Wednesday 3 May 2017

Treatment of the intestine beneficial for IBS and depression

Researchers at the McMaster University (Canada) have discovered that intestinal bacteria cause both the physical and psychological symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. This insight is important in terms of how you tackle the syndrome, but also the associated depression in your practice.


Previously we have informed you that good dietary intervention can significantly reduce the symptoms of moderate to severe depression. A new study has revealed that the gut flora plays an important role in this. The study proves a causal relationship between the quality of the gut flora and the physical and psychological symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Gut flora, IBS and depression

IBS is the most common disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. It is estimated that 5 to 20 percent of the Dutch population suffers from this. The symptoms include pain in the lower abdomen and changed bowel movements, such as diarrhoea and constipation. But the disorder doesn’t only have physical consequences; this often also causes anxiety and depression and there is new evidence of the existence of a causal relationship.


The researchers transplanted the gut flora of IBS patients with or without symptoms of anxiety in germ-free mice. The mice demonstrated changes that are also observed in IBS patients in terms of gut function and behaviour. The aspects of IBS that were passed on through transplantation included the speed of intestinal transit, poor intestinal wall function, low-grade inflammations and anxious/depressive behaviour.


A control group of mice were given a transplantation from healthy participants. These mice displayed no changes in gut function or behaviour.


How does this help in your practice?

The researchers said: "This study demonstrates much more than just a simple correlation. We now have evidence that changes in the gut flora have an effect on the intestines and on the behaviour of patients with IBS”.


As well as a good dietary intervention, therapy specifically targets the gut flora, including interventions with prebiotics and probiotics, useful for both intestinal problems and the related behaviour.



De Palma et al., Transplantation of fecal microbiota from patients with irritable bowel syndrome alters gut function and behavior in recipient mice, Science Translational Medicine 01 Mar 2017: Vol. 9. Issue 379.