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Anger and other mood changes might actually originate in the gut.
It’s human nature to try to link a cause to an effect.
Take anger outbursts, for example. A recent study conducted by the University of Chicago’s department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience suggests that a parasite transmitted to humans through the feces of infected cats may promote impulsive aggression. The parasite, toxoplasma gondii, can be contracted through litter boxes, as well as via undercooked meat or contaminated water.
Dr. Emil Coccaro and his team of researchers view this parasite as a potential anger trigger, since they found that study participants with Intermittent Explosive Disorder were more than twice as likely to test positive for the parasite. Yet they also noted that other participants tested similarly yet exhibited normal aggression and impulsivity scores.
To complicate things further, toxoplasma gondii is viewed as fairly harmless, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting that more that 60 million Americans may have it at any given time.
This gives one pause as to what to take away from this particular study. Can anger be attributed to one parasite? Or is there more to the picture that hasn’t yet been explored?
Research studies may not tell the entire story. In this instance, scientists only examined a single, relatively rare, cat parasite. What about other parasites – human parasites, in particular – which are much more common? No one is taking a good hard look at them, and yet they may be more likely to be responsible for anger outbursts and other behaviors than one relatively obscure cat parasite.
The bigger picture, in my opinion, is to find the root cause of your mood changes. And that can be accomplished by using a whole body, functional perspective - and going with your gut. A highly complex, multi-tasking enterprise, the digestive system is an ideal place to check first for any internal factors that may be contributing to external manifestations.
To do so, you’ll want to consult with a trained holistic specialist. And here are some things I suggest you ask during your initial consultation:
- How are my digestive enzymes?
Determine if your body has the right tools it needs to properly digest and absorb the vitamins and nutrients it receives from a well-balanced diet. For instance, the digestive enzyme lactase naturally decreases after age one, making it more difficult to digest the lactose found in milk and dairy products. Undigested lactose then becomes a breeding ground for bad bacteria.
- Is there any inflammation or infection in my gut?
Speaking of bad bacteria, a holistic specialist can ascertain if there is any bacterial overgrowth in your digestive system that could be causing infection or inflammation. An abundance of noxious bacteria, along with leaky gut syndrome, are just two gut-related conditions that can affect a myriad of physical and mental conditions. While you’re at it, make sure your hydrochloric acid level is where it needs to be, as HCL kills bad bugs when they try to enter your stomach plus is necessary for the proper activation of digestive enzymes.
- Could heavy or toxic metals play a role?
Heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic can interfere with vitamin D metabolism and affect your body in countless other ways. Methylmercury, for example, can be found in fish you unknowingly consume that has been harvested from contaminated waters. Check your heavy metal burden to see if excessive mercury and/or lead levels are present, and work with a trained alternative medicine practitioner to customize a safe, medically sound detoxification program to rid your body of those poisons.
Since anger outbursts may be attributed to more than just exposure to the feces of parasite-infected cats, they may be effectively addressed holistically by utilizing a whole body approach - rather than through psychiatry or the use of psychotropic drugs. As with any information-only recommendations, you’ll want to share them with your physician to make sure they’re right for you.