Concussion post 12 – Probiotics

The next thing you need to take during a brain injury is probiotics to optimize your gut bacteria. Whether you get them from pills or food or both, it doesn’t matter. Bacteria in food can affect brain function. Your bacterial environment in the gut can affect brain activity. This has been known for some time. Doctors will often hear from patients that they never experienced brain symptoms such as depression or being anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut. The gut – brain connection is truly a two-way street.

Optimizing your gut bacteria during the time of brain injury is important because your gut flora is intimately tied to brain neurotransmitter production and the immune system. And neurotransmitter disruption is one of the primary things that can occur during a brain trauma. It is often the case the many people do not have optimized gut bacteria prior to a TBI.

TBI and immune suppression

One of the things that happens with a TBI is severe immune system depression that can last for several weeks. This is partly due to the injury itself as well as the large amount of glucocorticoids that are often given to treat a TBI. Consequences of a TBI may be intestinal hyper permeability (leaky gut), elevated immunoglobulins, decreased C-reactive protein and IL – 6 (inflammatory markers) in critically ill patients. It is known that a balanced bacterial flora using probiotics may help with the leaky gut. Also TBI impairs cellular immune function and probiotics help with this. The reason that probiotics can help with the immune system is that they promote a favorable change in the T helper cells of the immune system.


Taking a probiotic of some sort is an easy first step. Most doctors recommend to take something with at least a 2 billion count of bacteria. But there are many types available; some brands that I like are probiotic pearls and VSL-3.

kefir pic

Kefir. These cultured milk beverages (sometimes called “liquid yogurt”) are popular in the U.S. and can be a major source of probiotic organisms. Like milk, they are rich in calcium and protein and some are fortified with vitamin D. Kefir is easier to tolerate than milk for people with lactose intolerance because of the lower amounts of lactose (milk sugar). Kefir is teeming with live organisms, ranging from 150 billion to 1 trillion per cup! Far more than found in a serving of any probiotic supplement. Fermented products such as kefir is a very good way to ensure that you have adequate gut bacteria.

And making restoring in your own home couldn’t be simpler. All that is required are quality kefir grains, milk, a jar, and a strainer. Kefir is among the simplest to make of the fermented foods and tastes great. For more information about making your own kefir check out this site.


Prebiotics are useful in brain injury because they ensure a healthy gut bacteria population. Basically each of us have 10 trillion bacteria living in our bodies that weigh in excess of 4 pounds.  The gut bacteria are important in the formation of neurotransmitters and in the formation of thyroid hormone.  There are many others, but suffice it to say gut bacteria is a major point of consideration when thinking about treating any head injury. The trick to getting enough prebiotics is to eat enough fiber. Thus another reason for the plant rich ketogenic diet.

An example of a prebiotic is inulin, or also known as chicory root.  So a pre biotic is something that you would consume along with the probiotic.

So no matter what you have thought about any of the other supplements in this brain injury/concussion blog, taking probiotics and fermented products is super simple and should absolutely be done if you have a TBI.

Hope this helps and remember this is for informational purposes only.  It may be worth it to seek consultation with a nutritionist talk about issues and how to prepare certain foods.