GBM Axis: Gut-Brain-Skin-Microbiota Axis – The Symphony of Survivorship vs Environment
The Gut-Brain-Skin-Microbiota Axis is just one of the fascinating (but often ignored) medical subjects that will be discussed at the upcoming Integrative Addiction Conference in Austin, Texas during August 2016. Should you be interested in finding out more about the GBSM or GBM Axis and its relation to physical, mental and emotional disease and addiction, be sure to book your space by following our link – http://www.awaremed.com/integrativeaddictionconference/
A small list of some of the subject matter that will be discussed by leading experts in their fields, include
- How gut changes the brain
- Why addiction treatment requires gut treatment
- Restoring the gut heals addiction
- Gut neurotransmitters – connection and addiction
- Reset gut microbiota – reset sanity
- Brain-gut addiction
When our intestines are in perfect balance – the GBSM or GBM Axis, results in a symphony of beautiful balance and health that ensures our survival. But this symphony is deeply affected by our internal and external environments and how we react and relate to these on a moment-to-moment basis. The key to health therefore lies in our bacterial environment – primarily that of our intestines.
Microbiota is the word used to refer to a community of bacteria. These communities encompass a myriad of bacteria and microscopic organisms in their various forms and capabilities, positive and negative that occupy every conceivable area within and around us. From the depths of the frozen tundra and oceans, to our deserts, swamps and rain forests, these microorganisms also live within and on their human hosts. They are so prolific that more than a thousand different varieties have been found in a single human sample. Their proliferation bears testimony to their adaptive and often symbiotic nature with humans and recent studies of genome sequencing indicate that we share up to a third of our genes with other life forms and some 37% with these bacterial communities.
Many of these bacteria share our bodies on a mutually beneficial basis. Pro- and prebiotics are an example of the “good” bacteria that occupy our gut space. These living organisms promote our health by metabolizing complex lipids and polysaccharides for optimal nutritional absorption. They protect our gut health by warding off harmful bacteria, neutralizing carcinogens, drugs, managing motility of our intestines and affecting our visceral perception (an internal understanding that operates independently of our consciousness level). These endosymbionts are also successful in working with the guts “nervous system” to provide feedback to the central nervous system. This feedback is crucial to maintaining balance within our system, including the development of our immunity. Once it was recognized that microbiota in our intestines played such a significant role in our health that included a sophisticated signaling process, the idea of the Gut-Brain-Skin-Microbiota Axis – or GBSM Axis was born.
Our health and survival are reliant on these powerful, yet infinitesimal life forms as they affect both vegetative and cognitive functions of our central nervous systems (CNS). The reverse is also true with the CNS affecting development and composition of these microbiota. This symbiotic relationship is so powerful that any imbalance of power in this environment can lead to the development of metabolic, emotional and mental diseases.
The importance of this GBSM Axis is emphasized by the results of recent studies that show how these bacterial communities affect our immune systems, higher cognitive function and socialization and social structures at a psychological level in relation to sexual behavior, our choice of a partner and our levels of social perception and more.
The super highway feedback system between gut microbiota and the CNS involves the immune, endocrine and neural pathways, thus forming the MGB Axis. When under extreme stress, our brains may influence the balance of gut bacteria through the hypothalamus-pituitary and adrenal glands – the HPA axis. This axis manages cortisol levels that affect immune cells on a local basis and systemically in the gut. The HPA axis regulates inflammatory responses to injuries from a neuronal perspective by producing catecholamine production. This feedback system leads to balance – or homeostasis. A disorder such as stress will therefore affect this balance and lead to allergic reactions, inflammatory disorders, disease and a predisposition to infection. Cortisol can also change intestinal permeability and barrier functionality and contribute to the imbalance of “good” bacteria. The reverse is also true where pre- and probiotics can change cytokine levels that may affect brain function. The afferent branch of the vagus nerve and regulation of systemic tryptophan, the precursor to the serotonin transmitter, are also both strongly involved in carrying messages of gut microbiota to the brain.
Studies conducted suggest that gut microbiota levels also have a strong effect on brain function in terms of anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, depression, emotions, motivation, memory formation, affective behaviors, decision making and emotional arousal. This is supported by studies conducted on the insular cortex and related networks in the brain.
Our intestines are an extensive network of neurons that are often referred to as our second brain. So intelligent is this system and so crucial is it to our health, but yet so often overlooked. It is little wonder that more research is being directed to the GBM Axis as a source of a vast majority of diseases that are thought to be related to stress. Our stress levels have a direct influence on the health of our gut environment that affect not only our physiological, but also our mental and emotional health and functions. This enteric nervous system has over 100 million neurons in the nine meters of its length that it is often referred to as a second brain. A “brain” that contains more neurons than either the spinal cord or the nervous system with 90% of the information transmitted by the vagus nerve involved in the relay of information from the gut to the brain – rather than the reverse. It behooves us then to find out more about its functioning to ensure that this environment remains a symphony of health as opposed to an environment of deadly disease or addiction.