Lark L. Burnham, Ph.D.

Animal nutrition

 What if “Gut feelings” are more than wishful thinking? Some very interesting research is being conducted that is investigating the microorganisms of the gut (collectively called ‘the microbiome’) and personality.

 Research has already established extensive neurodevelopment throughout the lining of the gut and the presence of the largest concentration of neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, in the mammalian body. It is now believed that substances secreted by gut microorganisms interact with these neurotransmitters and have direct effects on the brain.

 Animal research has shown that personality traits can be transferred from one animal to another by inoculating them with the fecal material (and the resident microflora) of another animal. A timid mouse can suddenly become bold, and vice versa.

 Although no one is recommending such inoculations, probiotic species have been studied for similar effects.

It has been known for several years that beneficial microorganisms can repair the damage done by stress. Now it can be said that probiotics not only protect against the effects of stress, they may change the perception of it as well.

Studies done with both animals and humans have shown that certain probiotic species have a significant effect on emotions such as anxiety and depression. This may be because these species change the hosts’ perception of the trigger stimuli, they become less reactive.

 Before running out to buy probiotics, be aware that not all are created equal. Microorganisms are highly vulnerable to heat and sunlight, be skeptical of the claims made by products bought off the shelf. The actual number of viable microorganisms consumed is more important than impressive numbers on the label. Many factors can reduce these during processing, shipment, and storage.

The most effective products will have initial CFU (colony forming units, a measure of viability) of 108 of higher for each species, and those numbers should be guaranteed. Lactobacillus sp. have been identified as having psychobiotic properties, as well as Bifidobacteria sp., and Streptococcus faecium. These species must be shipped in an insulated container with an ice pack, and stored in the refrigerator after receipt to insure their viability.

Natur's Way sells several concentrated probiotics that have psych-active properties. MSE Calm Defense, MSE Natural Defense, MSE Natural Defense Soluble, MSE Liquid Rescue, and MSE paste are all sold in the PETSTORE. MSE Max, Mse Microbial Drench, and MSE Microbial paste are sold in the FARMSTORE. A new product called MSE Perceptin is being developed s a calming agent for livestock.

E-mail LARK BURNHAM if you have any questions or comments.


ALL MSE PRODUCTS are made in Horton, Kansas, U. S. A.