Antibodies against yeast and inflammation are possible causes for schizophrenia and bipolar disorders

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schizofrenia and yeastParanoia, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and behavioural aberrations: these are all conditions that once were considered to be only psyche-centred; still, novel “rest of the body” components have been gradually discovered, sometimes resulting to be crucial for the disease.

For many years, researchers looked for the “missing molecule”, that is, the neurological connecting piece (a potential substitute of drugs) possibly able to reinstate balance in the brain functioning. Dopamine, serotonin or noradrenalin deficiencies were identified in numerous disorders; as a consequence, medicines were designed to substitute these molecules.

In one way or another, scientists tried to attribute a “physical” side to certain psychiatric conditions, by identifying those deficient molecules not strictly connected with the psychological interpretation (a traumatic event, complexes, neurosis, psychosis) of one specific condition.

A few months ago, new physical mechanisms were described, although some were partly unexpected: these new findings correlated some specific psychiatric disorders with gut inflammation and the transit of certain substances, known to be negatively impacting on the brain.

We are talking of casein and gluten derivatives, whose possible neurological interference has been known for a while. Casomorphins and gluteomorphins (opioid-like molecules produced by milk and gluten digestion) are able to pass through an inflamed intestine and reach the brain, where they contribute in causing psychotic disorders.

A research group from the Johns Hopkins University published on the journal Bipolar disorders the results of a comparison between healthy controls and bipolar subjects (affected by obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD), either with recent or dated onset.

In order to investigate all the possible effects generated by intestinal interference, scientists chose to use the levels of anti-brewer’s yeast antibodies (also known as Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies, ASCA), as a marker and severity indicator for gut inflammation, since these have been known to be autoimmunity triggers and to correlate with various inflammatory gut conditions (Severance EG et al, Bipolar Disord. 2013 Dec 6. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12159. [Epub ahead of print]).

The research results were highly significant and concluded that:

  • There exists a strong correlation between the presence of anti-yeast and other food-related antibodies (casein and gluten, for example) and the severity of the intestinal disorders described by the subjects recruited in the study.
  • The risk of bipolar disorder is around 4 times higher in subjects positive to anti-yeast antibodies compared to negative ones, regardless of the psycho-pharmacological treatment undergone.
  • The linkage between anti-yeast, anti-gluten and anti-casein antibodies was significantly more present in bipolar patients compared to control subjects, regardless of the onset time

All this means that gut inflammation and antibody against food antigens may represent a concurrent cause of the disorder itself, although to be scientifically rigorous, one should take into account the hypothesis of the disease leading to an immunological status able to change food reactivity.

In practice, this brings back to the potential pshychic interference given by food-related infammation, and to the already described co-partnership of yeast with numerous inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

On a similar side, this research group published a study on the journal Schizophrenia research, which described very rigorously the tight correlation among gut inflammation, the psychological status of the subjects and the presence of anti-yeast, anti-casein and  anti-gluten antibodies (Severance EG et al, Schizophr Res. 2012 Jun;138(1):48-53. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.02.025. Epub 2012 Mar 24).

We cannot (still) talk with absolute guarantee of a causative connection between anti-yeast antibodies and bipolar disorder, but we are entitled to strongly suspect of its truthfulness.

In addition, the link between yeast reactivity and schizophrenia presents an interesting symbolic aspect. The greatest expression of fermentation is alcohol transformation. The acute abuse of alcohol quickly leads shortly to mental dissociation, exactly as how the repetitive and continuative use of it by sensitive subjects, may lead to the slow, chronic transformation towards schizophrenia or dissociation.

All this is possible even without drinking alcohol: eating simple bread and cheese may be sufficient, instead.