The human gut, or microbiome, packs a big punch in terms of holistic health as it performs essential functions.  Gut microbes have been found to influence such fundamental processes as metabolism, adiposity, muturation, modulation of the immune system, brain function and even decision-making.  

As you can see, the activity of  the gut microbiome is super important to your well-being.  It even as an impact on your mood and behavior because this is the predominant place that seratonin is produced.  Serotonin helps control mood and sleep.  In fact, the influence of the gut microbiome can even be felt in such seemingly unrelated areas as the respiratory tract.  

True story.....I used to get frequent...meaning on a monthly basis.... respiratory congestion.  My acupuncturist told me that this was related to the gut.  This fact has continued to prove true through my years of research and experience. 

What adversely alters your gut microbiome?
  • Stress
    • alters gastric secretions and intestinal motility (peristalsis)
    • causes people to reach for their favorite comfort foods (are these ever healthy choices?)
    • stress hormones can directly affect microbial populations and their strengths
      • norepinephrine (fight or flight chemical) increases the growth of both good and pathogenic E. coli.
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Tobacco exposure
  • Sedentary behavior
  • Highly processed/"fast" food
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Habits of "hygiene": chemicals in our daily use products directly affect the gut microbe composition
    • detergents
    • personal care products
    • soaps
    • moisturizers
    • cosmetics
  • Antibiotics: overuse contributes to loss of gut microbe diversity and low-level inflammation and is associated with an increased risk of obesity, types 1 and 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, allergies, asthma and antibiotic resistant bacteria. 
Benefits of Adaptogens
Studies have shown that, unlike antibiotics, adaptogens, like essential oils, can be selective and bring balance to the microbial environment.  They have the ability to increase the "friendly" bacteria, while at the same time, decrease the potential pathogens.

Essential Oil Constituents Studies (Sweet Orange, Oregano, Thyme, Wild Bergamot, Lavender, Caraway, Neroli)
  • Increased the beneficial (good) microbes
    • Bifidobacteria
    • Lactobacillus
  • Decreased pathogens
    • Entrobacteriaceae
    • E. coli
    • Salmonella
    • Shigella
    • Clostridium perfringens
    • Citrobacter rodentium (causes ulcerative colitis)
  • Reduced endotoxins (triggers systemic inflammation)
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reduced levels of proinflammatory cytokines
  • Demonstrated high degree of selectivity inhibiting potential pathogens growth while leaving "friendly" bacteria unaffected
  • Promoted protein biosynthesis, carbohydrate metabolism, amino acid metabolism, and lipid metabolism
  • Decreased Oxidative Stress (major cause of chronic inflammation)
  • Increased production of short-chain fatty acids
    • improves gut barrier function
    • protects against colonic diseases
    • exhibits anti-inflammatory effects
So, how do adaptogens, like essential oils, compare with antibiotics?  The article "Essential Oils and The Gut Microbiome" puts it this way......
"Antibiotics are the nuclear approach, the "everything killers" of the biological realm.  They are, literally, anti-life."

The negative bowel outcomes from the use of antibiotics just are not seen with antimicrobial essential oils.  This may be due to the capacity of essential oils to be able to selectively inhibit potential pathogens while, at the same time, allowing the beneficial, friendly bacteria to flourish.

There is definitely a need and purpose for antibiotics.  It is the overuse of antibiotics that may need to be modified. Definitey these studies help to see that there are other alternatives when antibiotics are no longer working. 

Find free resources about the gut microbiome and stress relationship, as well as, other gut-affecting lifestyle choices here.

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