Over the last few years, medical professionals and researchers have emphasized the importance of gut microbiome health. Specifically, some professionals have started systematically mapping the interactions between gut bacteria and drugs. One such study demonstrated that certain gut bacteria are accumulating human drugs, altering the function of these organisms.
By gaining a better understanding of the impact of oral medications on gut health, researchers can potentially reduce side effects and improve the efficacy of these drugs.
What Is the Gut Microbiome?
The gut microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria and microorganisms that live within your GI tract. These bacteria play a key role in several critical functions, such as the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Gut microorganisms also influence other processes such as immune regulation and metabolism. If the gut microbiome is out of balance, it can have far-reaching health effects.
During the study, researchers grew 25 of the most common gut bacteria in a lab setting. They then exposed these organisms to 15 different oral medications. The researchers selected medications used to treat a wide range of conditions. The scientists discovered a total of 70 interactions between drugs and bacteria, 29 of which had not been reported previously.
After identifying the 29 new interactions, researchers conducted further tests. They determined that in 17 of these interactions, the medication accumulated in the microorganisms without changing to their chemical makeup. A few of these drugs include rosiglitazone (anti-diabetic medication) and duloxetine (antidepressant).
Potential Risks of the Bioaccumulation of Medications
The bioaccumulation of these medications poses two main risks to patients. First, the drugs may become less effective over time. This is especially concerning when discussing anti-diabetic and antidepressant medications, as reduced effectiveness can negatively impact patients.
How Do I Find Out If My Gut Microbiome Is Healthy?
If you are experiencing GI issues or just want to ensure that your gut microbiome is functioning properly, the best way to learn more about your overall gut health is through medical testing. A GI test will help medical professionals assess the root cause of most gut health complaints. They will also be able to suggest targeted treatment protocols to address your specific gut health issues.