PTSD Is Not All in Your Head… In fact, it might be in your gut

For years, society and even some psychiatrists have denied the existence of PTSD. Phrases like “it’s all in your head” and “just power through it” seem to be the go-to pieces of advice. However, new research shows that PTSD is not all in your head; in fact, it might be in your gut.

Researchers at the Denver VA Hospital are examining the ability of Lactobacillus reuteri (the bacteria in your stomach) to lessen symptoms related to anxiety and PTSD. Patients in the study have been shown to respond to stress in healthier ways, along with other PTSD symptoms being reduced. These improvements include

  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Fewer flashbacks
  • Reduced nightmares
  • Less on-edge mood

How does this work?

This bacteria is designed to reduce inflammation; in the gut, its job is to reduce the risk of stress induced colitis and inflammation of the colon. When this bacteria is used as a treatment, inflammation is reduced throughout the entire body. However, the most notable effect is the reduced inflammation in the brain. This specific effect of the bacteria is what is hypothesized to treat PTSD symptoms.

What does this mean?

This discovery means that more definitively than ever, we can say that PTSD is a physical disorder. It is not something that you can shake off; it is a disorder that requires professional treatment.

The Institute for Advanced Medical Research at Mercer University is currently offering a clinical research program in PTSD. It is confidential, no cost, and not affiliated with the VA or DOD. For more information, contact us at 770-817-9200.