Is there a relationship between bacteria in the gut and chronic pain? This is what Dr. Gary Kaplan and his colleagues at the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, in conjunction with the J. Craig Venter Institute are investigating through a research study this summer.
If you are struggling with chronic pain and depression/anxiety disorders, or are a healthy individual with no history of chronic pain but an interest in participating as part of a control group, you may be eligible to participate in this study.
What is Central Sensitization Syndrome?
The co-occurrence of chronic pain conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and/or Myofascial pain, with a neuropsychiatric condition such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Anxiety, and/or PTSD is known as Central Sensitization Syndrome (CSS). There is currently no known cure and doctors have so far only been able to treat the symptoms of the disease with pain medications and other alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage. However, this may be changing.
There is growing speculation among the medical community that individuals suffering from CSS may have a bacterial composition in the GI tract that differs from that of healthy individuals. Instead of attributing this difference to the normal genetic variation seen from person to person, Dr. Kaplan and his research partners will examine the bacterial makeup of a study and control group with the goal of identifying possible risk factors for CSS. Results from this research study could lay the foundation for an entirely new outlook regarding the indicators and causes of CSS and MDD.
Over the last 25 years, Professor Thomas Borody, a renowned Australian physician, has made tremendous progress in the treatment of various gastrointestinal (GI) diseases through bacteriotherapy. As part of an investigation into a link between the composition of the gut microbiota and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), he conducted an experimental study in which the manipulation of colonic microbiota improved the symptoms of CFS in a whopping 70% of subjects.
A total of 30 participants will be selected and upon enrollment, required to provide stool and urine samples, as well as a small blood draw. There is no cost to participate and the Kaplan Center will provide a copy of results from the Genova stool analysis, and a nutritional assessment to participants, upon request. This is an observational study, so is not designed to provide treatment recommendations however participants are encouraged to discuss results with their primary care provider.
Over the course of this CSS study, Dr. Kaplan will examine and compare the metabolites, plasma, and gut microbiome of healthy (control) individuals to that of the CSS study group. Following a thorough analysis conducted by the J. Craig Venter Institute and Genova Diagnostics, Dr. Kaplan will look for shared patterns among results. Nutritional assessments from urine and plasma samples will help Dr. Kaplan to establish which essential nutrients are failing to be absorbed by the CSS group, while also identifying possible inflammatory factors caused by the presence of CSS.
As one of the first American physicians to ever look at imbalances in the gut microbiome as a possible risk factor for CSS, Dr. Kaplan hopes to set the foundation for future research, opening the door to new treatment possibilities for those suffering from chronic pain and/or major depressive disorder. It is his hope that observational results from this study will lead to a better understanding of CSS’ behavior – providing some much needed clues in the critical search for the long-awaited cure.
* We have now filled the volunteer roster for the study. Thanks to all who have contacted our office or told others!