Psychobiotics: Bacteria for Your Brain?

Every functional medicine psychiatrist has case stories of the ‘probiotic cure’ – of a patient with debilitating symptoms, often obsessive compulsive range, whose symptoms remitted completely with dietary change and probiotic supplementation. Is this voodoo or is it based on a growing understanding of Continue reading

Methylwho? Why You Should Know About Methylation

I was giving a lecture to a group of psychiatric fellows recently, and I got to my slide on folate.  I get excited about this topic, and so I rambled on about the one-carbon cycle, and SAMe, methylcobalamin, and the MTHFR mutation.  As I looked away from my slides, I could see the vacant stares from the near-audience and knew I had lost them.  If highly educated and Continue reading

New Research Shows Childhood Adversity Causes Changes in Genetics

In a look at how major stressors during childhood can change a person’s biological risk for psychiatric disorders, researchers at Butler Hospital have discovered a genetic alteration at the root of the association. The research, published online in PLoS ONE on January 25, 2012, suggests that childhood adversity may lead to epigenetic changes in the human glucocorticoid receptor gene, an important regulator of the biological stress response that may increase risk for psychiatric disorders.

The association between childhood adversity, including parental loss and childhood maltreatment, and risk for psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety has been established in multiple studies. However, researchers have yet to define how and why this association exists in humans. “We need to understand the biology of this effect in order to develop better treatment and prevention programs,” Continue reading