Bitters For SIBO. Beyond Rifaximin

It's currently trendy to talk about the Gut-Brain Axis (GBA) when microbes interact with our food, and then modulate our neurotransmitters in the brain.  What is important to include in the  conversation is the idea that the Gut Brain Axis is a 2-way street.  

When you drink coffee (black coffee) the bitter compounds in coffee bind to bitter receptors in your tongue.  This activates you digestives system to start contracting (peristalsis) and enhances the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes.  This mechanism is designed for survival so that you vomit up something that would otherwise be poisonous to your body.

Low grade activation of these bitter receptors through ingestion of bitter foods and herbs are wonderful strategies to help tonify the digestive system and the enteric nervous system.  This is particularly important in my patients who have SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.  

IF you have IBS, please schedule an appointment.  There is a lot more to SIBO than just Rifaximin.  

New Berberine Research

Just read through this paper by Chinese researchers.  Along with another paper on berberine's mechanism of action in diabetes.  

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) results from a combination of metabolic factors such as Insulin Resistance (IR), Oxidative Stress (OS), Mitochondrial Dysfunction (MD), and lipid peroxidation.  NAFLD is proposed to occur because of a "two hit" hypothesis (like many people belief cancer occurs).  First, insulin resistance and fat accumulation occur.  Second invading macrophages secrete inflammatory signals like interleukin-6 and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha which makes the issue worse.  

Diet, exercise, drugs, and herbs can all effect the health of a hepatocyte (liver cell).  In the first paper, researchers assessed the effects of Baicalin, Berberine and Puerarin.  Berberine and baicalin were found to potent anti-inflammatories and puerarin was associated with reductions in lipids.  

Where can you find berberine?  Well if you live in the Pacific Northwest, just look outside and you'll probably find some.  

Berberine helps regulate blood sugar metabolism by it's ability to activate adenosine monophosphate activated protein kinase.  Think of diabetic cells being in a excess or full state.  BUT, if we have agents that help bring them into less full states, they can take up blood sugar and work better.  

Here's the crazy thing though.  Berberine doesn't just help with blood sugar.  It helps with infections of bacterial and viral origins too!  I use berberine quite a bit in clinical practice, especially for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). 

Have you used Chinese Skullcap or a berberine containing plant?  What for and what did you experience?  Please share your experience and wisdom.