There is certainly little question that, over the last 10-20 years, one of the most popular topics of interest among nutritional and functional medicine practitioners has been the role of gut microflora and human health. Furthermore, there is also little question that the vast majority of conversations, seminars and published papers on the subject have addressed gut microflora purely in terms of its role in GI health, particularly in reference to the ever increasing number of patients who present with issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and inflammatory bowel disease. For me, this is ironic because most of us are aware, at least on a conceptual level, that the microflora residing in the gut are well documented to have a powerful influence on the health and well-being of many organ systems outside the gut. Why is it that we do not talk more about the role of gut microflora in influencing biochemistry and physiology not involving the GI tract? I would surmise that one reason is that most of the information we receive on the gut microflora-systemic health relationship is either highly technical, highly academic or both, with little or no emphasis on practical, clinical applications. Evidence of this was readily apparent to me as I began looking into published papers on the gut microflora-brain relationship. It seems I was spending hours reading paper after paper reporting an endless stream of animal studies on this connection that, to me, have little or no practical value in terms of addressing the needs of patients suffering from behavioral or neurodegenerative disorders.
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