The mainstream medical establishment has been saying for years that the cause of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a disorder affecting 10 million people around the world, is unknown. While a combination of genetic and environmental causes is thought to be to blame, its main trigger is believed to be a mystery. The alternative medicine community, however, drew a link to the health of one particular organ a long time ago, and a breakthrough study may have just confirmed it.
The health of the gut has been found to be responsible for triggering the onset of Parkinson’s, at least when it comes to mice.
When it comes to research, more studies on humans are needed in the future, however, this is the first time a study has found a correlation between the gut, brain, and Parkinson’s, something practitioners of alternative health have witnessed in their patients over and over again.
A healthy gut is responsible for the health of other organs, including the brain.
“This research reveals that a neurodegenerative disease may have its origins in the gut, and not only in the brain as had been previously thought,” said Dr. Sarkis Mazmanian, the study’s author.
Study: Gut Bacteria and Parkinson’s Disease Link
“[The] discovery that the microbiome may be involved in Parkinson’s Disease is a paradigm shift.”
This 2016 study, published in the journal Cell, drew a link between healthy gut bacteria and protection from movement disorders in mice, at the same time suggesting that similar bacteria alteration in humans may increase the risk of PD.
The study used mice that was genetically predisposed to PD.
While this is the first study to link gut’s health to PD, this is not the first time a study had shown a correlation between the health of the gut and cognitive function.
Another 2016 study found that antibiotics wipe out the gut’s good bacteria and decrease cognitive function, while probiotics restore it.
The main message is simple: a healthy gut has healthy, beneficial bacteria to fight off their “bad” counterparts. And when the gut is healthy, it contributes to reducing the risk of other diseases in the body, including neurological diseases.
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This goes beyond decreasing the risk of PD. The health of the gut affects hyperactivity, anxiety and cognition. An altered microbial state in the gut can lead to several neurological diseases.
The study concludes:
“Coupled with emerging research that has linked gut bacteria to disorders such as anxiety, depression, and autism, we propose the provocative hypothesis that certain neurologic conditions that have classically been studied as disorders of the brain may also have etiologies in the gut.”
While some sources have misrepresented the study, saying that having no germs in the gut is recommended, and we need to remove all germs with antibiotics, other researchers warn that it is not the lack of bad bacteria, or presence of good bacteria that protects from PD, but a specific combination of gut bacteria. To figure out what this exact combination is will require more research.
But what we do know is that the presence of plenty of good bacteria in the gut prevented the mice from contracting disease.
How to Heal the Gut
Generally speaking, unless a person has an unusual condition, treating the gut with fermented foods and gut-healing herbs balances out the good and bad bacteria to its optimal state. You cannot go wrong with taking a quality probiotic, and as research shows, it will protect you more than just your digestion.
Probiotic-rich foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, organic pickles, and bone broth can also help to heal and seal the gut lining.
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When in doubt, consult a holistic physician who specializes in this area and you can begin to restore your gut health, and your brain health for that matter, the natural way.
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This article was first written in December 2016 and updated in 2023.