Liver function, emotional depression, and intestinal dysbiosis

The Gut Microbiome Modulates the Changes in Liver Metabolism and in Inflammatory Processes in the Brain of Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress Rats

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In Chinese medicine, the liver is said to play a large role in one’s emotional state. It has also long been associated cross-culturally with what modern psychiatrists diagnose as depression. For example, the term melancholy was a common diagnosis for what is now called depression. Melancholy is a term that has its origin in Greek medicine and literally translates as black bile. It was a disorder that was associated with the liver because some of the symptoms manifested around the known physical location of that organ.

Chinese herbalists noticed a similar pattern where there is an underlying diagnosis of liver Qi stagnation for emotional depression that includes symptoms like sub-costal discomfort. Up until recently, modern Western medicine did not strongly associate the liver with emotional depression unless the patient was actually suffering from an organic liver pathology. It now appears at least possible that the microbiome plays a previously unknown role in this phenomenon. Definitely something to pay attention to going forward.