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Improve Vagus Nerve Function When Suffering From IBS/SIBO

The vagus nerve tells the stomach to churn the food within it, as well as to produce stomach acid that’s necessary for digesting that food and a number of other things. That’s why a damaged or under-active vagus nerve often results in low stomach acid levels and low enzyme production. The vagus nerve connects the gut and brain, through the gut-brain axis. It communicates information from the gut to the brain using neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and glutamate) and gut hormones, all of which play a vital role in sleep, mood, pain, stress and hunger.

Improving Vagus Nerve Function When Suffering From IBO/SIBO

SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is a fairly common but under diagnosed condition. There are a number of misconceptions around this condition. One of these misconceptions is that it is often mistaken for solely a bacterial problem whereas the issue is much more complex. Since the focus is largely on the overgrowth, many patients of SIBO relapse quite often. Motility is a key concern of SIBO which isn’t addressed and is one reason that the condition is not fully treated.

Migrating Motor Complex and how it contributes to SIBO

Another cause of SIBO is the Migrating Motor Complex (MMC) activity. This activity refers to a cyclic process that repeats every 1.5 to 2 hours. Its job is to do housekeeping of your digestive system and transition undigested food away. Many healthcare practitioners prescribe prokinetics to facilitate the MMC process but most of them don’t pay attention to repairing the system that enables the MMC activity. This system is the Gut-Brain axis (GBA). As the name suggests, this system connects the brain with peripheral intestinal functions and acts as a biochemical signaling tool.

How the Brain Gut Axis comes into play?

While quite a number of cases of SIBO come into being because of issues with the Gut-brain axis, it is not true for everyone. However, the brain and gut happen to be connected closely to each other so when one if effected, the other one mirrors the impact as well. Due to this connection, it is advisable that our brains should be kept healthy when we are dealing with any type of gut conditions, SIBO or otherwise.

Not all individuals have healthy brains. People who suffer from brain-related conditions such as or neurodegeneration or traumatic brain injuries can suffer from delayed gut motility. Intestinal permeability is another issue that may occur among such patients. This has been proven by multiple experiments where lab animals who experienced induced traumatic brain injury developed intestinal permeability within a few hours.

Improve Vagus Nerve Function When Suffering From IBO/SIBO

The Brain Gut Connection

We have described the Gut-Brain Axis earlier but to further explain if IBS and SIBO is caused by the brain or the gut, you should understand the link between the two clearly. In layman terms, both organs can be best described as close friends who are always connected and are well-informed about what is going on in the other friend’s life. The exchange between these two parties includes everything- the good, the bad and the ugly. When one party is feeling low, the other one mirrors the same emotions. Similarly if one of them is upbeat, happy and satisfied the other party experiences similar emotions.

There is a constant exchange of emotions and information between both of these organs. If the brain is under pressure, the gut comes to know about it immediately and as a result replicates the behavior. Similarly, if there is an issue with the gut, the brain’s functionality is affected negatively.

When inflammatory conditions of the gut are being treated, a lot of people forget about its connection to the brain. The brain has an important part to play in the recovery of SIBO and related conditions. Most healthcare practitioners are so bent upon treating the symptoms and the immediate condition at hand that they forget how the system works and what possible triggers are responsible for the poor state of the gut.

The brain controls all functions of the body. This includes motility, blood flow regulation and nutritional support to the gastrointestinal tract. If the brain fails to function properly, rest assured, you will face problems with the rest of your body.

The brain and gut communication is especially dependent on the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve serves as a path that transmits messages to and from the gut to the brain. In fact, the vagus nerve is so important that even the GI is directly impacted by it through the enteric nervous system.

Let us delve deeper into how the gut-brain axis can cause SIBO. If there is an inflammation in the gut, there is a possibility the nerves responsible for the MMC are damaged. This, in turn, sends signal to the brain and inflames it. The entire cycle causes a reduction in blood flow, motility and enzyme release which upsets your gut more.

The food poisoning model for SIBO is perhaps the best way to describe the whole process. Dr. Pimentel goes as far as to nominate past food poisoning event for most cases of IBS and SIBO.

In food poisoning cases, patients often develop antibodies to fight the infection. In the case of IBS and SIBO, the infection is cytolethal distending toxin or CdtB.

The brain is protected by microglial cells. After being activated, they will release inflammatory cytokines and increase the immunity power and slow down the brain inflammation. One drawback about their activation is that it doesn’t stop and can cause brain tissue damage if not slowed down.

The vagus causes digestive enzymes and bile to be released in the gut so its proper functioning is of importance. When a patient is suffering from neuroinflammation, the gut inflammation can be compounded as a consequence of it. This harms the ability of the brain to activate the vagus and the vagal activity is reduced. As the cycle progresses, the MMC process is impacted and the individual will experience low motility and have an impaired valve control in the gut

The worse your brain inflammation is, the more likely it is that SIBO will thrive within your system. When the food is not digested fully, it will be present in the small intestine for a longer period of time and gives rise to fermentation.

The Vagus Nerve Connection

The junction between ilium and cecum has an ileocecal valve whose malfunctioning can exacerbate the condition and worsen the inflammation. The small and the large intestines are separated by this valve and if it isn’t closed properly, the colonic bacteria can move up and settle into the small intestine. This will cause fermentation and as a result gut distention. Gut distention can open the valve further. One of the reasons that the IC valve doesn’t close is that your nerves are damaged or your vagal activity is not up to the mark. If that sounds familiar, Try the Ileocecal valve Release and massage technique.

In short, inflammation that occur as a result of gut problems can start a cycle of problems within the same area as well as your brain. To heal from medical conditions like SIBO, it is imperative that the brain is healthy and innervation of the gut is kept steady.

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Our Personal SIBO Recovery Program is a great place to start

The Personal Program IBS/SIBO/SIFO Recovery Program is a Natural Treatment for IBS and other GI related problems. Our office implements Advanced Functional lab Testing, Natural Medicine/supplements as well as nutritional counseling tailored specifically to you.

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