Mental Health: Brain vs Gut?

mental health advice from our southend chiropractorWhen it comes to mental health everyone thinks that the brain is in charge but in reality it maybe your gut. Even way back in the 1800s it was thought that wastes in your colon could cause toxins that lead to depression.

Purges to the colon and even bowel surgery were thought of as the cure!

There is in the wall of your gut a nervous system made up of 500 million nerve cells which works both with your brain and independently. This is what is responsible for your “gut instincts”, sending information between the brain and gut affecting your mood. For instance, eating fatty food makes you feel good as the cells in your gut send warm and fuzzy signals to the brain.

So if our gut becomes less than healthy we are in danger of triggering signals to the brain that can alter our behaviour. Without going into scientific detail studies have been done that show altered and high-risk behaviour in mice when the bacteria in the gut are out of balance.

mental health advice from our chiropractor in southendWhen you know that there can be around 2kg of bacteria and about 70% of your immune system is located in your gut wall then it is no surprise that an altered balance of bacteria (dysbiosis) or any cause of inflammation in the gut can cause lowered mood, depression, anxiety, panic attacks or other symptoms.

The main causes for an imbalance in bacteria are poor diet, additives in food, alcohol, stress, food allergies, drugs (Ibuprofen is a particular culprit) and pesticides and herbicides in our food.

Depression and anxiety of course do not have a single underlying cause and many factors come into play. Scientists believe it is due to in an imbalance in the brain’s level of neurotransmitters- the brains chemical messengers and this is where it can be linked to poor gut health. Depression is a devastating illness that effects a person’s life on a physical, mental and emotional level and all these areas need to be addressed. It influences self-esteem and the sufferer’s perception of other people and can range in intensity from melancholy to despondency and thoughts of suicide.

What can you do if you are suffering with anxiety or depression?

So if you are suffering with anxiety or depression how can you help yourself? If you are already taking anti-depressants it is best to always consult a qualified Medical Herbalist like myself (Melanie at Cliffs Chiro) or Nutritionist before taking supplements. Taking a course of probiotics is a good place to start to try and recolonize the gut with some good bacteria. Try eliminating wheat from your diet completely for two weeks and see if symptoms improve. People with anxiety should try calcium, magnesium and vitamin B complex, all of which support a healthy nervous system. St John’s wort may be a safe alternative to prescription drugs and for people over 50 gingko biloba combats depression more effectively than prescription drugs.

Women can be particularly susceptible to low levels of tryptophan in the brain, this this reduces the brain’s production of the neurotransmitter serotonin which helps regulate mood. Eating turkey, salmon and some milk products contain tryptophan and may help increase serotonin production.

In fact studies have shown that taking milk protein hydrolysate reduces anxiety symptoms and is even more effective when Theanine is added the chemical which gives you that  ‘aaah lovely cup of tea” feeling.

What else can you do?

Exercise regularly, this is one of the best natural anti-depressants. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and excessive caffeine. Seek counselling, there are free services in the Southend-On Sea area. Talk to us, your chiropractor will be ready to listen and will be able to help you choose supplements that are the most appropriate for you. If you think you have a gut issue or more serious depression please ask for an appointment with Melanie Cutting who is also a Medical Herbalist with a special interest in nutrition.

Melanie’s In the News!

medical herbalism advice from cliffs chiropractor southendThe media spotlight has once again been shining on Cliffs and this time it’s our very own Melanie who has taken the starring role! The East Anglian Daily Times recently ran a two page interview with Melanie, all about the benefits of herbal medicine. It really is worth a read, even if we say so ourselves!

As a medicinal herbalist, Melanie has extensive experience in using herbs and plants to treat a wide variety of patients with a diversity of medical conditions. In Melanie’s words, the aim of herbal treatment is to “restore the body’s natural ability to protect, regulate and heal itself.” And Melanie highlights the effects of this restoration through a personal case study she shares in the article. The real life example explains how a 16-year old girl, who had suffered from debilitating and “incurable” stomach problems for years, is now experiencing a significant reduction in symptoms since seeking Melanie’s help. Melanie hopes that increased awareness of herbal medicine will encourage more people to see it as a primary treatment option.

A Qualified Medical Herbalist has a BSc or equivalent in Herbal Medicine, has studied orthodox medicine as well as plant medicine and is trained in the same diagnostic skills as a GP. Herbalists, however, take a holistic approach to illness, which means they treat the underlying cause of disease, rather than symptoms alone.  Medical Herbalists are able to prescribe herbal remedies to be used alongside other medications. Many patients are often referred to Herbalists by their GPs.

A big “well done” to Melanie from all your colleagues at Cliffs Chiropractic!

You can read the full article here: Can herbal medicine help us keep well


After A Decade of Daily Pain Herbal Remedy Saved Me

Annabel Crow recently shared with The Echo how a visit to Melanie changed her life. Afer a decade of daily pain and misdiagnosis, she hoped she would finally find the light at the end of the tunnel into finding respite from her ongoing agony.

Annabel’s mother Laura, a patient at Cliffs,  suggested she should visit Melanie. Annabel was happy to go into her appointment with an open mind. After intensive questioning by Melanie to delve into Annabel’s medical history, she was told that she had a ‘leaky gut’.

The gut is sometimes called the ‘second brain’ and the gateway to health.

Melanie explained, ““A healthy gut should have the right proportion of good bacteria which lines and protects the digestive tract from damage and plays an important role in maintaining the immune system.”

“Lifestyle, stress, infections, allergies, alcohol and a poor diet will all affect the level of good bacteria, leaving room for harmful bacteria to proliferate. Then there is a decreased ability to absorb the nutrients from food and an increasing number of allergies develop which lead to ‘always feeling rubbish’, as in Annabel’s case.”

She prescribed Annabel a mixture of herbs and nutrients, all in tablet form, that she would need to take initially to get her gut back on track. At each meeting Melanie would adjust the medication according to how Annabel was responding.

Annabel concludes the interview by saying. “All I can say is that I’ve had 10 years of stomach pain, but now I feel better, and calmer.”

“I even enjoy going out for a meal, just as I did on my honeymoon, which may seem quite minor to some, but to me it’s a triumph!”

You can read the full article here: The Echo: After A Decade of Daily Pain Herbal Remedy Saved Me

New Year Detox Tips from Melanie at Cliffs Chiropractor Southend

Feeling bloated and groggy after the Christmas and New Year festivities? Melanie’s quick post Christmas detox tips will have you feeling energised in no time.

1. Drink plenty of water, aim for 8 glasses a day. In the mornings add slices of fresh lemon to kick start your digestive system. During the day continue this with fresh ginger or mint which will dispel wind and ease food through the digestive tract.
2. Take some pre or pro biotics, these will improve digestion, help ease constipation and normalize gut bacteria.
3. Cut down on carbohydrates- remove the white stuff from your life for a few days. This means white bread, pasta, rice, cakes and biscuits.
4. Take a course of vitamin B complex, these are depleted after too much alcohol and are needed by the liver. Vitamin C will also help the breakdown and removal of alcohol from the body start off with 1000mg daily.
5. Gentian found in Angostura bitters is a digestive stimulant and will help your body rid itself of excess.

Tomato Sunrise

If you have a Nutribullet or Vitamix blender try my health giving cocktail. Full of vitamins especially A in carrots and tomatoes which may help with hangovers.

1 large glass of tomato Juice
1 carrot
½ raw beetroot
1 small chunk of celeriac
½ tsp vitamin C powder
a dash of angostura bitters

Blend all together and pour over ice garnish with a celery stick.