Gut-Brain Axis: Probiotics are the Missing Link to Depression

Science has finally caught up to what many of us have been trying to say for years: How you feel comes from your GUT. Restoring gut health must be part of your mental wellness program. If you or someone who know is suffering from depression, there is HOPE. And it could be a lot easier to overcome than you think.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

The information below is from the book This is your Brain on Parasites by Kathleen McAuliffe:

“In the gut, resident microbes take a share of every meal you eat, but in return they aid in digestion, synthesizing vitamins and disarming dangerous bacteria that you ingest. They also churn out virtually every major neurotransmitter that tunes our emotions – notably GAMA, dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and noradrenaline – as well as hormones with psychoactive properties.

“To varying degrees, scientists now suspect, intestinal microbes influence whether you’re happy or sad, anxious or calm, energetic or sluggish, and, by signaling the brain when you’ve had enough to eat, perhaps even whether you’re fat or thin.

The Gut-Brain Axis is real

“Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how gut bacteria get messages delivered to the distant output of the head, but they have a few ideas.

“Some psychoactive compounds made by gut bacteria, they believe, are detected by the enteric nervous system – a think skein of neurons that runs the entire length of the gut. This network has more neurons than the spinal cord – hence its nickname, “the second brain’ – and it connects to the big brain upstairs via the vagus nerve, a major route by which gut bacteria make their voices heard. Indeed, 90 percent of information transmitted by this cable goes from the viscera to the brain, not the other way around, as science for many years had assumed.

It’s not “in your head”…it’s in your GUT

“Intestinal bacteria may engage the immune system, which can lower our mood and energy level, yet another pathway by which our microbiota might change our behavior. Perhaps related to that observation, depressed people tend to have abnormally high amounts of certain gut bacteria, and they are more likely to have elevated biomarkers for inflammation – an immune-mediated response.

“Intriguingly, certain gastro-intestinal (GI) disturbances – notable ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease – are marked by disruptions of the gut microbiome, and these illnesses are associated with an unusually high incidence of mental disturbance in comparison to serious diseases that afflict other parts of the body. Indeed, 50 to 80 percent of those who suffer from these conditions are clinically depressed.

“More surprising, specific abnormalities in the composition of the human microbiota have been linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – a condition characterized by increased anxiety, depression, and impaired social ability.

Could probiotics help millions of people who are debilitated by serious mood disorders?

“Clinical trials are now underway to test probiotics on people whose primary problem is anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. The results are not in yet, but studies of groups whose mental woes may originate in GI troubles offer encouragement. In one study of thirty-seven patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders (an umbrella term for irritable bowel syndrome and other common gastric complaints that can’t be tied to an underlying abnormality), for example, probiotic treatment not only improved their symptoms but also brought about a significant reduction in their depression and anxiety based on both self-reporting and measurements of stress markers in their saliva and urine. The outcome was impressive given that all of the subjects had previously been treated – without success – at multiple medical centers.

“A sprinkling of clinical investigations also suggest that probiotic remedies can soothe colicky babies, a condition that torments 20% of newborns along with their frazzled, sleep-deprived parents. In one trial, the approach reduced crying and fussing by 70 percent.

“Gathering evidence hints that supplements of healthy bacteria may help to buffer already high-functioning people against everyday stress and strains. For example, a randomized, double-blind trial in France on fifty-five people with no history of psychological disturbances found that regular consumption of a probiotic reduced blood levels of stress hormones and subjects’ ratings of their depression, anxiety, and ability to cope – improvements not seen in the control group.”

Probiotics can’t hurt and may help, so why NOT try?

With no harmful side effects, no damage to the hormonal system, metabolism or liver, no additive properties and no need for other supporting prescription medications, I cannot see any logical reason why NOT to take a daily probiotic. At the very least, you can add a probiotic to your daily regimen, even if you and your doctor decide to keep you on anti-depressants. With nothing to lose and so much to potentially gain, it’s a no-brainer (or an all-gutter!).

Even if you don’t suffer from clinical anxiety or depression, studies are showing that you can feel better too. Everyday stress can actually be reduced, just from taking good gut bacteria!

What type of probiotic to take

I recommend several types of probiotic. Taken together, they increase the chance of rebalancing the microbiome in the gut. Remember, it’s not just one type of good bacteria that you need. There are as many as a thousand different strains of good bacteria in a healthy gut.

Recommended probiotic daily schedule:

  • Morning – Take 1 Jarrow brand acidophilus capsule with or after breakfast
  • Lunch – Take 1 Garden of Life HSO probiotic tablet with or after lunch
  • At night before bed – Take 1 Udo bifidus capsule at night before bed

(Note: while traveling, it’s best to take only the Jarrow brand 3x daily because it’s easy to travel with, can be transported without refrigeration and it’s more convenient to have only one brand to carry. At home, increase your variety of bacterial strains in the gut by rotating between 3 different brands each day.)

For more on how to achieve your health goals and actually start feeling great, book a private health consult with me via Skype.

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Does the Squatty Potty Really work?

If you’ve never heard of a Squatty Potty, then you are definitely not up-to-date with the latest trend in bathroom accessories (and yes, there are bathroom trends!). This simple yet practical toilet stool has taken the digestively-challenged world by storm, literally! Times have certainly changed since I started working in the field of detox nearly 20 years ago. Back then, I couldn’t talk about poo without everyone running as fast and as far away as they could. Now, I can write and share a full article about something that is helping people have better bowel movements! In this blog post, I’m going to share my results in using the Squatty Potty at home. Does it really work, or it is just hype?

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review and experience with the product.
All thoughts and opinion expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates, in any way.

The Squatty Potty 2.0 model fully extended to the 9 inch position

Why I wanted to try the Squatty Potty

Admittedly, my husband wasn’t so thrilled to be part of this experiment, but in reality he was the one who needed help in the a-hem..toilet department. Having suffered with constipation his entire life, he understands more than anyone how frustrating it is when you don’t “go” every day. When I first met him, he was literally amazed that I could be in and out of the bathroom in less than 3 minutes, for a Number 2! Often, he would sit on that porcelain throne for 30 minutes or more, praying to the heavens above for any miracle cure. Many times, we would have to wait all morning before going out because he still “had to go.” In some cases, he wouldn’t have any bowel movement for 3 or 4 days at a time. I was in shock! When he first told me this, I immediately scheduled a colonic for him. And can you believe – he actually went through with it? His first colonic ever (but not his last!) Now… that’s true love!

Fast forward several years and many detoxes later, and things has vastly improved for my husband’s gut health. If he eats well with green smoothies, fresh fruit, a daily probiotic and plenty of water throughout the day, he generally does exceptionally well and is actually quite regular these days. But, if any of that gets off track, his colon will be the first to let him know. It’s awful to see someone you care about not be able to go to the toilet and really feel miserable as a result. Naturally, I kept thinking – what else can I do to help him improve this situation? Having heard of Squatty Potty and having used many squat toilets myself over the years while living in SE Asia, I thought that using a stool and changing the position of his sitting could help. The only way to know for sure was to give it a try!

We received our new Squatty Potties by mail in an unmarked box with no exterior labels, which was reassuring since I can imagine that some people would prefer complete privacy with this type of purchase. My first impression was that the company has done really well to put a fun and cute spin on a topic that was formerly more on the taboo side and for many still is not so easy to discuss. Even I was accused of giving #TMI when I texted a good friend to tell her we just received our Squatty Potty! Anyway, the packaging and branding of Squatty Potty is great. The stools were wrapped in turquoise blue tissue paper, with a paper unicorn crown (for the new King of Poop) and a button that proudly states “I Pooped Today.” Classic! All of this made me even more excited to give the Squatty Potty a try.

Squatty Potty: What is it and who needs one?

A Squatty Potty is a modern-day version of the squat toilet, brought to you with all the comfort of your Western-style porcelain throne.  The Squatty Potty is a step stool designed to fit easily around the base of your toilet seat. It works like this: Sit on your toilet as you normally would, gently lift your legs, rest your feet on the stool and let the bowel movement begin. By lifting your legs slightly, the transverse colon gently rises thus preventing any “kinks” in the colon and allowing the pipes to flow, so to speak.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only. 
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. 

Squatty Potty Slim Driftwood Teak Model in 7 inch height

If you have a history of constipation, inflammation in the colon, or a feeling of not fully evacuating then the Squatty Potty is worth a try. In terms of how many people could actually benefit from something like this, just look at the statistics. Approximately 70 MILLION Americans have digestive disorders, prompting in nearly 60 MILLION visits to doctors’ offices and hospitals each year.

Clearly, what goes in doesn’t always come out.

Low stomach enzymes, an unhealthy “microbiome” or bacterial balance in the gut, an over acid environment, toxicity, and/or inflammation are warning signs that the body is not eliminating well. (Remember, any bowel disease ending with the word “itis” is a disease on inflammation, like ulcerative colitis, gastritis and diverticulitis.) What’s worse is that more health problems can arise from all this internal stress. As Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” I agree!

Our results: Using a Squatty Potty

In theory, I knew that the Squatty Potty should work. But still, I wondered – could a toilet stool really mimic the true Asian squat and offer improved evacuation? The answer is: YES! I am actually impressed at how well it works!

On the day the Squatty Potty arrived, my husband tried the 2.0 model set at the standard 7″ height. Within 10 minutes, he was out of the bathroom (that alone is amazing!). Without getting too graphic, he said, “More just kept coming out! Every time I thought I was done, there was more!” Well, that never happens. Usually it’s the opposite and more in lines of, “I kept pushing and nothing came out” OR “I pushed and pushed and only got a rabbit turd.” If you’ve been in that situation, I am sure you can relate.

I can only guess that my husband has some prolapse of the colon, which can definitely keep the large intestine in a more kinked position. Changing the position of the colon created an immediate positive effect. Every time he uses the Squatty Potty, he has a release and it’s always more than he thought he was going to have. That’s simply amazing!

For me, the results were also good. In my case, I am very regular and have a large bowel movement every morning. Could the Squatty Potty help someone like me, who doesn’t have any digestive problems and goes to the loo every day? Yes! When I’ve used the Squatty Potty, I have my normal release, and then I have another almost full poo immediately after. Almost like two poo’s at once. Definitely I feel improved evacuation and I feel flatter in my stomach after. I can only surmise that more is getting through even my clean and healthy pipes, just from the change in position of the colon.

Asian Squat Toilet vs. Western Sit Toilet – What’s the poop?

An Asian squat toilet is a simple style of toilet design that consists of a hole in the floor and 2 porcelain treads for your feet on either side. You stand in position, squat and then go. This design is used in many parts of the world but is mostly found in Asia, hence the name “Asian-style” toilet.

Who would want to squat like a dog to go to the toilet?! Well, imagine the days before real toilets existed. What would have been the easiest and most natural position to a-hem..fertilize a tree? There’s no way you would stand and bend at the knees (muscles shaking) as if sitting on the loo. Naturally, you would squat in a low position, close to the ground. Squatting is easier on the joints and less tiring on the muscles, but more importantly it puts the transverse colon in the correct position and lifts any prolapse in the colon. Kinks in the colon are lifted naturally, especially where the ascending and descending colon turn. All of this allows you to “go” quickly and easily, standing up after to check for any predators and be on your way.

The first man-made toilets copied the style of squatting and in many parts of the world, squat toilets were the norm. This made perfect sense until more modern day folks decided that sitting was the preferred position of defecating.  That’s when the Western toilet arrived, and along with the Western diet (refined sugar, wheat and dairy), came many new digestive ailments.

I used many squat toilets over the course of several years while living in SE Asia. In my experience, public squat toilets are way cleaner than public Western toilets. It’s a relief to not have to sit on a dirty seat splashed with who-knows-what. Using a squat toilet also helps strengthen your leg muscles and gives the body a good stretch. It just feels more natural. I also think that I had more volume evacuated whenever using a squat toilet.

Is it better to squat on the toilet? That’s kind-of a trick question because believe it or not, a lot of Asians who have never used a Western toilet will actually stand on the seat of a Western toilet and squat!

Is a squat toilet better? In my opinion, yes. I wish we had the option to build an Asian style toilet in our home here in the United States – I would definitely do that!

What Squatty Potty model is best?

I had a hard time deciding which Squatty Potty model to try. I didn’t really like the medical look of the traditional Squatty potty. I just recently painted one of our bathrooms and I wanted to maintain a sleek, modern style there.

Also, my husband is 6’8″ tall and weighs 220 pounds. I was worried that the slim teak style might actually break from his weight.  At the same time, I didn’t know which height would work best for him. I read a few reviews from tall people who said that the 9″ was too high for them, and their knees were in their face. I was leaning towards the new 2.0 model which allows for 2 positions and adjusts between 7″ and 9″ heights.  But, I didn’t like the medical-looking style. So, what to do?!

In the end, I chose the Squatty Potty 2.0 for one bathroom and the slim teak model for the other one. We’ve been very happy with both. Initially, my husband was happy using the 2.0 at the 7″ height. After 2 weeks, he decided that he wanted to adjust it up to 9 inches. Starting at 9″ probably would have been too uncomfortable for him, and may have discouraged him from trying. Definitely, having the flexibility to change the height is really nice. The driftwood teak slim design in the other bathroom satisfies my desire to have a nicer look. I tend to use that bathroom more than my husband, and the 7″ height of that stool feels more comfortable for me. The slim stool is sturdy in design, even with the weight of a 220-pound man.

I also LOVE the idea of the Porta-Squatty, which folds up easily for travel. Since traveling is always more challenging for my hubby in terms of staying regular, I could see where this could really come in handy.

In the case of optimizing one’s poo, position does matter!

How to Improve Gut Health

In addition to getting the squat position right, there are other natural remedies that also help to keep things “moving”.

To improve gut health, you can:

  1. Increase fiber. Add 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed to a green smoothie daily
  2. Take a daily probiotic, one at night before bed.
  3. Don’t overeat. Set regular mealtimes.
  4. Add fermented foods to your diet.
  5. Detox and/or colon cleanse once a year (at a minimum).

Finally…don’t forget to Listen to your Gut! Your body is giving you signals when things aren’t right. Stay in tune with how you feel. Heartburn, acid reflux, indigestion, gas, pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain are all signs of imbalance. Pay attention when things aren’t working. The faster you make changes, the sooner you can feel better.

Read more on natural health and healing here:

What your Poop and Pee can tell you about Your Health

How to Do a Castor Oil Pack for Liver Cleansing

How to Do Onion Socks for Healing

For more on how to do a detox at home or how to navigate through your detox symptoms and start feeling great, book a personalized health consult with me via Skype.

How to Book Your Health & Nutritional Consultation:

1. Take photos of your eyes with a smart phone or digital camera.
2. Email the photos to me for approval.
3. We schedule a time to meet via phone or Skype!

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What to do for Food Poisoning: What You Need to Know

Food Poisoning RemedyHaving what you need to heal naturally can save you a lot of unnecessary suffering. Don’t let your next business trip, holiday, romantic dinner, salad bar night or long-haul flight be ruined. Prepare yourself for travel or unexpected belly bugs by knowing what to do for food poisoning.

All information in this article is for educational purposes only.
It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.

Food poisoning can occur when you eat or drink something that is contaminated with infectious organisms. Bacteria, viruses and parasites – or their toxins are the most common causes of food poisoning. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. They’re usually mild but unpleasant. If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know how unpleasant it can really be!

Don’t think that only tourists who go to India get food poisoning. You can get food poisoning both at home or abroad. Food that was thawed and re-heated, not cooked properly, stored incorrectly, handled on an unclean surface, or not cleaned at all can create potential hazards.

I think everyone knows someone who got sick from seafood, but it can happen at salad bars and with raw food too.  Travel is also a definite risk with things like Bali Belly and Montezuma’s revenge. Believe me when I say you don’t want to add those experiences to your bucket list!


How to Stop Food Poisoning

1. Take Activated Charcoal capsules immediately at the first sign of food poisoning (cramping, malaise or nausea after eating food). Take 3-4 capsules of Activated Charcoal with a glass of water. Do not eating anything else. Slowly sip water to stay hydrated.

2. Wait 20-30 minutes.

  • If your symptoms subside, continue to drink water. After 1 hour, eat a banana for potassium and to help with electrolytes.
  • If you still have cramping or nausea, take 2-3 more capsules of Activated Charcoal. (In rare cases of more intense food poisoning, you may need to take a few more.)  Once your symptoms subside, wait 1 hour and then eat a banana as your first food.

3. After you manage to eat a banana without feeling sick (this may be 1 hour up to 3 hours after), then start taking Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). Add 8-12 drops in a glass of water and drink 3x daily. Continue for 3-5 days after the food poisoning. At this point, you can slowly add other foods back into your diet as well.

4. Follow up for a good 30 days with a daily probiotic or added fermented foods in your diet like kombucha or raw sauerkraut to help bring more good bacteria into your gut. Take 1 probiotic capsule at night before bed.

Note: Activated Charcoal is safe if you have food poisoning while pregnant or nursing but do not take GSE if you are pregnant or nursing unless approved by your doctor.  

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is nothing new; in fact, it’s been used for thousands of years as an ancient remedy in Chinese, Ayuredic and Western Medicine. It’s usually made from wood or coconut shells (no, you don’t want to use the charcoal briquettes from the bbq – they’re NOT the same!). Activated Charcoal works through a process called “adsorption” which means to bind to rather than to absorb. Think of Activated Charcoal like a natural super sponge that goes into your guts and soaks up all the chemicals, toxins and bad bacteria then safely carries it out through your poo. As a side note, your poo may turn black the next day after taking charcoal but this is completely normal so don’t be alarmed!

Today, hospitals still use Activated Charcoal an antidote for drugs and poisons in pregnant women and children. In Asia, it’s widely used as a remedy for poisonous snake bites in household dogs and cats. If you live in Australia, you can keep activated charcoal at home and in your car in case of snake or spider bites. Of course, for any poisonous bite you should seek medical attention immediately but you can take charcoal on the way to hospital to help minimize damage.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is a great follow-up to the charcoal capsules. The charcoal soaks and absorbs as much of the bad stuff as possible and then the GSE kills any bad remaining critters. Grapefruit Seed Extract is extremely anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic…and it’s completely natural, made from pressing the oil from the seeds of grapefruit.

Always take GSE with water, i.e. diluted. Never take it straight from the bottle because it’s very concentrated!

While living in Thailand, I cured my dengue fever with GSE. In less than 2 hours my fever broke after taking a triple dose of GSE. And yes, I have the blood test to prove that it really was dengue fever! The stuff is simply amazing.


“Probiotic” means healthful to life. A probiotic capsule contains billions of good bacteria to help get your gut back into balance. Any time you get food poisoning, you can have an imbalance in your microbiome..that’s the combination of microbial communities that are actually part of your immune system as well as your digestive zone. Re-instating more good bacteria helps get your microbiome up and running again and that means you should bounce back faster with more energy and no lingering gut pains. If you’re traveling with probiotics, you want to find a brand that does not require refrigeration. I recommend the Jarrow Formula Jarro-Dophilus brand (see more info below).

Stop Food Poisoning

Travel Arsenal and At-Home Kit

I recommend to have both of these supplements at home in case of any emergencies. It’s also very wise to travel with them because once you’re already sick, you usually don’t have the energy or desire to shop around for what you need. The sooner you start taking the charcoal, the more effective it is.

In SE Asia, you can find charcoal capsules in any pharmacy. They even sell them by the single pill! But in Central and South America, they’re virtually impossible to find. It’s much better to be prepared and just bring your own.

What to Buy

You can find all of the above at your local health food store. Or, save time and money and just buy online at iherb here. If you’re an amazon fan, you can find all the products under the Supplements Tab on my amazon astore.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician. Read full disclaimer here.

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