CONNECT 2021 - Resilience, Optimism and Social Support: Indicators of a healthy microbiome? ~ Heather Zwickey, PhD




The microbiome field continues to explode with revelations that change how we think about health and healing. We have become accustomed to hearing that microbes and their metabolites have an impact on the immune and nervous system. But how might the microbiome affect resilience, optimism, and social support? Is it possible to change someone’s sense of resilience through their gut-immune-nervous system balance? This seminar discusses the enteric nervous system, and the relationships between microbial metabolites, cytokines, and neurotransmitters with respect to resilience, optimism, and social support. We consider how our friendships and relationships impact these systems. Finally, we address the question of whether prebiotics, probiotics, postbiotics, and synbiotics may truly help make us ‘stronger together.’

Heather Zwickey earned a PhD in Immunology and Microbiology with a focus on infectious disease and vaccine development from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Dr. Zwickey went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship and teach at Yale University School of Medicine where she worked on immunotherapy for cancer. She was then recruited to the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR, where she launched the Helfgott Research Institute and established the School of Graduate Studies, developing programs in integrative medicine research, nutrition, and global health, among others. She currently co-leads an NIH-funded clinical research training program focused on training the next generation of integrative medicine researchers. She teaches at many universities and speaks at conferences world-wide. At Helfgott Research Institute, Dr. Zwickey applies her immunology expertise to natural medicine, with specific interest in the gut-brain axis in neuroinflammation.

*Certified by the WANP for 1 Category 1 continuing education credit for Washington NDs*
(Originally presented October 16, 2021)