A Nature Supplement explores innovations in our understanding of the human microbiome, and burgeoning methods of intervention. Charles Schmidt focuses specifically on some of the research into the brain-gut microbiome bidirectional influences and their impacts on mental health.
“The notion that the state of our gut governs our state of mind dates back more than 100 years,” writes Schmidt. “Many 19th- and early 20th-century scientists believed that accumulating wastes in the colon triggered a state of “auto-intoxication,” whereby poisons emanating from the gut produced infections that were in turn linked with depression, anxiety and psychosis. Patients were treated with colonic purges and even bowel surgeries until these practices were dismissed as quackery. The ongoing exploration of the human microbiome promises to bring the link between the gut and the brain into clearer focus. Scientists are increasingly convinced that the vast assemblage of microfauna in our intestines may have a major impact on our state of mind.”
Schmidt, Charles. “Mental Health: Thinking from the Gut.” Nature 518, no. 7540 (February 26, 2015): S12–15. doi:10.1038/518S13a. (Full text)