Neurological Symptoms and the Gut

Medicine often assumes a very mechanical approach to illness and symptoms. This keeps medicine simple (almost naive in one sense). “Where the symptom is, is where the problem is”.

So if there is cognitive issues, then a MRI should show it (rarely the case for CFS/Chronic Lyme). We now know that SPECT scans show 80-90% abnormality for these conditions.

A recent paper, Towards a ‘systems’-level understanding of the nervous system and its disorders (2013), states: ” Accordingly,neurological and psychiatric disorders are increasingly being associated with a range of systemic comorbidities including, most prominently, impairments in immunological and bioenergetic parameters as well as in the gut microbiome [gut bacteria].” 

This is echoed in another 2013 article Bacterial colonization factors control specificity and stability of the gut microbiota states “Mammals harbour a complex gut microbiome, comprising bacteria that confer immunological, metabolic and neurological benefits.

A third paper from 2013, The intestinal microbiome, probiotics and prebiotics in neurogastroenterology. is of particular interest because it states ” These findings provide novel insights for improved understanding of the potential role of gut microbial communities on psychological disorders, most particularly in the field of psychological comorbidities associated with functional bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and should present new opportunity for interventions with pro- and prebiotics.

IBS is very often comorbid with CFS and thus neurological (a.k.a. psychological) disorders of CFS falls into this potential scope.  This connection is why I advocate (strongly) that CFS patients should add a weekly rotation between

Both have had studies that showed a significant percentage of remission from IBS. There have been no studies on the impact on IBS that is comorbid with CFS.  With IBS there is a simple one step association, CFS is two steps away often.

A 2012 article is available in full text for free  Gut microbial communities modulating brain development and function. We know that stress can cause CFS flares, this article states “stress induced secretion of norepinephrine favored overgrowth of non-pathogenic isolates of Escherichia coli as well as the pathogenic E. coli0157:H7″, we do not know which other species are impacted by norepinephrine.

We know that B12 is typically low, the article states “Gut microbiota also synthesize vitamins that are essential for human survival such as vitamins K2 and B12. Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is produced mainly by Lactobacillus reuteri and is important for development of the nervous system.” L.Reuteri is almost always found to be very low or almost non-existent for CFS patients.  This low level may be a significant contributor to neurological issues.

Bottom Line

There is significant evidence that microbiome may be the cause of some of CFS neurological issues. There are three probiotics that are commercially available that have studies backing their use,

Do not take these at the same time, rotate them in isolation (and cut out the yogurt and other fermented products containing lactobacillus acidophilus while taking them].