What do you think of first when you hear the word “bacteria”? Maybe you think of an oddly shaped, dark green, an angry-faced cartoon that you see on bathroom cleaner commercials, and get a strong urge to wash your hands three times with extra soap.
Regardless, many people have the misconception that all bacteria is toxic and harmful to you. However, the lesser known truth is that there are certain types of bacteria that are beneficial to the human body in many ways. Some bacteria can even have healing effects!
In fact, new research has shown that gut bacteria may be the key to opening pathways for additional treatment for Multiple Sclerosis Patients.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease involving the central nervous system. Basically, in every human body, the nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain are covered in a protein called myelin. Those who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis have an immune system that begins to attack the myelin. This, in turn, interrupts the regular flow of nerve impulses.
As with most conditions, Multiple Sclerosis can range from somewhat disabling to completely devastating and fatal. The first symptoms of this disease generally appear between the ages of 20 and 40, and some common symptoms include blurred vision, color distortion, or partial blindness. Most patients also experience muscle weakness, loss of balance, tremors, dizziness, and hearing loss.
In severe cases, some patients may find themselves unable to walk or stand, while others experience complete paralysis. Experts believe that the cause of this condition is linked to a virus or otherwise unknown environmental trigger.
What Gut Bacteria Has To Do With It
A study was recently performed at Harvard University Medical School that showed a connection between the immune system, the brain, and the gut.
Previously it has been found that gut bacteria play a role in many aspects of physiology including diabetes, obesity, depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
In this particular study, the research team found that gut bacteria interacted with microglia and astrocytes, which are both brain cell types. Microglia removes dead and damaged cells and thus is an important player when it comes to immune responses within the nervous system. Astrocytes also provide support to nerve cells.
However, microglia release neurotoxins that are damaging to astrocytes, which causes inflammation in the brain that in turn contributes to various neurologic conditions.
Although the information seems to be conflicted, as in many cases it appears as though gut bacteria is both improving and inhibiting the nervous system, this new study has shown that this bacteria can be a mediator when it comes to inflammation. This is especially the case for Multiple Sclerosis.