September 20, 2018

Human Microbiota and ADHD: Reader comments and Q&A

Hi Michael,

The message below was originally written in response to your article on ‘The Power of Poop’, where I came across your story. If you have the time to answer my message, I of course hope that you will do it on that website, so that other interested people will be able to gain from your response.
I am looking forward to hearing from you.

warm regards


Hi Michael,
I am honestly thrilled to read that FMT has worked so well for you. What an amazing story. It really shows the importance of more people – laypeople as well as medical practitioners – becoming aware of this option and its potential. It would be wise of us to reconsider our disgust towards our most important allies: our gut microbes.
What I am really curious about after reading this article, is whether FMT has had any effect on the ADHD that you mention. I am aware, of course, that the ADHD has most likely not been your primary concern (taking into regard your other symptoms and the prospect of surgery). But apart from the great improvement of your gut health, perhaps you have noticed additional effects of the FMT in relation to your ADHD? There seems to be a recognition of the relation between our gut flora and the functioning of our minds. For example the connection between a compromised gut flora and autism is a recurring theme. I have not managed to find much on the topic of microbiota and ADHD, but I did come across one person raising the topic.
Doctor Natasha Campbell-McBride thus claims that the health of your gut is directly related to syndromes such autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, schizophrenia, ADD and ADHD. Her answers to these conditions are primarily dietary changes, and I must say that I am sceptical of the capacity of dietary changes to restore our gut flora. However, it seems to confirm that there is a relation between an unhealthy microbiota and ADHD, and that a healthy gut likewise could improve this condition.
I don’t know if you are aware of this particular research, but I have included some links here for you or anyone else who might be interested:

This may not compare to a scientific study, but a lot of positive feed-back on the Amazon reviews of her book may suggest that at least some people can subscribe to her ideas:

Last year I was diagnosed with ADHD and I would be really interested in exploring the potential of FMT in helping me to deal with this diagnosis. My own hypothesis is that my lack of concentration, my restlessness, my awful working memory, fatigue etc. may be related to a compromised gut flora (perhaps not exclusively, but perhaps to some extent).
What gives me further reason to believe that I have a compromised gut flora is the nature of my bowel movements. While I cannot compare its severity to the stories that I come across here – including your own – I do experience very irregular bowel movements, bloatedness, stomach pains and other symptoms. Furthermore I have been developing several allergies over the years. As a young teenager I all of a sudden became allergic to cats, later pollen and grass, then dust, then wool… Last year I got eczema around the eyes, and then later on my body. The medical practitioners did of course not have any solution to that apart from treating the symptoms with topical steroids.
The connection between gut flora and allergy, I think, is nothing new:

This article, which establishes a link between allergy and ADHD, is also quite interesting in this regard:

Excuse my detour, I just wanted to paint a picture of a possible relation between ADHD and our gut flora to anyone who might be interested in exploring it. Let me get back to my initial question: have you experienced any changes to your ADHD-related symptoms since you started with FMT?

I hope that you will get to read this message. In any case, I am looking forward to hearing from you or any others who have an opinion on this matter.

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Hi Christian,

Thank you for sharing the research that you have found. I will share this on my website too for others to read as well. Yes, I have heard
about these relationships between gut flora and psychological conditions, especially Autism. I know depression and / or anxiety has
appeared to trigger flares of Ulcerative Colitis for me. I know that diarrhea or constipation are often triggered by psychological stress
in people who have been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and are known to trigger Crohn’s and Colitis flares.

As a child my Mom systematically tested foods on the impact on me to try to identify food allergies which included starting with an
elemental diet at one point. I was raised on the all-natural Feingold Diet, a diet which avoids artificial colors, flavors and
preservatives until I left for college as an attempt to help deal with hyperactivity and attention problems. To this day I still mostly
follow that diet.   Although I was not formally diagnosed with ADHD and did not start taking stimulant drugs until after college. I also
had chronic nasal allergies growing up and eczema. At the present time and for some time just before I started the fecal transplants I have
had no sense of smell. This leads me to believe that I might still have some lingering problems relating to the microbiome in my gut and
/ or sinuses. For dealing with Ulcerative Colitis I also tried to treat it with restrictive diets including Specific Carbohydrate Diet
(SCD) and a gluten-free, dairy-free, low fiber diet as well. In all honesty I just got tired of highly restrictive diets and have largely
resigned myself to just dealing with whatever comes my way as best as I can.

As for the original question it seems quite possible that gut flora could be a cause of hyperactivity or other psychological conditions
and / or that psychological conditions can cause gut flora problems. I can’t say I’ve noticed any changes in how my mind is functioning since
the fecal transplants. I have been taking stimulant drugs for many years now including now most days of the week including the present
day. I’ve generally believed that the restlessness / depression / anxiety etc. to be the cause of the gut problems due to the impact of
neurotransmitters on diarrhea or constipation and the impact of digestive irregularities on gut bacteria. It could also form some type
of feedback loop too.  However it is really hard to say what came first, although in my case it could have been some combination of
both. According to my mother I have been hyperactive since before I was born (literally trying to kick my way out of the womb) and had
digestive problems and hyperactivity almost since the day I was born.

I will add this to the topics on my upcoming radio show interview as well.