There is quite a lot of research underway into the bacterial changes that occur in the gut of people with Parkinson's.
Interestingly, many people with Parkinson's experience problems such as constipation which may be related to changes in the bacteria in their digestive systems - and these problems often occur before the movement symptoms of Parkinson's develop.
However, further investigation is still required as we don't yet fully understand how changes in gut bacteria may be involved in the development of Parkinson's.
The Sunday Mail talks about a new pathway between the brain and the gut. We were interested the science behind this headline so went looking for the original research paper, however we could not find the new research the Mail is referring to.
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) has been linked to Parkinson’s previously – for instance a paper from last year published in the journal Movement Disorders and another published in Parkinsonism and Related Disorders this year. Researchers have shown getting rid of the bacteria that causes SIBO may improve some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s, although more research is still needed to confirm this.
But we couldn’t the research the Mail is referring to on a the pathway between the brain and the gut.
However we did find some so interesting research in a “viewpoint” paper called Gut feelings about smoking and coffee in Parkinson’s disease.
The authors of the paper talk about how the gut might influence the brain. Although exactly how the brain and the gut are connected is largely unknown, researchers believe there is a connection that they have called the “microbiota-gut-brain axis”.
The authors of the paper hypothesises that smoking and coffee may change the types of microorganism – or microbiota – living in the gut which might have a beneficial effect on how the gut influences the brain. They believe this might explain why smoking and coffee both slightly decrease the risk of Parkinson’s (please note we don’t recommend starting smoking as it increases your risk of other conditions).
Read more about coffee and Parkinson’s.
Whilst this is all very interesting the next step is for the researchers to test their hypothesis. Time, and research, will tell if their hypothesis is true and shed more light on how the gut may be involved in Parkinson’s.