From PTSD to IBS: The Surprising Impact of Trauma on Gut Health! – with Dr. Ann-Marie Barter

 

Today on the Gut Health Reset Podcast, Dr. Ann-Marie Barter herself is discussing how IBS and trauma are connected in your gut! The relationship between the gut and brain has always been a complex and fascinating topic within the realm of health. However, recent studies have shed light on a shocking aspect of this relationship that most people are unaware of – the impact of trauma on gut health. From PTSD to IBS, it seems that stress and trauma can significantly affect the gut. This is due to the intricate network of neurons, hormones, and chemicals that connect the gut and the brain, called the gut-brain connection. Understanding this connection is vital in comprehending the surprising effect of trauma on our body and overall health. So, if you are someone who has been through a traumatic event, it is essential to manage your stress levels and prioritize your gut health through a healthy lifestyle and stress-relieving activities.

 

In today’s episode, Dr. Barter will answer these questions:

– How does stress affect your gut health?

– What is dysbiosis?

– What specific traumas elevate your likelihood for IBS?

– Why the gut-brain connection matters?

– And more!

 

Still want to learn more? Schedule with Dr. Barter today!

 

Recommended Products From Today’s Show

Mood Relief

Calm Neurotransmitters

 

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Dr. Ann-Marie Barter is a Functional Medicine and Chiropractic Doctor at Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic. She is the clinic founder of Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic that has two offices: one in Longmont and one in Denver. They treat an array of health conditions overlooked or under-treated by conventional medicine, called the “grey zone”. https://altfammed.com/

http://drannmariebarter.com/

*As always, this podcast is not designed to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any condition and is for information purposes only. Please consult with your healthcare professional before making any changes to your current lifestyle.*

 

Transcription:

Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: [00:00:00] We do know that stress can actually alter our gut’s microbiome, so in short, it can cause something called dysbiosis, okay? And that is basically your good bad, there’s bacteria in your gut and it’s normal bacteria and that normal bacteria has gotten overgrown. And then Ultimately, your good bacteria or your commensal bacteria has become depleted.
Some of the bacteria that are normal in our gut that have gotten overgrown can cause things like inflammation in our gut. It can cause abdominal pain. It can cause loose stools, bloating, constipation, leaky gut, and even a weakened immune system. So it’s really important to have balance. in these bacteria and get these bacteria back into alignment.
Intro: The information [00:01:00] provided in this podcast is educational and not intended to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Are you struggling with bloating, gas, constipation, and fatigue, but don’t know what’s causing these problems? The Gut Health Reset Podcast with Dr. Anne Marie Barter dives deep into the root causes behind these issues that start in the gut.
This podcast will give you the knowledge you need to heal your gut and reset your health.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Today on the Gut Health Reset Podcast, we are going to be talking about IBS and how you Stress, specifically trauma, um, and sexual trauma actually plays a huge role in what is going on in your gut. Thank you so much for joining us here today. I’m your host, Dr. Ann Marie Barter, and today we don’t have a special guest.
I am going to talk to you all on my own today. So one of the biggest issues that actually gets overlooked when it comes to gut health is stress. This can specifically be for [00:02:00] IBS, which is primarily what I’m going to cover today, but it can certainly extend into a lot of different gut problems, including inflammatory bowel.
Stress may be one of the main contributing factors to IBS, but it has a major, major impact on all bowel issues like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. A common question that I actually get asked in practice is what came first, the stress or the IBS? And, and that’s a really good question. So let me actually dive in to what we know.
We do know that stress can actually alter. Our gut’s microbiome. So in short, it can cause something called dysbiosis. Okay. And that is basically your good bad, there’s bacteria in your gut and it’s normal bacteria and that normal bacteria has gotten over [00:03:00] grown. And then ultimately your good bacteria or your commensal bacteria has become depleted.
So, some of the bacteria that are normal in our gut that have gotten overgrown It can cause things like inflammation in our gut. It can cause abdominal pain. It can cause loose stools, bloating, constipation, leaky gut, and even a weakened immune system. So it’s really important to have balance in these bacteria and get these bacteria back into alignment.
Everyone has their own way of approaching how they do this. So if you have two different people that have the exact same thing going on in their gut and one of those people is, you know, pretty low key, not really stressed out, and the other one is super duper stressed out with perceived stress, what we do know is the person that is less stressed, [00:04:00] um, will follow a normal duration of antimicrobial herbs.
And then next rebuilding the microbiome in a variety of different methods. The person that is actually more stressed probably will need to be on the antimicrobial herbs longer from what I’ve seen from my experience. And the question is why? So, stress in the gut affects certainly how your food travels through.
And if you’re really, really stressed out, everything locks down. If you think about, you know, when you get stressed out, out in your tents, and your shoulders are up by your ears, it just feels like rocks in there. And so everything, same thing is true for your gut. Everything just locks down. Things can’t move through.
Things are in there longer than they should be. You don’t have, um, Basically, the enzymes to break things down because you’re so stressed, the blood is actually shunting to your extremities for you to be ready to run. And [00:05:00] ultimately, this can cause your bacteria to overgrow. Okay. And long term stress and things like depression can actually reshape our gut bacteria.
This not only depletes our good bacteria, but increases more what we call inflammatory bacteria in our gut. And so this reshaping of our gut happens through stress. Hormones, inflammation, and other methods even. So in turn, our gut bacteria will release metabolites, toxins, neurohormones that can actually change and alter your eating behavior and mood.
And through this process, we can create bacteria species that actually encourage dysregulated and disordered eating like anorexia or binge eating even. So the gut bacteria also upregulate our stress responsiveness and, and, and heighten the [00:06:00] risk of depression. We call this our gut brain connection. We use the term IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, and we know that this is actually highly correlated to irritable brain.
So stresses have a marked impact are, uh, on our intestinal sensitivities, motility. secretion and permeability of our gastrointestinal microbiota. This is very stress sensitive, therefore our treatment should focus on managing the stress and managing our response to stress, right? So, Well, I think, and I think the question becomes, well, how do I do that?
You know, I’ve lived in, I’ve lived like this for so long. This, this is the way I am. And I, I totally understand that and can sympathize with that. Sometimes we don’t even know we’re totally, uh, stressed out. So when we think of stress or perceived stress. Trauma is generally lurking somewhere in the [00:07:00] shadows, right, because, you know, it’s associated with our reactions to things.
For some people, it’s more apparent, apparent than others. But a lot of times when there’s IBS, there could be a source of trauma there. Trauma comes in many forms and varieties. So one, one of the traumas that’s been studied with IBS and is linked is actually sexual trauma. So I can tell you time and time and.
Again, when I have a gut case that isn’t responding the way that I think that it should be responding to treatment, and I sit down and I ask about specifically sexual trauma, but other traumas, there’s generally, um, an issue there that actually needs to be addressed. Okay? So it’s, this is often not talked about and that’s why I really wanted to do this episode today.
Okay? Um, so. When we think about trauma, I think that we can file that into the stress category and, and sexual trauma, you know, [00:08:00] certainly goes there. So, spoiler alert, there’s a huge connection between sexual trauma and IBS. So there was a study performed on 1. 8 million women in the U. S. veterans and armed forces.
The reason this group was cho chosen is because they’re at higher risk for occupational traumas and military sexual trauma. Okay. So they evaluated the association between major traumas and irritable bowel syndrome among women veterans. Um, and this was done with, um, a questionnaire that evaluated, uh, trauma history as well as IBS.
Post traumatic stress disorder, also called PTSD, and depression symptoms to 337 women in a primary care setting. They evaluated this for one year between 2006 and 2007, and they found irritable bowel syndrome prevalence was 33. 5%. The most frequently [00:09:00] reported trauma was sexual assault at 38. 9%. 17 of 18 traumas were associated with increased IBS risk.
Um, and so depression and PTSD were common, were significantly more common in IBS cases than in controls. What they actually ended up concluding in this study, is that women veterans report a high frequency of physical and sexual traumas. A lifetime history of broad range of traumas is independently associated with an value, an elevated risk of irritable bowel syndrome.
So, there is a pretty big correlation here. Another study came to a conclusion that abuse in childhood, specifically sexually, sexual abuse was also a factor in IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. It stated that we see changes in our [00:10:00] neurotransmitter levels, uh, specifically epinephrine, norepinephrine, serotonin levels.
And so, there’s a huge dysregulation also, uh, Our brain, what we call the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal access, um, that also contributed to IBS. It’s the most common GI issue, um, in the U. S. and it affects women much more than it affects men. The cause of your IBS actually needs to be addressed. So if you’re struggling with IBS and you’ve experienced a trauma, I think that it’s an important piece, um, in your case to actually look into.
You know, when we have a gut problem, we think gastroenterologist, um, you know, to evaluate that system. Or we, you think of maybe a functional medicine doctor like me to get a stool test, which is all very relevant. You know, you want to rule out something major with a gastroenterologist. We want to get rid of, you know, and [00:11:00] balance out the gut again, you know, from pathogens or you know, dysbiosis and you know, leaky gut, et cetera.
So all of that is really, really important to address. But what I’m saying is that. We definitely need to address the trauma as well. And if you can’t help yourself, you’re never going to get a hundred percent better. So we, you have to be honest about the trauma in your emotional health. So that’s one way to address it.
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And in the second way is to ultimately get a stool test from an FM doctor like myself to see what pathogens are there, how to better balance your gut. And with that multifactorial approach. You should be able to [00:13:00] get some relief from your gastrointestinal issues, okay? What I am not saying is that this is all in your head.
A lot of confusion happens when I say that, hey, you need to address some things in therapy. What I am saying is that we are one unit. And so what goes on in our head can certainly affect our gut and it can make you feel like you’re just constantly running from You know, whatever threat is going on and every time you get triggered, right?
And so all of this is affecting your entire system. And you know, and. It was, it’s, it’s hard to see this sometimes with what happened with trauma is actually affecting your gut. So a way that I can explain this is, um, a woman came in to see me that was really struggling with more depression and anxiety and had a few gastrointestinal issues, very minor, but a few things going on with that.
And so we ran a stool test. And what we came to find was, [00:14:00] uh, we found just so, so much overgrowth in her gut. So much dysbiosis, so much candida, so many parasites, um, a lack of good bacteria, lowered immune system, a leaky gut, and the, the, and, and lack of digestive enzymes, right? So, we started treating. Um, treating this person and what we found actually was that she got maybe a little bit better.
I mean, it was like 10%. I don’t really like to see 10% in my practice improvement on the first round of supplements I do. It means that there’s something that’s being missed. And so, Thank you. Um, what I ended up adding in was some neurotransmitters to help. And then we saw a steady incline with that. We saw that things actually got quite a bit better.
So she got to like 50 to 60% better. And this particular person has more trauma growing [00:15:00] up, you know, than, than I generally hear about. And so finally we ended up, we had a conversation and we talked about. Getting her into therapy to address some of that trauma and, and things just got better and better and better where, you know, she tells me she’s good.
She’s good on this system, that system, and things are finally improving and she is finally healing. And she had been to many different doctors, um, medical, holistic, you know, you name it doing multiple different things. And the only thing that I really did that was different was, you know, treat the neurotransmitters.
And also, you know, recommend therapy and she’s gotten exponentially better. So that it’s, it’s just a piece of the case, uh, and of the overall health that needs to be addressed. So in that case, I talked about how [00:16:00] neurotransmitters were important and we have found and research has found that neurotransmitters.
have a huge impact on our gut health as well as our overall health and mental well being. So they can play a significant role in our GI system and those are specifically, uh, norepinephrine, epinephrine, GABA. So they play huge roles in our gastrointestinal physiology. Okay. So these neurotransmitters are actually able to regulate and control not only blood flow, but they can affect your gut motility.
So how fast things move through your gut, your nutrient absorption, your gastrointestinal immune system, and also your microbiome. So they can dictate that. Furthermore, pathological states such as inflammatory bowel disease or IBD, um, as well as Parkinson’s disease. Uh, levels of these [00:17:00] neurotransmitters are generally dysregulated, therefore causing a variety of gastrointestinal issues as well.
So these neurotransmitters are, if they’re totally dysregulated, um, and they will be if you’re a survivor of sexual abuse. So how could your gut feel good? They can also become dysregulated if you’re exposed to mold or. If you have nutrient imbalances, uh, you know, causally under stress, you know, so the list just goes on and on.
And I’ll link a few of those episodes that talk about neurotransmitters. In depth, uh, below. So, generally, um, I have a checklist, um, in practice, and I’m going to read it off to, to talk about each of, um, you know, I’m going to do three of the neurotransmitters. I’m going to do serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.
And generally, people have some issues with these, especially if they are, they’re having gut issues. [00:18:00] And, and kind of some pushback that I’ve gotten is, Oh, well, I only have, you know, 20% That
does still mean that there’s some dysregulation. It’s not as bad as it could be, but ultimately that needs to be addressed because you know, you’re one stressful event being, you know, 50% down. So you think about how your mood changes under stress, right? And so. Uh, you know, as those major stressful events come, you start to become, Oh, a little more depressed.
Oh, a little less motivated. Oh, a little more anxious, you know, so, so it kind of starts to chip away at that. And so I’m going to go through each of these and, um, read it. And the first one I’m going to start with is serotonin. And these came from, um, a questionnaire, uh, developed through Apex Energetics, which, um, It’s the questionnaire that I use in practice.
It was formulated by Datis Karazian, I believe, originally. So, um, every patient gets this cause I’m, [00:19:00] you know, cause I generally deal a lot in gut health. So, uh, serotonin is, are you losing pleasures and hobbies and interests? Do you feel overwhelmed with ideas to manage? Do you have feelings of inner rage or anger?
Do you have feelings of paranoia? Do you feel sad or down for no reason? Do you feel like you’re not enjoying life? Do you lack artistic expression? Do you feel depressed in overcast weather? Are you losing your enthusiasm for your favorite activities? Are you losing your enjoyment for your favorite foods?
Are you losing enjoyment for friendships and relationships? You have difficulty falling into a deep restful sleep? You have feelings of dependency on others, you feel more susceptible to pain, or you have feelings of unprovoked anger, or you’re losing your interest in life. So this one is serotonin and serotonin just makes us feel happy and joyful.
And so what I generally do for this is I do a supplement that I will link below called mood release. [00:20:00] And mood relief has. Um, has serotonin in it as well as GABA. Um, and so this basically calms somebody down and helps them to feel a little bit more joyful. So when you’re calm, you can detox and as we’re going through a gut protocol or as you’re tackling difficult things in therapy, you’re more centered to do that and people see pretty good results with that.
And so. One thing that I like to do, you know, a lot of times people just underdose it. So I give it throughout the day, multiple times a day to kind of keep things calm down. And ultimately you’re going to certainly know when you don’t need it anymore, but it basically is just going to calm your entire nervous system down.
The other one I mentioned in that was GABA and you feel anxious or panicked for no reason. You have feelings of dread or impending doom. You feel knots in your stomach. Yeah. Feelings of being overwhelmed for no reason. You have guilt about everyday [00:21:00] decisions. Your mind feels restless. It’s difficult to turn your mind off when you want to relax.
Um, You have disorganized attention. You’re worried about things you weren’t worried about before, and you have inner tension and inner excitability. So I also will use a mood relief, you know, that has serotonin in it, or I use something called calm neurotransmitters. And this really helps calm things down before bed.
Um, and so I’ll use one or the other of those to, to help with GABA, especially when addressing a gut case. And last but not least is dopamine and, um, these, the, the questions for this one are, you have feelings of hopelessness, you have self destructive thoughts, inability to handle stress, anger and aggression will under stress.
You don’t feel rested after long hours of sleep. You prefer to isolate yourself from others. You have an unexplained lack of concern for family and friends. You’re [00:22:00] distracted from your tasks. You have an inability to finish tasks. You need to concern caffeine to stay alert. You feel like your libido has decreased, you lose your temper for minor reasons, and you have feelings of worthlessness.
What I like to do for this one is I do sugar craving support to kind of boost this one up as well. Um, and so again, that same thing as I, is, is throughout the day as well. to kind of help boost that up. And this one in sugar craving support also has serotonin. So sugar craving support has serotonin and dopamine.
Mood relief has serotonin and GABA and calm neurotransmitters has GABA. And so those are the ones that I actually like to do to kind of boost some of these guys. Up to help with that cases. I hope that some of this may have been the missing link. If you’re dealing with IBS or some things that maybe you didn’t know if you’re struggling with IBS, um, you know, the above supplements may be enough on your protocol to keep your nervous [00:23:00] system.
Calm down while you’re killing some of these things off, you know, um, and, and help you move through your therapy sessions better. So, um, I also tend to increase neurotransmitter therapy. Um, when someone is in therapy and dealing with heart issues, right, because it’s a pretty big stressor. But to recap here, if someone comes into my office, um, I generally will run a stool test.
All my stool tests, if they, for example, have a parasitic infection and dysbiosis, it’s important to kill off those things, the parasitic infection, the dysbiosis, and help to repopulate the gut. Um, and diversify the diet as well, but it’s also important to see what the neurotransmitters are doing in the body.
So I run some testing for that. And if serotonin, for example, is low, like they’re having low mood, they, they’re not enjoying things that they enjoyed before, just not interested in hanging out with family and friends, um, or just [00:24:00] feeling kind of low, I, I would start with mood relief. That’s kind of where I would go from there.
And, you know. Um, and just, and see how that helps, and, and generally a lot of people have pretty great success with that. You know, and just helping those serotonin GABA levels because, you know, generally when one neurotransmitter is affected, you have multiple affected. And then the, the more you can stimulate that motility, you know, from the serotonin and decrease the stress, the faster their gut’s going to heal.
And in the better, you know, If you’re going to feel overall, ultimately. So I find that using neurotransmitter therapy helps with traditional gut treatments and gives me better outcomes, um, on the gut protocol using the neurotransmitter therapy. It’s safe to assume that, that neurotransmitters are really playing a big role in our gut health.
And, and it also helps to heal. The person’s so much faster. Remember we’re integrated [00:25:00] beings and we need to address the entire person. So when you have a gut issue, you can’t just only focus on that little piece. You have to focus on the entire person. And we’ve really learned to divide ourselves up because, you know, we have to go to this specialist for that and this specialist for that.
So. We’ve started to think about it that way. And unfortunately, we have to address the entire person because there can be multiple things making somebody sick. And so it may not just be one system. Remember, our gut diseases are not only gut diseases. Other factors play major roles, including, but are not limited to your micronutrient deficiencies, neurotransmitter imbalances, emotional health, and trauma.
Thank you so much for joining me here today. It was so fun to. To actually be the one that actually got to talk today. So have a good one and I’ll see you back next time and remember, let [00:26:00] me know what you want to hear more of. Take care. Bye bye.
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