The "psychobiome" is bacteria in your gut that affects how you think and act

Originally published at:


I’ve been reading about studies connecting the gut and brain function for years and years now - each time a different connection. It’s clear there’s a whole lot of connections there, all of which are poorly understood at best, it seems like.

It really undermines this modern Western idea of the self as the brain, and the brain as separate from the rest of the body (which I’ve always thought of as a weird, materialist update to Cartesian mind-body dualism). Things really don’t work like that, it turns out.


That’s where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. Now, I know some of you are going to say, ‘I did look it up, and that’s not true.’ That’s ’cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that’s how our nervous system works.” – Stephen Colbert


Well, yeah, I had antibiotics last year three times, and one time full-frontal 21 days high dosage. I have no idea what survived this in my guts, but I am feeling less depressed.

Might also have to do with the fact that the bloody inflammations finally are ebbing off.


I remember telling my mom I couldn’t go to school because I had a tummy ache and she told me “it’s all in your head.”


I desperately avoid oral antibiotics as they seem to severely unbalance my gut - I suspect they destroy a wide range of necessary bacteria. I’ve been actively trying to adapt my gut microbiome (eating a lot of pickled/fermented foods and live yoghurt) and it has had a hugely beneficial effect on my IBD.
I’ve been aware of theories about gut inflammation affecting the brain and mood for a while. I recently came across suggestions that it works the other way round and the idea that anti-depressants, by lifting mood, can help reduce gut inflammation. I have to say I do not much like that corollary, given how nasty many anti-depressants can be. (Dependency-inducing, addictively so.)
I would be prepared to admit that decades of IBD may account for some strong personality traits - that my gut made me who I am, in more ways than the obvious, perhaps.


While I believe a lot of this gut connection is true I always thought this was true:

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is involved in controlling muscle movements. It sends signals that help your muscles to move. People with Parkinson’s have a lack of dopamine. This makes it more difficult for the bowel muscles to push matter through the GI tract, leading to constipation.


Hence the term… “gut feeling”. :wink:


And digesting something just learnt.


I can stomach that.


Food for thought.


Clever! It’s been a treat.


Gonna have to chew it over …


Some biting humor going on here.

(Your turn.)


I think you meant…
Some biting humour going on here: your turn. (See, there’s a colon in there.)


humor v. humour

“Humor” for me: I’m located on the left side of “The Big Pond”, my friend.


dopamine (among many other roles) is involved in brain circuits that coordinate fine motor control of skeletal muscles. It has no direct involvement in control of gut muscles or any peripheral motor control. GI contraction regulation is mostly controled by the peripheral sympathetic nervous system which uses cholinergic and adrenergic transmission


According to Galen, an excess of humours was the cause of most illness.


which way are you facing?


For the record: while I do not exclude the microbiome to be important for human health, including mental health, I am
a) very happy that antibiotics do exists and
b) very unhappy that some of my relations are desperately avoiding antibiotics and (in my opinion) suffering from quite a strong orthorexia.

I don’t assume you do, but I want to put this here nevertheless:
if anyone reading this is feeling unwell and has suspicions that this is due to, please do not diagnose yourself with allergies or intolerances against anything in your food, or with IBD. Lactose, gluten, wheat, carragen, locust bean gum - I’ve seen them all rise and ebb, and people I care about who are not professionally diagnosed by qualified practitioners suffer psychologically under from their self-diagnosed allergies or intolerances. And we suffer with them, as we see how they struggle to avoid stuff they assume is harming them. (Yes, it also makes doing anything more problematic, since you basically can’t do nothing together without fearing that they become ill (or depressed), afterwards and are suspecting that, e.g., something was in that drink or food we had. I saw one person getting heart attacks due to stress which is partly self-imposed. My relations don’t trust “school medcine”. Instead, they trust practising homoeopaths and naturopaths.

Re: antidepressants - yup. Some are. I was very, very sceptical, but last was so rough I was prescribed opipramol. It was a blessing.
I also have some friends and family who are taking antidepressants, and while some have side effects you would not like (like weight gain), their life improved. And some might also be alive because of therapy including (and let me stress the including again!) medication. (Did I mention it is just including medication, and therapy is another bit which might contribute to them being still around? I think I need to press that point a little…)

And re: antibiotics - consider that a large proportion of everyone who reads this would be dead without them. Personally, I would still have Lyme disease without the antibiotics I had to take last year. I have quite some side effects to deal with, but suffering from Lyme was worse. My epicondylitis is still not gone completely, but I am recovering. If anything, this improved my mental and physical wellbeing.

@anothernewbbaccount, please don’t take it personally. The wording ‘desperately’ triggered me to write this. I don’t know if you had practitioners look at you IBD, or even if there are mildly competent practitioners who you would trust in your area. (Trust is important.) I don’t know you, I don’t know your story, and I mean no offence.

I have a story with people who suffer, and I suffer with them. And my communication with them did not ease the problem. I would say your wording triggered this wall of text, but it sounds like I would blame you for my near-rant. But the fault in that is mine. I still hope my musings might influence someone and maybe help. Some day.

ETA: carry on, @hecep, @anothernewbbaccount and @tekna2007. Your posts are much more fun than mine. I’ll call it a day.