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For the first time ever, researchers discover a strong association between chronic pain and gut bacteria. Fibromyalgia, a disease affecting approximately 4% of the population and growing, is characterized as full-body, chronic pain along with fatigue and cognitive impairment. Compared to a control group, a cohort of patients with fibromyalgia possessed a remarkably different microbiome, including 20 different gut bacteria species in either greater or lesser quantities. Scientists utilized techniques to ensure these microbial differences weren’t due to other factors, such as diet, age, medications, physical activity, etc. Greater microbial alterations were associated with more severe disease symptoms. PAIN Takeaway: While this groundbreaking study shows a strong link between the microbiome and chronic, widespread pain, like with most diseases, scientists are uncertain whether the microbial alterations are the cause of the disease or a result. Further research will hopefully uncover this distinction, as well as help identify possible microbial diagnostic…

A review study finds that fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) is not an effective treatment for “global” IBS symptoms. The study looked at 4 investigations of FMT as a viable treatment for IBS and included 254 participants. In looking at the results of all 4 studies, no significant improvements in IBS symptoms was observed when administering FMT over a 12-week period when compared to placebo. American Journal of Gastroenterology Takeaway: When you slice up the IBS pie, you see multiple different conditions that are causing symptoms – from stress and food allergies to undiagnosed colitis and microbial discord. But there is a clear subset within IBS called post-infectious IBS – this group includes people who have received lots of antibiotics and subsequently suffer from dysbiosis (gut bacteria imbalance). To find appropriate IBS candidates for FMT, the key is to look not just at the determining criteria for having IBS, but to…

Cultivating a healthy microbiome plays a key role in preventing eczema. A review study looks at the effects of manipulating microbial health to prevent and treat eczema, specifically in infants. The study conducted analyses of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics (probiotics and prebiotics together) for eczema prevention. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology  Results of the study show that scientific evidence supports supplementation with Lactobacillus strains prenatally, followed by long-term (greater than 6 months) postnatal supplementation in infants for eczema prevention. Long-term (greater than 6 months) postnatal prebiotic supplementation has also been successful for eczema prevention in formula-fed infants. Takeaway: Those infants at high risk for developing eczema react most readily to these preventative measures. It’s important to keep in mind that in order to reap the benefits from prebiotic and probiotic supplementation, both in the womb and post-delivery, maternal and infant nutrition is key. Microbiome-focused supplements are only as powerful…

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), once easily curable, now affect millions and are much more challenging to treat, posing serious health risks. A July 13th New York Times article highlights the UTI treatment challenges, which spawn primarily from drug-resistant antibiotics. E. coli bacteria is the most common cause of UTIs, and it’s estimated that approximately one third of E. coli strains are resistant to Bactrim, the most common antibiotic treatment, and one fifth are resistant to the other 5 most common treatment drugs. Women, who during reproductive years are 50 times more likely to contract a UTI than men due to the anatomical proximity of the urethra to the rectum, are commonly going back for 2 and 3 rounds of antibiotic treatments, and are even being admitted into the hospital for intravenous antibiotics. UTIs that go untreated have the ability to travel into the kidneys and even the blood, which can…

 A new study finds proof that Parkinson’s disease begins in the gut. After injecting specific proteins into the guts of mice, the manifestations of Parkinson’s were observed a month later. The mouse model showed how a protein (alpha synuclein) can travel from the gut to the brain via the vagus nerve and resulted in Parkinson’s symptoms rarely seen in previous animal studies. Neuron Takeaway: While this study acts as the first proof of Parkinson’s gut origin, the hypothesis has been around since 2003 and was originally presented by Dr. Heiko Braak. Scientists are now hoping to conduct studies that uncover how and why this process begins in the first place.

Alterations in the gut microbiome during infancy are linked to allergies. In a recent study, scientists discover specific gut bacteria strains that act as protection, re-establishing food allergy tolerance. Nature Medicine The study collected fecal samples from 56 infants with allergies every 4 to 6 months and compared the microbial contents to the fecal microbiota of 98 infants without allergies. The healthy and allergic fecal microbiotas were then transferred to a group of mice allergic to eggs – one group of mice received the microbiota from the healthy infants and the other from the allergic infants. Those mice receiving the “healthy” microbiota were more protected against the egg allergy than those receiving the “allergic” microbiota. In addition, scientists identified 6 beneficial gut bacteria strains associated with food allergy protection from the Clostridiales and Bacteroidetes families, then administered an oral formulation of these strains to mice and infants. Those receiving the…

Ever wonder why carrots, romaine lettuce, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and other produce in your local market (whether organic or not), all look and taste the same? It’s all about the seed, and it’s not so good for the health of our bodies or our earth – not to mention our taste buds! New York Times Cutting down on vegetable and fruit variety, while good for the wallets of seed industry leaders, dangerously depletes our nutrient intake, gut bacteria, and soil. Crop varieties are dependent on the seeds used, and with 4 major companies owning 60% of all seeds in the world (50 years ago there were over 1,000 seed companies), as well as an endless list of seed patents and other restrictions, crop diversity is becoming a thing of the past… Or is it? The recently published New York Times article, “Save Our Food. Free the Seed”, brings to light…

Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) receives an FDA safety alert due to adverse reactions in two individuals who underwent FMT and received stool from the same donor. The stool, infected with extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli (E. coli) – a multi-drug resistant organism (MDRO) and therefore very challenging to treat – was administered to two immunocompromised adults, resulting in one death. FDA Takeaway: The FDA identified that more screening is needed throughout the stool donor process, including specific questions addressing risk factors for MDRO stool colonization and rejection for those donors who are at high risk – as well as testing for MDRO colonization in donor stool. FMT is an FDA approved therapy for recurrent C. diff. While research shows that FMT may result in positive improvements for some other conditions – inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), infectious diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, and severe antibiotic-associated diarrhea – the…

The placenta could be the surprising reason why so many women get autoimmune diseases – even in women who have never been pregnant. Women are diagnosed with 80% of all autoimmune diseases in the U.S. Humans in hunter-gatherer communities have an average of 8 to 12 children – a stark contrast to today’s U.S. average, which is less than 2 children. During these years of childbearing, the placenta sends signals to the immune system to weaken in order to prevent rejection of the fetus. This constant weakening of immunity could be dangerous for the mother, so it’s hypothesized that other aspects of the female immune system are programmed to ramp up during adulthood to compensate (women actually contain more immunity genes than men, possibly for this very reason). It’s possible that because our bodies have evolved to bear such large numbers of children over hundreds of thousands of years, the…

Does a microbiome exist in utero, or is the environment sterile up to the moment the baby exits the womb? This has been an area of much debate in the scientific community. While some studies show the intrauterine environment to be sterile, others have uncovered bacteria in the uterus and placenta, showing that an intrauterine microbiome does in fact exist. A new review study adds evidence to the idea that if colonized, the intrauterine environment is contaminated. Researchers of the study propose that maternal stress causes a disruption of bacteria in one region of the mother’s body – oral cavity, gut, or vagina – triggering the transfer of bacteria (or what scientists refer to as bacterial translocation) to the intrauterine environment. This transfer of bacteria, scientists believe, may trigger an immune (or inflammatory) response that leads to neurodevelopment insufficiencies in the fetus. Science Direct Takeaway: While we are far from uncovering the truth…