Link with gut

There is a very interesting article in today's Sunday Mail about a new link established between Parkinson's and MS and bacteria in the gut.

I wonder if Research have anything to add.

The article gives ideas of how to counteract the imbalance although it is very early days for a real treatment to develop.


I agree. It is an interesting article. Perhaps we should all make sure we have plenty of live yogurth in our diet and generally eat healthy food. Maybe that will improve our symptoms.

However, it is difficult to do away with antacids and anti-inflammatories, as the article suggests, if one suffers from arthritis and over-acidity, like I do.

You  are right, Goldengirl. I too wonder what Research think about this discovery.


Hi goldengirl and redpoppy

I've passed your question on to the team and asked them to post as soon as they have an answer. 



Thank you, Ezinda.


Hi you know i have had a few problems with constant diarreah like water since Feb....evenings, several times a night, urgency, pain, bloating, to the point when my Gp fast tracked me for a Colonoscopy and i had an appointment within 2 days!! I have just had the results back and it showed Inflammation in the Colon, apparently it can flare up after a stressful incident, as in my case. I have been reading that there is a strong connection between Bowel problems and PD. I have to now see a Gastroenterologist to discuss management of this but since taking Omeprazole every morning and the stress reducing!!! my tum has settled back to its normal state (for now at least). I used to take Acidophulus (live bacteria) which is supposed to help prevent Colon cancer but according to studies the long term effects are unknown and so far no human studies have proved helpful. I will keep you posted.

Hi goldengirl

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.

Thank you, research!

It does seem a useful line of research and we will add live yoghurt to our diet just in case it helps!

I wonder if you can tell us more about how to get rid of the bacteria that contribute to SBIO?

Anything is worth adding to our repertoire!

I look forward to further research in this area as it seems that powerful drugs with severe side effects won't be involved.

My fear, as always, is that it won't attract much funding from drug companies as it seems unlikely large profits will be involved .



I typed SIBO and Parkinson's into a Google box and got lots of sites that were pay to view.

This was one of the few that I could access free but there does seem a lot of info about the link currently being posted.

Good hunting everyone!


Hi goldengirl

This is the paper we mentioned:

Unfortunately you can only read the abstract of the paper but you'll see the researchers treated people with SIBO with rifaximin, a type of antibiotic.

Whilst the study was only done on a relatively small number of people, those treated for SIBO had improvements in motor fluctuations.  More research is needed to confirm that clearing bacterial infections from the gut is beneficial for people with Parkinson’s. As many of those treated had SIBO again within 6 months after treatment the long term effects of this type of treatment are still unknown.

Whilst this study may not attract funding from drug companies at this stage, there is research ongoing in this area. As always, we will keep our eyes peeled for any news.

Best wishes

The Research Team

Thanks, research!

Another little bit of hope!

Any chance of PDUK offering funding?



I've found this really interesting. I've recently had blood tests which showed I'm low in iron so my GP referred me to a gastroenterologist who arranged  for me to have a gastroscopy and sigmoidoscopy. Fortunately there was no cancer, but apparently my duodenum and colon both had some redness/inflammation.  Biopsies have been taken and I'm waiting for the results. It does make you wonder if there could be some connection. 


not all probiotics are equal - from wikipedia


Lactobacillus casei has been found to be effective in improving breath hydrogen scores after 6 weeks of treatment presumably by suppressing levels of a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth of fermenting bacteria.[43] The multi-strain preparation VSL#3 was found to be effective in suppressing SIBO.[44] Lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus casei have all demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment and management of SIBO. Conversely lactobacillus fermentum andsaccharomyces boulardii have been found to be ineffective.


i tried lots of probiotics about a year ap and it did me no good at all. but every gut is different!

Hi again everyone,

Great to follow this discussion, it's certainly a fascinating area and we're planning to write something about it in Progress magazine - probably for the issue which will be out early in 2015.

To answer Golden Girl's question about funding, we welcome and encourage applications for research funding into every aspect of Parkinson's and support projects large and small.

Every application we receive is assessed for scientific quality by carefully chosen independent scientific experts as well as by volunteers with direct experience of living with Parkinson's. The recommendations for which projects we ultimately fund are made by our independent Research Advisory Panel of experts and people affected by Parkinson's, and the final decision is made by our Board of Trustees.

If you'd like to find out more about our funding process and the different types of support we offer to researchers please do take a look at our website:

I hope this helps to answer your query.

Best wishes,


Parkinson's UK research team

Thanks again,Claire for your always prompt responses!



There are three aspects to Parkinson's and the gut which we need to keep clear.

  • Reduced intestinal motility, which starts early on, and notably manifests itself in constipation
  • The effect of changes in the gut on the bacterial complement and absorption of medication and thus on symptoms and
  • The view, based on increasing evidence, that Parkinson's starts in the gut and progresses to the brain by a prion-like process via the vagus nerve which connects the intestine to the brain.

I have just come across a recent paper by Prof David Burn at Newcastle which actually explains a lot of this:  It is a scientific paper so there is a lot to take in but well worth it if you have the patience and determination!

This paper concentrates on the stomach and hormonal changes.  But clearly a reduction in the rate at which food passes through the gut as a whole will also affect the bacteria there in many ways.  These changes can affect the way that medication is absorbed and can give rise to fluctuation in symptoms.  And clearly these are different for different people.  This is not good news because there won't be a single treatment that helps with the symptoms for everyone.  But David Burn's work seems to be turning up something that may have wide application.  Do read the 'Conclusion' section of the above paper.


I would be very interested to read this but the page seems to have disappeared!



Hi GG,

It could be that the document has been downloaded automatically so that you have to find the file and display it in adobe reader.  Or try this: and then go to the Get PDF button.

Droflet - great article. I would also like to point out that the heart is on the vagus nerve highway between the gut and the brain. Pwp have twice the normal occurrence of heart failure for example.