Microbiome vector art

Are Psychobiotics too Good to be True?

Our microbiome or Gut health is key to just about every bodily function but modern medicine is just barely starting to notice that these billions of tiny colonizers in our gut are producing many of the hormones and chemicals we need to survive.

Nutrition is the key to feeding these little helpers and keeping them happy and balanced. If you are able to stomach a whole foods plant-based diet this can be the easiest way to fix things. But some people need to change gradually or follow a special diet for a while before they are ready for that.


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Heal your gut, heal your brain

Kelly Brogan has a program incorporating nutrition, meditation and other self-care techniques that help you get a handle on your overall health and digestion. Download a chapter of her book A Mind of Your Own here.

The new science of psychobiotics has proven that gut health controls how we feel mentally and may be responsible for many instances of depression. The gut bacteria can also have a lot to do with other inflammatory responses including arthritis, chronic fatigue, and can even play a role in autism and autoimmune conditions.

We can change the health of our gut by changing what we eat. Humans have had to adapt to changing climates, and food supplies so luckily we are able to change our gut bacteria to suit our diet.

But when you have irritated the gut lining and a leaky or permeable gut it can be a challenge to stop the irritation and get to a place where you can eat healthy high fiber foods that feed and encourage the good bacteria and get rid of the pathogenic or bad bacteria in our gut.

The problem with a permeable gut lining is that large molecules can get into the bloodstream that are not supposed to be there. This can cause chronic inflammation and autoimmune response to the intruders in your bloodstream.

Unfortunately, our medical system is slow to get with the program and often give pharmaceuticals or the wrong nutrition plan which can make your symptoms even worse.

Even if you are taking probiotics and eating a diet rich in plant-based fiber with no refined foods you may still need to protect your gut bacteria from too many EMFs from Wifi and cell phone radiation.

Depression and Your Gut Bacteria

Depression and other mood disorders are often linked with inflammation in the brain and other parts of the body especially the gut. Psychobiotics is a fancy word first coined in 2013 by for treating gut health to heal the brain.

Brain chemistry changes happen in response to the bodily systems with the microbiome being a leading cause. Drugs that treat the brain chemistry miss the point and often are toxic and lead to other complications.

Here’s the deal,

Treating the brain with antidepressants that cross the blood-brain barrier leaking toxic chemicals into your precious brain is not the most effective or efficient treatment because it does not resolve the root cause of depression. It simply drugs the brain making some people feel a little better for a little while.

But there’s a catch,

You get side effects from all pharmaceuticals and in this case, it isn’t necessary because there are other options. And any positive effects don’t last.

The inflammation frequently begins in the gut though depression and mood disorders of many kinds can also be caused by thyroid imbalances, toxins, drugs like statins, birth control pills and antacids. there are many other physical causes of depression that do not originate in the brain. Depression may be a symptom, not an illness.

The importance of your gut for healing depression

The enteric nervous system resides in your gut and the microbes that live there produce the same neurotransmitters that your brain does; Dopamine, GABA, serotonin and more. The two systems communicate from gut to brain via the vagus nerve known as the “gut-brain axis”. Over 70% of your nervous system resides in the walls of your intestinal lining. and coincidentally around 70% of serotonin is made in the gut.

illustration of microbiome

How did your gut microbiome get damaged?

Your gut microbiome can become damaged or inflamed due to medications your mom took while pregnant. Or you can miss out on good probiotic strains during birth if you were born via C-section.

Most infants are given antibiotics and exposed to harmful microbes in the hospital environment. And this can lead to suboptimal microbiome to begin life with, making you more prone to disease.

Fewer mothers breastfeed now and we are exposed to refined foods growing up. This makes modern humans much more susceptible to inflammation and depression among other conditions.

How you got inflammation is not as important as the fact that you can get well without drugs.

Even if you had a good start as an infant nutrition in later life can damage the gut. The list of food additives that may contribute to depression continues to grow.

You have toxins in food. then there are the general stressors during childhood and later on.

Plus environmental toxins, chemicals, food allergies etc. It is pretty easy to mess up the microbiome.

This affects the immune system, and nervous system and is a factor in many inflammatory diseases from MS to arthritis, heart disease, obesity and of course depression and anxiety.

Pro-inflammatory foods VS anti-inflammatory foods

Pro-inflammatory foods

  • Diets high in refined sugar
  • Refined, denatured low fiber foods
  • Aspartame
  • Gluten increases depression risk even in non-celiac individuals
  • GMO’ contain glyphosate which annihilates good bacteria in the gut
  • Artificial flavorings
  • Dairy from cows

Anti-inflammatory foods

  • Plant-based high fiber diets
  • Fresh organic fruits and veggies
  • Non-gluten whole grains (here is a list of non-gluten grains by holistic nutritionist Yuri Elkaim)
  • Healthy fats, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds, like flax and chia, omega 3 essential fatty acids

Some practitioners emphasize a Paleo diet with a lot of organic animal products such as bone broth, red meat, and collagen.

Paleo or “ancestral diet” practitioners get great results, but it is hard to find meat and fish that is not contaminated even if it is organic. So it might not be a good idea to eat a ton of animal products long term.

There are a lot of recent studies that show a predominantly plant-based diet is better for treating the microbiome and healing depression.

Here are a couple of links on plant-based vs high protein paleo for depression:

Personally, I tend to eat animal product rarely and stick with eggs and sardines maybe once or twice a week. whereas paleo diets encourage lots of animal products three times a day along with lots of plants.

Why hasn’t your doctor told you any of this?

purple gut microbe

These studies have been around since 2009 and even earlier. Your doctor never mentioned them because they have not heard of them. Instead, you may have been given a prescription and maybe even some very good talk therapy so you can white knuckle it through life instead of treating the source of your symptoms of unease, depression anxiety, and pain.

Psychobiotics, that is treating depression by treating the gut, is simple that is why it has not taken hold. It seems too easy and that is why very few people use it.

Oh, and by the way…

The pharmaceutical companies that peddle antidepressants are not happy about anything that cures people without drugs. Drug companies back many of the studies for antidepressants and want us to toe the line so they can keep profiting from our misery as patients.

That’s not all,

Drug companies were able to get FDA approval for antidepressants because studies have been rigged to leave out studies that did not show positive results. And most drug companies only need 2 favorable studies to get FDA approval. What if a drug company decided to publish only studies that showed positive results for antidepressants?

It seems too good to be true so we resist trying it

To cure depression and other mood disorders often does not require pharmaceuticals or anything expensive. Simply by eating a natural plant-based diet with fermented foods and taking a strong enough high-quality probiotic that can get to the intestines undigested, you can heal chronic fatigue, depression, MS and other illnesses related to inflammation and immune system issues.

 The mainstream medical community doesn’t want to hear about alternative treatments

The mainstream medical world is invested in treating patients with pharmaceuticals. Doctors are stuck owing millions for an education on how to treat with pharmaceuticals.

And many patients have been on these drugs for years and have been told they must stay on them for life. If this turns out to be wrong those who have suffered side effects from these drugs will have to admit they may have suffered unnecessarily. It is easy to feel like you have been duped.

It is no surprise that a lot of people are resistant to try simply dietary changes. Many people have been on antidepressants for years and are physically dependent on them.

It can be a life-threatening and difficult process to get off of antidepressants. Often it requires careful preparation and many prescribers of these meds have no idea how to help patients get off of psychopharmaceuticals.

Even big pharma is beginning to admit that getting off of antidepressants is difficult due to the withdrawal that can go on for months and leave scars for years. but they don’t even dare to call it drug withdrawal. it is euphemistically known as “discontinuation syndrome”.

To admit that you have been duped and try a new and radically none-drug path is brave indeed.

Denial of natural depression treatments is rampant

I have scoured hundreds of books and articles and forums on depression and mood disorders looking for answers. Every book or article I come across about someone who has totally recovered from major depression, through natural diet, supplements, probiotic use and or a combination of non-drug interventions, has at least one negative comment from someone who has been on antidepressants for years and does not believe you can heal without drugs.

Every book on Amazon about natural depression resolution has a few one-star reviews stating that how the book is somehow stupid or irrelevant, how depression is a disease and how you have to take meds for life.

It doesn’t matter how compelling the evidence to the contrary is or how many studies linking inflammation to depression there are, like these studies and articles:

photo by rex-pickar-lying on the couch for psychobiotics heal your brain and gut


Some people will never admit there might be another path besides pharmaceuticals for healing major depression, chronic low-level depression, bipolar depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

No one wants to admit that we have

  • been sick for longer than was necessary
  • relinquished our power to doctors who were wrong
  • taken toxic drugs that have damaged our brains

It is not an easy thing to admit you have been duped by big-pharma for years and years

But there comes a point when you have to ask yourself;

Do I want to get well, or do I want to be right?

Personally, I just want to get well.

I am willing to admit I may have been wrong about big pharma.

All the years of shelling out money for talk therapy and all the meds I have tried, and my week in county psych unit may have made things worse than they had to be.

I may have messed things up and complicated my life unnecessarily when I could have had simple low-cost alternatives and had years of good health and a lot more career success and money.

Instead here I am, almost 60 with no retirement savings, and still looking for ways to heal a pretty shitty life.

Hey, I didn’t know.

I was just doing what everyone else was doing. I was being fed a lie and it took me a while to wake up.

It isn’t a pretty picture and it isn’t fun to admit. But I am feeling a little better every day now that I have taken my health into my own hands.

Probiotics are the new antidepressants

To summarize:

What does all this mean to you and how can you use it?

As humans, we undergo a lot of stress. as kids and as adults. this can be long-term emotional as well as physical. it can come from foods we eat, from being given too many antibiotics as an infant or later in life, leading to susceptibility.

Stressors can ruin the gut microbiome through many different factors.

When the body is inflamed the brain becomes inflamed.

You end up with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders and often several physical symptoms as well.

They have been treating mood disorders by smothering symptoms with drugs and trying to talk your way through it with therapy.

When you correct the issue with the gut the immune system heals, the brain heals, and you rapidly feel better.

But before you can do that you have to face that you have been duped, morn the loss of months or years of suffering, lost relationships, lost jobs, lost money, lost careers, lost opportunities land lost time because you weren’t well enough to pursue them.

Getting on with your treatment

Then you have to pick yourself up, clean up your diet, get some blood tests and a stool sample and perhaps some other tests for thyroid imbalances, methylation problems, and histamine sensitivity. None of these tests are all that costly or complicated.

You will have to do a bit of reading and research, order some probiotics and supplements by mail and get on with your healing. You will notice that everyone does not agree on what ratios of fats, complex carbs, and proteins you need.

Many specialists will say to cut out all legumes and grains for a while. Others will say to eat non-gluten grains and as many beans as you like. You will have to experiment and use your intuition and see what works for you.

The trick is to find doctors who are familiar with this new system of treatment and testing. Finding a good healthcare practitioner who is on your side can be the most difficult part.

But don’t give up if your regular doctor scoffs at you and says there is nothing wrong with your gut or your thyroid. Just keep moving until you get the support you need.

These days more and more MD’s are turning to functional and integrative medicine and will know how to help even if your regular doctor does not. You can also work with a Naturopathic doctor acupuncturist or another practitioner who specializes in treating systems not just parts of people.

You can start here:

Best protocol to heal your gut microbiome

The best book on healing depression naturally is by Kelly Brogan MD called A Mind of Your Own. She gives you a four-week protocol on how to get on a new path. She even has a section on tapering off medications if you are interested. Download a free chapter here

She also has a longer program with lots of free videos, Here’s my affiliate link

Brogan covers:

  • Learning to cook organic whole foods
  • clean out the cupboards and detox your body and your home
  • Stop dying your hair and using toxic makeup, lotions, etc


Resources for getting a handle on your microbiome health:

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I'm a natural health writer and designer at mindbodycopy.com and mindbodyclarity.com and MindfulJoyful.com a creativity blog. I'm also a former Pilates trainer and sports massage therapist, currently working on my Plant-Based Nutrition certification.

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