017 - Probiotics & Attention Issues

Post date: Nov 11, 2015 9:01:19 PM

Counselor Notes 17

February 18, 2014

Pro-biotics & Attention Issues

Continuing on with six supplements The ADHD and Autism Nutritional Supplement Handbook considered giving the biggest potential benefit with the fewest side effects, this issue addresses pro-biotics. Now those who have been getting these notes since they started may remember notes being sent out on this topic before. This issue contains some of that information, but is updated with lots of new material and broadened to specifically address attention issues.

A healthy digestive system is home to more than 500 types of friendly bacteria. Things like anti-biotics, stress, and the modern diet (which is all too often high in sugar) skew the balance of healthy bacteria in your guts. Probiotics aim to restore the healthy bacteria in your guts.

As WedMd http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics puts it:

"Researchers believe that some digestive disorders happen when the balance of friendly bacterial in the intestines becomes disturbed. This can happen after an infection or after taking antibiotics. Intestinal problems can also arise when the lining of the intestines is damaged. Probiotics may help."

"Probiotics can improve intestinal function and maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines," sayd Stefano Guandalini, MD, professor of pediatrics and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago Medical Center."

Those who have children with attention issues may want to take a close look at adding pro-biotics to their child’s diet. These over the counter supplements, help balance the digestive system and a healthy lining of the intestines. The lining of the intestines may be compromised when the guts have insufficient amount of healthy bacteria. In particular, a yeast overgrowth which can occur by the use of anti-biotics can be part of the problem for children with attention issues.

Probiotics help control yeast overgrowth (candida albicans):

“… an overgrowth of yeast in the intestines may be contributing to hyperactivity. Yeast is a potent allergen and also ferments sugar, producing chemicals which can be toxic to the nervous system. Yeast overgrowth can be countered by avoiding sweets and supplementing the diet with probiotics like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-galland-md/adhd-is-on-the-rise-_b_783381.html

There is a close connection between abnormal gut flora and abnormal brain development—a condition Dr. Campbell-McBride calls Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS). GAPS is the result of poorly developed or imbalanced gut flora and may manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) without hyperactivity, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, just to name a few possibilities. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/05/03/probiotics-impact-brain-performance.aspx

Few controlled studies have evaluated the connection between probiotics and ADHD. In one study of 75 children with ADHD, the majority had little or no friendly bacteria in their gut, coupled with an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and/or yeast. The study author concluded that by taking probiotics, the symptoms of ADHD may be reduced. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/real-healing/201210/the-dirty-good-bacteria

Other professionals have written the same thing:

The ADHD and Autism Nutritional Supplement Handbook by Dana Godbout Laake R.H.D. and Pamela Compart M.D. has this to say about yeast overgrowth, ADHD, and probiotics:

“Imbalanced intestinal bacteria and yeast overgrowth are conditions commonly seen in children with autism and to a somewhat lesser degree in children with ADHD. Antibiotic use can lead to these imbalances by killing beneficial bacteria in the intestine. When bacteria are present in suboptimal numbers, yeast and other problematic bacterial can inappropriately flourish. Resulting problems can include both physical symptoms (e.g. diaper rashes, loose stool, gas) and behavioral symptoms (e.g. inattention, silly giggling, etc.)…. Probiotics can help restore appropriate balance of bacteria in the intestine. (p. 226)

They also wrote this:

“Yeast organisms are normal residents of the intestinal tract. Contrary to popular understanding, problematic yeast growth is common in children with a variety of digestive, behavioral, and developmental issues. Treatment may result in notable improvement in a subset of children.”

“When present in normal amounts along with adequate numbers of beneficial bacteria, yeast does not cause a problem. When yeast is present in an excessive amount, it can:

1. Cause intestinal inflammation, which may be a trigger for systematic (total body) inflammation, including inflammation of the brain, particularly in children with autism spectrum disorders. [that would include ADHD]

2. Affect intestinal permeability (referred to as “leaky gut”), which allows unwanted molecules to cross from the intestine into the bloodstream.

3. Produce toxic chemicals, which can aggravate the intestinal lining and subsequently enter the bloodstream. If these toxins reach the brain, they can adversely affect brain function.

4. Interfere with the DPP-IV enzyme, which helps digest opiate-like peptides from casein or gluten.

Probiotics are beneficial live microorganisms called the microbiome, found throughout the body, including the intestinal tract. There are more than 100 trillion good bacteria in the body with 500 to 1,000 different species (forty to fifty of which are main species) in the human gut. These beneficial bacteria serve many important functions including maintaining healthy flora, preventing overgrowth of harmful pathogens and yeast, and producing healthy nutrients. (p. 150 - 151)

Children With Starving Brains, author Jaquelyn McCandless M.D. makes these points about the importance of the guts and the problems with too much yeast (candida albicans):

    • “Antibiotics not only irritate the intestinal wall and cause gut inflammation, but also destroy the beneficial bacteria, creating an opportunity for Candida (a yeast), Clostridia (an anaerobic bacteria) and other pathogens normally kept in balance by the 'good bugs' to overgrow and cause further damage.” p. 89

    • “... yeast overgrowth interferes with the absorption of nutrients (the yeast takes them from their own growth and multiplication, particularly the sugars); this is often the cause of the diarrhea and/or constipation.” p. 90

    • “Furthermore, yeast cells can convert to an invasive colony form, imbedding themselves into the lining of the intestinal tract and, via secreted enzymes, destroy intestinal tissue. This type of injury creates 'holes' in the intestine through which undigested food molecules can pass. This hypermeable state is called 'leaky gut syndrome.'” p. 90

    • “This process (leaky gut) leads to greater allergic susceptibilities. Effective treatment of yeast or bacterial overgrowth often decreases or eliminates these allergic reactions.” p. 90

Here’s a simple free home test for yeast overgrowth: http://www.candidasupport.org/test_saliva.html (It shouldn’t be considered the final authority!)

Work with your doctor on this issue. Like most anything else, probiotics can be overdone and some types are better than others. In addition, WebMD http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics warns:

“…probiotics may be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems or serious illnesses. One study found that patients with severe pancreatitis who were given probiotics had a higher risk of death.”

In addition to attention problems, probitoics may also help with….


"Mood dysregulation has long been linked to inflammation, suggesting that there's immune dysfunction in depression, Researchers report that treating animals with gut probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis leads to positive changes in neurochemical function. The microbe raised levels of serotonin precursor tryptophan in the frontal lobe and the amygdala, two brain areas associated with mood and emotion." - The November/December 2010 issue of Psychology Today, p. 46.

“Some psychobiotics have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. This is important because depression and stress are both associated with inflammation in the body…..” “”This intriguing new area of research may open new possibilities for the treatment of depression," said Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry.“ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114094754.htm

“Several preclinical studies showed a link between specific probiotics and beneficial behavioral effects. These included one in which rats with depressive behaviors resulting from maternal separation displayed normalized behavior and an improved immune response after ingesting the Bifidobacterium infantis probiotic.” http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/814672

Anxiety disorders:




Skin Problems: (ex: Psoriasis & eczema) http://www.dermaharmony.com/skinnutrition/probiotics.aspx

Obesity: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/10/27/are-gut-bacteria-in-charge/

Migraines: http://headacheandmigrainenews.com/probiotics-for-ibs-study-review/

Doug Muha Ed.S.

School Counselor

Waverly Elementary School