I’ve already written extensively about the power of the gut-mind axis and how probiotics have been able to dramatically support brain function, treating everything from mood disorders to cognition.
- One study showed depression improved when participants received probiotic supplements for 30 days, and another study reported clinically significant improvement in mood when participants ate probiotic-containing yogurt for 3 weeks.
- Yet another study showed that participants with chronic fatigue syndrome who consumed probiotics three times a day reported significantly less anxiety compared to those who did not.
- Another study assessed cognitive performance, mood, memory, acute stress (both subjectively and by measuring cortisol output) and neurological activity (using an EEG and other tests) before and after probiotic treatment. Within one month, B. Longum statistically and significantly reduced the cumulative output of the stress hormone cortisol, decreased subjective reports of anxiety in response to acute stress, improved memory and improved EEG output.
With all that we now understand about the importance of the gut microbiome on supporting mental function, today’s medical study is even more exciting… this time, showing a lasting, significant improvement in autism.
Because the gut microbiome of autistic patients has lower diversity than non-autistic peers, researchers were hoping that by improving the gut flora of autistic patients they would see an improvement in both GI and autism related symptoms…
…and they were shocked to find such robust, pronounced results!
An 80% improvement in symptoms that showed no decline after the therapy was stopped!
The Study (published in Microbiome on Jan 23, 2017):
- 18 patients with autism (ages 7 to 17) and moderate to severe GI issues underwent a microbiota transfer therapy
- The protocol involved prepping the bowels, fasting, then repopulating the gut microbiota with human gut microbiota (orally or rectally) for two days with low dose maintenance oral doses and a stomach acid suppressant for 8 weeks (to increase survival of transplanted flora)
- The participants were followed clinically for another two months after the microbiota treatment was completed.
- GI symptoms such as abdominal pain, indigestion, diarrhea and constipation all dramatically improved or resolved (an average of 82% improvement in symptoms) and that improvement was maintained two months after treatment was stopped.
- Autism spectrum related symptoms also improved with the flora transfer — resulting in significant improvement in 17 different ASD related symptoms such as social skill deficits, irritability, hyperactivity, lethargy, aberrant speech and more (as measured by PGI-III assessment) and those improvements were robustly maintained with no reversion two months after treatment ended.
- Interestingly, researchers found complete correlation between improvements in GI symptoms and improvements in ASD symptoms… the worse the GI symptoms were, the worse the ASD behaviors were, and the more the GI symptoms improved, the more the ASD behaviors improved. This suggests there is a huge correlation between gut microbiome health and ASD severity, and that by supporting gut flora we can modify and support ASD behaviors.
- The improvements showed no signs of lessening even two months after therapy was stopped, with 80% improvements still being maintained over 8 weeks after therapy ended.
- There was no significant difference in outcomes between those who had the therapy administered orally vs. rectally.
- Over all gut flora diversity improved in all patients, and the increase in diversity was sustained several months past the end of treatment.
The Bottom Line:
The critical importance of the gut-brain axis can not be overemphasized.
Any therapeutic approach to treating neurological or developmental issues must also include support to the digestive system and bowel function.
Probiotics are crucial to supporting mood, brain function and even memory.
It’s exciting to focus on treating stress, anxiety, depression, memory disturbances and now even autism through enhancing the gut biome, because this is a low cost, easily accessible, all natural, non-prescription, healthy and fabulous intervention than we can ALL be doing to become resilient to daily stress and function optimally.
We can’t change genetic conditions we are predisposed to, or prevent certain life events that may cause trauma or stress, but one thing we do have the power to modify is that we can support our gut microbiome better so that we can boost mood and support brain function.
What probiotic do I recommend most?
Prescript Assist — find out more about it here.
I would love to send you a bottle so you can be optimally supported inside and out…
…gut & mind, body & spirit!
P.S. What other holistic therapies can impact Autism? I’ve got you covered.
Check out these other articles I’ve written: