What was your stomach ‘thinking?’

Scientists talk about what they term the “second brain” in the body.

Excuse me?

Researchers are examining the link between the brain and digestion system, and how the gastrointestinal system specifically can influence the central nervous system. So when people say it’s a “gut feeling” they are speaking more than a cliché.

That can be especially surprising when a person experiences feeling sick to their stomach because it may not be simply the result of a physical ailment. The problem may be related to emotions, or feelings such as anxiety or depression that spur symptoms in the gut.

Psychological factors influence the actual makeup of the gut, and contribute to such conditions as irritable bowel syndrome, or digestive inflammations or make someone susceptible to infection.

The brain-and-gut combination is increasingly becoming a focus of medical study as researchers explore mood and digestion, and the impacts that can result depending on the food you put into your body.

The examination of two key areas of the body reflect much of the approaches of Chinese medicine as well as specialists in herbs, wellness and acupuncture. They have the holistic view of the human body, examining both the brain and gut as part of the whole, not as separate parts.

Neurology and the Gut

The nervous system impacts the gut through the enteric nervous system (ENT). The interesting thing is that although neurons go through the ENT, it operates on its own, hence the name “second brain.”  The ENT, within the gastrointestinal system, can operate independently of the brain and the spinal cord, researchers say. The ENT is comprised of two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells that line the gastrointestinal tract, from your throat on down.

The ENT can communicate with the central nervous system through other nerves, but can still function on its own, and it actually relays information to the brain. breaks down certain food, and helps absorb nutrients or eliminating them.

Understanding the ENT connection is important because mind-body therapies can have an impact on bowel-disorder treatments. And there is another link, too, because experts say a higher than normal percentage of people with IBS and other related problems develop depression and anxiety.

The signal could sometimes act like an amber or red traffic light – giving a cue to stop eating certain foods. If you feel a little “off” after certain food, the ENS may be reacting to food you ate, and send the signal to the brain.

Getting the Gut Healthy

There is a bacterial population that lives in the intestines called gut microbiota, and there are good bacteria and bad bacteria. There are tens of trillions of microorganisms and people are affected differently. Much of the bacteria we acquire during birth, and the gut microbiome also has an influence on your emotions, through the “brain-gut” connection.

Changes in the gut microbiomes also can impact the brain, and you can have resultant chronic inflammation, stress, or chronic inflammation from “bad” bacteria. The good bacteria have a contrary impact, such as assisting the immune system.

Researchers have said that when there is an imbalance between good and bad bacteria, it can result in disorders including irritable bowel disease, obesity, cancer, and arthritis.

Probiotic Activity.

Probiotic bacteria, called Lactobacillus rhamnosus, contains a neurotransmitter called GABA that helps regulate brain activity and can thwart anxiety, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Changing the make up of bacteria in the gut “through specific diets” may help to treat stress-related and neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism and hyperactivity, the NCCIH says.

Bad and Good Foods for the Gut

Some foods simply can cause problems and illness going through the body, and are responsible for chronic inflammatory conditions and other issues, depending on the person.

Some of the foods that could cause difficulties are processed foods, red meat, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, gluten, dairy, high sugar and carbohydrate diets.

Leaky Gut

When the brain’s protective barriers that insulate it from harmful substances is somewhat broken because of irritating foods or infections that create what is known as a leaky gut. The leaky guts can release antibodies that allow harmful substances into the brain. That can be one of the main factors behind autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions.

Eating Better

Researchers say that changing the bacterial makeup in the gut through different diets may help to treat stress-related and neurodevelopment disorders.  People should eat several servings – as many as five – of fruits and vegetables each day to help the good bacteria, and diminish the bad bacteria.

Happy Gut, Happy Person

An overwhelming number – 90 percent – of serotonin is stored in the gut.  Serotonin, sometimes called the happy chemical because it is linked to happiness, is a chemical found in the brain and bowels that send messages among nerve cells. Keeping this and other so-called neurotransmitters in the gastrointestinal tract healthy are vital for the brain, too.

— Joe Cantlupe …from my piece at HCPnow.











Homeopathy: Health Thyself, says FDA. We’re Not The Problem, say Practitioners.

Homeopathy is an alternative medical practice developed centuries ago that contends substances that effectively cause illness symptoms in otherwise healthy people can actually be used in diluted form to treat illness. And the more diluted it is, the more potent it may be.

That’s the view of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is now at loggerheads with the $3 billion homeopathic industry and is trying to impose regulations on it.  The homeopathic industry has opposed the FDA plans.

The FDA has proposed boosting enforcement of the manufacturing, marketing and safety regulations of homeopathic products, which have been produced since the 1800s.  Homeopathic drug products are prepared from a variety of sources, including plants, minerals, chemicals and human and animal excretions or secretions. They are sold in pharmacies, retail stores and online.

Homeopath professionals see the body as a holistic system working to heal itself. The medications used work to stimulate the healing process, its proponents say.

That is opposed to naturopathy, often in Chinese medicine, in which practitioners work to discover the root causes of illnesses and eliminate them through elements such as supplements and food to balance the body.

Under the law, homeopathic drug products are subject to the same requirements related to approval, adulteration and misbranding as any other drug product, the FDA says. But prescription and nonprescription drug products labeled as homeopathic have been manufactured and distributed without agency approval since 1988.

Essentially, FDA officials say they are concerned that homeopathic treatments are being marketed for serious disease and conditions, but products may not have shown clinical benefits. Some products labeled as homeopathic contain potentially harmful ingredients or do not meet current good manufacturing practices, and there have been adverse events and death as a result, the FDA says.

Several yards ago, the FDA warned against the use of homeopathic teething devices containing belladonna, a toxic substance associated with serious adverse events, including seizures and deaths in infants and children.

“In recent years, we’ve seen a large uptick in products labeled as homeopathic that are being marketed for a wide array of diseases an conditions, from the common cold to cancer,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD. “In many cases, people may be placing their trust and money in therapies that may bring little to no benefit in combating serious ailments or worse.”

Homeopathy officials have spoken out against the FDA plans, with many saying the government should bring together an expert advisory council to examine the issue.

“Homeopathy is beneficial, safe and cost-effective,” wrote Ronald W. Dushkin, MD, the President of the American Institute of Homeopathy, in a comment about the FDA plans. “Integrating it more broadly into the U.S. healthcare system will contribute generously toward the resolution of many pressing social and public health crises affecting our society.”

“If the FDA’s intent is to fully reevaluate its approach to the regulation of homeopathic drugs, then a rush to declare all of them illegal (i.e., unapproved new drugs) is immensely counterproductive,” he added.

Other homeopathy officials, including Paola Brown, President of the Americans for Homeopathy Choice, submitted a petition to the FDA saying that the agency should establish an expert advisory committee on homeopathy. — Joe Cantlupe. (This was part of a piece I wrote for


To Achieve Success, Hospitals Know It’s Not Only About Patient Care -It’s About Data Capture, Meeting Billing Demands, Improving Patient Registration….

See  my story at athenahealth_Insight

With 455 beds and nearly 23,000 patient admissions each year, South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, New York, practices day-to-day healthcare in a big way.

Officials at the hospital, one of the largest in Nassau County on Long Island and the flagship of the Mount Sinai Health System, know that success at that scale isn’t just about taking care of patients.

It’s about capturing data as the hospital welcomes new practices to its fold. And it’s about meeting billing demands, improving patient registration, and efficiently manning the front desk.

To meet those goals, the hospital relies on its clinicians and staff, and on a secret weapon: Management Services Organizations (MSOs).

South Nassau contracts with at least two MSOs at any given time for an array of hospital needs, including billing and help in onboarding new physician practices, says Elizabeth Durante, administrative director of physician integration.

“We use MSOs in a lot of ways. We have another layer of support by utilizing an MSO,” says Durante.


— Joe Cantlupe