looking at the connection between the microbiome and food cravings. Mostly anecdotal evidence from what I could find but the theory makes sense conceptually. Stay with me..

The microbes that live in the gut can influence the way we feel in a bunch of positive and negative ways (could give sources but just google it).

Microbes are just little machines programmed by evolution. They're designed to optimally survive in a specific environment and get better at it over time. Most of the microbes in the gut have been with us for a long time so they've done some evolving.

Microbes don't actively think but their behavior and metabolism are still optimized by evolution. They can react to avoid being killed, to eat and to reproduce all without "thinking".

Each microbe also has a pretty specific diet. The microbes that enjoy greek yogurt don't often like chicken nuggets.

Microbes that could influence their host to consume food the microbes liked would be more fit to survive. Same thing for influencing their host to consume less food they dislike (or a competing microbe likes).

Influencing the host sounds complicated but it could be as simple as increasing the concentration of a byproduct when food concentrations of the environment are low. That byproduct could make the host tired or give them a stomachache or whatever else. With the brain connection, the possible range of these effects is broad.

If this trait was developed at anytime, it most likely got passed down to present day microbes.


I just want to echo this and also speak from experience. I've learned to know my cravings- for protein, vegis, simple (ideally mono) fats, and so on. Sometimes I just think to myself.. I need an avocado and a little salt to solve this particular inner craving. When we have a healthy balanced diet, I find my cravings more closely align with what our bodies naturally require, no more or less.

I like to call this "palette inertia" - the opposite of palette fatigue.

In the last three years, something related to my gut-brain connection got fucked. I'm not sure if it was some kind of post-viral inflammation causing stress, or stress of isolation causing inflammation. But it's definitely a two way street and mine got completely stuck in a feedback loop. The mainstream medical system failed to help me. Eventually some functional medicine doctors managed to help me improve via diet, supplements, herbal remedies and probiotics. Through (risky) experimentation and happenstance I found even more relief with some traditional medicines (pure Greek mastiha sap, kambo and Ayahuasca) and anti-malarial pills I had taken for unrelated reasons.

Unfortunately the mainstream medical system has been completely unable to investigate or explain what is going on with my body, but anecdotally, the theory that there is a two way street between gut bacteria and the brain completely aligns with my experience.

I'm feeling better now, though my stomach still feels sensitive and I can no longer tolerate gluten.


I got the opposite experience. I have IBD and recently started on some potent probiotics. Suddenly my energy and focus went up 1000%. So this is how regular people healthy live wow. I used to be lethargic all the time for 30+ years.

Putting this out there in case it may help others: My mother suffered from GERD for years and years and about two years ago, her condition seemed to have taken a turn for the worse. We’re talking waking up in the middle of the night projectile vomiting. Constant heartburn, burping and indigestion after meals and daily constipation. The doctors were completely unable to help except to recommend antacids and possibly PPI medication which can have serious side-effects.

I put her on a prebiotic + probiotic diet (kaffir, yogurt, whole grains, dark leafy greens, etc) along with a basic probiotic supplement every night and now according to her, at least 95% of the symptoms have gone away. She’s able to sleep through the night now, better mood, better energy, better everything.

Not saying it will work for everyone, but it worked for her. I feel like so little is understood about the gut microbiome and modern medicine is letting people suffer needlessly.

Edit: just realized this sounds exactly like a paid infomercial lol


Have you looked into sodium alginate supplements (with regard to reflux)? It's what got me back that last 5% you allude to after making all of the other lifestyle changes. An amazing product with no side effects. Also great for when regular life gets in the way of being able to adhere to the diet.

No I’ve never heard of this, thanks for the tip. I’ll definitely be checking this out.

soo _this_ is the paid informational part ;-) ?

I had all those symptoms and it turned out to be gallstones.

Do doctors not routinely recommend pre/probiotics to replenish gut microbiota these days? I've had multiple discussions with medical professionals that would indicate they are on board with the idea. To whit, I had to take strong oral antibiotics for a serious bacterial throat infection I had last year, and afterwards saw a significantly diminished ability to cope with spicy foods (I love spicy food). The doctor suggested probiotics and that seemed to help a lot.

Interestingly, the body of research around fermented foods (kefir [sic], yogurt, kimchi, etc) seems to show more robust benefits than probiotic supplements[1].

[1] https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(21)00754-6


Each probiotic is different and each person is different, so it's hard to make the recommendation actionable.

You'd have to know what's already in your intestines, and the best we have are poop tests, one of which (uBiome, YC S14) famously failed and is being prosecuted as insurance fraud, so doctors probably don't want to get into that. (There are still going ones like Viome that might give you interesting results.)

Fermented foods aren't all the same too; yogurt is milder than kimchi for sure.


What are the side-effects for PPIs? I've been taking them for almost 2 decades for GERD without anything too specific coming up.

I check my B12 levels from time to time and they seem ok.

My hemoglobin is always a bit low and iron supplements don't seem to help.

What other things are common with long-term PPI use?


I am not in any way shape or form a medical professional, but there do seem to be some studies that show there is evidence of an increased risk of gastric cancer with long term PPI use. Again, not a medical professional, so if it works for you and suits your personal risk tolerance, please don’t let a random internet commenter freak you out.

Lowering stomach acid can throttle calcium absorption so is linked to osteoporosis but i don’t know how common that is in practice.

Can also lower iron absorption

Higher concentrations of oral bacteria detected in the gut of people who use PPIs. That can’t be a good thing…

Have you tried apple cider vinegar (ACV)? Works wonders.

PPIs don't really treat GERD, imho it's one of those medicines to be used perpetually (good only for shareholders).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTzxfoL82n8 - good explanation why/how ACV works and why PPIs don't, iirc


I was told me esophageal sphincter doesn't fully close. Would apple cider vinegar help keep my acid low?

If you are overweight or have belly fat then it may be that your esophageal sphincter is fine and its your sleeping position that is causing the issue. Sleeping on your stomach causes belly fat to push into the area of your sphincter and opens it up slightly, now acids can flow past this point. The rise of esophageal cancer in the 90's up to now corresponds with the rise of obesity. I was actually allergic to NSAIDs which were causing gastritis but this mechanical component of sleeping on stomach (and being fatter at the time) was one of the issues that made it worse. After losing some weight it went away and after figuring out NSAIDs were causing the initial problem, I've been reflux free for four years now. Spent twenty years battling this problem and thought most of it was due to hereditary reason because my father had the same issues and died from esophageal cancer.

These are good points and hopefully useful to other HNers.

I'm not overweight by more than a kilo or two, and I sleep on my back or side, so this doesn't match my case as much.


It will exacerbate esophageal irritation on the way down even if it did help a weak LES (which it doesn't). Please ask your doctor before trying this. Avoiding unadulterated high acid foods is a first line treatment for gastric problems.

Yup, no coffee / dark chocolate / dairy / alcohol / citrus for me for over a decade now, among other things. I don't miss any of it, except chocolate milk.

I've seen vinegar recommended for GERD online before, but was curious whether there's much medical know-how behind it (studies or at least a clear theory of why it would help me vs. PPIs).

With a weak LES (lower esophageal sphincter) a lot of "just do this" GERD folk remedies don't work.


The "theory" behind ACV is that stomach problems can be caused by H. Pylori overgrowth due to acid underproduction. H. Pylori and stomach acidity problems are easily testable diagnoses via upper endoscopy on a case by case basis. What is NOT controversial however is the much higher vulnerability of the esophagus to acid (on the way up or the way down), pain from which damage is the "burn" in heartburn. The esophagus needs time to heal regardless of whether ACV would or would not help the stomach, and it'd definitely be harmful to the inflamed tissue up there. As I mentioned above, sodium alginate is a remarkably effective and safe treatment for mild and moderate GERD, which is picking up interest as PPIs are coming under intense scrutiny for possible harmful side effects long term. It's not a cure to anything per se, but this isn't medical advice either - people should root cause their stomach troubles with a qualified doctor.

The goal isn't to keep your acid low it's to keep your stomach moving.

If you have low acid your digestion will be slower and if it's low enough you will develop bacterial infections. PPIs lower your stomach acid and can cause long term issues.

1/2 tablespoon in a large glass of water. Do not drink cider vinegar straight up. It will burn you. Literally.


"When you look at the data, blaming GERD on too much stomach acid doesn’t make sense. Stomach acid actually tends to decline, not rise, with age, while GERD risk increases with age. (4) In fact, 40-year-olds, on average, generate about half as much as stomach acid as 20-year-olds do. And, according to one study, over 40 percent of people age 80 and up may be producing almost no stomach acid at all."[4]

This condition is called https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achlorhydria , and one of known side-effects of that is gastroesophageal reflux disease.

"The ideal pH for the stomach can approach 1 but should be below 3, where most pathogens cannot survive. When the pH rises above 5, several dangerous bacterial species are able to survive. Acid-blockers can increase the stomach’s pH ..."[4]

For lower esophageal sphincter to properly work, you in fact need normal levels of acid and proper acidity.[0][1][2][3] If you have the oposite, the sphincter does not fully close and boom, there's your heart burn.

The real mechanism of gerd is more complicated than "too much acid" or "acid too strong". I don't suggest you start drinking unwatered vinegar. I suggest you study the sources I've linked and only then decide for youself.

> I've seen vinegar recommended for GERD online before, but was curious whether there's much medical know-how behind it (studies or at least a clear theory of why it would help me vs. PPIs).

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTzxfoL82n8

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhUTAw6wcK8

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkRrlJFDFdA

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_UWDPrDR40

[4] https://chriskresser.com/how-to-cure-gerd-without-medication...

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achlorhydria


It would be interesting to know what her diet was like before you radically changed it.

In other words, changing to what appears to be a more healthy diet (fermented food, high fibre and high nutrient vegetables etc) might have worked with or without the probiotic side of things.

I definitely agree that the connection between our gut and our health/behavior is going to be a very fruitful area of reasearch over the next 5-10 years.


Any time GERD comes up diet is one of the very first things people are told about (by doctors) to reduce symptoms.

I was a long time sufferer until I came across a doctor who correctly diagnosed me with antibiotic resistant chronic h.pylori infection that lead to inflammation of a stomach lining. The test was painless and consisted of capturing air you breathe out into a special bag. After treatment I am symptom free. The antibiotic regimen I went through was the worst I’ve ever experienced due to resistance.

Before the current home-brewed protocol she tried many different things and many different diets that didn’t work, and was told by the doctor there wasn’t much he could do since it had to do with a weak/loose LES.

And the next thing is proton pump inhibitors. They work marvelously, but you develop a dependency on them.

I think you mean Kefir. "Kaffir" is a racial slur in South Africa, derived from the Arabic "Kafir" for non-believer [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaffir_(racial_term)


you might want to supplement with gelatine to help rebuild anything that was damaged by the acid.

I was suffering from reflux, switched to mostly carnivore diet and only get heartburn now when I eat or drink the wrong things. Tea does that to me, or the occasional piece of bread.

Also Depression went away, haven't done any gut micro biota testing, because it's expensive and I'm not rich.


Could you please point us to more information about this?

My girlfriend suffers from similar symptoms (but less severe).


Note: I’m not a healthcare professional so please take anything I say with a grain and salt and be sure to do your own doctor consultations + research. This should not be taken as medical advice, its just what has been working in our case.

@myshpa posted a link above which I hadn’t seen before, that actually confirms many of my own independent observations: https://chriskresser.com/how-to-cure-gerd-without-medication...

What worked for her:

- 10-15 minutes before every meal, suck on a DGL (Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice) tablet. This will interact with saliva and cause the GI system to secrete mucus to protect itself from acid.

- During the meal, take a digestive enzyme that contains at least Betaine HCL, Bromelain and Papain which will help break down carbs and proteins and stop food from entering the gut half digested, which can cause gas production from fermentation.

- Take a probiotic supplement every night before bed (we’ve found 15 billion to be sufficient, but you can try ones that are less/more potent). If you need water to swallow, squirt a tiny bit of lemon juice into it first.

Diet-wise: Avoid things that will relax the LES such as caffeine, mint, chocolate, etc. Avoid anything with tomato skins and certain types of legumes (if you want to eat these, remove the skins). It can be difficult, but reduce sugar intake as much as possible. Try not to drink water while eating (it will dilute stomach acid) but if she needs to, its been my observation that a tiny squirt of lemon juice with water helps.

Eat fermented foods regularly like Kefir, Kimchi, Sauerkraut, yogurt, etc. These probiotics will need to consume fibre from prebiotics in order to not starve in the gut. Increase your intake of all kinds of high fibre whole foods. Kale, beans, broccoli, whole grains, potatoes, whole almonds, etc. Google “low FODMAP diet”.

Regular exercise is important. It can be something low intensity like walking. It helps stimulate the digestive system and gut activity. Do it before meals, preferably.

It can be counterintuitive, but I think the root cause of a lot of GERD symptoms is actually weak stomach acid. That article linked above summarizes it pretty nicely. If that’s the case, make sure your girlfriend is at least supplementing with vitamins C and D, plus a B-complex with Methylcobalamine. Low stomach acid can cause malabsorption of these nutrients and others.

Keep a log book. Every body is different, so every time there is an episode, be sure to record what was specifically eaten that day and then avoid that food.

Any other questions feel free to ask.


Sounds less paid infomercial and a little closer to antivax from here if I'm honest.

Did she at least tell the doctor "hey no worries my kid fixed it"? What did they say?


I guess the difference is that being an antivaxer can potentially harm society whereas trying a high fibre, probiotic rich diet can’t hurt anyone. And I completely understand the skepticism, which is why I couched my comment with “it may not work for everyone”.

> Did she at least tell the doctor "hey no worries my kid fixed it"? What did they say?

The answer is no: I told her not to tell her doctor under any circumstances that she got armchair advice from her “kid” that actually worked because if I was a doctor who went through 10 years of med school + training, I would definitely be rolling my eyes if some senior came in and told me this story.

The point is, I haven’t dropped any probiotic brand names, I’m not hawking anything, I don’t gain anything by posting my little anecdotal experience. I’m just happy that I found a solution to a problem that has been torturing someone I care about for 10-15 years and wanted to share it so that it might help others in the same situation.

Edit: to be clear, there were other things too that helped clear up her symptoms that I omitted because my post was getting too long and because out of everything, probiotics seemed to be the biggest gamechanger. For example: first few months she also took DGL (Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice, to promote mucus secretion) 15 minutes before every meal, followed by a digestive enzyme taken with the meal (she doesn’t actually need these anymore and only takes it as a precaution if the meal is particularly starchy or high protein). Cutting out LES relaxers like caffeine, mint and chocolate helped. Also lifestyle changes were made in terms of physical activity. She still needs to sleep at an incline on a wedge block, but at least she’s not vomiting all over the carpet anymore.


Be careful, autoimmune conditions can affect the stomach and present symptoms similar to IBS, GERD, including projectile vomiting after eating. I know because I had that for years, but it was cyclical. Every time I thought I had it beat due to (insert 10 things I was trying at the time) it would come back with vengeance. Eventually it just went away but by then I had no illusion that I had done anything.

Turns out it was Familial Mediterranean Fever and it just goes away in your early 20s. I was never diagnosed until many years later and I even thought a lot of my remedies maybe worked until then.

Digestive and autoimmune both are labyrinthine in potential problems and misdiagnoses.


> Digestive and autoimmune both are labyrinthine in potential problems and misdiagnoses.

No argument there, and I appreciate the warning. It definitely gives me no pleasure playing doctor and I’m very conscious of the risk of giving misleading medical advice.

The reason why I’m confident enough to post this is that it has already been more than a year now since the major symptoms went away. The effect of the probiotics was/is pretty definitive (she recently stopped taking them for about a week while on vacation and the symptoms started slowly creeping back, and disappeared again shortly after resuming). Also, there is pretty much no real alternative treatment aside from PPIs or physical LES surgery anyway. If there is indeed an underlying autoimmune condition though, I can’t see how this diet could hurt too much. But maybe that’s due to ignorance.

I’m so happy you overcame that hell.


Well as long as you're omitting information for brevity while suggesting it may be helpful to others and at the same time having told n=1 to avoid consulting with someone who is trained in the subject that may be able to catch and correct any errors or problems you've missed I can't see any issue there. I stand corrected.

This course of action was only taken after consultations with trained professionals had already failed and as I mentioned, the effect of the omitted supplements paled in comparison with the probiotics. Also this is a thread about gut bacteria so I thought I’d initially only mention the most relevant part of the treatment and follow-up if there was more interest.

It’s pretty clear that this (like 99% of internet advice) is all anecdotal evidence and again, I’ve made it clear it may not work for everyone. I’ve also mentioned elsewhere that I’m not a healthcare professional. But if my comment is able to help even one person escape the nightmare of not being able to hold food down and the sleep deprivation and depression that comes with severe GERD… then that’s worth one snarky linux systems guy yelling at me on HN.

:)


Which one was it? I’ve heard about Vsl-3 as being medical grade

That one exactly. Expensive as crap and hard to find in my country but it's priceless.

Edit: Do you take the one I linked, or this prescription grade extra strength? https://www.visbiome.com/collections/all/products/visbiome-e...

($6.2/day without insurance coverage)

-----

Thanks! For anyone in Canada or USA wondering, I just searched and apparently you can buy it online now. About $2 a day: https://www.visbiome.com/collections/all/products/visbiome-c...

I had looked years ago and found it hard to get. Going to check with my doctor, might be something prescribable, which would either make it covered by insurance or at the least a tax deductible health expense.

Here's the Canadian link: https://www.visbiome.ca/collections/all


I'm sorry, but a probiotic that only lists the ingredients as "lactic acid bacteria"? For all you know this could be the equivalent of buying some Danone Activia. It also has "lactic acid bacteria".

I want at least the name of each of the bacteria. Even better would be exact substrains. But if it doesn't tell me whether the main ingredient is a strain that produces histamine (bad for me personally - lots of headaches) or doesn't, this is not going into me.


I don’t know if this answers what you were trying to find, but the probiotic in question is pretty heavily studied….there are even many papers discussing histamine levels

I haven’t had it and can’t vouch for it but it’s not exactly some random probiotic.

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=vsl+...


Nothing against you but, labels, labels, labels. What's so hard about it?

In case anyone is interested, link #3 finally has a list of what's allegedly in there without having to pay to read the 'study':

    Four strains of Lactobacillus (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus), three strains of Bifidobacterium (Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium infantis), and one strain of Streptococcus (Streptococcus salivarius subspecies thermophilus). 
Why don't they just print it on the thing? What I take does print it on the label and that is why I bought it, because it says exactly what is in there instead of trying to hide it.

Mine's got:

    Sachharomyces Boulardii, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bacillus Subtilis, Lactobacillus lactis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactorbacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium breve, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus acidophilos, Bifidobacterium brevis, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus paracasei
In that order, i.e. amounts. Is that so hard to print on there? I specifically got that one because I have issues with certain strains. So anything that doesn't have it right on the package? Sorry but you're out. I'm not gonna go try and find studies. Just frickin' write it on there. I tried Actimel and Activia and such and it gives me headaches due to the specific strains that are in there and in concentration vs. the above mix, which has literally cured me and I can eat whatever I want again without getting headaches. Except if I drink Actimel or eat Activia. That brings it out of balance and I suffer the consequences a couple days later.

I'm sure there's a study I can pay for that tells me what's in those, because they don't print it on the package either...


What's up with this? https://vsl3.com/assets/v1/patient/files/FactSheetVSL3Jun202...

Just went to their site and it sketched me out a bit to read this.


As far as I can tell it's a business/patent dispute.

https://www.visbiome.com/blogs/visbiome-vs-vsl-3/exegi-wins-...


It is a patent dispute, from what I can recall visbiome is the one with the legitimate claim and original inventor.

Recently, for the first time in my life, I took probiotics after a course of prescribed antibiotics.

I don't need coffee any more to function and I finally feel full after eating - strongly so even.

If it's really the probiotics, then I regret never taking them before - especially after antibiotics.


What was the probiotic you used?

What probiotics?

vsl3. i tried some others before (all given by doctor) and had massive diarrhea. i guess each person is different.

The challenge I think modern medicine has is that in order to prescribe a solution it does need to understand the problem and how your gut might be responsible for it. As we know the medical world takes time to adapt and so it takes more than just a few studies to require doctors and GP's to understand it, better yet be equipped to prescribe a solution.

For many of these gut health related issues, I think most people would be better off seeing a dietitian or even as you say functional medicine doctors. As Tim Spector has been saying, so many ailments resulting from the gut can be fixed through eating a more organic/wholefoods diet. This takes time and isn't easy to do.


I was part of genetics boom when sequencing dropped in price, and I thought that situations just like this were what the market was poised to capitalize on, sequencers in every doctors office or at least cheap enough and prolific enough that sequencing a micriobiome would give doctors data to work with.

The sad reality is that many doctors are operating with what data scientists would reject as missing or bad data, the solution (ignoring the money side) is to get them into a pattern of collecting more data and being better at analysing it.

Each microbiome is different, and I think until sequenced and analyzed, it is simply guessing on the part of patient and doctor.


Genome wide association studies are expensive and take time. Forward and reverse genetics take money and time. PhDs need to be paid.

Honestly if you have a typical software engineer's salary and no dependents, just fund some studies yourself. Do them in South America or some other place with lower compliance requirements.


Autoimmune conditions are the most common culprit. Doctors are horrible at diagnosing. Even if you have all the symptoms, family history, good response to treatment, and some positive tests.

Autoimmune protocol diet is amazing for resolving from food triggers.


What's the issues you've been facing, and why do you think it's a gut-brain issue?

Constipation, headaches, stress, bloating, anxiety, depression, fatigue, weight loss, hair loss, rashes.

I don't know what the cause was, but the gut-brain theory fits all of my experience and treatments aimed at improving my gut bacteria helped the most, and there has definitely been a strong connection between how my gut is feeling and how my mind is feeling.


If you're experiencing an improvement, great. It seems reasonable that your gut issues (if nothing else) could be improved by addressing the gut biome.

Since you've had some luck with traditional medicines, I can share my $0.02 about the traditional system I'm somewhat familiar with. In traditional Indian folk medicine, the focus for practically everything seems to revolve around improving gut health. It's a common belief that tongue health is a reflection of gut health, so for example a coated tongue suggests a sluggish digestive system, and the physician will seek to address that before anything else. A lot of treatments also include required dietary changes (like avoiding certain vegetables).


> like avoiding certain vegetables

I've never heard of this. Western medicine says "all the vegetables, all the time". What are some of the vegetables people told to avoid? Genuinely curious.


Even in Western medicine (at the research stage, at least), that is not necessarily true in patients suffering from certain conditions.

There is some evidence (in the sense of evidence-based medicine) that a low-FODMAP (fermentable *saccharides) diet reduces symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. [1]

As far as vegetables go, according to one site high-FODMAP vegetables include alliums and artichokes. [2]

It is worth noting that the authors of the linked review paper caution that it is unknown whether a low-FODMAP diet may have long-term adverse effects.

[1] doi:10.2147/CEG.S86798

[2] https://www.monashfodmap.com/about-fodmap-and-ibs/high-and-l...


Autoimmune Protocol diets commonly favour leafy greens a lot while telling you to avoid too starchy veg and everything in the potato-tomato family ("nightshades"). Very abbreviated it would be "eat green veg, fish and meat."

I did this when I was in constant horrific agony. Full body burning pain. Serious painkillers Just to not want to die.

Tried 100% only Chicken green veggies and sweet potatoes. A Month later I was out kayaking twice a week. No need for painkillers.


What a pain, sorry to hear that and great that it worked.

I have to plead ignorance on the specifics, since it's not something I've consulted myself, so unsure if it's a universal suggestion or whether each person gets tailor made recommendations - though I think it's the latter (based on conversations with people who did consult a traditional physician). Collectively, I've heard recommendations against tomatoes, eggplants, certain pulses common in the Indian diet, some leafy vegetables, okra, colocasia (leaves and tubers), and milk. At least in some cases, the dietary restrictions were supposed to last at least while they took the traditional medications.

Nightshades can increase inflammation. Tomatoes and Potatoes for example.

On the other hand, tomatoes can also be anti-inflammatory. It really depends on the situation.

I assume you were tested for Celiac disease? Many doctors don't do the testing correctly, though - mainly that someone has to be eating gluten for weeks prior to the blood tests to avoid high risk of a false negative.

Have you ever done a hydrogen methane breath test? Curious if it could be SIBO-C.

This is a bit of a vent so apologies in advance but as someone who has been though the same thing OP has I have heard this suggestion from literally everyone. Even if you do the test and it's test results are accurate it's not 100% clear what to do with that information - it's mostly the same stuff OP would have or did already try.

It's common to take a 2 week course of something like Xifaxan (an antibiotic that works in the small intestine) after a positive SIBO test, which is not something you can do without a doctor/gastroenterologist prescribing it for you.

-- someone who tested positive for a hydrogen/methane breath test and just finished a 2 week course of Xifaxan


There are ways to get Xifaxan / Rifaximin without a prescription. Plenty of sites where you can buy it online. I got it from my functional medicine doctor who said let's skip the breath test and just try it, because it has very low risk and few side effects.

Can I ask for a recommendation for the professional you worked with?

I would recommend googling "functional medicine doctors" in your area.

Hmm.. same/similar. Maybe I should go outside the western playbook a little further. Thanks.

An episode of extreme stress during the pandemic has left me with IBS-C.

Apologize for TMI.

Before: I ate anything, whenever, in whatever quantity body requested and was consistent 2-3x/day.

Now: my body just does not pass stool on its own anymore and I require a prescription for Linzess (highest dosage). Without it, I will bloat to the point of a visibly distended stomach and pass rock hard stool once every 3ish days. Being so bloated causes me to eat less and I shed 15lbs (145lb@6ft). Tried no fodmap diet, heavy on fermented foods for a while, xifaxan (in case of SIBO), prebiotics previously mentioned on HN. I've settled on Linzess daily + a heavy meat diet, with oats for breakfast. Too many vegetables and I get bloated. Most breads as well. Carbonated beverages make me into a balloon.


> Apologize for TMI.

Thanks for sharing! Here comes mine.

> pass rock hard stool once every 3ish days.

I go once every 3 days, sometimes even 4, without any drama. I quite like the schedule and think it saves me a lot of time. I believe what makes it work is that I drink ~1.5 liters of tea every day, on top of the water I get from one meal per day plus some snacks here and there.

I used to be constantly bloated and extremely gassy. But no longer since I stopped going to restaurants and started eating home-cooked meals made from fresh ingredients. Turns out my stomach is just allergic to crappy ingredients restaurants like to put into our food.

I take zero medication.

Hope you find your way soon to better gut health!


I might have tried Linzess if it had been offered to me. Most of the doctors I saw probably wouldn't have even prescribed it if I had asked. They seemed set on not helping me.

My symptoms were similar to yours. I discovered on my own that digestive enzymes blends with every meal kept things flowing for me. Abdominal massage helped too. But I didn't make real progress until I started working with functional medicine doctors and trying different regimens of supplements with their direction.


Glad you got some relief. It is truly puzzling. My doc stopped at Linzess, of course. Ultimately I don't want to take a pill every day for the rest of my life. Have a pointer to the folks that helped you?

I had one doctor in Boulder who I worked with remotely, and one in Cape Town. I'd say just Google "functional medicine doctors" in your area. Unfortunately, you'll have to evaluate their trustworthiness on your own because most of them are not licensed and a lot of them are full of bullshit.

Just a comment, using the term "mainstream medical system" is a "code smell" for me when discussing medical science. Have you had your gut biota analyzed to see whether there is a basis for your inflammation issues?

Yes, "big pharma" has a lot of control, but medical research is not entirely driven by them, particularly outside of the US.

It sounds like you remade your gut biota via various paths. "Traditional" medicines are "medicines" when they get through a set of actual medical clinical trials, after which they are called "medicine".

The fact that you have given yourself some form of gluten intolerance/allergy does not exactly imply "success" in what you've done so far.


In german speaking countries gut microbiome analysis is considered alternative medicine by many medical professionals and is actively discouraged by some interest groups. [1]

There always is a gap between medical research and application which people have different opinions on. For example when it was found out that high cholesterol was bad for you, doctors recommend patients with high cholesterol to eat less cholesterol. Later it turned out that there was little correlation between eating cholesterol and having high cholesterol. The correct opinion supported by scientific evidence was considered alternative medicine for decades.

[1] https://www.dccv.de/aktuelles/nachricht/teuer-und-sinnlos-dg...


According to the (4 year old) article there are no clinical studies showing that the gut microbiome analysis might be useful for either explaining or treating a chronic inflammation. That is pretty far from it being considered "alternative medicine"

They actively discourage its use: "Die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gastroenterologie, Verdauungs- und Stoffwechselkrankheiten (DGVS) rät davon ab, Stuhltests zur Untersuchung des Mikrobioms zu nutzen."

In my opinion there being no evidence in either direction does not mean that you should not try it, especially if there is no downside and you have a chronic condition.

I assumed lack of evidence + non mainstream opinion = alternative medicine. Maybe there is a better word for cases like this where there is some evidence but no clear indication of causality.


I had my gut microbiota sequenced twice. The results were not actionable at all, because there is very little knowledge about what constitutes a healthy microbiome. Those tests are great entertainment if you're curious about the subject. But that's about it.

We know that a diverse microbiome might be healthier than a non-diverse one. Exercise, eat your fibers, legumes, fruit and whole grains. Avoid processed food. Enjoy some fermented condiments. Avoid alcohol.


I totally disagree. I have found doctors to be fantastic when you have a physically obvious or life threatening injury. Broken arm? Gunshot wound? Doctors work great.

Chronic condition that has subjective symptoms at best? Doctors couldn’t care less.


My symptoms are not subjective. I lost weight, had constipation, was passing undigested food matter, had rashes all over my body, etc. But doctors still refused to investigate and told me nothing was wrong other than "yeah, you have some mild inflammation, don't eat food that bothers you".

>"Traditional" medicines are "medicines" when they get through a set of actual medical clinical trials, after which they are called "medicine".

To be fair, Tylenol almost certainly wouldn't pass clinical trials today. Selling a drug OTC that so easily causes organ(liver) damage? Ridiculous. So would most NSAIDS-- as those cause stomach bleeding even in regular clinical doses. That also would imply that companies had an interest in testing natural treatments that may not sell well


> Tylenol almost certainly wouldn't pass clinical trials today.

I've heard that said before. Is it really true? I'd like to think we'd pull it off the shelves if it were really that bad. Looks like about 250 people are killed per year from overdose (accidents only, not suicides).

NSAIDs cause quite a lot more deaths than that, but it's possible they're used more heavily than acetaminophen, I'm not sure on the usage stats.


Can you provide some references regarding the bleeding in normal doses? Honestly curious whats safer than ibuprofenum these days.

In addition most traditional medicine is centered around use of whole herbs. Lots of times there's complex processing that goes into it, but it's still something you can often just... grow. Clinical trials are extremely expensive and with the incentive system we have right now it'd make 0 sense for a company to invest in proving that something you can grow in your backyard can help treat something

The WHO on the other hand has been investing heavily in traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) in developing countries as they offer "care that is close to homes, accessible and affordable. It is also culturally acceptable and trusted by large numbers of people". Interestingly, the use and research into traditional medicine is actually increasing worldwide. The US seems to be pretty unique, even compared to developed nations, in how little it values TM. The WHO report linked below points out that 100 million Europeans, 76% of Singapore, and 86% of South Koreans commonly use TM. It also points out interesting research like:

> Another recent study indicates that patients whose general practitioner has additional complementary and alternative medicine training have lower health care costs and mortality rates than those who do not. Reduced costs were the outcome of fewer hospital stays and fewer prescription drugs (31)

Interestingly, they differentiate TM from CM. TM being a country's actual traditional medicine system and the knowledge passed down across many generations (e.g. Unani, Ayurveda, TCM, etc) and CM being more like "alternative medicine" that is not part of a country's traditional system (anthroposophic medicine, chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy, osteopathy, etc; think your aunt trying to sell you essential oils)

https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241506096


This is not meant to be a flippant or politically-charged question… but why do you trust the WHO after their massive debacle rubberstamping China’s initial lies about COVID and legitimizing them by sending a dog and pony show to “investigate”?

Nearly everyone fucked up on COVID. Every side and opinion in hindsight was at least partially wrong.

I think people who do more for their health are generally healthier.

Whatever medicine whoever is using at the end the best way to stay healthy is exercise, good clean living conditions and a healthy diet.

No need for medicine unless you are ill


This reminds me of the Beat Poem "Storm" by Tim Minchin:

"By definition," I begin, "Alternative medicine," I continue, "Has either not been proved to work, or been proved not to work. Do you know what they call Alternative medicine that's been proved to work? Medicine."


This attitude conflating "not been proved" with "proved not" is a logical fallacy and used far to often as a reason not to do experiments in the exact cases that experiments are called for.

You've misunderstood my post. I'm not against modern medicine and "big pharma". My struggle is with these slow moving, outdated institutions that refuse to do any science or investigation at all. The mainstream medical system is bureaucracy and red tape, not science. I have done every laboratory analysis available to me. Most of the lab tests I had to order and pay for myself because doctor said "I don't think you need it, you seem fine". I had elevated inflammation markers and high levels of H Pylori and E Coli.

Yes, I probably remade my gut biota. Yes, I was shooting in the dark, because the medical system flat out refused to help me. I had doctors laugh in my face and tell me I was making things up because I was too young to be unhealthy. Is that science?

Yeah, clinical trials are needed to evaluate some traditional medicines. But why aren't those clinical trials being done? It's not like Ayahuasca was discovered yesterday. And it's not like it's hard to access. You can literally make it in your own home. I'm struggling to understand why so many people these days insist that "not doing science" is actually "science" as if science is static and we don't need to investigate anything new because we already know everything.

And as far as me giving myself gluten intolerance, fuck off. I've been gluten intolerant since these issues began, before I ever considered anything outside of mainstream medicine. I didn't do this to myself. And in fact, it's another thing that mainstream medical doctors refused to investigate. I had to order my own lab tests to confirm.


Most traditional medicines likely no better than placebo, this is why they are still traditional. Some are outright dangerous, like those that contained aristolochic acid[1].

[1] https://www.asianscientist.com/2017/10/health/liver-cancer-h...


You're saying this as if clinical trials have been done, and you know it for a fact. But there have been few clinical trials done on the traditional medicines I've mentioned. And none of them contained aristolochic acid... that seems like a very random point to make when so many pharmaceuticals also contain harmful chemicals.

Important to note, a guy boita analysis is a snapshot in time, and to make decisions with that in mind.

The best indicators of gut health are:

Minimum flatulence and burping, or at least being aware of what you put in contributes to what you off-gas; stools should be well formed, easy to pass, mid to dark brown, about the size of your index fingers and thumbs on both hands touching to form an elongated, and not malodorous.


Gut. I meant gut not guy.

I got stress from working at FAANG. Took me 2 years to go back to bearable-normal. I'm still sensitive to stress, and for some reason, bacon goes through me like rocks.

If you really wanna crank up the woo, my most recent addition to gut health is a good dry needling practitioner, and a good osteopath / chiropractor - preferably one who does both and understands the importance of the vagus nerve.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagus_nerve

Also good to learn some self-massage for the abdomen, and diaphragmatic breathing too.


Every thread on stuff like this there's always someone that has to step in and claim how their cancer was cured by this one weird trick that doctors hate.

Ultimately the odds are that it's masking the symptoms in one way or another. Much like my cousin who went full into traditional medicine and claimed it solved all of her issues that she still has after downing a cocktail of 50 essential oils and whisky.


I get your skepticism. I honestly don't know what the traditional medicine did to my body other than that it took away the physical suffering I was feeling. Did it mask some symptoms? Maybe. The thing is, the mainstream medical system failed to find any problem. They didn't diagnose me with anything or offer me any treatment despite the fact that I felt like I was dying every day. They refused to investigate any possible causes and told me I was not sick.

A few mainstream doctors prescribed medicines to relieve my symptoms without addressing the underlying root causes. You seem to think that's a feature of traditional medicine, but it's actually quite common in mainstream medicine as well.


> pure Greek mastiha sap

Mmm. The root for the word “masticate” (the resin is used like chewing gum), and the “piney” flavour in Greek halva (among other things). Notably, a collection of trees on one Greek islands (Chios) were under threat from forest fire a few years ago[0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Chios_Forest_Fire


Can you expand upon what you went through? Initial symptoms? What you thought it was? How you were initially treated? What felt wrong in treatment? How'd you find the other functional medicine doctors?

I think your story has a lot of weight and I personally am very curious as I've had my own suspicions personally. Thank you!


do abs exercises every even day that work your lower, middle and upper abdomen. do these until you can't anymore, each part. It increases blood flow to your gut and speeds up the recovery process.

I get gut pain sometimes, on a semi regular basis. The day before the pain hits I have mild-euphoria, clear thinking, positive outlook, lots of energy, more social and extravert. It's not normal.

Something is going on with the brain and my gut.

It's possible that it's endorphins being released to stop any pain ... but this is about 24 hours before the crippling cramps start, and it's more a mood shift than pain killing. Before this great 24 hour, I'm normal baseline okay state.


Total shot in the dark, but maybe try having ginger shots. I started having 1 every morning before breakfast and it’s been a game changer for my gut.

You can make them by just blending ginger with citrus juice and tumeric, then filtering with a cheese cloth.


Early part of migraine maybe. Euphoria is a symptom. I used to get that the day before one would hit.

> The day before the pain hits I have mild-euphoria, clear thinking, positive outlook, lots of energy, more social and extravert. It's not normal.

Some might say that you got it backwards and this would be preferably your "normal".

First thing I'd do would probably be to document in detail what you're eating on those days and if any pattern emerges. Try eliminating things, if there is any pattern. Sounds a lot like lactose intolerance to me. I used to have it, but managed to get rid off it.


how'd you get rid of it?

I know people would probably call bullshit on this, and I probably wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't experienced it myself. My symptoms of lactose intolerance were basically that I'd get stomach cramps, and later diarrhea, within about 2 hours of consuming milk products, even after just eating small amounts of them (such as milk-chocolate). I was, to that time, using lactase-supplements whenever I consumed something containing lactose.

What I did for a while was intermittent fasting (restricting caloric intake to a 6-8 hour window each day.) I did this unrelated to my lactose intolerace, because I hadn't considered that it might be 'curable'. After doing this for a month or so, I somehow forgot taking my lactase supplement for a while (I didn't even notice until some time later.), and curiously I did not get those lactose-intolerance symptoms anymore.

I'm not an expert on these things by any matter, but from my amateur-readings of the literature there are two forms of lactose intolerance: the first, and most common, is a genetic one where your stomach just doesn't produce enough (or any) lactase anymore, starting at a certain age. The second one is more controversial, but might be related to bacteria living in the gut, which populate on the stomach lining and prevent the gut from releasing lactase; and it - to me - seems like my calorie restricted diet has starved those bacteria out.

So I can't say for certain if the month of intermittent fasting resolved the issue of lactose intolerance for me (since n=1), but it sure seems so because I hadn't made any other major changes to my diet then (except perhaps that I reduced carbs, in particular refined sugars.)


That sounds like an abdominal migraine. I've been a migraine sufferer for 13 years and that euphoria the day before is how I know it's coming.

How do you feel the day after the pain? Feeling utterly exhausted afterwards is also a common symptom.

I usually get the migraine pain in my head, but I've had a few abdominal migraines and they sound very similar to your symptoms. Maybe something to look into.


Our gut biomes and the gut-brain axis are pretty mind-blowing in the way they facilitate our behaviors and general mental/physical health. It's amazing how much we haven't figured out yet too...especially with neural pathways.

Today's world of commercialized food (a few major foods/culprits in particular) throws inflammation at us in spades, and eating well has honestly made a huge difference in my life -- the most noticeable parts by far being cognition, energy, and mood. Every time I deviate from clean cooking and eating mainly whole foods, it's painfully obvious since my microbiome loves the new, healthier norm.

I would highly recommend this podcast (neuroscientist Andrew Huberman) if anyone wants to learn more about improving their gut health and the science and research that we know so far. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15R2pMqU2ok&t=4500s


what a wonderful resource. He has no reason for me to be skeptical but I have a hard time believing anything on youtube

I read a book about all this recently called I Contain Multitudes. The thesis was that the gut biome controlled a lot, and given the evidence presented I thought it was compelling (as a layman) though not actionable. Based on that one piece of information I am not surprised by the OP.

I started I Contain Multitudes and ended up reading 10% Human instead. It’s more human-centric. Fascinating either way. I suspect we are starting to see the first glimmers of a vast space of microbiome interactions.

It’s really interesting, and for me personally unfortunate that it seems to be a “crunchy” topic that’s regularly the domain of crystal healers and anti vaxxers and people who blame their maladies on “toxins in the body” because the science behind a microbiome growing from the food we eat and how we evolved seems pretty sound.

I share this sentiment. It seems that anything which has not yet been formally proven by academia is “not real” in the public eye and therefore all believers are cranks. We still have major gaps in our understanding of our bodies and our medicine, so to me it is ironic that the institutional science scoffs at things like the microbiome that we do not yet fully understand.

> major gaps in our understanding of our bodies

True. But it doesn't cancel the fact that most preachers of detoxication and such are cranks.


Good book! Ed Yong is a great author. It really made me question our modern medicine approach to use antibiotics which is essentially scorched earth tactics on our gut biome. I hope some cool medical science comes out of it. Like having medicines tailored to your gut biome makeup and balance.

The section in the book about fecal matter transplants (FMTs) and how they work blew my mind.

(Edit typo)


So then where are we with parasites cause homosexuality?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mG7DbMQ_gM

Censor, downvote and otherwise dismiss without any intellectual pursuit. If that's what you did then it's an identity for you and evidence to the contrary won't matter.

If we are discussing gut/brain connection in one way why not in others?


This is a little scary, doesn't that mean they can hack you and cause issues from brain fog to mental illness.

There are more bacteria cells in your body than your cells. We are hack on a hack on a hack on a hack.

Lucky for us the bacteria are willing to host us.

Yes but bacteria cells are generally tiny. We have our own bacteria-like "cells" inside our own cells (mitochondria) and maybe it helps to even out the numbers?

A nationstate could hack a competing nationstate by spiking food exports with brain fog causing microbes.

Isn’t the United States already doing this with McDonald’s and Coca Cola? /s

Wheat and corn /s

We joke but it is actually worrying that most commercialized grains, corn, and their byproducts can do a lot of damage over time. Our guts aren't built to digest these things to begin with, and that's not even considering the toxins involved in the growing environments and manufacturing processes of this stuff.

If we thought lead in the water was bad, just wait for the news of all the dietary and microbiota damage we've been doing to ourselves.

Obviously this could also become a population-level attack vector.


and hack the other way around, to clear heads and positive wholesome thinking

I'm getting TLOU vibes....

....I've enjoyed the first two episodes.


Highly recommend this radiolab episode, which covers much of the content of this article including the Beaumont origin story and rat experiments in fascinating detail. https://radiolab.org/episodes/197112-guts

Ayurveda posited a form of gut-brain axis thousands of years ago (and is a core basis for its dietary aspects), interesting to see more scientific research delving into the details.

Ayurveda posits that palm reading is legitimate medicine.

The notion that gut health impacts mental wellbeing is obvious. The specifics of it are less so.


Not sure what your point is here. I'm suggesting that dietary aspects were designed around the aspect of a gut-brain axis and praising that more research is going into the details. Similar to how we're seeing more research in the field of meditation and its impact on brain structure.

Source on Ayurveda posits that palm reading is legitimate medicine?



What does that have to do with medicine?

Apologies. Presumably those thousands of clinics etc in the search results "posit that palm reading is legitimate medicine". I had to guess what your question meant exactly - as is, it's not grammatical english, and is ambiguous in at least two ways. I should've asked you to clarify instead, or just not tried to answer.

> Presumably those thousands of clinics etc in the search results "posit that palm reading is legitimate medicine"

Not really, they're more astrology based, not medicine, and no one is claiming astrology is factual in this thread. Also, they're clinics, not a source of any kind which is what was asked for.


Tim Spector seems like a good source on this stuff, I listened to some podcasts of his and he's doing some work here in the UK with Zoe, where they test you and figure out a nuturion plan for you based on your gut bacteria and what is best for you personally.

I can’t find his podcasts. What’s the title?

Search his name on youtube and you will find some good content, he also has some books.

But the podcast I watched, was here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66hWntvp0_4


Humans need a lot of nutrients for brain operation, so it makes sense that we would have a sophisticated system for working with the gut flora and fauna to support them so that they can help us digest food effectively. If this is the case, in a sense we then we invite the gut inhabitants, and ask them what they want so they can help us. I think it's reaching a bit to describe this as 'gut bacteria control the brain'.

Making my own kefir for 6 months did something to me I still can't quantify, like working out e.g.

Even for weight loss, some gut bacterial peptide helps. This is like semaglutide. See https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61112-0

Pair programming with my gut bacteria today

For the folks that take probiotics: how did you decide what to take?

Pro-biotics in pill form are dubious at best. Even yogurts available in stores have been pasteurized for longer shelf life (not to speak of the loads of sugar added). Vegetables from the cruciferous family, like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and home-fermented yogurt will give you the most bang for the buck. Fermented forms of cabbage like sauerkraut and kimchi are supposed to be especially good for your gut bacteria.

I got lucky and the first kind I used worked well for me (I think it was suggested by my girlfriend at the time as a good brand, she had done a bunch of research about that kind of thing). I later tried several different others and they didn't seem to benefit me as much though some of them were at least somewhat beneficial.

My impression is that there isn't a very good way currently of knowing ahead of time what if any probiotics might work well for any particular person.


I’m taking L Reuteri mostly because I enjoy making yoghurt from it myself, and it tastes good. Also it’s anti H Pylori (the bacteria that causes ulcers), and I started taking it when I was worried I might be developing one

https://examine.com/supplements/lactobacillus-reuteri/


You can buy this in the US as a product called BioGaia Gastrus. Chewable pills.

Yes! I use those for my starter

So the organisms aren’t half-dead after all, if your yogurt is a success. I always wonder how they can survive in a pill, on a shelf, for a year (expiration date is easily one year but I finish them in 30 days… but no idea date of manufacture so we can’t know how “old” the organisms are.

Trial and error. I've taken 6-8 different kinds and settled on one that works, which is the cheap generic store brand.

My wife has done the same, and has discovered that the one that works for her is a completely different sort.


There is an interesting book on the related topic - "This Is Your Brain on Food"[0]. If you like to try changes in the diet then there are a lot of suggestions in the book. But you might find the book to be quite verbose and repetitive.

[0] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49088685-this-is-your-br...


There's also the Bone-Brain-Gut connection and Bone Gut connection. Bones are complex structures made of various proteins and studies have shown some microbiome as harmful to Bones or lack of diversity.

There was an experiment in mice that showed some mice devoid of any gut bacteria had better bone density than the other experiment group.

This is interesting and might suggest some bacteria can cause bone issues.



It is possible for a bacteria to evolve to release neurotransmitters etc.

There is a nervous system in the digestive system that is connected to the brain.

Therefore it is possible for a bacteria to evolve to influence the brain.

If it was possible for a bacteria to evolve to control their host then they would do so.

Therefore, they have done so.


No doubt this is a reasonable inference chain that was dreamed up many decades ago. But science doesn't stop at inference chains. Now, armed with this hypothesis, we have to go and actually look. Which bacteria? How do they influence the brain? What evolutionary pressures exactly? Reading the article, it looks like we have answers to many of these questions.

sigh took them decades to realise. clap-clap

For me it's a common knowledge and I use it quite often.


BBC and NHS wildly behind the curve as usual.

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-preventi...

This is, in fact, old hat


I have to wonder what the prevalence of psychedelics and antidepressants has done at a population level to change us.

A Multidisciplinary Hypothesis about Serotonergic Psychedelics. Is it Possible that a Portion of Brain Serotonin Comes From the Gut? https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36137971/

Seeking the Psilocybiome: Psychedelics meet the microbiota-gut-brain axis https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S169726002...

Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and the Gut Microbiome: Significance of the Gut Microbiome in Relation to Mechanism of Action, Treatment Response, Side Effects, and Tachyphylaxis https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.6828...


Can't speak at the population level, but on a personal, anecdotal level I very reluctantly started taking an SSRI a few years ago and my life is substantially better. YMMV.

Me too. Seems to be much more effective for people with GAD rather than depression tho, purely on HN anecdata

But did they change: How you poop? How well your food is digested? What nutrients you absorb from your food?

"so we have evolved with these 'friends with benefits'."

I'll never think of my gut bacteria in the same way again.


Hate to be cynical but every time something like this comes up I can't help but thinking "You're telling me the leg bone's connected to the hip bone?"

So everything about the human body and how it operates is just obvious to you?

I'm feeling a little gassy. This is communication from my gut bacteria to my brain.

News or articles about this keep coming out recently. but they all seem to be limited to "we think", "might" and the great potential it may have.

Since we do not know much about how the brain works to begin with I guess that is as close as we can get.

I say we dont know much about how the brain works as a I take medication for depression.

The way that works most often is that you are given a pill that may work. You take it for between 2 - 26 weeks, depending on results. (some may have a fast negative effect) and then you tell your doc if you feel better. (Sometimes complicated surveys)

if it didn't work, you get to do it over again. and again and again. until you find something that works, give up or die.

then sometimes it stops working.

One place I know does a cool, I forget the proper name. They take a "video" of how your brain is "working" (at an extremely low resolution). then they compare what they find to knowledge about what parts of the brain should be active, not active etc. From this they hope to establish a delta between "normal" and you.

Then you get to take pills and you come back (after some times) they do the whole thing over again, to see if you are now closer to "normal" or not.

The goal then being to find a chemical that brings you as close to normal as can be.

It is highly appealing in that it would offer -some- scientific basis for evaluating the drugs aside from "How do you feel".

If it -actually works- I have no idea. It was far too expensive for me, and to qualify you have to not have taken any medication already. (that would mess up the "virgin" recording).

An interesting research project would be recording tens of thousands of people who self-reported no depression in the hope that some would develop clinical depression and comparisons could be made.

If we now mix in gut bacteria into the equation, I can imagine you somehow "insert" new gut bacteria into a person and then you wait for some time and tell the doc if it worked or not. If not you can get a different psychobiotics and enter the loop. Add in regular medication for depression the number of possible permutation would become huge.

(I like to include this link to a Standford lecture on the difference between "being sad" and clinical depression https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOAgplgTxfc)


There's a hundred million neurons in our guts. It makes me think arguments about being brains in a vat, and treating the brain as a biological computer with inputs form the senses misses the fact that the brain is part of the nervous system extending throughout the body, and not some isolated system. An envatted brain isolated from the body is likely not going to function properly. The brain can only properly be understand as being part of a whole organism.

The "brain in a vat" concept only really makes sense if you are willing to draw a distinction between the conscious part and other parts of the body, i.e. if you are willing to admit that some parts of the world are mechanistic (the external world, the function of our eyes, sense of smell, etc) and some parts (including the brain) are not. If you are willing to admit that, then the brain-in-a-vat scenario says that you can emulate all these mechanical parts and feed the brain fake information, and the brain can't tell the difference. An envatted brain can be isolated from the body because it only knows the information at its own boundaries, i.e. at the boundary of the mechanistic and the non-mechanistic.

If the point of your post is to say that the boundary is larger than that of the brain itself, but extends to the nervous system, gut bacteria, etc. then I think one could counter that all those things are relatively easily replaced by simulations and therefore don't need to be part of the brain in the vat to make the thought experiment work. A person can lose arms and legs and intestines and still be perfectly conscious.

If you say that the brain itself could be replaced by a simulation and not lose any qualities, then the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment doesn't really mean anything for you because there would be nothing special about a brain anyway, and the scenario is vacuous.


> A person can lose arms and legs and intestines and still be perfectly conscious.

You can also lose parts of your brain and be totally fine!

I'm not sure this proves as much as you think, though I do tend to agree.


> parts

key word :)


Also, hormones have an enormous effect on the brain. The speculation I have read about immortality through brain vat tech does not address that such brains might not have any reason to want to live.

Right, one has to assume that a good vat for the brain looks pretty much like the body itself :)

I just want my vat to have a good hairline. Is that so much to ask of the future?

I certainly feel like my brain is in charge when I wake up, long enough to get my clothes on and out of the house on the school run and back, at which point my stomach resumes control for the rest of the day.

So this has a potential evolutionary aspect to it.

In caveman days you had to wake up, triage the current environment for threats(weather, animals etc) and then once that was done you would go out and try to find food.

It makes sense that your stomach would take a back seat till the above had been taken care of. It would then trigger the hunger feeling to motivate you to focus on food.



Why post an archive link? Nothing from the BBC is behind a paywall.

Sometimes the popup sticks around. At least for me. It's a bit annoying.



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