Constipation is a common symptom in modern life, affecting up to 27% of the population, and it's common after toxic mold exposure. (source)
Coach Micki says she sees in about 90% of the time on our clients! If you are not dealing with constipation as a symptom, you may have loose stool or nausea.
For best elimination, you want to have a bowel movement minimum every 24 hours, and ideally more often, especially if you are actively detoxifying.
When we think of constipation, we think we’re ‘backed up.’ But why is this happening?
In this blog, I’ll talk about the relationship between the gut, the brain and mold, and how constipation can ensue.
Three Causes of Chronic Constipation
1. Gut Bacterial Imbalance
The gut can negatively influence the brain. When there are infections, excess waste products, leaky gut and inflammation, inflammatory particles can travel to the brain via the vagus nerve or the bloodstream and cause the backups in the brain that then lead to poor motility and more indigestion.
When the gut is dealing with infection, chronic or acute, it can either speed up (loose stool) or slow down (constipation) motility. It’s two sides of the same coin and it’s why you may be constipated followed by explosive or loose stools. (source)
How does the gut get imbalanced? There are many ways, including:
- Pesticide exposure (source)
- Antibiotic exposure
- Excess sugars and artificial sweeteners
- Lack of fiber
- Toxic mold exposure (source)
- Chronic stress (source)
2. Brain injury
The brain controls motility of the gut through the action of peristalsis. The brain also is important in signaling the production of saliva and digestive enzymes, and the movement of bile.
A brain trauma - from a hit to the head or even from mold exposure in the brain- can dysregulate gut motility, permeability and function. (source)
I got a big lesson in this when I hit my head under a stairwell a few years ago. Suddenly I had severe insomnia, constipation and nausea.
It took finding the right treatment (the right massage, network chiropractic and craniosacral therapy in my case) while still in the acute window (three months) to recover.
Sometimes we don’t realize we sustained a head injury, and sometimes the brain is being affected in other ways like:
- Autoimmunity of the brain
- Diabetes of the brain
- Encroaching Alhzeimer’s
- and..yes, here it is again… mold.
3. Toxic Mold
I keep dropping my hints! As I specialize in toxic mold recovery, I witness quite a bit of digestive issues and brain inflammation due to mold exposure. Here are some factors at play:
- Mycotoxins can enter the brain and cause inflammation. (source)
- Mycotoxins can enter a cell and damage the mitochondria.
- Mycotoxins can inflame the cellular membrane.
- Mycotoxins can break down the important blood brain barrier.
- Mycotoxins weaken the immune system leading to increased infections. (source)
- Mycotoxins negatively affect the gut microbiome. (source)
From the brain to the gut, you are in trouble if you are chronically exposed to
The Brain-Gut Connector: The Vagus Nerve
You may have heard that the vagus nerve is the longest nerve of the body, but its importance is more in its power.
The vagus nerve originates from the medulla oblongata, has four branches in the neck and reaches the lungs, heart, gastrointestinal tract, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and adrenals. (source)
Interestingly, vagus nerve stimulation is being used or considered in treatment of anxiety, depression, inflammatory disorders and more. Patterns of increased/decreased microbiota have been observed in anxiety and depression, as well as autism, Alzheimers’ and Parkinson’s. (source, source)
I was under the impression that bacteria could travel through the vagus nerve, but I’m not seeing that clearly expressed in my research. What surely happens is that inflammation produced by gut bacteria can activate the vagus nerve.
“Thus, it is suggested that LPS could activate afferent vagus nerve at the level of nodose ganglion, which exists centrally from the subdiaphragmatic level of vagus nerve. The results could provide evidence for the novel pathway of LPS-induced afferent vagus nerve activation.” (source)
“Cytokines produced by the gut microbes, such as IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α, can eventually enter the CNS through the blood-brain barrier (BBB).” (source)
“The vagus nerve (cranial nerve X) is the main nerve of the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system. The vagus nerve regulates metabolic homeostasis by controlling heart rate, gastrointestinal motility and secretion, pancreatic endocrine and exocrine secretion, hepatic glucose production, and other visceral functions. In addition, the vagus nerve is a major constituent of a neural reflex mechanism—the inflammatory reflex—that controls innate immune responses and inflammation during pathogen invasion and tissue injury.
Innate immune responses are activated by pathogen-associated and danger-associated molecular patterns that are recognized by sensors on the immune cell surface or in intracellular compartments.” (source)
And from the Front Psychiatry journal:
“The vagus nerve represents the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which oversees a vast array of crucial bodily functions, including control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate. It establishes one of the connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract and sends information about the state of the inner organs to the brain via afferent fibers.” (source)
Collecting information from the body, the vagus nerve determines the appropriate response. Unfortunately when there is a chronic stimulus - like mold or other toxins, gut infection, stress, gut inflammation - chronic dysregulation can result.
What To Do
Rebalance the brain and gut with these nutritional elements:
- Magnesium (I like 300 mg of our magnesium chelate at night…moves bowel and benefits the brain.)
- Fish oil with high DHA (Take 1,000 mg in maintenance and 3,000 day when symptomatic.)
- Phosphatidylcholine (great for brain inflammation…also supports detox so moderate the dose)
- Antioxidants like turmeric and resveratrol (brain-friendly…our product is Antioxidant Synergy)
- Dietary fiber and MegaPre (gut AND brain friendly)
- Mega IgG 2000 (supports gut immunity, gently tames infections)
- MegaMucosa (rebuilds gut mucosal lining and eases constipation and food sensitivities)
- Megasporebiotic (a great first step when treating the gut)
- Tributyn butyrate supplement (supports histamine levels, brain health and microbiome diversity)
- Mi Toxin Binder (take at bedtime to both capture toxins and move bowels)
To elaborate a bit, while digestion and absorption of nutrients mostly happens in the upper GI tract, there are important processes involved in the lower GI tract as bacteria ‘digest’ fibers and antioxidants and make short-chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters and more antioxidants.
So while it’s important to get enough protein and fat, it’s also important to get a variety of fibrous, colorful foods.
Vagal Nerve Activities
Activities that help:
- Tongue Scraping
- Coffee enema with emphasis on a challenging hold
- Cold plunging (only if you are resilient enough to start this)
- Time in nature
- Reading (supports flow state)
- Essential oils (lower cortisol)
- Lymph flow kit (I just got this and I love it)
- Heart coherence meditation (free on YouTube- really helps send a message of calm to the brain)
Here are some more resources on the vagus nerve:
No matter how long you’ve had symptoms, if you can uncover and address the underlying issues you can usually get improvement or even total reversal of symptoms. Wishing you the best on your healing journey!
Here are some helpful links: