There are many digestive disturbances that can cause neurotransmitter imbalances over time, including flora imbalances and food hypersensitivities. In addition, long standing gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) can also promote neurotransmitter imbalances. These imbalances occur for at least two reasons: (1) because of the malabsorption of nutrients that often accompanies these disorders and (2) due to the chronic pain (link to the chronic pain information below) that result from these disorders.
Gastrointestinal disorders are particularly hard on neurotransmitter balance because over 90% of the body’s serotonin is stored in the GI tract. Disruptions in proper GI function can result in massive fluctuations in the need for nutrients to keep neurotransmitter levels steady, which usually results in neurotransmitter deficiency or imbalance over time. Clinically, this can lead to one or more of the disorders associated with neurotransmitter imbalance and may explain why nearly 100% of the people we see with long-standing gastrointestinal disorders also suffer from depression, anxiety, insomnia and/or recurrent migraine headaches.