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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Information to Help the Newly Diagnosed and to Help Family/Friends Understand Gastroparesis

I have written a series of articles over the years but wanted to put them together, sort them, if you will, so that they would be much easier to get to. I wanted to put them all together in a post to help people find the information they may need right at the moment, so they do not have to hunt through 200 posts. All you have to do is click on the bold, capital letters to reach the articles listed below.

Information to Help Family and Friends Understand Gastroparesis (GP):

TO THE LOVED ONES OF A PERSON DEALING WITH CHRONIC PAIN. This article helps those who may never have experienced chronic pain to understand it.

A LETTER FROM A GPER TO A FRIEND/FAMILY MEMBER. This is to help friends and family understand what it's like living with Gastroparesis.

ADVICE FOR CAREGIVERS WHO WITNESS LOVED ONES SUFFERING FROM GASTROPARESIS. This article is self explanatory. It gives those who take care of GPers advice on how to handle things and what to do/what not to do. It's very helpful.

WHEN TELLING SOMEONE THEY LOOK GREAT BECOMES AN INSULT. This article goes into detail on how telling someone who is chronically ill, especially with GP, that looking great can be an insult. It's a very good article.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION, "BUT YOU DON'T LOOK SICK!" This article goes into detail about how people who say we don't look sick, even though they might mean well, of how it does more harm than good. Some people do not realize this and think that they're being helpful, or even nice. The article goes into detail about why it's a bad thing to say.

RESOURCES TO EXPLAIN DTP/GP OR A CHRONIC ILLNESS TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS. This article goes into detail of trying to explain having Gastroparesis/DTP and/or any chronic illness to family and friends. It tries to explain it in a way that healthy people can understand, because I feel, personally, unless you've been there, it's a bit hard to understand. I wanted to try and find a way to get others to understand because I am tired of being doubted. You shouldn't have to fight your family and friends when you already fight with doctors, nurses, etc. There's just not enough energy for that.

ADVOCACY FOR PATIENTS AND FAMILY/FRIENDS OF A CHRONICALLY ILL PATIENT. This article explains how you and your family should be your advocate when navigating the healthcare system. Sometimes, we are too sick to fight for ourselves, and having someone there with you to help you makes a difference. It gives a lot of pointers on how to be your own advocate as well.

A DOCTOR'S ADVICE TO THOSE WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS. This article will help you but I think it will also help your family and friends who do not suffer from a chronic illness to understand one.

Image Source: Melissa M.

Resources for the Newly Diagnosed:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING GASTROPARESIS. This article contains frequently asked questions regarding gastroparesis and answers to those questions. These are questions I see a lot in groups and on my pages, so I thought I would answer them.

ADVICE FOR THE NEWLY DIAGNOSED WITH GASTROPARESIS/DTP. This article contains more resources for those who have been newly diagnosed with Gastroparesis/DTP.

YOU'VE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH GP, NOW WHAT? This article gives resources like the Gastroparesis diet, support groups, and other important things to know about Gastroparesis.

GASTROPARESIS RESOURCES & ONLINE GROUPS. This is a link to all kinds of resources for Gastroparesis, including support groups, blogs, Pinterests, etc. A great article to help you, and it is constantly updated with new groups and information about Gastroparesis.

INSPIRATION AND HOW TO KEEP YOUR MARRIAGE STRONG DURING A CHRONIC ILLNESS. Marriage is hard enough as it is without adding a chronic illness into the mix. However, life happens. This article will give you some pointers on how to keep your marriage strong when your chronically sick.

THE GRIEVING PROCESS FOR A CHRONIC ILLNESS AND HOW TO OVERCOME IT. This helps you cope with the fact that you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness. We all have a mourning period when we are diagnosed, because the life we knew is gone. A new life has replaced it and it takes some getting used to. It's normal to grieve for the things that you cannot do anymore but just as long as you do it in a healthy way. A doctor can help you through this. Support groups can also provide assistance.

HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED. It is really easy to lose pleasure in things you once loved, and it's hard to look on the bright side when you're constantly sick. However, this article will give some ideas about keeping motivated, even during the worst of times. You're NOT alone!

HOW TO STAY POSITIVE, ESPECIALLY IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS. This article is a lot like the article above. It gives ideas and ways to stay positive, even when the world seems so bleak because you're constantly sick.

FEELING GOOD WHEN YOU'RE FEELING DOWN. This article gives pointers on how to stay positive and feel good when you become depressed. We all get really sad every now and then, especially when we're overwhelmed and tired. This article gives some tips that might help. But, if you feel really down all of the time, you need to talk to your doctor.

LOSING LOVED ONES TO A CHRONIC ILLNESS AND DEALING WITH GRIEF. I have lost SO many friends this year from a chronic illness. It hurts so much. I still cry. However, there are ways to deal with your grief, and people grieve in different ways. My biggest help is my Grief Support Group, where we celebrate the lives of people who have moved on. We honor them and things that they did. It's always hard losing someone, but you're never alone.

HANDLING HOLIDAYS WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS. The holidays are coming up and this article gives tips on how to get through the holidays with a chronic illness like Gastroparesis, because almost or all of our holidays are centered around food.

HOW TO FEEL SEXY OR HAVE SEX WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS. I've gotten this question a few times but people are too embarrassed to ask it, usually. I decided to write an article on it that might help.

PREGNANCY AND GASTROPARESIS. I've gotten this question a lot too, so I consulted people who have been pregnant with gp, and wrote an article to help those who may be thinking of getting pregnant but worried about their GP.

THE GRIEVING PROCESS FOR A CHRONIC ILLNESS AND HOW TO OVERCOME IT. People go through a mourning process once they are diagnosed with a chronic illness because the things they could do before, they might not be able to do now. Your old life is dead, and you mourn it as you go on with your new life. This article will help with that.

SUICIDE AND CHRONIC ILLNESS. This is an important article because a lot of people with chronic illnesses go through depression. It's important to know when to ask for help and this article is to help prevent more suicides because of chronic illnesses.

LOSING A LOVED ONE TO A CHRONIC ILLNESS AND HOW TO HANDLE THE GRIEF. I've lost a lot of friends because of complications due to their chronic illnesses. This article will help you on how to handle grief in a healthy way. Death is a part of life. Just please know when you need to ask for help.

Friday, October 27, 2017

New Neuro-Stim Device Lessened Abdominal Pain in Adolescents

I found this article and I thought it was really interesting. It might be a viable, possible treatment for people with gastroparesis. I am not familiar with it, so I apologize for the long article, but I wanted to share it and add it to my blog so that I can reference it later. It makes me happy that doctors are trying to find different treatments to help with gastroparesis and abdominal pain. It is a good step in the right direction. It will also help with pain from fibromyalgia and possibly for migraines as well. I know that it does not work for everyone.
However, I wanted to share the article anyway, to keep it in once place in my blog. Even though it may not work for everyone, I thought it was worth sharing and worth documenting in my blog for future research. The article is below.

"Electrical nerve stimulation introduces a potential non-pharmacologic treatment to address pain in adolescent patients who present with functional gastrointestinal pain disorders.
By Megan Garlapow, PhD With Adrian Miranda, MD, and Gary W. Jay, MD

Administering percutaneous electrical nerve field stimulation (PENFS) with Neuro-Stim, a FDA-cleared device manufactured by Innovative Health Solutions, in an adolescent population whose primary complaint was gastrointestinal pain, appeared to lessen subjective pain scores, according to findings published in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The researchers were able to demonstrate that abdominal pain—the primary efficacy outcome of a difference from baseline to treatment—improved significantly in patients who underwent PENFS applied to the ear, as compared to those who had the sham treatment.1 The PENFS device must be applied by a licensed clinician.


Nerve stimulation device lessens gastrointestinal pain in teens; Efficacy Achieved Using Neuro-Stim for Gastrointestinal Pain

A randomized clinical trial in which 115 pediatric patients, ranging in age from 11-18 years old, who presented with abdominal pain related to a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder were treated at a single, out-patient clinic in the midwest.1

'We had heard about similar [favorable] results in other chronic pain conditions, but most results were from anecdotal reports,' said senior author Adrian Miranda, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist and associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, 'We had to carry out a randomized controlled trial to properly assess the findings,' for GI pain.

More importantly, our preclinical studies demonstrated a reduction in the firing of neurons in the amygdala and spinal cord using the same technology,2 Dr. Miranda told Practical Pain Management, 'These central areas have been proposed by many to play a critical role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain.'

Functional abdominal pain disorders are a group of conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal migraine, and functional abdominal pain syndrome, in which pain is typically the most prominent complaint and symptoms are not caused by other conditions.

Study Design and Methodology

Patients were enrolled in the trial between June 2015 and November 2016. Researchers administered the non-invasive PENFS procedure via the external ear (n = 60) or a sham with no electrical stimulation (n = 55) for four weeks. The procedure was initiated with the intent to modulate central pain pathways. Patients were randomized equally to each arm with stratification based on sex, and presence or absence of nausea. Patients, caregivers, and researchers were blinded to allocation by group.

An outcomes analysis included 57 patients in the PENFS arm and 47 patients in the sham group after patients were excluded for discontinuation of treatment or for having organic disease.1

The primary efficacy endpoint—change in baseline reported abdominal pain—was assessed with the Pain Frequency Severity Duration Scale (PFSD), a subjective tool used to derive a quantifiable pain score in these young participants.1 The researchers used PFSD scores to assess improvements from the worst abdominal pain score as well as from a composite abdominal pain score.

Reduced GI Pain Was Sustained Following Neurostimulation

After three weeks of treatment, patients in the PENFS arm experienced a greater decrease in worst pain compared with patients in the sham arm (median score PENFS 5.0, IQR 4.0 - 7.0; sham 7.0, 5.0 - 9.0). The least-square means estimate of change in worst pain was 2.15 (95% CI: 1.37 - 2.93, P < .0001).1 Median composite scores of PFSD also decreased significantly in the PENFS arm, from 24.5 (IQR 16.8-33.3) to 8.4 (3.2-16.2), compared to the sham arm, which went from 22.8 (8.4-38.2) to 15.2 (4.4-36.8).1 Both worst pain and composite pain effects were reported for a median of 9.2 weeks during follow-up.1 The median worst pain was 2.0 points lower at follow-up in the PENFS arm but only 0.5 points lower in the sham arm (P < .0001). In addition, median composite pain at follow-up was 12.5 points lower in the PENFS arm compared to 6.0 points lower in the sham arm (P=.018). 'I know that ultra-high frequency can cause specific neurochemical changes that decrease pain,' said Dr. Gary W. Jay, MD, a clinical professor in the Headache Division in the Department of Neurology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 'While I can at least get some idea as to why the reported pain decreased from this study, we don’t know what the parameters of electronic stimulation were, and they’ve done no testing other than filling out subjective forms, Dr. Jay told Practical Pain Management. Need for Further Understanding of Longterm Benefits

Dr. Miranda shared some additional information on how persistent this therapy might be at reducing abdominal pain.

'I have patients whose symptoms have resolved and are six months out of treatment while others have recurrence at five months,' he said, 'and it may be that a second treatment is needed for those who have recurrence, or perhaps a longer initial trial of six weeks would be required to prevent relapse.'

'It’s too early to tell, and certainly longitudinal studies need to be done,' Dr. Miranda said, 'Perhaps in the future, this therapy can be combined with imaging techniques to better predict the phenotype that will respond to treatment.'

Dr. Jay concurred with the need for imaging studies, particularly as PFSD is susceptible to issues surrounding subjective measurements. Objective, physiological measurements could yield meaningful insights into the biological basis of the results achieved in this study, according to Dr. Jay. He also noted that the study did not provide sufficient detail about the methodology used to employ electrical stimulation.

'The researchers are not giving us any parameters of what they are doing, and they are also not looking at whether there are any physiological changes occurring,' said Dr. Jay. 'You would want to do functional MRIs to see exactly what is this stimulation is doing.'

Conclusions and Future Directions

Dr. Miranda expects transcranial electrical stimulation to hold promise for additional pain disorders.

'I think we have just started to uncover the possibilities of neuromodulation, using peripheral electrical stimulation. The implications for this type of non-invasive neuromodulatory therapy holds promise beyond just functional pain disorders, in my opinion,' said Dr. Miranda, 'and if you think about the central mechanisms that are involved in chronic pain, there is really no reason why this technology couldn’t be applied to many pain disorders.'

Dr. Jay agreed that neuromodulatory electrical stimulation has the potential to improve other disorders characterized by pain.

'Given that some of the animal studies show amygdala or limbic system involvement secondary to the stimulation, which would make sense in certain disorders, I would want to see trials that at this aspect. The limbic system is very highly incorporated into another so-called functional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia,' he told Practical Pain Management.

Dr. Miranda explained the need for creating distinct therapeutic regimens for individual patients and emphasized the importance of understanding which components could form the foundation for such a regimen, including pharmacotherapy, physical reconditioning, and neuromodulation.

'We need to figure out who our responders are for each treatment and tailor our approach for each patient. There is not one treatment that will work for all patients,' said Dr. Miranda. 'Yet we don’t always discuss these components of treatment with our patients because of time constraints, lack of resources, or issues with insurance coverage,' Dr. Miranda said.

The American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society funded this research. The authors have no other disclosures.

Kovacic K, Hainsworth K, Sood M, Chelimsky G, Unteutsch R, Nugent M, Simpson P, Miranda A. Neurostimulation for abdominal pain-related functional gastrointestinal disorders in adolescents: a randomised, double-blind, sham-controlled trial. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017;S2468-1253(17:)30253-30254.
Babygirija R, Sood M, Kannampalli P, Sengupta JN, Miranda A. Percutaneous electrical nerve field stimulation modulates central pain pathways and attenuates post-inflammatory visceral and somatic hyperalgesia in rats. Neuroscience. 2017;25;356:11-21."

I have another article that I have researched and written on the vagus nerve. You can find it here:

There is another article I wrote about the vagus nerve stimulator, which can be found here:

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Thrush and Gastroparesis

Thrush is terrible. I have had it on my tongue and down my esophagus, and I'm not the only one. People in my support groups have had the same. I wanted to look up why this happens more frequently to Gastroparesis Warriors. I mean, I know why thrush happens. It is caused by an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in your body.

Image Credit:

According to Healthline (,

"Esophageal Thrush (Candida Esophagitis)
Written by April Kahn and Rachel Nall
Medically Reviewed by Nancy Choi, MD on August 17, 2017

What is esophageal thrush?

Esophageal thrush is a yeast infection of the esophagus. The condition is also known as esophageal candidiasis.
Fungi in the family Candida cause esophageal thrush. There are about 20 species of Candida that can cause the condition, but it’s usually caused by Candida albicans.


How does esophageal thrush develop?

Traces of the fungus Candida are normally present on the surface of your skin and within your body. Normally, your immune system can regulate these good and bad organisms in your body. Sometimes, though, a shift in the balance between the Candida and your healthy bacteria can cause the yeast to overgrow and develop into an infection.

Risk factors:

Who is at risk?

If you’re healthy, it’s unlikely you will develop this condition. People with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV, AIDS, or cancer, and older adults are at a higher risk. Having AIDS is the most common underlying risk factor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20 percent of all people with cancer develop the condition.

People with diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing esophageal thrush, especially if their sugar levels are not well controlled. If you have diabetes, there’s often too much sugar present in your saliva. The sugar allows the yeast to thrive. More importantly, uncontrolled diabetes also hurts your immune system, which allows for candida to thrive.

Babies who are born vaginally can develop oral thrush if their mothers had a yeast infection during delivery. Infants can also develop oral thrush from breastfeeding if their mother’s nipples are infected. Developing esophageal thrush this way is uncommon.
There are other risk factors that make someone more likely to develop this condition.

You’re more at risk if you:
wear dentures or partials
take certain medications, such as antibiotics
use a steroid inhaler for conditions like asthma
have a dry mouth
eat lots of sugary foods
have a chronic disease


The symptoms of esophageal thrush include:

white lesions on the lining of your esophagus that may look like cottage cheese and may bleed if they’re scraped
pain or discomfort when swallowing
dry mouth
difficulty swallowing
weight loss
chest pain

It’s also possible for esophageal thrush to spread to the inside of your mouth and become oral thrush.

Image Credit:

The symptoms of oral thrush include:

creamy white patches on the inside of the cheeks and on surface of the tongue
white lesions on the roof of your mouth, tonsils, and gums
cracking in the corner of your mouth
Breastfeeding moms can experience Candida infection of the nipples, which they can pass on to their babies.

The symptoms include:
especially red, sensitive, cracking, or itchy nipples
stabbing pains felt deep within the breast
significant pain when nursing or pain between nursing sessions

If you experience these conditions, you should watch your baby for signs of infection. While babies can’t say if they’re feeling bad, they may become more fussy and irritable. They can also have the distinctive white lesions associated with thrush.

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Esophageal thrush: Testing and diagnosis:

If your doctor suspects you might have esophageal thrush, they will do an endoscopic exam.
Endoscopic exam

During this exam, your doctor looks down your throat using an endoscope. This is a small, flexible tube with a tiny camera and a light at the end. This tube can also be lowered into your stomach or intestines to check the extent of the infection.

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Treating esophageal thrush:

The goals of treating esophageal thrush are to kill the fungus and prevent it from spreading.

Esophageal thrush warrants systemic antifungal therapy, and an antifungal medication, such as itraconazole, will likely be prescribed. This prevents the fungus from spreading and works to eliminate it from the body. The medication can come in a variety of forms, such as tablets, lozenges, or a liquid that you can swish in your mouth like mouthwash and then swallow.

Image Credit:

If your infection is slightly more severe, you may receive an antifungal medication called fluconazole delivered intravenously in the hospital.

People with late-stage HIV might need a stronger medication, such as amphotericin B. Most importantly, treating the HIV is important for controlling the esophageal thrush.

If your esophageal thrush has compromised your ability to eat, your doctor may discuss nutritional options with you. This can include high-protein shakes if you can tolerate them or alternative feeding options, such as a gastric tube in severe situations.

Preventing esophageal thrush:

You can reduce your risk of developing esophageal thrush in the following ways:

Eat yogurt whenever you take antibiotics.
Treat vaginal yeast infections.
Practice good oral hygiene.
Go to your dentist for regular checkups.
Limit the amount of sugary foods you eat.
Limit the amount of foods you eat that contain yeast.

Even though those with HIV and AIDS are at greater risk for esophageal thrush, doctors rarely prescribe preventive antifungal medicines. The yeast could become resistant to treatments. If you have HIV or AIDS, you can reduce your risk of an esophageal thrush infection by taking prescribed antiretroviral therapy (ART) medications.

Future health complications:

The risk for complications after the development of esophageal thrush is higher in people with comprised immune systems. These complications include thrush that spreads to other areas of the body and an inability to swallow.

If you have a compromised immune system, it’s very important to seek treatment for thrush as soon as you notice symptoms. Thrush can easily spread to other parts of your body, including your:

heart valves
By receiving treatment as quickly as possible, you can reduce the likelihood that thrush will spread.

Outlook for esophageal thrush:

Esophageal thrush can be painful. If it’s left untreated, it can become a severe and even life-threatening condition. At the first signs of oral thrush or esophageal thrush, talk to your doctor. Esophageal thrush is highly prone to spreading. The more areas of the body affected, the more severe the infection can be. Medications are available to treat esophageal thrush, including antifungal medicines. Prompt and careful treatment can reduce your pain and discomfort.

Candida infection. (2014).
Candidiasis: (Thrush). (2014).
Oral thrush: Symptoms. (2014).
Oropharyngeal/esophageal candidiasis (thrush). (2014).
Copyright © 2005 - 2018 Healthline Networks, Inc. All rights reserved. Healthline is for informational purposes and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment recommendations."

Image Credit:>

According to Medical News Today (https://www.medicalnewstoda,

Oral Thrush: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
By Christian Nordqvist
Reviewed by University of Illinois-Chicago, School of Medicine

"Oral thrush, also known as oral candidiasis, is a yeast/fungi infection of the genus Candida that develops on the mucous membranes of the mouth.

It is most commonly caused by the fungus Candida albicans, but may also be caused by Candida glabrata or Candida tropicalis.

In this article, we will cover all aspects of oral thrush, including the causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Contents of this article:

Risk factors
Fast facts on oral thrush
Here are some key points about oral thrush. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.

Oral thrush is a common condition, but for most, it does not cause major problems

Individuals with a reduced immune system are worst affected by oral thrush

Oral thrush can occur more regularly after chemotherapy or radiotherapy to the head and neck

It is more common in people who are taking steroids, wear dentures, or have diabetes
The most obvious symptom of oral thrush is creamy or white-colored deposits in the mouth

What is oral thrush?

Oral thrush is caused by species of Candida fungus.

Oral thrush causes thick white or cream-colored deposits, most commonly on the tongue or inner cheeks. The lesions can be painful and may bleed slightly when they are scraped. The infected mucosa (membrane) of the mouth may appear inflamed and red.

Oral thrush can sometimes spread to the roof of the mouth and the back of the throat.

For the majority of individuals, oral thrush does not cause any serious problems. However, this is not the case for people with a weakened immune system, whose signs and symptoms may be much more severe.

People with poorly controlled diabetes, those taking steroids (especially long-term), as well as individuals who wear dentures, have a higher risk of developing oral thrush with more severe symptoms.

Long-term antibiotic therapy can increase the risk of developing oral thrush. Some medications, especially those that dry out the mouth, can cause oral thrush to develop. Oral thrush is more common among patients who receive chemotherapy or radiotherapy to the head and neck.

The outcome for oral thrush is generally very good. Most people respond well to treatment. However, oral thrush tends to reappear, especially if the causal factor (smoking, for instance) is not removed.

Image Credit:

Causes of oral thrush:

Tiny quantities of Candida fungus exist in various parts of our body, including the digestive system, skin, and mouth, causing virtually no problems to healthy individuals. In fact, C. albicans is carried in the mouths of up to 75 percent of the world's population.

However, people on certain medications, with reduced immune systems, or certain medical conditions are susceptible to oral thrush when C. albicans grows out control.

Symptoms of oral thrush:

Oral thrush in adults generally appears as thick, white or cream-colored deposits (spots) on the mucous membrane of the mouth (wet parts of the inside of the mouth).

The mucosa (mucous membrane) may appear swollen and slightly red. The spots may be raised. There may be discomfort or a burning sensation.

If the cream or white-colored deposits are scraped, bleeding may occur.

The white spots may join together to form larger ones, also known as plaques; these may then take on a grayish or yellowish color.

Occasionally, the affected area simply becomes red and sore, with no detectable white spots.

Individuals who wear dentures may have areas that are constantly red and swollen under a denture. Poor oral hygiene, or not taking the dentures out before going to sleep may increase the risk.

Oral thrush is sometimes divided into three groups based on appearance, although the condition can sometimes sit between categories:

A Doctor checks a patient's throat
Oral thrush is typically diagnosed after an oral examination.
Pseudomembranous - the classic and most common version of oral thrush.
Erythematous (atrophic) - the condition appears red raw rather than white.
Hyperplastic - also referred to as "plaque-like candidiasis" or "nodular candidiasis" due to the presence of a hard to remove solid white plaque. This is the least common variant; it is most often seen in patients with HIV.

There are a number of other lesions that can also appear with oral thrush. Sometimes, these lesions might be due to other types of bacteria that are also present in the area.

These can include:

Angular cheilitis - inflammation and/or splitting in the corners of the mouth
Median rhomboid glossitis - a large, red, painless mark in the center of the tongue
Linear gingival erythema - a band of inflammation running across the gums

Treatment of oral thrush:

Doctors will usually prescribe anti-thrush drugs, such as nystatin or miconazole in the form of drops, gel, or lozenges. Alternatively, the patient may be prescribed a topical oral suspension which is washed around the mouth and then swallowed.

Oral or intravenously administered antifungals may be the choice for patients with weakened immune systems. If treatment is not working, amphotericin B may be used; however, this will only be used as a last resort due to the negative side effects which include fever, nausea, and vomiting.

Risk factors for oral thrush:

Adult oral thrush is more likely to become a problem for the following groups:

People who wear dentures - especially if they are not kept clean, do not fit properly, or are not taken out before going to sleep.

Antibiotics - people who are on antibiotics have a higher risk of developing oral thrush. Antibiotics may destroy the bacteria that prevent the Candida from growing out of control.

Excessive mouthwash use - individuals who overuse antibacterial mouthwashes may also destroy bacteria which keep Candida at bay, thus increasing the risk of developing oral thrush.

Steroid medication - long-term use of steroid medication can increase the risk of oral thrush.

Weakened immune system - people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop oral thrush.

Diabetes - people with diabetes, especially if it is poorly controlled, are more likely to have oral thrush.

Dry mouth - people with less than normal quantities of saliva (xerostomia) are more prone to oral thrush.

Diet - malnutrition predisposes people to oral thrush; this could be caused by a poor diet or a disease that affects the absorption of nutrients. In particular, diets low in iron, vitamin B12, and folic acid appear to affect infection rates.

Smoking - heavy smokers are more at risk, the reasons behind this are unclear.

Diagnosis of oral thrush:

In the vast majority of cases, the doctor can diagnose oral thrush by looking into the patient's mouth and asking some questions about symptoms.

The doctor may scrape some tissue from the inside of the mouth for analysis.

If the doctor believes the oral thrush is being caused by a medication or some other underlying cause, that cause must be dealt with. Treatments in such cases depend on the underlying cause.

Amphotericin B (intravenous route, injection route). (2015, December 1). Retrieved from

Awatif Y. Al-Maskari, Masoud Y. Al-Maskari, Salem Al-Sudairy. (2011, May). Oral manifestations and complications of diabetes mellitus. Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal. 11(2): 179–186. Retrieved from

Fran├žois L. Mayer, Duncan Wilson, Bernhard Hube. (2013, February 15). Candida albicans pathogenicity mechanisms. Virulence. 4(2): 119–128. Retrieved from

Oral thrush in adults. (2014, August 14). Retrieved from

Oropharyngeal/esophageal candidiasis ("thrush"). (2014, February 2013). Retrieved from

Treatments for oral thrush. (2014, August 14). Retrieved from

I also found some natural recipes to help with thrush until you can see your doctor:

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I had a suspicion that my Gastroparesis was causing it, with all of vomiting, but had no idea that other chronic illnesses caused this. So, I think the constant vomiting of stomach acid brought on mine. It probably did through off my pH. I learned a lot of new things today and I hope it well help others.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Essential Tremor

Two months ago, I began shaking in my hands and would eventually have my legs give out, and spasm. It is terrifying, since I do not know what is causing it. I do not think it was a cause of hypoglycemia, because I would have this shaking before without hypoglycemia. I do not know if it related to gastroparesis or not, since the vagus nerve is damaged or even dehydration, or malnutrition. A friend suggested it was an essential tremor, so I wanted to do some research on it.

This is what happens to me:

According to the Mayo Clinic (,

"Essential tremor is a nervous system (neurological) disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. It can affect almost any part of your body, but the trembling occurs most often in your hands — especially when you do simple tasks, such as drinking from a glass or tying shoelaces.

It's usually not a dangerous condition, but essential tremor typically worsens over time and can be severe in some people. Other conditions don't cause essential tremor, although it's sometimes confused with Parkinson's disease.

Essential tremor can occur at any age but is most common in people age 40 and older.

Essential tremor signs and symptoms:

Begin gradually, usually on one side of the body
Worsen with movement
Usually occur in the hands first, affecting one hand or both hands
Can include a "yes-yes" or "no-no" motion of the head
May be aggravated by emotional stress, fatigue, caffeine or temperature extremes
Essential tremor vs. Parkinson's disease

Many people associate tremors with Parkinson's disease, but the two conditions differ in key ways:

Timing of tremors. Essential tremor of the hands usually occurs when you use your hands. Tremors from Parkinson's disease are most prominent when your hands are at your sides or resting in your lap.

Associated conditions. Essential tremor doesn't cause other health problems, but Parkinson's disease is associated with stooped posture, slow movement and shuffling gait. However, people with essential tremor sometimes develop other neurological signs and symptoms, such as an unsteady gait (ataxia).

Parts of body affected. Essential tremor mainly involves your hands, head and voice. Parkinson's disease tremors usually start in your hands, and can affect your legs, chin and other parts of your body.


About half of essential tremor cases appear to result from a genetic mutation, although a specific gene hasn't been identified. This form is referred to as familial tremor. It isn't clear what causes essential tremor in people without a known genetic mutation.

Risk factors

Illustration showing autosomal dominant inheritance pattern
Autosomal dominant inheritance pattern

Known risk factors for essential tremor include:

Genetic mutation. The inherited variety of essential tremor (familial tremor) is an autosomal dominant disorder. A defective gene from just one parent is needed to pass on the condition.

If you have a parent with a genetic mutation for essential tremor, you have a 50 percent chance of developing the disorder yourself.

Age. Essential tremor is more common in people age 40 and older.


Essential tremor isn't life-threatening, but symptoms often worsen over time. If the tremors become severe, you might find it difficult to:

Hold a cup or glass without spilling
Eat normally
Put on makeup or shave
Talk, if your voice box or tongue is affected
Write legibly


Some people with essential tremor don't require treatment if their symptoms are mild. But if your essential tremor is making it difficult to work or perform daily activities, discuss treatment options with your doctor.


Beta blockers. Normally used to treat high blood pressure, beta blockers such as propranolol (Inderal) help relieve tremors in some people. Beta blockers may not be an option if you have asthma or certain heart problems. Side effects may include fatigue, lightheadedness or heart problems.

Anti-seizure medications. Epilepsy drugs, such as primidone (Mysoline), may be effective in people who don't respond to beta blockers. Other medications that might be prescribed include gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin) and topiramate (Topamax, Qudexy XR). Side effects include drowsiness and nausea, which usually disappear within a short time.

Tranquilizers. Doctors may use drugs such as alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin) to treat people for whom tension or anxiety worsens tremors. Side effects can include fatigue or mild sedation. These medications should be used with caution because they can be habit-forming.
OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections. Botox injections might be useful in treating some types of tremors, especially head and voice tremors. Botox injections can improve tremors for up to three months at a time.

However, if Botox is used to treat hand tremors, it can cause weakness in your fingers. If it's used to treat voice tremors, it can cause a hoarse voice and difficulty swallowing.


Doctors might suggest physical or occupational therapy. Physical therapists can teach you exercises to improve your muscle strength, control and coordination.

Occupational therapists can help you adapt to living with essential tremor. Therapists might suggest adaptive devices to reduce the effect of tremors on your daily activities, including:

Heavier glasses and utensils
Wrist weights
Wider, heavier writing tools, such as wide-grip pens


Deep brain stimulation might be an option if your tremors are severely disabling and you don't respond to medications.

In deep brain stimulation, doctors insert a long, thin electrical probe into the portion of your brain that causes your tremors (thalamus). A wire from the probe runs under your skin to a pacemaker-like device (neurostimulator) implanted in your chest. This device transmits painless electrical pulses to interrupt signals from your thalamus that may be causing your tremors.

Side effects of surgery can include equipment malfunction; problems with motor control, speech or balance; headaches; and weakness. Side effects often go away after some time or adjustment of the device."

According to WebMD (,

"Essential Tremor (ET) is a nerve disorder characterized by uncontrollable shaking, or 'tremors,' in different parts and on different sides of the body. Areas affected often include the hands, arms, head, larynx (voice box), tongue, and chin. The lower body is rarely affected.

ET is not a life-threatening disorder, unless it prevents a person from caring for him or herself. Most people are able to live normal lives with this condition -- although they may find everyday activities like eating, dressing, or writing difficult. It is only when the tremors become severe that they actually cause disability.

What Causes Essential Tremor?

The true cause of Essential Tremor is still not understood, but it is thought that the abnormal electrical brain activity that causes tremor is processed through the thalamus. The thalamus is a structure deep in the brain that coordinates and controls muscle activity.

Genetics is responsible for causing ET in half of all people with the condition. A child born to a parent with ET will have up to a 50% chance of inheriting the responsible gene, but may never actually experience symptoms. Although ET is more common in the elderly -- and symptoms become more pronounced with age -- it is not a part of the natural aging process."

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (,

"What is tremor?

Tremor is an involuntary, rhythmic muscle contraction leading to shaking movements in one or more parts of the body. It is a common movement disorder that most often affects the hands but can also occur in the arms, head, vocal cords, torso, and legs. Tremor may be intermittent (occurring at separate times, with breaks) or constant. It can occur sporadically (on its own) or happen as a result of another disorder.

Tremor is most common among middle-aged and older adults, although it can occur at any age. The disorder generally affects men and women equally.

Tremor is not life threatening. However, it can be embarrassing and even disabling, making it difficult or even impossible to perform work and daily life tasks.

What causes tremor?

Generally, tremor is caused by a problem in the deep parts of the brain that control movements. Most types of tremor have no known cause, although there are some forms that appear to be inherited and run in families.

Tremor can occur on its own or be a symptom associated with a number of neurological disorders, including:

multiple sclerosis
traumatic brain injury
neurodegenerative diseases that affect parts of the brain (e.g., Parkinson's disease).

Some other known causes can include:

the use of certain medicines (particular asthma medication, amphetamines, caffeine, corticosteroids, and drugs used for certain psychiatric and neurological disorders)
alcohol abuse or withdrawal
mercury poisoning
overactive thyroid
liver or kidney failure
anxiety or panic.

What are the symptoms of tremor?

Symptoms of tremor may include:

a rhythmic shaking in the hands, arms, head, legs, or torso
shaky voice
difficulty writing or drawing
problems holding and controlling utensils, such as a spoon.
Some tremor may be triggered by or become worse during times of stress or strong emotion, when an individual is physically exhausted, or when a person is in certain postures or makes certain movements."

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According to LIVESTRONG (,

"Muscle shaking, also called essential tremor or muscle fasciculation, is an uncontrollable twitching of your muscles. Muscle shaking is most noticeable in the hands, but also occurs around the neck, eyes and legs. Muscle shaking and tremors are more common among the elderly and sometimes related to senility diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Nutritional deficiency is a common cause of abnormal muscle tone and may lead to chronic shaking or twitching of your muscles. Consult with your doctor if your notice that you are unable to keep your hands steady.


Hypoglycemia is defined as low blood sugar, which refers to the amount of glucose circulating in your bloodstream. Glucose is the primary fuel for your brain and needed by virtually all tissues to produce energy. Skipping meals is the most common cause of hypoglycemia, although it also occurs in diabetics who take too much insulin. A primary symptom of hypoglycemia is widespread muscle tremors and weakness, although other common symptoms include 'brain fog,' confusion, fatigue and lethargy, according to the book 'Functional Biochemistry in Health and Disease.' Eating refined carbohydrates or drinking fruit juice often quickly resolves muscle shaking caused by hypoglycemia.

B-Vitamin Deficiency

B-vitamins are needed by your body for metabolism, energy production, nerve function and conductance, enzyme synthesis and red blood cell production. B-vitamins are quickly depleted by stress, toxins and alcoholism, and deficiencies are common in people with poor diets and malabsorption issues, according to 'Metabolic Regulation: A Human Perspective.' B-vitamins most often linked to muscle shakiness because of their importance to nerve function include B-1 or thiamine, B-6 or pyridoxine and B-12 or cobalamin. Deficiencies in these vitamins invariably affect brain function and lead to other neurological problems such as reduced cognition, depression, numbness and tingling in the limbs and loss of balance. Red meat, chicken, fish, beans, nuts and green leafy vegetables are all good sources of B-vitamins.

Magnesium Deficiency

Minerals are also important for nerve function and normal muscle tone. Magnesium is especially important for the relaxation of muscles. Early symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include fatigue, irritability, insomnia and muscle tremors, twitching or shaking, according to 'Functional Biochemistry in Health and Disease.' Prolonged deficiency affects the electrical waves in your brain, heart and skeletal muscles and may be related to chronic muscle cramping and restless leg syndrome. If magnesium deficiency is the cause of your muscle shaking, then magnesium supplementation can lead to dramatic improvement within hours to days.

Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance

Dehydration occurs from not drinking enough water or quickly losing too much water from excessive urination, diarrhea or blood loss. Water loss is accompanied by loss of electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, which are salts of the body needed for normal muscle control and nerve function. An early sign of dehydration is muscle shaking or tremors, but muscle cramping, irregular heart beat, fatigue and reduced brain function can quickly follow if your body is not replenished with water and electrolytes. Drinking water devoid of minerals and electrolytes is not enough to return a severely dehydrated person back to health."

So, I guess it does occur during hypoglycemia, dehydration, vitamin deficiencies, or malnutrition. I love to learn new things and never heard of ET before.

Special thanks to my friend, Joette, for helping me and inspiring this article.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

September is Sepsis Awareness Month

Sepsis can be sneaky and can really cause a lot of problems. A few years ago, my now ex-doctor injected my swollen knee with a cortisone injection to help with the inflammation and pain. I have Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (information about CRPS can be found here:

Well, either the needle was a problem or the injection itself was an issue, or both, because when I arrived at home I was in a ton of pain. My knee was red, swollen more, and I could barely walk on it. I called the doctor and he told me to meet him at the Emergency Room. I remember being so scared because I did not know what was going to happen. He assessed me at the hospital and told me that I had sepsis in my knee and that I needed emergency surgery to flush out my knee and clean it.

I was terrified. I lost my brother-in-law to sepsis, and I have had friends who have passed from being septic. My ex doctor was able to clear the sepsis by surgery. He admitted me to the hospital to give me IV antibiotics and wanted to observe me. Thankfully, it was resolved and I did not have it spread. It was a scary moment for me because I had no clue what to do and I knew it could be fatal. I'm thankful it was eradicated from my knee and body.

So, what is sepsis? What causes it?

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September is sepsis awareness month. Sepsis is explained by,

"Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death. In other words, it’s your body’s over active and toxic response to an infection.

Your immune system usually works to fight any germs (bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites) to prevent infection. If an infection does occur, your immune system will try to fight it, although you may need help with medication such as antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and antiparasitics. However, for reasons researchers don’t understand, sometimes the immune system stops fighting the 'invaders,' and begins to turn on itself. This is the start of sepsis.

Some people are at higher risk of developing sepsis because they are at higher risk of contracting an infection. These include the very young, the very old, those with chronic illnesses, and those with a weakened or impaired immune system.

Patients are diagnosed with sepsis when they develop a set of signs and symptoms related to sepsis. Sepsis is not diagnosed based on an infection itself. If you have more than one of the symptoms of sepsis, especially if there are signs of an infection or you fall into one of the higher risk groups, your doctor will likely suspect sepsis.

Sepsis progresses to severe sepsis when in addition to signs of sepsis, there are signs of organ dysfunction, such as difficulty breathing (problems with the lungs), low or no urine output (kidneys), abnormal liver tests (liver), and changes in mental status (brain). Nearly all patients with severe sepsis require treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU).

Septic shock is the most severe level and is diagnosed when your blood pressure drops to dangerous levels.

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Sepsis has been named as the most expensive in-patient cost in American hospitals in 2014 at nearly $24 billion each year. Forty percent of patients diagnosed with severe sepsis do not survive. Up to 50% of survivors suffer from post-sepsis syndrome. Until a cure for sepsis is found, early detection is the surest hope for survival and limiting disability for survivors."

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According to the Mayo Clinic (,

"Symptoms and Causes
By Mayo Clinic Staff Print


Many doctors view sepsis as a three-stage syndrome, starting with sepsis and progressing through severe sepsis to septic shock. The goal is to treat sepsis during its early stage, before it becomes more dangerous.


To be diagnosed with sepsis, you must exhibit at least two of the following symptoms, plus a probable or confirmed infection:

Body temperature above 101 F (38.3 C) or below 96.8 F (36 C)
Heart rate higher than 90 beats a minute
Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute

Severe sepsis

Your diagnosis will be upgraded to severe sepsis if you also exhibit at least one of the following signs and symptoms, which indicate an organ may be failing:

Significantly decreased urine output
Abrupt change in mental status
Decrease in platelet count
Difficulty breathing
Abnormal heart pumping function
Abdominal pain

Septic shock

To be diagnosed with septic shock, you must have the signs and symptoms of severe sepsis — plus extremely low blood pressure that doesn't adequately respond to simple fluid replacement.

When to see a doctor

Most often sepsis occurs in people who are hospitalized. People in the intensive care unit are especially vulnerable to developing infections, which can then lead to sepsis. If you get an infection or if you develop signs and symptoms of sepsis after surgery, hospitalization or an infection, seek medical care immediately.


While any type of infection — bacterial, viral or fungal — can lead to sepsis, the most likely varieties include:

Abdominal infection
Kidney infection
Bloodstream infection (bacteremia)
The incidence of sepsis appears to be increasing in the United States. The causes of this increase may include:

Aging population. Americans are living longer, which is swelling the ranks of the highest risk age group — people older than 65.
Drug-resistant bacteria. Many types of bacteria can resist the effects of antibiotics that once killed them. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria are often the root cause of the infections that trigger sepsis.
Weakened immune systems. More Americans are living with weakened immune systems, caused by HIV, cancer treatments or transplant drugs.
Risk factors

Sepsis is more common and more dangerous if you:

Are very young or very old
Have a compromised immune system
Are already very sick, often in a hospital's intensive care unit
Have wounds or injuries, such as burns
Have invasive devices, such as intravenous catheters or breathing tubes


Sepsis ranges from less to more severe. As sepsis worsens, blood flow to vital organs, such as your brain, heart and kidneys, becomes impaired. Sepsis can also cause blood clots to form in your organs and in your arms, legs, fingers and toes — leading to varying degrees of organ failure and tissue death (gangrene).

Most people recover from mild sepsis, but the mortality rate for septic shock is nearly 50 percent. Also, an episode of severe sepsis may place you at higher risk of future infections."

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Friday, September 22, 2017

The Brain in Your Gut

I know a lot of people with gastroparesis have memory issues, myself included. So, what causes this? How does our brain chemistry change when you have gastroparesis? Sleep deprivation, malnutrition, and medication can play a big part in altering our brain chemistry but I wanted to dig a bit deeper to see what else can change our body's brain chemistry, and why it affects us so harshly.


According to Cal Tech,

"Although serotonin is well known as a brain neurotransmitter, it is estimated that 90 percent of the body's serotonin is made in the digestive tract. In fact, altered levels of this peripheral serotonin have been linked to diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.

'More and more studies are showing that mice or other model organisms with changes in their gut microbes exhibit altered behaviors,' explains Elaine Hsiao, research assistant professor of biology and biological engineering and senior author of the study. 'We are interested in how microbes communicate with the nervous system. To start, we explored the idea that normal gut microbes could influence levels of neurotransmitters in their hosts.'

Peripheral serotonin is produced in the digestive tract by enterochromaffin (EC) cells and also by particular types of immune cells and neurons. Hsiao and her colleagues first wanted to know if gut microbes have any effect on serotonin production in the gut and, if so, in which types of cells. They began by measuring peripheral serotonin levels in mice with normal populations of gut bacteria and also in germ-free mice that lack these resident microbes.

The researchers found that the EC cells from germ-free mice produced approximately 60 percent less serotonin than did their peers with conventional bacterial colonies. When these germ-free mice were recolonized with normal gut microbes, the serotonin levels went back up—showing that the deficit in serotonin can be reversed.

'EC cells are rich sources of serotonin in the gut. What we saw in this experiment is that they appear to depend on microbes to make serotonin—or at least a large portion of it,' says Jessica Yano, first author on the paper and a research technician working with Hsiao.

The researchers next wanted to find out whether specific species of bacteria, out of the diverse pool of microbes that inhabit the gut, are interacting with EC cells to make serotonin.

After testing several different single species and groups of known gut microbes, Yano, Hsiao, and colleagues observed that one condition—the presence of a group of approximately 20 species of spore-forming bacteria—elevated serotonin levels in germ-free mice. The mice treated with this group also showed an increase in gastrointestinal motility compared to their germ-free counterparts, and changes in the activation of blood platelets, which are known to use serotonin to promote clotting.

Wanting to home in on mechanisms that could be involved in this interesting collaboration between microbe and host, the researchers began looking for molecules that might be key. They identified several particular metabolites—products of the microbes' metabolism—that were regulated by spore-forming bacteria and that elevated serotonin from EC cells in culture. Furthermore, increasing these metabolites in germ-free mice increased their serotonin levels.

Previous work in the field indicated that some bacteria can make serotonin all by themselves. However, this new study suggests that much of the body's serotonin relies on particular bacteria that interact with the host to produce serotonin, says Yano. 'Our work demonstrates that microbes normally present in the gut stimulate host intestinal cells to produce serotonin,' she explains.

'While the connections between the microbiome and the immune and metabolic systems are well appreciated, research into the role gut microbes play in shaping the nervous system is an exciting frontier in the biological sciences,' says Sarkis K. Mazmanian, Luis B. and Nelly Soux Professor of Microbiology and a coauthor on the study. 'This work elegantly extends previous seminal research from Caltech in this emerging field'.

Additional coauthor Rustem Ismagilov, the Ethel Wilson Bowles and Robert Bowles Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, adds, 'This work illustrates both the richness of chemical interactions between the hosts and their microbial communities, and Dr. Hsiao's scientific breadth and acumen in leading this work.'

Serotonin is important for many aspects of human health
, but Hsiao cautions that much more research is needed before any of these findings can be translated to the clinic.

'We identified a group of bacteria that, aside from increasing serotonin, likely has other effects yet to be explored,' she says. 'Also, there are conditions where an excess of peripheral serotonin appears to be detrimental.'

Although this study was limited to serotonin in the gut, Hsiao and her team are now investigating how this mechanism might also be important for the developing brain. 'Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter and hormone that is involved in a variety of biological processes. The finding that gut microbes modulate serotonin levels raises the interesting prospect of using them to drive changes in biology,' says Hsiao.

The work was published in an article titled 'Indigenous Bacteria from the Gut Microbiota Regulate Host Serotonin Biosynthesis.' In addition to Hsiao, Yano, Mazmanian, and Ismagilov, other Caltech coauthors include undergraduates Kristie Yu, Gauri Shastri, and Phoebe Ann; graduate student Gregory Donaldson; postdoctoral scholar Liang Ma. Additional coauthor Cathryn Nagler is from the University of Chicago."

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This is an interesting study considering that Gastroparesis/DTP is slow to little to no motility, depending on how severe it is in each person affected with it. If 90 percent of serotonin is produced in the stomach, what happens to that serotonin when the motility is limited or the stomach is removed? Could that be a link to depression in people with Gastroparesis? Scientific American believes that psychiatry may have to readjust to consider just that in the years to come as discussed below.

According to Scientific American,

"As Olympians go for the gold in Vancouver, even the steeliest are likely to experience that familiar feeling of 'butterflies' in the stomach. Underlying this sensation is an often-overlooked network of neurons lining our guts that is so extensive some scientists have nicknamed it our 'second brain'.

A deeper understanding of this mass of neural tissue, filled with important neurotransmitters, is revealing that it does much more than merely handle digestion or inflict the occasional nervous pang. The little brain in our innards, in connection with the big one in our skulls, partly determines our mental state and plays key roles in certain diseases throughout the body.

Although its influence is far-reaching, the second brain is not the seat of any conscious thoughts or decision-making.

'The second brain doesn't help with the great thought processes…religion, philosophy and poetry is left to the brain in the head,' says Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, an expert in the nascent field of neurogastroenterology and author of the 1998 book The Second Brain (HarperCollins).

Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus. The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system, Gershon says.

This multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system enables us to 'feel' the inner world of our gut and its contents. Much of this neural firepower comes to bear in the elaborate daily grind of digestion. Breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and expelling of waste requires chemical processing, mechanical mixing and rhythmic muscle contractions that move everything on down the line.

Thus equipped with its own reflexes and senses, the second brain can control gut behavior independently of the brain, Gershon says. We likely evolved this intricate web of nerves to perform digestion and excretion 'on site,' rather than remotely from our brains through the middleman of the spinal cord. 'The brain in the head doesn't need to get its hands dirty with the messy business of digestion, which is delegated to the brain in the gut,' Gershon says. He and other researchers explain, however, that the second brain's complexity likely cannot be interpreted through this process alone.

'The system is way too complicated to have evolved only to make sure things move out of your colon,' says Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (U.C.L.A.). For example, scientists were shocked to learn that about 90 percent of the fibers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around. "Some of that info is decidedly unpleasant," Gershon says.

The second brain informs our state of mind in other more obscure ways, as well. 'A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut,' Mayer says. Butterflies in the stomach—signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response, Gershon says—is but one example. Although gastrointestinal (GI) turmoil can sour one's moods, everyday emotional well-being may rely on messages from the brain below to the brain above. For example, electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve—a useful treatment for depression—may mimic these signals, Gershon says.

Given the two brains' commonalities, other depression treatments that target the mind can unintentionally impact the gut. The enteric nervous system uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and in fact 95 percent of the body's serotonin is found in the bowels. Because antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase serotonin levels, it's little wonder that meds meant to cause chemical changes in the mind often provoke GI issues as a side effect. Irritable bowel syndrome—which afflicts more than two million Americans—also arises in part from too much serotonin in our entrails, and could perhaps be regarded as a "mental illness" of the second brain.

Scientists are learning that the serotonin made by the enteric nervous system might also play a role in more surprising diseases: In a new Nature Medicine study published online February 7, a drug that inhibited the release of serotonin from the gut counteracted the bone-deteriorating disease osteoporosis in postmenopausal rodents. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.) 'It was totally unexpected that the gut would regulate bone mass to the extent that one could use this regulation to cure—at least in rodents—osteoporosis,' says Gerard Karsenty, lead author of the study and chair of the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center.

Serotonin seeping from the second brain might even play some part in autism, the developmental disorder often first noticed in early childhood. Gershon has discovered that the same genes involved in synapse formation between neurons in the brain are involved in the alimentary synapse formation. 'If these genes are affected in autism,' he says, 'it could explain why so many kids with autism have GI motor abnormalities' in addition to elevated levels of gut-produced serotonin in their blood.

Down the road, the blossoming field of neurogastroenterology will likely offer some new insight into the workings of the second brain—and its impact on the body and mind. 'We have never systematically looked at [the enteric nervous system] in relating lesions in it to diseases like they have for the' central nervous system, Gershon says. One day, perhaps there will be well-known connections between diseases and lesions in the gut's nervous system as some in the brain and spinal cord today indicate multiple sclerosis.

Cutting-edge research is currently investigating how the second brain mediates the body's immune response; after all, at least 70 percent of our immune system is aimed at the gut to expel and kill foreign invaders.

U.C.L.A.'s Mayer is doing work on how the trillions of bacteria in the gut 'communicate' with enteric nervous system cells (which they greatly outnumber). His work with the gut's nervous system has led him to think that in coming years psychiatry will need to expand to treat the second brain in addition to the one atop the shoulders."

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According to John's Hopkins,

"If you’ve ever "gone with your gut' to make a decision or felt 'butterflies in your stomach' when nervous, you’re likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain. Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this 'brain in your gut' is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.

Scientists call this little brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). And it’s not so little. The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum.

What Does Your Gut’s Brain Control?

Unlike the big brain in your skull, the ENS can’t balance your checkbook or compose a love note. 'Its main role is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination,' explains Jay Pasricha, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, whose research on the enteric nervous system has garnered international attention. 'The enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain—with profound results.'

The ENS may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people coping with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. 'For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around,' Pasricha says. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.

'These new findings may explain why a higher-than-normal percentage of people with IBS and functional bowel problems develop depression and anxiety,' Pasricha says. 'That’s important, because up to 30 to 40 percent of the population has functional bowel problems at some point.'

New Gut Understanding Equals New Treatment Opportunities

This new understanding of the ENS-CNS connection helps explain the effectiveness of IBS and bowel-disorder treatments such as antidepressants and mind-body therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medical hypnotherapy. 'Our two brains ‘talk’ to each other, so therapies that help one may help the other,' Pasricha says. 'In a way, gastroenterologists (doctors who specialize in digestive conditions) are like counselors looking for ways to soothe the second brain.'

Gastroenterologists may prescribe certain antidepressants for IBS, for example—not because they think the problem is all in a patient’s head, but because these medications calm symptoms in some cases by acting on nerve cells in the gut, Pasricha explains. 'Psychological interventions like CBT may also help to 'improve communications' between the big brain and the brain in our gut,' he says.

Still More to Learn About Mind-Gut Link

Pasricha says research suggests that digestive-system activity may affect cognition (thinking skills and memory), too. 'This is an area that needs more research, something we hope to do here at Johns Hopkins,' he says.

Another area of interest: Discovering how signals from the digestive system affect metabolism, raising or reducing risk for health conditions like type 2 diabetes. 'This involves interactions between nerve signals, gut hormones and microbiota—the bacteria that live in the digestive system,'Pasricha says."

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According to Neurology Advisor,

"Recently, evidence has accumulated to support a complex neurobiologic basis for migraine, with origins beyond the brain. The prevailing theory involves the gut-brain axis, which postulates a complex interplay between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract. However, the precise mechanism that links the brain and the gut and triggers a migraine event remains unclear."

Read more about it here:

So, the brain in your gut can affect your memory. It makes me think that if you have little or no motility, it could contribute to memory loss, in addition to other things like sleep deprivation, malnutrition, and medication. It seems like a lot of issues can cause memory loss in those who suffer from Gastroparesis/DTP. Personally, I have to carry around a journal to write things in because I forget a lot of things. More research is going into this, so hopefully, we will have answers soon.