POWERED BY THE GLOBAL HEALTH EDUCATION INITIATIVE
Mental Health: Dysfunction of our Psyche and a Path to Restoration
By: Dr. Zach Bush
Mental health has become one of the most challenging frontiers in the human experience.
Mental health and microbiome interconnection
Simply stated, the more variety you get in a day, the healthier and happier you are going to be.
As our lifestyles and environments begin to undermine gut epithelial (tight junction) health and microbiome populations diminish, our mental health also naturally declines.
In a typical Western civilization day, we face an onslaught of hidden toxins that undermine our microbiome diversity and functionality of our critical barriers at the gut, blood-brain barrier, and kidney tubules. Chief among these threats is the ubiquitous exposure to herbicides through our food, water systems (both drinking and bathing), the air we breathe, and even the rain and snow that participates around us! Glyphosate, liberty-link, dicamba, 2,4-D, atrazine, and nicotinamides are among the most common. But we go further to layer on NSAIDs (like ibuprofen), constipation drugs (MiraLAX), and the myriad of plastic toxins in our foods and cosmetics that we lather on every day in an effort to feel better about ourselves.
As if that is not enough, we tend to self-medicate depression and anxiety with alcohol, marijuana, anxiolytics, sleeping medications, and other depressant/stimulant combinations that can trigger downward spirals in our neurochemistry. These can worsen social isolation and undermine our capacity for self-care (sleep-hygiene being one of the most critical).
of the pandemic
The lack of intimacy prevalent in our society today can predispose us to a wide range of psychiatric disorders.
Ultimately, as we look at the modern mental health crisis that runs through our homes, workplaces, schools, prisons, hospitals and nursing homes, we must come to terms with the fact that we are experiencing a crisis of isolation. Without constant reinforcement of diversity in the micro- and macro- worlds of our daily lives, we are doomed to a more isolated and monotonous neurologic experience.
Unfortunately, it’s not only the common varieties of depression and anxiety that have become epidemic in these times. It has been frightening to see a new epidemic of PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections) in young children over this year. This condition manifests in suicidal or homicidal depressive thoughts in children as young as 4 and 5 years of age, driven by a shift of microbiota in the upper small intestine. Having children wearing masks — and therefore breathing sinus flora into their lungs and upper GI tracks for 4-8 hours a day — has been enough to create the PANDAS phenomena.
I have made it a routine in my clinic to complete medical release letters for mask wearing in these school settings for any child presenting with depressive symptoms. Even in marked cases of PANDAS, the removal of masks can lead to the disappearance of symptoms within weeks, as their gut microbiota returns to normal. If postnasal drainage is present in kids or adults during sleep, then I recommend nightly ION*Sinus Support to reduce the translocation of sinus flora into the intestinal milieu during sleep.
For adults, nasal breathing during sleep is a critical aspect of upper GI microbiome and mental health. If you wake with shortness of breath episodes or suffer nocturnal headaches, I strongly encourage an evaluation for sleep apnea with a home sleep test.
Reinforcing our gut health
and mental wellbeing
Here are some tips to reinforce our gut health and mental wellbeing:
1. Share a meal with someone new today.
In the end, we have the opportunity to radically improve our mental health throughout modern civilization. To get there, we are going to have to fundamentally reimagine our homes, our workplaces, our schools, our prisons, hospitals, and nursing homes. We are going to have to turn our attention back to natural systems. We are going to have to rediscover beauty in our daily lives by discovering new paths to walk, new hands to hold, new meals to share, and new sunrises and sunsets to witness.
It is not in our nature to be isolated. Nature knows no form of abandonment. There is only more abundance and more diversity of life as nature continues on her path. We have set ourselves in opposition to the diversity of life on earth, and our mental health proves the consequences. We can change that.
Let’s get up in it…. Let’s chase diversity of experience and live more beauty today.
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