Editor in Chief Dr KK Aggarwal, Padma Shri Awardee

Dated: 13 th April, 2019

Brain-gut connection explains why integrative treatments can help relieve digestive ailments

[Excerpts Harvard Health Blog by Michelle Dossett]

Different systems of the body are interconnected and cannot be completely understood in isolation. The brain-gut connection is one very important example of this phenomenon.

The brain sends signals to the digestive, or gastrointestinal (GI), tract via the sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system and the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system.

The balance of their signals can affect the speed at which food moves through the digestive system, absorption of nutrients, secretion of digestive juices, and level of inflammation in the digestive system.

The digestive system also has its own nervous system, the enteric nervous system, consisting of approximately 100 million nerve cells in and around the GI tract. This receives inputs from the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems but can also function independently of them.

The enteric nervous system is also intimately interconnected with millions of immune cells. These cells survey the digestive system and convey information, such as whether the stomach is bloated or whether there is infection in the GI tract or insufficient blood flow, back to the brain. Thus, the brain and GI system communicate with one another in both directions.

Stress and a variety of negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, depression, fear, and anger can all affect the GI system. These triggers can speed up or slow down the movements of the GI tract and the contents within it; make the digestive system overly sensitive to bloating and other pain signals; make it easier for bacteria to cross the gut lining and activate the immune system; increase inflammation in the gut; and change the gut microbiota (the types of bacteria that reside in the gut).

Stress and strong emotions can contribute to or worsen a variety of GI conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and food allergies and sensitivities. The negative changes in the GI system can then feed back on the brain, creating a vicious cycle.

Increased gut inflammation and changes in the gut microbiome can have profound effects throughout the body and contribute to fatigue, cardiovascular disease, and depression.

Mind-body tools such as meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises, yoga, and gut-directed hypnotherapy have all been shown to help improve GI symptoms, improve mood, and decrease anxiety. They decrease the body’s stress response by dampening the sympathetic nervous system, enhancing the parasympathetic response, and decreasing inflammation.

Certain kinds of foods can trigger specific reactions in the gut of sensitive individuals. In those cases, specific diets, such as low-FODMAP for IBS or avoiding acidic foods for GERD, can be helpful for managing symptoms. Diet also profoundly affects the gut microbiome. For example, eating a more plant-based diet with few refined carbohydrates and little or no red meat often leads to a healthier microbiome. These dietary changes in turn reduce intestinal inflammation and may help reduce systemic symptoms such as fatigue or depression and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Whole-Body Cryotherapy

Whole-body cryotherapy, subjecting the body to extremely low temperatures for short periods of time, is used in depression, rheumatoid and neurologic conditions, as well as for biological rejuvenation in athletes.

In the current randomized study from Poland of more than 50 patients already receiving treatment for depression, those exposed to "true cryotherapy" once daily for 10 days experienced significant improvements in depression compared with those exposed to low but non-cryotherapy temperatures as per Julia Rymaszewska, a student in the Psychiatry Department at Wroclaw Medical University, Poland. She presented the findings here at the European Psychiatric Association (EPA) 2019 Congress.

The groups underwent 2- to 3-minute sessions of whole-body cryotherapy once a day for 10 days. The experimental group was exposed to a true cryotherapy temperature of -110°C to -160°C (-166°F to -256°F), while the control group experienced a sham protocol with a temperature of -50°C (-58°F).

Dated: 13th April, 2019

Current Temperature Status and Warning for next five days

Heat Wave and Temperature Observed Yesterday (Past 24 hours from 0830 hrs IST of 11 April to 0830 hrs IST 12 April, 2019)

Heat Wave:

Yesterday, Heat Wave conditions were observed in isolated pockets over East Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha (Annexure 1 & 2).

Maximum Temperature

Maximum temperatures were markedly above normal (5.1°C or more) at a few places over Jammu & Kashmir; appreciably above normal (3.1°C to 5.0°C) at a few places over Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh & Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada and Kerala and at isolated places over Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamilnadu & Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands; above normal (1.6°C to 3.0°C) at most places over Telangana; at a few places over Konkan & Goa, Coastal & North Interior Karnataka and Rayalaseema and at isolated places over Jharkhand, south Interior Karnataka and Coastal Andhra Pradesh. Yesterday, the highest maximum temperature of 45.2°C recorded at Chandrapur (Vidarbha) over the country (Annexure 1 & 2).

Temperatures Recorded at 1430 Hours IST of Today, the 12th April, 2019

  • Bramhapuri (Vidarbha) recorded a maximum temperature of 43.6°C (Annexure 3).
  • Temperatures recorded at 1430 hours IST of today have risen by 1-3°C at most places over East Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam & Meghalaya; at a few places over Odisha and Karnataka and at one or two pockets over Gujarat state, Madhya Pradesh, West Rajasthan, Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand (Annexure 4).

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