Tag Archives: IBS

Review of the Literature: Vagus Nerve and Treatment of Gastrointestinal and Psychiatric Disorders

Happy Monday Tribe!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and amazing Fourth of July!  Last week I mentioned that I am switching to ONE office starting in August.  I won’t be in mission valley after that, so please schedule accordingly:)

________________________

I came across a very interesting article this weekend, as you know i’m always nerding out to more science!
Some of this I already know, but I found it interesting enough to write about for all of you guys to learn about!

The article came out of a psychiatry journal, but the physical and emotional are so interconnected, it’s no wonder they are finding the two so intertwined!

You’ve heard me talk extensively about the vagus nerve.  One of the 12 cranial nerves that exits out of the skull.  One of our best calming nerves we got!  It starts up in the head, but continues down into the abdomen.


(not my image)

It is part of what’s called the parasympathetic nervous system.  This system overseas a numerous amount of bodily functions, mood control, immunity, digestion, heart rate.

This nerve connects the brain and the GI tract by sending information to the brain about how the inner organs are doing.  Stimulating this nerve influences the brain stem to play crucial roles in mood and anxiety disorders (called monoaminergic brain systems).
What else?  There’s also evidence that gut bacteria have an effect of mood, by affecting the vagus nerve.

Let’s talk about the GUT brain axis for a minute.  The gut has its own nervous system, called the enteric nervous system.  It produces more than 30 neurotransmitters and has more neurons than the spine!  Why aren’t we addressing the gut more?! (well, i do, but just saying)…….

Hormones that are released from this system cross the blood brain barrier and work together with the vagus nerve.  The gut is also a huge important factor in controlling the immune system, but also the vagus nerve has immune modulating properties to work with it.
So this little (or big) nerve has a role with the gut, brain and inflammation.

How is the vagus nerve linked between our main (central) nervous system, and this enteric nervous system??

The gut brain axis includes the brain, spinal cord, autonomic NS, HPA axis.  The vagus nerve sends signals from the brain to the gut which account for 10-20% and then transports signals from the gut wall to the brain which accounting for 80-90% of all the fibers.  

This nerve also regulates the HPA axis, which releases hormones from the hypothalamus in the brain.  It leads to cortisol release, a stress hormone .  Which we all know stress hormones affect us all around. The vagus nerve also has lines of communications to influence intestinal function, which are under the influence of the gut microbes.

How is the vagus linked to the immune system?

The GI tract is faced all the time with food antigens, pathogens, microbiotica that may cause intestinal inflammation.  This is HIGHLY innervated by the vagus nerve. It has many anti-inflammatory capacities ( i won’t go into them all ). For those that want to nerd out  you know who you are, I’ll copy it here:

“The anti-inflammatory capacities of the vagus nerve are mediated through three different pathways (18). The first pathway is the HPA axis, which has been described above. The second pathway is the splenic sympathetic anti-inflammatory pathway, where the vagus nerve stimulates the splenic sympathetic nerve. Norepinephrine (NE) (noradrenaline) released at the distal end of the splenic nerve links to the β2 adrenergic receptor of splenic lymphocytes that release ACh. Finally, ACh inhibits the release of TNF-α by spleen macrophages through α-7-nicotinic ACh receptors. The last pathway, called the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway (CAIP), is mediated through vagal efferent fibers that synapse onto enteric neurons, which in turn release ACh at the synaptic junction with macrophages (18). ACh binds to α-7-nicotinic ACh receptors of those macrophages to inhibit the TNF-α (69). Compared to the HPA axis, the CAIP has some unique properties, such as a high speed of neural conductance, which enables an immediate modulatory input to the affected region of inflammation (70). Therefore, the CAIP plays a crucial role in the intestinal immune response and homeostasis, and presents a highly interesting target for the development of novel treatments for inflammatory diseases related to the gut immune system (618).”

What about the vagus for mood and PTSD?

Stimulating the vagus nerve decreases hippocampal activity in the brain through a neurotransmitter called GABA.  The hippocampus is pretty critical in the fear circuit.  When we decrease this activity, we calm the body. It’s been shown in numerous studies to decrease anxiety.  

What about inflammatory bowel diseases?

Vagus nerve stimulation gives an inflammatory response to endotoxins.  It also stimulates the spleen through its connection to the splenic nerve.  It’s been shown to calm down ulcerative colitis, crohns disease and also rheumatoid arthritis. 

CONCLUSION…….

The vagus nerve is an essential part of the brain–gut axis and plays an important role in the modulation of inflammation, the maintenance of intestinal homeostasis, and the regulation of food intake, satiety, and energy homeostasis. An interaction between nutrition and the vagus nerve is well known, and vagal tone can influence food intake and weight gain.

The vagus nerve plays an important role in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders, obesity as well as other stress-induced and inflammatory diseases.

 

__________________

So that’s all great right, but how do we stimulate that vagus nerve for our health?  In the article they stimulate it through electrodes, but we like other means .

1. Breathing.  Breathing properly is HUGE for activating the vagus nerve. It runs through the diaphragm, so many bowel problems come from improper movement of the diaphragm.

2. Craniopathy.  Of course!  Directly taking pressure off the vagus nerve where it’s entrapped has a huge impact on it’s ability.  Its the BEST way in my opinion.

3. Quantum neurology.  Once the pressure is taken off the nerve you can also directly affect its activation through neurological testing and light therapy.

4.  Exercise.  Some say yoga and meditation has a big effect on the vagus nerve, but i’m not huge into yoga, so I say proper breathing and stretching techniques are your best bet.

Many patients experience extreme calmness after an adjustment and this is why!  We are stimulating that vagus nerve!  Mood will change, guts will changes, and inflammation will change!

I mean look at the circuit of it’s path!!!


(not my image)

Reference:

Division of Molecular Psychiatry, Translational Research Center, University Hospital of Psychiatry, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
2Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

 

 

OIL OF THE WEEK

ON the spotlight this week is Do Terra Patchouli.   What better way to stimulate the vagus nerve than through aromatherapy.  That’s in the research too!

Patchouli is a bushy herb from the mint family with stems reaching two or three feet in height and bearing small, pink-white flowers. Easily recognized for its rich, musky-sweet fragrance, Patchouli is regularly used in the perfume industry as well as in scented products such as laundry detergents and air fresheners. Patchouli is beneficial to the skin in many ways. It is often topically used to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, blemishes, and minor skin imperfections and to promote a smooth, glowing complexion. The fragrance of Patchouli provides a grounding, balancing effect on emotions.

Uses

  • Combine with Peppermint and apply to the forehead, temples, or back of the neck after a long day of work.
  • Apply one to two drops to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, blemishes, or problem skin areas, or add to your favorite moisturizer.
  • Combine with Vetiver and apply to the bottoms of feet to help calm emotions.

Directions for Use

Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Internal use: Dilute one drop in 4 fl. oz. of liquid.
Topical use: Apply one to two drops to desired area. Dilute with doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil to minimize any skin sensitivity.

 

 

Have a happy and healthy week,

 

Dr Rachel hamel

 

Digestion… It Starts in the Brain.

Happy Labor Day everyone!  I hope you all enjoyed last month’s topics all around the adrenal glands. This month we will be diving into digestion, stomach dysfunction that is most likely underlying the digestive problems, and pathogens.

This week we will be starting with the gut/brain connection, and how brain inflammation can CAUSE digestion problems.  For the following weeks we will go into specifics about digestion talking about stomach acid, it’s role in many gut dysfunctional patterns, alkaline water and digestion, stress and digestion and pathogens.

Lets dive in……

Have you ever heard of the Gut/Brain Connection?


(not my image)

The gut is actually called the “second brain”, some scientists are giving it a name called the enteric nervous system.  This system has more than 100 nerve cells from the esophagus to the rectum!

Unlike the brain which has MANY different functions in our body, the gut nervous system has one main function: DIGESTION.

From swallowing, to the release of enzymes and stomach acid that break down food, to blood flow circulation that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination…

And what’s really important is that it communicates with the master regulator the Brain and vice versa.

“The ENS may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people coping with irritable bowel syndrome and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.

“Approximately 90 percent of the body’s serotonin is located in your gut. Serotonin helps regulate mood, sleep, and learning and can influence your happiness and self=esteem. Serotonin also plays a critical role in digestion by helping to secrete enzymes that help you digest food.”These new findings may explain why a higher-than-normal percentage of people with IBS and functional bowel problems develop depression and anxiety. That’s important, because up to 30 to 40 percent of the population has functional bowel problems at some point.”

So, from this research we know that the gut function can cause brain problems, but what about the reverse direction?  How does brain inflammation problems affect the digestive tract?

I’m SO glad you asked.

The brain or central nervous system(CNS), controls digestion as well.  For instance, the vagus nerve which exits through the back of the skull bones, is a part of our parasympathetic nervous system which controls REST and DIGESTION.

Improper functioning of this nerve will impair digestion.

Another part of the brain called the hypothalamus, controls secretion of gastric juices, thirst, appetite and weight control, and balances body fluids (among other functions).

This gland is located within one of the cranial bones called the sphenoid.
Disruption in the movement of this bone and you will have digestion problems stemming mainly into the stomach, which is HUGE for the beginning stages of digestion.  Inhibit the stomach acid, and you got a laundry list of problems. 

These are just two examples of how brain inflammation coming from cranial tension can affect digestion.

There can also be dysfunction within the peripheral nervous system into your spine which can inhibit digestion as well….

For instance, your mid back area controls the stomach function, while the low back controls the function of your intestinal tract…


(not my image)

I can’t tell you how many patients i’ve seen that had so much cranial tension either as a baby from birth, car accidents/whiplash, hitting their head, concussions, clenching/grinding their teeth that also had digestion problems as a result. 

Or low back/Sacral issues that result in constipation and improper mobility within the intestines.

This is why I ALWAYS start with craniopathy chiropractic care in my office for every nutrition patient.  If you have brain/nervous system inflammation, it doesn’t matter how well you eat or how many supplements you take, it’s not going to matter.

Heal the brain, and you most likely will heal a good portion of the digestion issues.
Once that is healed you can see the underlying nutritional deficiencies and stress problems that may be at play..

OIL OF THE WEEK

ON the spotlight this week is DoTerra’s  Digest ZEN.DigestZen Product Description
With so many digestive health benefits, DigestZen quickly received the nickname of the “tummy tamer” blend. DigestZen is infused with Ginger, Fennel, Coriander, Tarragon, Anise, Caraway, and Peppermint essential oils, which combine together to help ease occasional stomach discomfort, maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract, and aid in digestion.* This powerful blend can be used aromatically, topically, and internally, and is great for at-home or on-the-go use. For those prone to motion sickness, DigestZen can also be used to diminish feelings of queasiness and occasional stomach upset.* DigestZen provides a safe and natural way to assist in digestive health whenever you may need it.*

Where to Buy DigestZen
DigestZen is one of doTERRA’s most popular essential oil blends due to its profound effect on easing occasional stomach discomforts.* To purchase a bottle of DigestZen, visit the DigestZen Digestive Blend product page. Like all of doTERRA’s blends, DigestZen is made up of CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils. CPTG® essential oils are oils that have gone through the CPTG protocol, which contains a series of strict tests that assess each batch of oil’s purity and potency. If the essential oils pass these tests, then they are potent, high quality, and pure essential oils that can be used as single essential oils, in essential oil blends, or in essential oil products. When you purchase from doTERRA, you can feel confident that the oils you receive are high-quality and effective oils that are ready to meet you and your family’s needs.

DigestZen Uses and Benefits

  1. If you are looking for a healthy and natural way to assist your digestive system, the DigestZen essential oil blend is an ideal option.* DigestZen contains a blend of essential oils that will naturally aid the body in the digestion of food.* To easily obtain these digestion benefits, add one drop of DigestZen oil to 4 fluid ounces of liquid, and drink.*
  2. The unpredictability and discomfort of occasional stomach upsets can often put a damper on the day. When issues like these arise, apply one to two drops of DigestZen to the desired areas of your skin. DigestZen will also work to soothe occasional stomach upset when taken internally, and can get you feeling ready to take on the day again.*
  3. Bloating and gas can make your stomach feel tight and full, often leaving you feeling sluggish and unappealing. If you’re experiencing these difficulties, use DigestZen oil.* DigestZen will help reduce bloating and gas so that you can feel your best at any time of the day.*
  4. Does flying or driving long distances make you a little nervous? Next time you’re planning on traveling for an extended period of time, rub DigestZen oil on your stomach before you take your trip. The sweet, minty smell of DigestZen will provide a calming aroma. You can also add a few drops of DigestZen to water and take it internally to keep stomach jitters at bay.*
  5. Holidays, vacations, birthdays, and family get-togethers often have something in common: food. And lots of it. Make sure to have DigestZen on hand for these occasions. The DigestZen essential oil blend can be used during these events to promote digestion when eating heavier meals.*
  6. Whether trying the cuisines of Italy or enjoying the tastes of India, introducing foreign food to the body has the potential to disrupt the stomach’s normal digestion. When you are traveling or exploring new foods, use DigestZen to soothe occasional stomach upset and to promote healthy digestion.*
  7. For a simple way to incorporate DigestZen into your regular routine, add DigestZen to your water or tea. This will help your body maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract.*
  8. The DigestZen essential oil blend can ease feelings of queasiness.* If you’re experiencing queasiness, take DigestZen to dismiss these feelings.*
  9. One of the most relaxing ways to use DigestZen oil is by applying it to the stomach and massaging. An abdominal massage will bring soothing comfort to your stomach and the aroma will provide you with calming feelings. DigestZen can also be applied to a child’s stomach for soothing comfort. Before using DigestZen for a massage, combine it with doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil to help increase the DigestZen oil distribution and minimize any skin sensitivity.

DigestZen Products
The digestive and stomach soothing capabilities of DigestZen have made it one of the most popular essential oil blends. Today, the many benefits and uses of the DigestZen essential oil blend have expanded with doTERRA’s DigestZen Product line. This line of products contains a series of dietary supplements that assist the body with digestion, cleansing and filtering functions, metabolism, and more.*

DigestZen® Softgels: These dietary supplements encapsulate the DigestZen essential oil blend in small vegetarian softgels that are easy to consume. The DigestZen softgels provide all of the same stomach-soothing and digestive benefits as DigestZen and can be consumed daily or as needed.*

DigestTab®: These chewable tablets are designed for individuals with sensitive stomachs. DigestTab combines calcium carbonate and the DigestZen oil blend into one supplement that can be taken to provide relief from occasional stomach upset, indigestion, and heartburn.*

DigestZen TerraZyme®:A proprietary blend of whole-food enzymes, DigestZen, and supporting cofactors, DigestZen TerraZyme is a dietary supplement that helps strengthen the body’s production of enzymes, promote healthy digestion, and support metabolism of enzyme-deficient, processed foods. *

GX Assist®: Used as the first step in an essential oil digestive maintenance program, GX Assist uses CPTG essential oils and caprylic acid to cleanse the gastrointestinal tract before the use of PB Assist + (the next step of the maintenance program).* The combination of ingredients in GX Assist provides an unfriendly environment for potential digestive threats.*

PB Assist®+: The second step in the digestive maintenance program, PB Assist+ is a formula of pre-biotic fiber and probiotic microorganisms in a double-layer, time-release vegetable capsule.* This supplement encourages friendly bacterial growth, supports an optimal metabolism, promotes healthy function of the digestive and immune systems, and maintains a healthy intestinal microflora balance.*

Cleanse & Renew: This system includes a bottle of GX Assist and PB Assist +. The combination of these unique supplements will work together to cleanse the body and promote positive bacterial growth.*

Zendocrine® Detoxification Complex: A proprietary blend of whole-food extracts in a patented enzyme delivery system, the Zendocrine Detoxification Complex supports healthy cleansing and filtering functions of the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, and skin.*

Ingredients

  • Ginger Rhizome/Root
  • Peppermint Plant
  • Caraway Seed
  • Coriander Seed
  • Anise Seed
  • Tarragon Plant
  • Fennel Seed

Cautions
Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

 

Recipe of the week:

Homemade Bone Broth

Bone broth should be a staple food in any kitchen. Full of nutrients and wonderful minerals, bone broth contains a plethora of healing properties!

Ingredients:

1 whole free-range chicken OR 2-3 pounds grass-fed or free-range bones (beef knuckle bones, marrow bones, meaty bones, chicken or turkey necks or carcass bones, breastbones, or any leftover bones)

2-4 chicken feet (optional)

Chicken gizzards (optional)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (organic, unfiltered such as Bragg’s brand)

Celtic Sea Salt to taste (don’t worry about over-salting your broth – this is highly unlikely if using unrefined salt. You will likely need to use 1-2 teaspoons in a 5 quart crockpot full of bones and water)

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2 large organic carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 organic celery stalks, coarsely chopped

4 quarts filtered water

1 bunch organic parsley

 

Instructions:

Fill a large stockpot or large crockpot with filtered water.

Add vinegar and all vegetables except parsley.

Add the bones OR the whole chicken.

Bring to a boil and remove any scum that floats to the surface.

Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer.

If cooking a whole chicken, the meat should be fully cooked after about 2 hours. Remove the chicken from the pot, separate the meat from the bones and return all bones to the pot of stock. Chicken can be used for other cooking purposes.

If cooking bones only, allow to continue simmering for about 24 hours.

Add the fresh parsley about 10 minutes before removing the stock from the heat.

Allow to cool slightly and remove bones from the broth with a slotted spoon.

Strain the rest through a strainer to remove any bone fragments.

Store in the refrigerator.

Reheat as desired for a delicious cup of healing bone broth.