That's great and all but we want to dig deeper into actual research as it pertains to different health issues.
Get ready to get small.
Let's get familiar.
You have trillions of bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses in and on you right now.
Things are really speeding up.
Specific species of bacteria are being tied to:
Full range of mental health issues
You only need to google gut bacteria + health issues to see new studies.
Make sure to narrow the range to "past year" since there's an avalanche of new data daily. Just yesterday, a study on how the effectiveness of immunotherapy for cancer (the new big breakthrough like Car-T) is affected by specific gut bacteria.
Many studies will show how a bacteria can be added to create symptoms of a given health issue and then removed to take away the symptoms.
At our CBD and weight article, there's an experiment where a specific gut bacteria change was made and the mice exploded their weight...even with the same activity and calorie intake!
We'll get into those later on.
It's called the second brain for a reason.
There's a vast system of neurons that line the gut and communicate directly with the brain and central nervous system.
Its official name is the enteric nervous system.
More than 500 million neurons are in this system. It's the only place you'll find neurons outside of the central nervous system (brain and spine).
It has its own reflexes separate from the brain!
Stop for a second and realize that we only recently (the '90s) found a system that operates as a quasi-separate and autonomous brain...in our gut!
A standard human gut houses about 1000 different species of bacteria...the workhorses of this system.
They generally fall into two main categories:
Then there's the whole question of bad bacteria.
We have all experienced this with food poisoning.
The body reacts with a violent purge of the new invading bacteria.
Guess what dictates this response in the gut...our friendly bacteria!
They do this by turning genes on and off with our immune system cells lining the gut.
This speaks to the original role of the appendix.
It was a storehouse of friendly bacteria to re-colonize our GI tract in case everything was wiped out.
We're too clean these days in the developed world which is why the appendix can get infected and have to be removed.
There are even modern diseases that aren't really found in the developing world.
This speaks to the hygiene theory in that we're too clean and our immune response isn't able to train early in life.
Babies born from c-sections have higher risks of allergies and other issues as a result.
Vaginal birth is our first real introduction to a mother's microbiome.
Infants delivered vaginally had higher amounts of bacteria in their gut compared to infants delivered by Cesarean section:
It essentially populates the baby's newly formed immune response.
As do pets. As does playing in the dirt. And so on and so on.
This is the key take-away from our introduction to the microbiome before we move on...
Almost all our modern diseases have some foot in this highly integrated system.
We'll look at some examples below.
How Does The Microbiome Cause Health Issues
Unfortunately, the gut biome has been crafted over 10's if not 100's of thousands of years.
It's a dynamic system that can and does adjust to surroundings but it can only handle so much.
Let's look at just food since that's an obvious actor on this gut stage.
A single meal can change the diversity and makeup of your gut bacteria.
It adjusts and changes to every new input as each species of bacteria fights for turf.
Some bacteria explode in population with protein while others grow from dairy.
Some people are missing bacteria for processing certain foods (like dairy or gluten) and the obvious bad reactions follow (bloating, gas, stomach pains, etc).
You have a thick mucous barrier that lines the gut and protects the rest of your body from potential bad intruders that hitchhike along with your food.
The good gut bacteria help to maintain this barrier.
If the barrier is broken, bacteria can move around the body to different areas.
The immune system recognizes these intruders and attacks them where they are:
Bacteria in joints – arthritis
Bacteria in the cardiovascular system – arteriolosclerosis
Bacteria in the brain – Alzheimer's, Dementia, Parkinson's
There are new discoveries along these lines all the time now.
They ran a genetic scan of the plaques deposited in arteries and found they had the signature of bacteria.
Not from our liver or from what we eat!
Bacteria from the mouth (which has its own signature microbiome).
Another common mouth bacteria just showed up which can make colon cancer worse:
You'll start to see this weekly now and we'll look at just a few crazy examples below.
We won't be surprised if almost every autoimmune disease follows the same pathway.
It all starts with a weakness in our gut lining (or other barriers) or dysregulation of a microbiome (mouth, gut, genital tracts, etc).
You can also just have bad (pathogenic) bacteria introduced to the system.
Or even fungus or other bad actors.
Let's talk about how bad bacteria might be getting out of the gut and into other parts of the body.
The root cause of autoimmune diseases.
Leaky Gut And Health Issues
Sounds terrible but the actual situation is a little more nuanced.
This is where the actual lining of the gut with tightly packed "junctions" of cells that can open and close.
You also have a protective film that coats your intestinal wall made out of mucous.
It's governed in the party by the good bacteria present in your gut.
In fact, their very presence helps to form this barrier.
Keep in mind that nutrients and other raw materials from our food have to be absorbed by the lining of your gut in order to be used by the body.
Think of little toll stations and there's a tight control mediated by our immune system and the gut bacteria on what gets through and what doesn't!
If this barrier is weakened by pathogens (bad bacteria, viruses, etc) or chemicals/contaminants, the toll attendant is not present.
Bad things can slip through in our bloodstream.
The immune system elsewhere in the body will eventually notice the bacteria and attack it but when it does, there's always collateral damage.
Our immune response can be quite destructive.
Think of when you have a cold or bruise an ankle.
Lots of collateral damage.
Now apply that response over a long period of time to:
Skin (psoriasis, eczema, etc)
Organs (diabetes, Hashimoto's, etc)
Cardiovascular system (plaque formation, arteriolosclerosis, etc)
Brain (Alzheimer's, Dementia, and even some mental illnesses)
That's why every big ad on TV of medication is likely for an auto-immune disease.
The immune system is attacking us!
Don't take our word for it...the medical community has finally caught up: Conversely, pathogenic bacteria that can facilitate a leaky gut and induce autoimmune symptoms can be ameliorated with the use of antibiotic treatment.
Of course, they're only half right.
Antibiotics cause their own problems with gut bacteria which we'll discuss below.
Let's look at a surprising connection between your gut and your brain.
The effect of gut bacteria on mental health.
Your Gut Bacteria And Mental Health
New research is showing that the tail may wag the dog.
Gut bacteria are constantly signaling the body and brain to do things!
Signals for hunger and feeling full seem plausible.
What about depression, anxiety, autism, OCD, Bipolar, and Schizophrenia, and more!
If you need to see just how powerful communication can be: Cryan's research shows that when bred in sterile conditions, germ-free mice lacking in intestinal microbes also lack an ability to recognize other mice with whom they interact.
That's part of the tie in with autism.
In other studies, disruptions of the microbiome induced mice behavior that mimics human anxiety, depression and even autism.
Just to make sure the cause/effect direction was clear...
In some cases, scientists restored more normal behavior by treating their test subjects with certain strains of benign bacteria.
Read the article above.
There are studies where they bred mice in sterilized upbringings who would then display hyperactive and dysfunctional behavior.
This was correct by introducing one bacteria Bifidobacterium infants
Notice the "infantis" on the back end?
That's the main bacteria you get at birth and is a key driver of the newly developing baby's immune system.
They even took bacteria from mice with irritable bowel syndrome and transplanted that to health mice.
Those mice then started to display the same symptoms (diarrhea, constipation, pain, etc).
The link with autism is even more fascinating.
There's long been a link between infection by the mother and risk for autism.
epidemiological data showing that women who suffer from high, prolonged fever during pregnancy are up to seven times more likely to have a child with autism.
The researchers could breed mice with autistic-like symptoms just by introducing a proxy for the flu to the mothers while pregnant.
More importantly to our story is that the mice also displayed leaky guts.
Another research found that two species were found in the guts of mice with autism: Specifically, two bacterial classes – Clostridia and Bacteroidia – were far more abundant in the MIA offspring than in normal mice.
Check out our article on
CBD and Autism which goes into those links and more.
Remember that one bacteria which is so important for the dynamic and developing baby's gut bacteria??
Two animal study suggested that fetuses exposed to prenatal stress in the form of maternal stress develop a gut microbiota with decreased
There are many mental health issues that bare the hallmarks of immune system dysregulation and inflammation in the brain:
Strep throat connection with Bipolar
Bacteria strains stress from in utero infection
OCD and autoimmune of the mother
Schizophrenia and flu exposure of the mother
This is all mediated by our immune response and the gut bacteria that reside as the center of that system!
What about the key "brake" in the brain which is implicated in Anxiety, Depression, OCD, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, and other illness...GABA.
Bifidobacterium is an important part of the infant microbiome,19 and together with species in the Lactobacillus genus, is key in producing gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory regulator of various neural pathways
It has seen been shown that GABA and Glutamate (the brake and gas pedal in the brain) are both partially synthesized by gut bacteria!
With every new study, it's appearing that a facet of mental health may be gut health.
We could go on and on here.
You can literally Google "Microbiome" + a given mental health issues for results.
There's a great summary here:
Let's look at some of the things that are known to hurt this dynamic world in our gut.
Pesticides And Gut Bacteria
We love when articles come out in the mainstream press on how organic isn't that much different than conventional.
Who's paying them off!
Maybe it's just that you couldn't see the immediate effects of exposure.
That's changed recently.
Notice how there are now new studies almost weekly of genetic effects of exposure to different substances.
They couldn't do that before!
Let's take a big one...glyphosate.
It's in roughly 90% of US conventionally grown wheat, corn, and soy.
It's deemed "safe" by the FDA so we're okay, right??
significant and potentially detrimental effects from glyphosate had been detected in the gut bacteria of rat pups born to mothers, who appeared to have been unaffected themselves.
It impacted the babies of mothers exposed!
Is it really getting into people's bloodstream??
In a 20 year period starting in 1993... glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, shot up by 500% in that time period. The levels of glyphosate also spiked by 1208% during that time.
It's even showing up in umbilical cord blood:
That's just one chemical.
We'll skip over the new research on its effect within the bee community gut bacteria or its effects on sex hormones.
More to our topic, exposure to pesticides was shown to directly loosen the junctions in the wall of the gut.
This is by definition...leaky gut.
It's not just pesticides though...there are 80,000 chemicals legal to sell and about 3000 of them have been screened for toxicity (and probably none screened for effect on gut bacteria).
Let's go there now.
Preservatives, Flavors, Colors, And The Gut Bacteria
Since we follow the health study blogs daily, we can't keep up with how fast the information is coming now.
Pick an artificial color, flavor, or additive.
Let's look at fake sugar as an example of many...Sucralose. Enrichment of bacterial pro-inflammatory genes and disruption in fecal metabolites suggest that 6-month sucralose consumption at the human acceptable daily intake (ADI) may increase the risk of developing tissue inflammation by disrupting the gut microbiota, which is supported by elevated pro-inflammatory gene expression in the liver of sucralose-treated mice.
A synopsis...sucralose was implicated in liver inflammation according to the article.
That's bad since the liver is key to detoxing the rest of the body via glutathione.
You can literally take almost any chemical used to process food and come up with something.
A role of the dice. We'll bring up a list of the most common food additives.
MSG is #1 – increased gut and brain inflammation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4250750/
You can go right down the list.
It's only recently that researchers even thought to investigate the effect on gut bacteria.
Before then, their importance to our overall health wasn't really understood.
There's a good summary of research here:
Here's the big point.
Most of the "toxicity" of exposure to a range of chemicals may be due to the impact on our gut bacteria!
In conclusion, there is a body of evidence suggesting that gut microbiota are a major, yet underestimated element that must be considered to fully evaluate the toxicity of environmental contaminants.
Our gut bacteria are the first line of defense against a growing chemical enemy in our environment.
We have to move on or we'll never get to CBD!
What about antibiotics?
Antibiotics And Gut Bacteria
Most people think of the antibiotics they get from a doctor as being the issue but that's the tip of the iceberg.
Farmers have been known for some time that antibiotics added to animal feed can fatten them up very quickly.
Gut bacteria are integral in signaling for hunger, energy usage, fat creation, etc in our bodies.
Check out the
CBD and Weight article for more detail.
About 60% of poultry, 93% of chicken, 97% of growing pigs, and 80% of fattening pigs received antimicrobials through diet during the early 1990s. More than 40% of the drugs were added in animal feed at subtherapeutic level for improving animal production in USA during 1990s (Van Lunen, 2003).
Without any increase in food intake, feeding antibiotics increases weight gain in chickens, cows, and pigs. So don't be surprised if you gain weight after taking an antibiotic.
There's a great review on how the gut bacteria mediate this effect here:
Why would antibiotics affect weight gain and obesity?
The scientist found that gut bacteria from animals treated with a low level "sub-therapeutic" antibiotic were turning on genes in our body that governed fat creation.
This interaction between our gut and us was unheard of just a decade ago.
A follow-up study showed that kids treated with antibiotics within 6 months of life had a higher risk of obesity and being overweight.
Like we said...this is the future of health!
A review of antibiotics used in livestock feed can be found here:
The good news is that every decision you make can improve your gut biome.
There's a great synopsis of tips to improve it here:
Let's look at some other important determinants of a healthy gut biome.
Alcohol And Microbiome
Studies have shown that alcohol use negatively impacts the gut biome.
Maybe, more importantly, research shows that alcohol can cause hyperpermeability of the gut lining.
This just means that the barrier between our gut and our bloodstream breaks down so bacteria can sneak through.
It's the root of autoimmune diseases and many other modern ailments.
An amazing study got to the heart of how this happening and it's effect on the liver: The balance between microbes and immune defenses was upended and more bacteria were able to migrate through the gut wall into the body, eventually traveling through the bloodstream to the liver. T cells attacked the invaders and the resulting inflammation scarred the liver.
They found that heavy drinkers had too much of the bacteria as a result of specific genes being "down-regulated".
We know from research that gut bacteria can cause cravings for specifics foods but what about alcohol?
There are some preliminary studies that are interesting.
One study found that people in treatment who lacked or had specific gut bacteria species did better: their well-being and risk of relapse were connected to their gut flora.
One of the key bacteria was known for its anti-inflammatory effect.
There's a comprehensive look at the microbiome and alcohol here:
How To Test Your Microbiome
Just like 23andme took the world by storm for sequencing DNA, we're finally seeing labs we can order at home to get a sense of our own microbiome.
The two big ones are:
Ubiome (no longer in business)
What's fascinating is that with each sample we submit, they're getting more detailed and sophisticated in what they can show.
Keep in mind that a large swath of our microbiome is basically unknown!
This is emerging science by the day.
You can see just how important is with just a few examples we given above out of 100's.
Again, google "gut bacteria" + any disease or symptom.
It's the wild west of the health but the freeway system is being built as we speak!
Finally, let's look at CBD and the stage it operates on...the endocannabinoid system.
The Endocannabinoid System And Your Microbiome
Every living person (and almost all animals) have an endocannabinoid system.
Research is showing that its role is to balance other key systems in the body:
Endocrine system (hormones)
Immune system (ding ding ding)
The latter is very interesting.
The immune system's headquarters is in the gut.
We're not just talking about getting rid of cold viruses.
The immune eats up faulty cells that will turn into cancer
The immune system eats up excess neurotransmitters and hormones
The immune system attacks our own tissue when out of balance
See why it's so important!
The nervous system is also important in terms of gut bacteria since it's directly tied to the "2nd brain" in our gut.
Here's a quick visual of the endocannabinoid system:
Here's where it gets interesting.
First, endocannabinoids (cannabinoids we have naturally in our body such as Anandamide, 2-AG, and FAAH – with many others) are all over gut function! Activating cannabinoid receptors within the gut inhibits peristalsis and gastric acid secretion and enhances food intake
Peristalsis just means the wave-like movement of the muscles that move things through the intestines.
When the system goes wrong, it can directly affect many issues in the gut.
Most importantly, this system is directly tied to gut permeability: The endocannabinoid system in the large intestine is proposed to interact with gut microbiota and regulate epithelial barrier permeability.
It's a complicated read but basically, the endocannabinoid system controls the intricate interaction between the gut biome and our barrier.
This is the root of almost all autoimmune diseases and by the way...that's most of what ails the modern world.
Just watch a commercial on TV for a medication.
It's probably autoimmune in origin. 100's of billions of dollars in sales.
CBD and autoimmune here.
The endocannabinoid system and gut bacteria even drive what we're hungry for. Fatty food intake is driven by gut-brain endocannabinoid signaling. Tasting dietary fat increases endocannabinoid levels within the rat jejunum.
In fact, obesity itself may be at the intersection of gut bacteria and the endocannabinoid system: Obesity is characterized by altered gut microbiota, low-grade inflammation, and increased endocannabinoid (eCB) system tone
The statement from their study in light of everything we discussed is this: By interfering with the eCB system using CB1 agonist and antagonist in lean and obese mouse models, we found that the eCB system controls gut permeability and adipogenesis
Adipogenesis means to make new fat.
More importantly, gut permeability is the control of security checkpoints between what's in our gut and us!
This is the key to autoimmune which is the key to almost every modern disease!
Bacteria get through.
Bacteria travel to other parts of our body
Immune system finds them and attacks
Immune system damages surrounding good tissue
By the way, the Ubiome lab we talked about above will show if you have bacteria that indicate higher or lower gut permeability!
That's fat and permeability...what about sugar, energy, and diabetes?
If it's in the gut, the endocannabinoid system is involved: It has been demonstrated that eCB system activity is involved in the control of glucose and energy metabolism, and can be tuned up or down by specific gut microbes (for example, Akkermansia muciniphila)
We've discussed some examples of the endocannabinoid's shared responsibility with gut bacteria in governing the basic functions of our digestive system.
What about the immune and inflammation response that resides in the gut?
In a fascinating experiment, they blocked the CB1 receptor (CB stands for cannabinoid) and it altered gut bacteria which then impacted fat creation AND inflammation! Blockade of CB1 cannabinoid receptor alters gut microbiota and attenuates inflammation and diet-induced obesity
When inflammation went down, so did gut permeability.
As for the direct connection between the endocannabinoid system and gut bacteria: CB1 blockade dramatically increased relative abundance of
Akkermansia muciniphila and decreased Lanchnospiraceae and Erysipelotrichaceae in the gut.
The endocannabinoid system actually acts as the balancer for our guts.
Keep in mind that bacteria want to double every time in numbers.
Why don't the "good" bacteria just explode in numbers and overwhelm us?
Anandamide, which is a key endocannabinoid we naturally have in our body helps to keep them in check. We show that AEA contributes to this critical process by promoting the presence of CX3CR1hi macrophages, which are immunosuppressive.
Again, this points to the ECS's role in balancing key systems.
The immune response is no different.
We see this all over the body and brain.
Seemingly unconnected issues like arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries) are now finding their roots in this process.
Remember we have two brains essentially.
The brain we think of (central nervous system) and the vast network of neurons in our gut.
There's an intricate, bi-directional communication between the two but how? The main juncture is the vagus nerve but the communication network is the endocannabinoid system.
It is via this network that gut bacteria can have a direct effect on mood issues such as depression!
People with depression were missing two key species of gut bacteria:
This is just the beginning of studying immuno-psychiatry as it's called.
The connection between our gut, our immune system, and mental health issues.
Check out the book, The Inflamed Mind for a complete picture.
In the end, all the new research points to this intersection.
Just today, a study that showed inflammation may be a root cause for both heart disease and...depression!
That's essentially the gist of the Inflamed Mind book.
We could go on and on...but we have to get to CBD at some point.
Can we support the ECS system in its many roles with the microbiome? CBD And The Gut Bacteria
CBD is a cannabinoid found naturally in the hemp plant.
It has been shown to support our naturally occurring endocannabinoid signaling
This is why there isn't a reported overdose on the CBD.
It doesn't directly hammer the CB receptors in one direction.
For example, if there's too much expression of FAAH which breaks down Anandamide (both endocannabinoids), a host of gut issues can occur: Evidence also suggests that dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system might play a role in intestinal disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, as well as obesity.
CBD enhances anandamide signaling and slows down FAAH signaling when out of balance.
There are many examples where CBD directly benefits key inflammation and immune pathways.
You can learn all about
CBD and the gut, CBD and the immune system, or CBD and inflammation here.
The question for this article is this...does CBD cause these effects via the gut biome?
Let's take a perfect example...encephalomyelitis.
It's an auto-immune disease (gut permeability issue)
It's inflammatory in nature (our immune system is attacking our own tissue)
It's a disease in the brain/spinal cord
This really is the trifecta of what all we talked about.
What does CBD do there?
Collectively, our data suggests that THC+CBD can ameliorate EAE by preventing accumulation of mucin-degrading bacteria that would lead to increased gut microbial dysbiosis.
This is huge news for people suffering from MS.
CBD has shown powerful anti-inflammatory responses in both the body and brain but this research showed it was partially mediated via the gut biome!
The endocannabinoid system is also key to the expression of pain in the gut.
Researchers found that the addition of a single species of gut bacteria activated endocannabinoid receptors to reduce the pain: We found that oral administration of specific
Lactobacillus strains induced the expression of I-opioid and cannabinoid receptors in intestinal epithelial cells, and mediated analgesic functions in the gut – similar to the effects of morphine.
CBD improves signaling at these receptors for this process.
Probably the most important study on CBD deals with gut permeability: phytocannabinoids have therapeutic potential for reversing the disordered intestinal permeability associated with inflammation.
CBD was one of the "phytocannabinoids" tested.
It was able to bring down gut inflammation and help heal the gut permeability.
As we discussed above, the gut bacteria are integral to maintaining this barrier so we can't wait for the research that shows the connection between the two.
Again, this is (unfortunately) cutting edge science.
Another study showed that it was the CBD itself in cannabis that had the greatest effect: In conclusion, CBD BDS, given after the inflammatory insult, attenuates injury, and motility in intestinal models of inflammation.
We expect there to be a slew of new research on gut bacteria, CBD, and our well-being in general.
CBD has powerful effects on many of the issues that result from a poorly functioning gut and microbiome.
We're starting to see the effects one level up from the microbiome.
For example, CBD helps to calm the immune response via T cells and that's a function of the gut:
CBD is also showing an ability to help guard the mucous layer which protects the gut and interacts directly with the microbiome:
What we want to see is its effects on specific species numbers from CBD.
Species which we know are tied to positive or negative effects in the body such as this one which helped with anxiety:
Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus, significantly reduced anxiety-like behavior in rodent studies.
The vast majority of gut bacteria haven't even been cataloged yet.
We only know that CBD has a positive impact on facets which the microbiome is intimately connected to:
We'll end there till we get new research!
The Best CBD For Microbiome Support
There's an interesting connection between gut bacteria and histamine: However, it is clear that histamine-secreting microbes are present within the human gut microbiota, and their levels are increased in asthma patients
Histamine is our hormone that causes the allergic effect.
It does quite a bit more in the brain (very excitatory).
It's part of our immune system and generally inflammatory (think of symptoms of allergies)!
For this reason, we recommend CBD Isolate over full spectrum.
The research above is all on CBD itself.
We have almost no research on full-spectrum for microbiome support.
More importantly, 40-60% of the population may have adverse reactions to histamine release from all that plant material in full spectrum.
Learn about CBD and Histamines here.
This really needs to be studied better since every brand out there is pushing full spectrum.
Here are three CBD Isolates by price per mg from our safety screening:
How Much CBD Should You Take For Microbiome Support
A starting dosage and general wellness amount is 20-30 mg of CBD.
Test how your body responds.
It then depends on what you're trying to achieve.
For general support of the inflammation pathways and gut support, you can go higher.
For full-blown leaky gut and autoimmune, research goes as high as 300-600 for the latter and more serious issues.
There's a strong safety profile for CBD Isolate (can't speak for full spectrum since it's not really studied as well).
The gut is tied to every facet of our health so dosage depends on how that interaction is going.
You can see all the brands and products here:
Let us and others know what works for you!
Pay it Forward!!