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Could an upset stomach be a sign of MS or Parkinson's?

Could an upset stomach be a sign of MS or Parkinson's?
23rd June 2014

Individuals who experience a dodgy tummy could in fact be showing the signs of the onset of multiple sclerosis (MS) or Parkinson's disease.

The Daily Mail reports that individuals with the latter condition had a high concentration of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (Sibo). Symptoms of this include abdominal pain or bloating, diarrhoea and excess gas. 

While it is hard to ascertain how many people have Sibo, it is thought to be in the region of 300,000 Britons. This build-up of bacteria is thought to generate chemicals that harm the nerves in the gut, which then results in the brain being damaged. MS and Parkinson's are the consequences of this. 

Consultant neuro-gastroenterologist at University College London and the National Hospital for Neurology Dr Anton Emmanuel said the gut and the brain "share the same nerve chemistry and have a dialogue". 

"We now think that neurological diseases such as MS and Parkinson's are linked to the gut being more leaky, permitting pathogens into the bloodstream and causing an antibody response. Either the pathogens, directly, or the immune response, indirectly, may damage nerve tissue."

Researchers now hope this breakthrough will open up new avenues of treatments for both of these diseases. They are now outlining the bacterial genome that will pinpoint these organisms, which will enable specific treatments to be prescribed for the gut, meaning the neurological symptoms will be lessened as well. 

However, until this occurs, individuals are strongly encouraged to eat foods that increase the amount of good bacteria and promote healthy digestion, such as products that are rich in fibre and probiotics.

The full findings of this study can be viewed in the journal Movement Disorders.

Approximately 127,000 individuals in the UK have Parkinson's, while around 100,000 have MS. There is no definitive cure for either condition, although treatments are available to manage and lessen the symptoms. 

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