The role of Gut Instinct and the Gut Microbiome (GM) in Psychotherapy ( Page 2 )

In utero and birth transmission

  • Certain microbes transmitted in utero
  • Mother exposes baby to her microbes via passage through birth canal
  • Risks associated with C. Section as these babies are colonized by microbes from health care workers, environment, medical equipment and other newborns
  • Vaginally delivered babies colonized by maternal faecal and vaginal bacteria (beneficial for future)

Neonatal and infant microbes

  • Anaerobic colonization => gut oxygen consumed
  • Few weeks Clostridium, Bacteroides and Bifidobacteria
  • Year 1 each infant has distinct microbial profile
  • Age 2.5 diversity of microbiome same as adult:
    1. Prevotella
    2. Ruminococcus
    3. Bacteroides

Germ-free mice deficits


  • Recognition memory
  • Sociability
  • Anxiety
  • Locomotion
  • Self-grooming


  • BDNF
  • 5-HT
  • ACTH/Corticosterone
  • Neuronal transription
  • Neurotransmission

Cognitive development

  • Dependent on activity of gut microbiome
  • Memory dependent on hippocampal function
  • Changing microbe diversity in elderly may worsen brain inflammation linked to depression, diabetes, dementia and cardiovascular disease


  • Mice induced to have ASD like behaviour
  • Rx Bacteroides fragilis
  • Improved communication defects
  • Reduced stereotpical anxiety and sensorimotor behaviours
  • Potential of probiotic Rx for ASD in humans
  • GIT symptoms in ASD patients warrants further investigation

Human performance curve

Stress response

  • Depends on diversity of gut microbiome
  • Narrow window in early years where colonization must occur to normalise the HPA axis (implications for psychotherapy)
  • Early maternal separation impacts adversely on both gut microbiome and HPA axis
  • Key is avoiding stress beyond pivot point
  • Increasing burden on society of toxic stress

Human studies APC Microbiome Institute, UCC Ireland,

  • Single psychobiotic B.longum 1714 strain
  • Showed enhanced prefrontal activity associated with top-down processing
  • Key implications with the link to bottom up processing associated with body based therapies such as somatic experiencing, sensorimotor psychotherapy and my integrative approach BART psychotherapy (Art of BART ( 2015)