I remember when I was getting my master’s degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine—I wrote a paper on the gut-brain axis and how our microbiome essentially contributes to our mental health and well-being.
My area of focus was on Holistic Nutrition and through my studies as well as personal experiences I was able to make a direct connection between the impact food has on our mental health as well as food’s innate ability to help us heal. I decided to base my entire master’s thesis on the connection between how food affects our mood.
Now, this paper was written well before most of the internet was ablaze with topics about the connection of the gut-brain axis, so research was fairly limited at best, but it seems the progress that has been made in this area of health since then has grown exponentially.
Case in point: this morning while scrolling through my Instagram feed I came across a post that discussed the connection between leaky gut and early childhood trauma. Children who have experienced a significant amount of neglect from their mothers or who were not raised by their biological caregivers are much more likely to develop leaky gut as adults and/or have a lot of stomach issues as children. If you are not familiar with what leaky gut is-you can learn about it here.
Thanks to psychopathology there have been quite a few studies done on early childhood trauma or adverse childhood experiences and the gut microbiome. One study in particular notes:
“The children with a history of early caregiving disruptions had distinctly different gut microbiomes from those raised with biological caregivers from birth. Brain scans of all the children also showed that brain activity patterns were correlated with certain bacteria. For example, the children raised by parents had increased gut microbiome diversity, which is linked to the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain known to help regulate emotions.” ~ Callaghan, B. L., Fields, A., Gee, D. G., Gabard-Durnam, L., Caldera, C., Humphreys, K. L., … Tottenham, N. (undefined/ed). Mind and gut: Associations between mood and gastrointestinal distress in children exposed to adversity. Development and Psychopathology
In other words, children who are raised by their biological caregivers are more likely to have a healthier and more diverse microbiome as opposed to children who are not. Additionally, brain scans actually show a difference in how our pre-frontal cortex (our decision-making part of the brain) is impacted when we are raised by parents who want us.
Taken deeper than this, adverse early childhood experiences a.k.a traumatizing experiences such as children stuck in the foster care system or children as the byproduct of deeply held religious beliefs instead of the parent’s actual desire to have children can lead to many different mental health disorders such as addiction.
Those same children grow into adults who are forced to take medication that does not address the core issue of trauma in the form of neglect and abandonment. Furthermore, most of the medication that is given is damaging to an already damaged intestinal tract which creates an imbalance in the bacteria within the gut-prompting addictions to things such as sugar and alcohol and contributing to other trauma responses that are ultimately labeled as “personality disorders.”
For instance, in another study it was suggested that participants with leaky gut contained certain microbial populations that were elevated in heavy alcohol drinkers, and even three weeks after not drinking, the cravings for alcohol remained unchanged (Lachnospiraceae, Incertae Sedis XIV, Dorea, Blautia, and Megasphaera). Though it would seem that it is not fully understood yet just how gut bacteria play a role in alcohol addiction, is it so far-fetched to believe that an imbalanced gut microbiome can contribute to alcohol cravings?
So now we have a population of children who eventually grow into adults with all kinds of mental and physical health problems in a world where they are not given true healthcare, but rather sickcare and I ask, who is benefitting?
The people at the top.
Not you and certainly not these children.
Overturning Roe means a lot of children will grow up with a core belief that they are not wanted and pushed into a society that does not care about their life once they are becoming adults. So, again I ask—who benefits?
Addiction, personality disorders, leaky gut—it’s all connected to trauma. In his article in Psychology Today, Dr. Seth J. Gillihan notes that “Trauma damages and disrupts the microbiome—the trillions of bacteria in the intestines that are essential for gut health. The microbiome is an integral part of our immune system and produces many of the neurotransmitters we rely on; post-traumatic changes to the microbiome may account for the greater risk for physical health problems after trauma.”
Simply put, trauma is anything that is too much, too soon, and too fast for us to process and it impacts us on a mind, body, and soul level. I’d like to believe that someday this research won’t seem so hard to digest (I love a good pun) and that we will start collectively realizing that there is indeed a connection between what goes on in the intestines and how that impacts the brain and body.
That said, this does not just pertain to Roe, per se. Though I want to be clear that not being wanted by a parent is deeply traumatizing and until addressed, that trauma stays in the blood and affects a child on every single level. Trauma goes 14 generations back. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to leave a legacy of true healing and not the recycled beliefs of right-wing conservatives who are only interested in power.
That aside, if you have experienced any form of adverse early childhood experiences (check out this site to take the quiz) then you might struggle with the effects of leaky gut, such as IBS, alcohol, and sugar cravings, and or anything else on this list. It might be time to take your power back and start healing the lining of the gut. If you would like more information on how to start healing let me know in the comments, otherwise you can find some information here.
May this article be of benefit.