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In a recent research paper published in a study by researchers at Harvard University, the team recently came across solid evidence and examples of how our powerful gut bacteria can affect or interfere with your medication's intended path within the body.
Impressively by focusing on the drug used for the degenerative disease, Parkinson's, researchers were able to identify out of the trillions of species in our stomach, the bacteria species responsible for degrading it and perhaps how to stop it.
Eating Your Medication
Now your stomach's microbes are not the enemy here. The microbes in your gut play a crucial role in your overall health.
After you clean a plate of one of your grandmother's favorite dishes, the trillions of microbes that live in your digestive system are responsible for breaking down your food and turning them into important nutrients. It is an impressive evolutionary feat that could have some consequences on how our bodies process medication.
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According to Maini Rekdal, a graduate student in the lab of Professor Emily Balskus and first-author on their new study published in Science, "This kind of microbial metabolism can also be detrimental. Maybe the drug is not going to reach its target in the body, maybe it's going to be toxic all of a sudden, maybe it's going to be less helpful."
In short, the overarching theory is that gut microbes eat up our medications in ways that could be hazardous to our health.
Understanding Our Microbes
In one of their stronger examples, as mentioned above, researchers looked at Parkinson's disease and its primary treatment drug levodopa. In their research, they found out which bacteria are responsible for degrading the drug and how to stop this microbial interference.
Interestingly, because of this same microbial interference, only 1 to 5% of the drug reaches the areas of treatment.
In their research, the team worked hard to better understand how the drug gets broken down in the gut coming across a molecule that could potentially inhibit the metabolizing of levodopa increasing its efficacy.
Not only does this research opens the gates to a better understanding of our gut but could be crucial to making our medications more effective.