Microbiome Treatment For Mental Health (Results)

The Quest For A Cure - Misophonia, Anxiety, Depression, and More

Thank you for subscribing to Mental Martial Arts. Your support means the absolute world to me. I hope this information helps you (or a loved one) on your journey to mental peace. If you’d like me to write on specific topics or have questions feel free to drop a comment below or respond to this email directly. This is the story of a time I flew across the world to try a gut health treatment in hopes of curing my mental woes.


Recognize this flag? I wouldn’t have a few years ago. In fact, I didn’t know The Republic of Georgia (the country of Georgia) existed before my exposure to a specific treatment.

Turns out, Georgia is one of the oldest countries that still exists today, and human remains have been found there dating back to 1.8 million years ago. If you like history and want to have your mind blown, read up on Georgia.

While in Missouri, although I was moving more towards resolving my mental health issues through mental exercises, I was still very much convinced it was possible to get there through proper gut health treatment. Numerous studies show the connection between your gut health and your mental health, and I had done a lot of tests showing signs of dysbiosis in my intestines. High levels of strep bacteria, very low levels of flora diversity, this boy needed some fiber stat.

Gut Health? What Do You Mean Chris?

Great question - if this is your first time reading about gut health, I’ll give a brief overview of what I have discovered. Keep in mind I’m not a doctor and some of this information is debatable depending on which sources you read.

Essentially, we have trillions of bacteria that live in our digestive tracts - referred to as our microbiome - helping to break down food and turn it into nutrients and vitamins to power your body. If the levels of the different kinds of bacteria in your gut become imbalanced, too many or too little of one kind, this can result in health issues including some mental health disorders. ASU is actually leading a lot of research right now correlating gut health with Autism related conditions and developing treatment protocols.

Famous Greek physician considered the father of medicine

There are different ways to nourish a healthy microbiome such as eating a healthy diet with lots of fiber, exercising, eating probiotic foods, and more. However, we’re all different and what diet makes one person feel better may not work for another. For example, for a long time, I had really high blood levels of Histamine (probably because I was so anxious all the time). If I ate probiotic foods, also high in histamine, my skin would become itchy. Keep this in mind when trying different diets, if you’re trying something new, and you start to feel terrible, it might not be for you. Now back to bacteriophage therapy.

Bacteriophage Therapy

A family friend of mine in the biotech space introduced me to a head scientist working on microbiome therapeutics in the United States. This friend introduced me to a treatment known as Bacteriophage Therapy which uses viruses (good viruses - yes there are good viruses lol) to target different kinds of infections in the human body. This is something I didn’t know prior to this treatment, viruses and bacteria keep each other in balance in nature. Bacteriophage Therapy can be very effective for treating dysbiosis in the gut, rebalancing the flora that keep you healthy physically and mentally.

What’s unique about Bacteriophage Therapy compared to antibiotics is phages target specific kinds of bacteria while antibiotics kill both good and bad kinds of bacteria.

Unfortunately, Bacteriophage Therapy is not FDA-approved in the United States yet with the exception of life-or-death situations (UCSD in San Diego has an excellent program, iPath, for those of you curious about learning more. The founder’s husband nearly passed away from an infection before being saved with phages). As antibiotic resistance becomes more of a problem, I think phage therapy will be an effective solution if developed and tested properly.

Randomly, one of the countries leading Bacteriophage Research is Georgia, specifically, the capital city of Tbilisi. So in the midst of COVID, I reached out to both of these Georgian treatment centers and mailed them stool samples. Yes, lol, it is legal to mail stool samples. While it felt weird dropping a box of shit off at the post office, I was desperate in my quest for mental harmony.

A few days later, the centers informed me of what I had expected, that I had severe gut dysbiosis - and fortunately - it was relatively easy to treat with Bacteriophages. I had to pick one of the centers and decided to go with Phage Therapy Center due to their responsiveness and also the fact that they had a coordinator based in the US. Initially, the clinic said they could ship the treatment to me.

This sounded excellent, but unfortunately, the center informed me that their shipments were being stopped because the phages looked too similar to Covid vaccines. So it was either I had to fly to Tbilisi, or wait until the end of Covid. Given I didn’t have much going on in Missouri aside from my daily mental regimen, and I had money saved up, I decided to fly to Tbilisi, Georgia. Yes, literally the other side of the world. It looked like such an interesting country and I hadn’t been on a trip other than to doctors’ offices in a long time.

A few weeks went by and I packed my bags, left my car in a storage unit in Missouri, and off I went to Tbilisi. I was so excited to go, as I finally felt I’d found the answer to my ailments. This phage treatment was going to rebalance the bacteria in my gut, thus causing me to feel significantly better mentally. While this may sound seemingly simple, this conclusion was founded on hours of research and conversations with doctors from all over the US.

Arriving in Tbilisi was a bit of a culture shock. I had spoken with two people who had been there before and they had given me an overview of what to expect. However, the reality was different from what I’d been told. Very few people spoke English at all, only a little at best. I bought a SIM card from the airport and fortunately had arranged pick-up with a driver from the phage center.

I booked an Airbnb to stay in Vake, which is one of if not the nicest parts of the city. It’s unbelievable how less expensive staying in second-world countries is compared to the United States. I had my own apartment in an amazing part of the city for less than $800 a month. My treatment was scheduled to start the next day, so I settled into my apartment and walked around town a little bit.

Tbilisi is such a fascinating city with a rich history. Seeing the buildings from the Soviet era, and how the city had evolved since, was fascinating. Walking through certain parts of Tbilsisi felt like you had used a time machine, while others were modernized and could be confused with any modern city.

Soviet control era buildings

Fabrika - a must see if in Tbilisi. Modernized spot with different bars, restaurants, etc.

Anyways, I digress, back to phage therapy. Given Georgia is on the opposite side of the world, the time difference knocked me on my ass. I didn’t sleep at all the first night, and woke up at three in the afternoon the next day, missing my first appointment. Fortunately, I was able to go to the clinic later in the day to meet with the doctors, review my symptoms, and run fresh labs. We didn’t start the treatment right away, but rather, they gave me a series of IVs during the first few days to cleanse my system. Vitamins, minerals, antifungals (ever heard of candida?) and I felt amazing after the third day of ivs.

The fresh labs showed signs of severe dysbiosis in my gut, as well as high levels of candida. So the ivs continued, and I started taking phages for dysbiosis. Phages come in small glass vials, and I would drink one every morning and evening. Additionally, they gave me special probiotics to take with the phages. I took probiotics that were specifically beneficial for breaking down histamine, due to my previously high histamine level test results (another post on histamine coming soon).

This regimen continued for about two weeks - phages for dysbiosis twice a day with probiotics. By the end of the treatment, my mental state was about the same as when I had started. One of the Georgian doctors pulled me aside and in a Georgian accent said “Chris - this problem you have, is not a stomach problem, it is mental problem - every day, walk to the top of the mountain and tell yourself “I am healthy, I am strong” and you will be well.” While I appreciated his support and encouragement, this is what I had tried doing in Missouri for six months.

Although bacteriophage therapy didn’t cure my Misophonia or really help with anxiety/depression - after the treatment was over I was able to eat all foods again without issues - including eggs (crazy, I know lol). So while it didn’t help my mental issues, Misophonia, Anxiety, etc. it certainly helped with digestion and my ability to consume a larger variety of foods again.


Because living in Tbilisi was so inexpensive, I decided to stay for a while and continue my research for a cure while living in a new city. Every day I would hike to the top of a mountain, work out with some Russians, journal, and explore. The food in Tbilisi is insanely good, with influences from all over the world. An incredibly nice meal in Tbilisi with wine would be around $10 in total and closer to $20 if you were really ordering a lot. Some of the best dishes are Khachapuri, which is a breaded cheesy bliss with an egg on top, and also Khinkalis, which are very similar to Xiao Long Bao (soup) dumplings if you’ve ever tried them. Georgia has its own cheeses, yogurts, wines and style of wine-making, breads, and so many unique dishes.

Georgian market selling cheeses from the different regions

One other element of the country Georgia I found interesting was it was very homogenous, as not a lot of people have ever left, or been to the United States. The culture there is incredibly rich. Emotional expression is much more common - and I mean emotional expression. It was common to hear people yelling at each other in the streets, and when I would ask my friends what was wrong, they look at me confused and say they were just arguing, or that the people shouting at each other weren’t even arguing, they were just communicating. In the US it’s almost as if emotional expression is frowned upon. People in the United States almost don’t know how to respond if they see someone crying, and the slightest tone of anger in someone’s voice can terrify others. I think emotional suppression is a reason for a lot of dis-ease in the United States, and I’ll touch on this in another post.

While in Tbilisi, one of my Air Bnb hosts had a son, and the son invited me to hang out with him and his friends one day. I was so incredibly nervous going to this gathering for some reason, writing this two years later, I think at the time I was harboring an incredible amount of shame around the mental issues I’d been struggling with and was always nervous I would have a panic attack or be perceived as weird while feeling anxious.

Anyways, I ended up going to the gathering, meeting my host’s son and his friends, and having an incredible afternoon. They spoke English and we ate amazing food, drank some wine, played games, and talked about life. They welcomed me into their friend group and we spent the next few months hanging out nearly every day.

I was blown away by how much people smoke in Georgia. It’s almost as if the news hasn’t hit yet that smoking is bad for you. I saw one guy at this gathering go through four packs of cigarettes and went to get more when he ran out.

Every town my new friends and I explored had an incredible story behind it and cuisine that was unique to the town. We drove to a town called Borjomi and on the way passed through a town named Surami, with people on the streets everywhere waving loaves of bread around for sale. The bread was called Nazuki, and it’s a Georgian sweet bread that is delicious. After consuming nearly an entire loaf of this amazing bread, we continued to Borjomi.

Nazuki bread stands on the side of the road

Nazuki baker preparing the bread

Nazuki being baked

Hot dogs or legs?

A quick side-story on Surami. In this town are the remains of a legendary fortress. According to legend, when constructing the castle it repeatedly collapsed. The architect didn’t know what to do and sought the advice of a fortune teller. The fortune teller looked into the future and saw that a blue-eyed male, who was an only child, must be buried alive within the castle walls for the structure to be completed without collapsing. At the time, this was seen as a great honor and a sign of faith. So a sixteen-year-old volunteered to be buried alive inside one of the walls of the fortress. The fortune teller was supposedly right, and the castle was completed without collapsing ever again.

Now, here’s where things get interesting. The wall of the castle where the boy was buried inside is still standing. It doesn’t matter the day, time, or weather, this wall is always wet and dripping water. The tale now goes that the wall is wet with the tears of the boy once buried alive inside.

The wet wall where the boy was buried alive inside you. You can’t tell very clearly in this photo, but the stones where my hand is are wet.

Okay, hope you’re not too claustrophobic after that story, now back to Borjomi. Borjomi dates back to the middle ages (maybe earlier?), and natural mineral water springs were discovered there with healing properties. Initially, Russian soldiers took note of the water’s healing properties, and Borjomi water became so famous a Russian Tsar took his sick daughter to the springs, where she was healed by the water. Now, Borjomi water is for sale all over Georgia, and is commonly known to help with any sort of sickness.

Borjomi Water Benefits

My Georgian friends enjoying coffee at one of their grandmother’s apartments in Borjomi

My friends and I spent two nights walking around Borjomi, going to the springs, eating good food, playing games, and living life. It felt so good to be living a somewhat normal life again. Going places with friends, socializing, exploring, and just having fun. Despite still struggling mentally, these experiences lifted my spirits dramatically. Seeing the living conditions some of the Georgian people were in, like run-down, post-soviet-union, wires sticking out of the walls, and how happy they were, was such a strong reminder to me to practice gratitude and to be grateful for everything I had back in the United States.

The best Georgian friends in the whole wide world

The people in Georgia were so incredibly friendly and inspiring. If you ever have the chance to visit Georgia - you’re in for a treat. Feel free to ping me for recommendations. Before I wrap up this post - here are a few non-health related stories from my time in Georgia.

While staying in my friend’s Air Bnb, a Russian woman and her boyfriend checked into the apartment next door to mine (also owned by my friend’s family). My friend and I were out of town with our other friends when the Russian woman checked in, and the first night she called my friend and said she was too drunk to figure out how to get home etc. So we had to help her find her way back over the phone. I returned home to my Air Bnb the next day, and heard her crying through the walls. Her sobs were so loud, I wanted to knock and ask if she was okay. For some reason, I refrained.

The next two nights, I heard her and her friends partying late into the night. They were smoking so much inside the scent started seeping through the walls. So I finally knocked on their door and asked if they would please open a window to let the smoke out. Two very normal, nice-looking Russian’s answered the door and we talked about how they had lived in New York. They were very polite and said they would stop smoking or go outside.

A few days later, the Russian woman was supposed to check out of the apartment, and my friend informed me that he hadn’t heard anything from her, and she wouldn’t answer her phone. She had the key to the apartment, so my friend had to get it from her. Anyways, two days later I am working out on top of the mountain with my Russian friends and my friend calls me asking if I can come to the police station. Freaked out, I said of course and asked why, and my friend said he would pick me up and explain.

Since my friend hadn’t heard from the Russian woman that was supposed to check out, he and his dad went to the apartment and went inside, what they found was like a scene out of a horror film. The apartment was completely trashed, and I mean TRASHED. There were cigarette butts all over, the sink was clogged with black water, clothes were strewn all over the apartment, and suitcases were left there. What was most interesting, was there was a laptop, a really nice camera, and the guy who I spoke with about smoking the one night had left his passport there.

So, the police wanted me to identify the Russian woman as well as the guy that I had spoken with. I did, and the police informed us the woman had left the country the morning after she checked in.

We had no clue what had happened - and of course thought this was a crime scene. Was there a body stuffed in the closet somewhere? Why would they leave all of there stuff in the apartment? That night, I was supposed to go back and stay in my apartment next door, and I was terrified. Was whoever committed the crime next door going to track me down? I voiced my concerns to my friend and his family and my friends came and stayed with me in the apartment in case anything happened.

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