VITAMIN K2-7 – THE LITTLE KNOWN VITAMIN WITH A LARGE IMPACT

Vitamin K2-7 – the little known vitamin with a large impact

Vitamin K2 (MK7 version) (also called Menaquinone or MK7 ) is a vitamin produced by intestinal bacteria and also derived from natto and other fermented cheeses.

Heart disease, various forms of cancer, diabetes, muscle spasms, neuropathy, neurodegenerative diseases, bone fractures, etc, all seem to be linked to a deficiency of Vitamin K2 (MK7) The Western diet is almost completely absent of Vitamin K2 (MK7)

Three key areas that need K2 (MK7)

  1. Liver: K2 activates the clotting factors to facilitate the clotting cascade can then develop a formal blood clot.
  2. Bone – K2 activates a protein called osteocalcin. This protein puts calcium on the bones and requires K2 for the activation of that process.
  3. Soft Tissue Calcification: Vitamin K2 activates a protein called “matrix Gla protein” which prevents calcium deposits in the body in and removes it from soft tissues such as the inner walls of the arteries. Once this supply of K2 is exhausted, the body can no longer remove calcium from the body and calcification occurs.

 

Let’s visit these areas in more detail.
  1. The Liver: Top-Priority in Vitamin K2 Utilization

When Vitamin K2-7 is consumed, it is absorbed through the intestinal lining and pulled up through a portal vein directly to the liver. The liver takes first priority in Vitamin K2 utilization.  If the body is Vitamin K2 deficient, it won’t perform the important clotting cascade. If this occurs, a person could die from a simple cut or internal bleeding. The Vitamin K2 that the liver doesn’t use is then sent outside the liver to utilize in other tissues.

It is important to note that since the liver uses Vitamin K2- 7 first, if a person has depletion of Vitamin K2-7– it doesn’t usually show up in the liver. These deficiencies will usually be found in other tissues and organs such as:  bones, cartilage, arteries, muscles, nerves, brain and heart

  1. Vitamin K2 and Bone health

Many of us think about Vitamin D as the essential vitamin for bone health, but it is only part of the true picture. Vitamin D3 stimulates bone building osteoblastic cells that release a bone building protein called osteocalcin. Osteocalcin starts in an inactive form called Glu Osteocalcin. Vitamin K2-7 is what actually activates osteocalcin. The active osteocalcin, called Gla Osteocalcin, then takes the calcium and basically adheres it on the bone. Vitamin K2 is critical to assist in developing bone and calcification of bone in the appropriate way.

Vitamin K2 also reduces a process called bone resorption. The body looks to bone to grab calcium to use in other things like nerve conduction, muscle contraction, etc. Vitamin K2 helps slow down this process of bone resorption which is typically at a quick or high rate in most people so tend to lose more bone then they build. If this occurs too quickly, weak bones are created.

  1. Soft Tissues and calcium removal

There is a protein formed known as “Matrix GLA Protein” that is the only known mechanism to remove calcium from soft tissues in the body such as the inner walls of the arteries. Calcium is an inert, hard mineral that gets into the circulatory system and if it is not properly directed it actually gets embedded into your tissue. Vitamin K2 activates this Gla protein so that it can actually undo this calcification. If Vitamin K2 is depleted, calcification of soft tissue can occur.

Areas where calcification can form are:

  • small and large arteries
  • heart valves
  • brain, where it’s known as cranial calcification
  • joints and tendons, such as knee joints and rotator cuff tendons
  • soft tissues like breasts, muscles, and fat
  • kidney, bladder, and gallbladder
Key Products we carry at Renovare that support Vitamin K2-7

 

Information from Kiran Krishnan – Chief Science Officer of Microbiome Labs, Vitamin K2 Presentation.

Pictures from Kiran Krishnan Presentation

https://www.healthline.com/health/calcification#types

Nitric Oxide: Controller of Wellness

Nitric oxide is a critical signaling or messenger molecule. In fact, it is one of the components that will determine how long you are going to live. NO is linked to heart health and sexual health. Nitric oxide is critical to healthy blood flow to the brain, brain health, formation of new synapses in the brain, and protecting brain blood vessels from vascular damage.

It causes arteries and bronchioles to expand, allows brain cells to communicate with each other, and causes immune cells to kill bacteria and cancer cells. Nitric oxide production is important in protecting the heart, brain, liver, and other organs from low oxygen damage.

Nitric oxide expands the blood vessels, increases the blood flow, and decreases plaque formation and blood clotting.

However, when the body senses high toxic emotional stress, overwork, under-exercise, or smoking it releases less nitric oxide and then atherosclerosis begins to develop.

Penile erection also depends on the release of nitric oxide. Viagra and other drugs like it that reduce erectile dysfunction cause enzymatic reactions that increase Nitric Oxide.

Atherosclerosis and impotence are closely related. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of nitric oxide deficiency and correct them. Do NOT ignore Erectile Dysfunction – it is a sign of serious heart disease.

On the average, we lose 10 percent of our body’s ability to make nitric oxide for every decade of life. By the age of 40, studies show that we make 50% less Nitric oxide than we did as a teenager.

Being sedentary leads to less Nitric oxide production because your body is not stimulating its production; production is stimulated during exercise.  Eating foods that are low in nitrates and nitrites also leads to decreased Nitric oxide production.  Your body can only create Nitric oxide if it has the necessary precursors or building blocks.   There are three isoforms of the NOS enzyme:

  1. Endothelial (eNOS): a signaling molecule that increases blood flow and artery health.
  2. Neuronal (nNOS): a signaling molecule that increases brain health
  3. Inducible (immune system) (iNOS): a signaling molecule which can be cytotoxic. Helpful during acute infection but extremely damaging to our blood vessels if it stays elevated. We use Nitric Balance to decrease this form and elevate eNOS and nNOS.

Another problem is the presence of fluoride. When fluoride is present, it converts nitric oxide into the toxic and destructive nitric acid. Nitric oxide will react with fluorine, chlorine and bromine to form nitrosyl halides, such as nitrosyl chloride which is harmful.

Accelerated aging, along with chemical and metabolic stresses damage eNOS. The resulting endothelial dysfunction creates a host of vascular disorders including diminished circulation of oxygen & nutrients, hypertension, and occlusive arterial disease.

Symptoms that may indicate low Nitric Oxide:

  • Fatigue or low energy levels
  • High Blood Pressure or decreased heart function esp. congestive heart failure
  • Anxiety, irritability, or depression
  • Insomnia & other sleep problems
  • Loss of libido (sex drive) or Erectile Dysfunction (E.D.)
  • Declining stamina
  • Decreased workout potential or less energy at the gym
  • Less stamina / endurance
  • Declining Memory or Concentration
  • Asthma or poor lung function
  • Weakening bones – esp. osteopenia or osteoporosis

The depletion of nitric oxide also depletes endorphins and dopamine, which are the feel-good hormones in the limbic system. As a result, we become susceptible to Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, and dementia.

How do I get tested for Nitric oxide deficiency?

We use the simple and painless Nitric Oxide test in our office.  This $10 test includes gathering saliva in your mouth, collecting the saliva (with your finger or a wooden tongue depressor), and placing it on the strip.  It takes about 10 seconds for the results.  The testing strip will indicate whether you are deficient, low, or normal.

Nitric Oxide testing is also useful for monitoring your levels over time.  After 1 month of supplementation, it is important to be rested in order to ensure that your levels are back up to normal.  Each person will require different amounts of dietary nitrates, supplements, and exercise.  You should be sure to monitor your levels, especially if symptoms return or any of the signs mentioned above begin to occur (high blood pressure, poor heart function, erectile dysfunction, etc).

How do I increase my Nitric Oxide levels if my test shows they are low?

  • Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) improves nitric oxide, blood flow, and energy in the brain is emerging as one of the most effective tools for cognitive enhancement.
  • Take a Nitric oxide supplement such as Nitric Balance
  • Exercise (Cardio or Fat Burning Exercise) & lose weight
  • Increase dietary nitrates and nitrites
      • Beets and dark green leafy vegetables, celery, kale, spinach, bok choy, leeks
      • Avoid stomach acid reducers
      • Decrease use of mouthwash which kills healthy mouth bacteria that make NO

 

Magnesium – the mineral that most of us are not getting enough of

It is estimated that over half the population is deficient of magnesium. This may not seem disconcerting unless you understand the magnitude of the impact this little mineral has on our bodies. Did you know that over 600 enzymes require magnesium to work properly and it is the fourth most abundant mineral in our body?

Almost every function of the body utilizes magnesium including supporting a healthy brain, kidney and cardiovascular system. It also is necessary for:

  • Making energy in the mitochondria
  • Feeling relaxed, calm and peaceful
  • Peaceful, restful sleep
  • Formation of bone and protein
  • Nerve and muscle function
  • Regulation of blood pressure
  • Regulation of blood sugar levels
  • Maintaining healthy acid-alkaline balance of body

Major loss and stress as well as alcohol consumption are all major causes of magnesium. Also antibiotics, oral contraceptives, diuretics, certain cancer drugs, some prescription medications, and excess soda and coffee consumption can deplete magnesium.

Some of the most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Poor Stress Tolerance
  • Chronic Fatigue or constant fatigue
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Numbness
  • Nausea
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Migraines
  • Osteoporosis
  • Serious Asthma
  • Seizures
  • Some mental disorders such as apathy and delirium

Recommended rich sources of magnesium include leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and dried beans. However,eating organic, unprocessed magnesium rich foods is not necessarily enough to increase your magnesium intake. Due to depleted soil, many experts believe supplementation is needed.

Magnesium deficiency is rampant in our society and lending to a sick population. The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is only the amount necessary to prevent disease and  a poor substitute for the greater amounts actually necessary for optimizing wellness.

Magnesium is extremely safe. If you take more than your body can tolerate your body will expel it through your stool.  The exception to this would be end stage renal failure in which it is necessary for a doctor to monitor blood levels carefully.

Some of our favorites magnesium supplements at Renovare include Brain Relax Max and Brain Magnesium Boost Pro. You can purchase these products at : https://brainwellnessaz.com/shop/page/2/ or visit or clinic.

You can also purchase Xymogen products directly online at: Xymogen.com and use referral code: “online”, and “gerhart” as the practitioner.

Click on the links in blue for a step by step document  and conversion chart for Renovare private label Xymogen Products. Xymogen Conversion Chart Handout 2018.10.10  and xymogen instructions

For more detailed information on magnesium, please look at the following posts:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/01/29/how-magnesium-benefits-your-body.aspx

https://10faq.com/health/low-magnesium-deficiency-symptoms

https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2016/12/Magnesium-Crisis/Page-01

Simple At-Home Treatment Could Restore Lost Memories to Alzheimer’s Patients

From: Awakening from Alzheimers

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was an easy, low cost, non-invasive way of reversing Alzheimer’s – one that didn’t involve turning your life upside down?

Well, perhaps there is. A new study by MIT scientists found they could do just that. Okay, it was in mice, but the results were dramatic, and hold out real hope for a simple, effective treatment in humans.

All it involves is light and sound. . .

Boosted Immune Cells Clear Brain Plaques

Just like a strobe, our brains flicker, generating electrical impulses at different frequencies.

Gamma oscillations range from 25 to 80 hertz (cycles per second) and are believed to have roles in memory, attention and perception. People with Alzheimer’s disease are known to have impaired function in the gamma range.

In 2016, neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai and her research group at MIT tested what would happen if white light were flashed at mice for an hour at a frequency of 40 Hertz (40 times a second).

These mice were specially engineered to develop Alzheimer’s-type symptoms, so the plaques (amyloid) and tangles (tau) typically seen in the disease had built up in their brains, and they exhibited irregular brain activity in the gamma range.

The result of the experiment was that a steady frequency of 40 Hertz was reflected back from the mice in the visual cortex, the area that receives and processes visual information — a not unexpected result. But something else happened that the scientists were unprepared for.

The microglia in the visual cortex were strongly stimulated. These are immune cells that clear debris and toxic waste from the brain.

This light stimulation caused a sizable reduction of amyloid and tau. Dr Tsai described the effect as “most remarkable.”

Better Cognitive Function

For their latest study, published in the journal Cell in March, instead of light, they tested the effect of sound.

Listening to 40 clicking sounds a second, one hour a day for seven days, the mice not only experienced a large reduction of amyloid and tau in the auditory cortex, where sound is processed, but likewise in an area located nearby – the hippocampus – a key part of the brain for learning and memory.

Compared to mice that didn’t receive the stimulation, they performed much better on tests of navigation round a maze, where landmarks must be recalled, and the recognition of objects they’d previously been shown.

As in the light test, the microglia were stimulated, but in addition, there were positive changes in the brain’s blood vessels.

The final experiment was to see the effect of combining both light and sound.

The microglia response was far stronger, and amyloid plaques were reduced not only by a huge amount, but also in a much larger area of the brain. This included the prefrontal cortex where higher cognitive processes take place.

The treated mice performed far better on a set of cognitive tests. For instance, untreated mice shown an object they’d seen before reacted as though they’d never seen it. The stimulated mice spent far less time examining it because they recognized the object.

Overall, the result of combing light and sound was greater than either one alone.

“Unbelievable

Commenting on the findings, Dr Tsai said, “It was unbelievable. This is the first time we’ve seen that this non-invasive stimulation can improve cognitive function. It’s not a drug or an antibody or anything, it’s just light and sound.”

Shannon Macauley, a neuroscientist at Wake Forest School of Medicine, who was not involved with the study, enthused, “I think it’s an absolutely fascinating paper.” The fact that amyloid and tau fell in both the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex is, she explained, “one of the big jumps in the new paper.

“These are the learning and memory centers of the brain. And there was about a 40 or 50 percent decrease in amyloid and tau levels. It’s an absolutely impressive feat.”

Although the effects fade over time, it would be simple to apply regularly at home by patients, if they’re able, or by a relative or caregiver.

The light-sound therapy has already been tested for safety on healthy volunteers, and early-stage Alzheimer’s patients are currently being recruited for the first human trial.

Is Dementia Reversible or Preventable?

Dementia is an epidemic in Arizona and America.  Whether Alzheimer’s type dementia, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s Disease Dementia, Lewy Body dementia, mixed dementia or others, the result is the same.  Loss of memory, declining mental function, loss of quality of life, and death.  Neurodegenerative disease (most of which is Alzheimer’s or mixed type dementia) is the fastest growing cause of death in America.  Dementia is the only major disease for which we have no effective drug treatment options.

Pfizer, a major American pharmaceutical giant, recently stated that they will be pulling out of Alzheimer’s treatment research.  It has been 15 years since a new drug for Alzheimer’s was launched, reflecting one of the longest and most expensive losing streaks for Big Pharma. Now some in the industry are starting to question how long that commitment can last, after Pfizer announced it was pulling out of neuroscience research. Its decision means the race to find the first medicine to slow or halt Alzheimer’s type dementia must now proceed without one of the biggest forces in drug development.

John LaMattina, a former head of research and development at Pfizer, interprets the decision as a portent of things to come, and predicts other large drug makers will eventually follow suit.

What if the Solution was Not a Drug?

The FINGER study in Finland (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25771249) showed remarkable improvements in the high-risk older group studied through Lifestyle Change. Dr. Dale Bredesen, neuroscience researcher and former professor of medicine at UCLA wrote the ground-breaking book, “The End of Alzheimer’s” documenting the 30 years of research in his lab and others showing that Alzheimer’s type dementia is really many diseases.  The research shows at least 36 documented root causes of the neurodegenerative disease process.  We don’t “get” Alzheimer’s type dementia like we get the flu.  We develop it over many years – usually decades – as a result of our lifestyle failing to fit our unique genetic and epigenetic needs.

It’s not just genetic.  That’s right.  Our genes do NOT determine our health.  They influence our health. It is the interaction of our lifestyle choices, our environment, and our genes known as epigenetics that determines which genes turn on and which stay turned off.  For the majority of human diseases, our lifestyle choices far outweigh our genes in determining our health and wellness.  This is Great News!

Our understanding of the root causes of dementia and what we can do about it has expanded greatly.  Yes, we can live with a healthy mind and body for a lifetime.  In the areas of the world documented in the excellent book, Blue Zones (https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150412-longevity-health-blue-zones-obesity-diet-ngbooktalk/), it is NORMAL to live to age 100 and beyond with high level Wellness of body and mind.  This is done through lifestyle, not a drug.

Discover Magazine did an excellent summary article in December 2018 issue entitled: “Alzheimer’s Under Attack – Armed with big data, researchers turn to customized lifestyle changes to fight the disease”.  Dr. Leroy Hood, biomedical pioneer & chief science officer for one of our nation’s largest non-profit health care systems, says, “Alzheimer’s is a really complex disease that has been utterly intractable.”  He goes on to say, “Taking a systems approach reflects my own conviction that these complex diseases almost never respond to a single drug.”

It takes a systems approach process to solve the multiple pieces of the puzzle behind each person with dementia. More importantly, we need to solve the unique puzzle of each sufferer of brain decline since we are each different.  This is not a “one size fits all” approach since, in my experience, there is no one size that fits all.  Often medical research studies look for what single factor (usually a drug)  creates a benefit in a large study group creating statistical significance for the study group – not individuals. This model fails to address the fact that each of us is unique with a dozen or more “root causes” behind our brain degeneration and dementia.  This current double-blind placebo-controlled research model is ill-suited to complex, chronic neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.  These complex diseases have multiple lifestyle-related causes different for each individual and multiple interventions are needed for synergistic therapeutic benefits. Medical studies typically study just one drug or intervention at a time which is just not enough to shift the direction of an unusually difficult, complex disease process like dementia.

Dr, Timothy C. Gerhart, D.C., DABCI, Dip. Ac., BCN is the author of 4 books on lifestyle approaches to brain and body Wellness and practices in Peoria, Arizona.  His most recent book, “Living Free of Dementia – Solving the Puzzle to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline” is scheduled for release in March 2019.

His other books are: “7 Secrets to Wellness, Change Your Brain, Transform Your Life, & Why Am I Not Right Since My Concussion”.  Dr. Gerhart understands that the word “doctor” means “teacher” and is available to present to groups to teach the approaches he uses to prevent and reverse cognitive decline.

You can learn more at: www.brainwellnessaz.com

Your Secret Organ

Your “secret organ” is not on any anatomy charts.  It weighs about 5 pounds; it is composed of 10 times as many cells and 100 times as much DNA as the rest of your body.

It is critical to your physical and mental health and until recently, we knew very little about it.  What is this organ?  It is your microbiome – the critters that live primarily in your gut, your urogenital tract, and on your skin.

Microbes in the Gut Are Essential to Our Well-Being

Revelations about the role of the human microbiome in our lives have begun to shake the foundations of medicine and nutrition

 The human “microbiome”—the 100 trillion or so microbes that live in various nooks and crannies of the human body—remained largely unstudied, mainly because it is not so easy to extract and culture them in a laboratory. A decade ago the advent of sequencing technologies finally opened up this microbiological frontier. The Human Microbiome Project reference database, established in 2012, revealed in unprecedented detail the diverse microbial community that inhabits our bodies.

Most live in the gut. They are not freeloaders but rather perform many functions vital to health and survival: they digest food, produce anti-inflammatory chemicals and compounds, and train the immune system to distinguish friend from foe. Revelations about the role of the human microbiome in our lives have begun to shake the foundations of medicine and nutrition. Leading scientists now think of humans not as self-sufficient organisms but as complex ecosystems colonized by numerous collaborating and competing microbial species. From this perspective, human health is a form of ecology in which care for the body also involves tending its teeming population of resident critters.

Mental Health May Depend on Creatures in the Gut

The microbiome may yield a new class of psychobiotics for the treatment of anxiety, depression and other mood disorders (adapted from Scientific American article at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-health-may-depend-on-creatures-in-the-gut/)

Scientists are increasingly convinced that the vast assemblage of microfauna in our intestines may have a major impact on our state of mind. The gut-brain axis seems to be bidirectional—the brain acts on gastrointestinal and immune functions that help to shape the gut’s microbial makeup, and gut microbes make neuroactive compounds, including neurotransmitters and metabolites that also act on the brain.

These interactions could occur in various ways: microbial compounds communicate via the vagus nerve, which connects the brain and the digestive tract, and microbially derived metabolites interact with the immune system, which maintains its own communication with the brain. Sven Pettersson, a microbiologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, has recently shown that gut microbes help to control leakage through both the intestinal lining and the blood-brain barrier, which ordinarily protects the brain from potentially harmful agents.

Microbes may have their own evolutionary reasons for communicating with the brain. They need us to be social, says John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland, so that they can spread through the human population. Cryan’s research shows that when bred in sterile conditions, germ-free mice lacking in intestinal microbes also lack an ability to recognize other mice with whom they interact. In other studies, disruptions of the microbiome induced mice behavior that mimics human anxiety, depression and even autism. In some cases, scientists restored more normal behavior by treating their test subjects with certain strains of benign bacteria. Nearly all the data so far are limited to mice, but Cryan believes the findings provide fertile ground for developing analogous compounds, which he calls psychobiotics, for humans. “That dietary treatments could be used as either adjunct or sole therapy for mood disorders is not beyond the realm of possibility,” he says.

Personality shifts

Scientists use germ-free mice to study how the lack of a microbiome—or selective dosing with particular bacteria—alters behavior and brain function, “which is something we could never do in people,” Cryan says. Entire colonies of germ-free mice are bred and kept in isolation chambers, and the technicians who handle them wear full bodysuits, as if they were in a biohazard facility. As with all mice research, extrapolating results to humans is a big step. That is especially true with germ-free mice because their brains and immune systems are underdeveloped, and they tend to be more hyperactive and daring than normal mice. (gut microfloura needed for normal brain development? Dr. G comment)

A decade ago a research team led by Nobuyuki Sudo, now a professor of internal medicine at Kyushu University in Japan, restrained germ-free mice in a narrow tube for up to an hour and then measured their stress hormone output. The amounts detected in the germ-free animals were far higher than those measured in normal control mice exposed to the same restraint. These hormones are released by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which in the germ-free mice was clearly dysfunctional. But more important, the scientists also found they could induce more normal hormonal responses simply by pretreating the animals with a single microbe: a bacterium called Bifidobacterium infantis. This finding showed for the first time that intestinal microbes could influence stress responses in the brain and hinted at the possibility of using probiotic treatments to affect brain function in beneficial ways. “It really got the field off the ground,” says Emeran Mayer, a gastroenterologist and director of the Center for Neurobiology of Stress at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Meanwhile a research team at McMaster University in Ontario led by microbiologist Premsyl Bercik and gastroenterologist Stephen Collins discovered that if they colonized the intestines of one strain of germ-free mice with bacteria taken from the intestines of another mouse strain, the recipient animals would take on aspects of the donor’s personality. Naturally timid mice would become more exploratory, whereas more daring mice would become apprehensive and shy. These tendencies suggested that microbial interactions with the brain could induce anxiety and mood disorders.

Bercik and Collins segued into gut-brain research from their initial focus on how the microbiome influences intestinal illnesses. People who suffer from these conditions often have co-occurring psychiatric problems such as anxiety and depression that cannot be fully explained as an emotional reaction to being sick. By colonizing germ-free mice with the bowel contents of people with irritable bowel syndrome, which induces constipation, diarrhea, pain and low-grade inflammation but has no known cause, the McMaster’s team reproduced many of the same gastrointestinal symptoms. The animals developed leaky intestines, their immune systems activated, and they produced a barrage of pro-inflammatory metabolites, many with known nervous system effects. Moreover, the mice also displayed anxious behavior, as indicated in a test of their willingness to step down from a short raised platform.

Autism connection?

Scientists have also begun to explore the microbiome’s potential role in autism. In 2007 the late Paul Patterson, a neuroscientist and developmental biologist at the California Institute of Technology, was intrigued by epidemiological data showing that women who suffer from a high, prolonged fever during pregnancy are up to seven times more likely to have a child with autism. These data suggested an alternative cause for autism besides genetics. To investigate, Patterson induced flulike symptoms in pregnant mice with a viral mimic: an immunostimulant called polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid, or poly(I:C). He called this the maternal immune activation (MIA) model.

The offspring of Patterson’s MIA mice displayed all three of the core features of human autism: limited social interactions, a tendency toward repetitive behavior and reduced communication, which he assessed by using a special microphone to measure the length and duration of their ultrasonic vocalizations. In addition, the mice had leaky intestines, which was important because anywhere from 40 to 90 percent of all children with autism suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms.

Then Caltech microbiologist Sarkis Mazmanian and his doctoral student Elaine Hsiao discovered that MIA mice also have abnormal microbiomes. Specifically, two bacterial classes—Clostridia and Bacteroidia—were far more abundant in the MIA offspring than in normal mice. Mazmanian acknowledges that these imbalances may not be the same as those in humans with autism. But the finding was compelling, he says, because it suggested that the behavioral state of the MIA mice—and perhaps by extension autistic behavior in humans—might be rooted in the gut rather than the brain. “That raised a provocative question,” Mazmanian says. “If we treated gastrointestinal symptoms in the mice, would we see changes in their behavior?”

Mazmanian and Hsiao investigated by dosing the animals with a microbe known for its anti-inflammatory properties, Bacteroides fragilis, which also protects mice from experimentally induced colitis. Results showed that the treatment fixed intestinal leaks and restored a more normal microbiota. It also mitigated the tendency toward repetitive behavior and reduced communication. Mazmanian subsequently found that B. fragilis reverses MIA deficits even in adult mice. “So, at least in this mouse model, it suggests features of autism aren’t hardwired—they’re reversible—and that’s a huge advance,” he says.

Strains of Bifidobacterium, which is common in the gut flora of many mammals, including humans, have generated the best results so far. Cryan recently published a study in which two varieties of Bifidobacterium produced by his lab were more effective than escitalopram (Lexapro) at treating anxious and depressive behavior in a lab mouse strain known for pathological anxiety.

Bifidobacterium HN019 (Howaru strain)

  • Has the ability to prevent the invasion and adhesion (ability to stick) of pathogenic microbe  coliO157:H7 in vitro, particularly when B. lactis DR10 was introduced before the E. coli was added.
  • Has a high tolerance to low pH and high resistance to bile salts; therefore it should pass through the GI tract to the colon.
  • Colonizes the GI tract. Stool analysis showed that DR10 survived in the GI tract for up to 2 weeks after consumption of DR10 ended.
  • Has immune-enhancing functions against viral infections in vitro (by increasing the body’s cell’s production of interferon alpha).
  • Has immune-enhancing effects against pathogenic bacteria and tumor cells by increasing the killing capacity of blood immune cells.
  • Provides a significant level of in vivo protection (in mice) against rotavirus, Salmonella typhimurium, and  coli.

In addition, research cited by Danisco says that consuming this strain daily reduced colonic transit time (the time it takes to have a bowel movement) and improved GI symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. The GI symptoms were occasional pain, bloating and constipation.