Feeling Depressed? Probiotics Can Ease the ‘Blues’

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Probiotics for Good Mental Health

Probiotics are not only good for gut health, but can also relieve symptoms of depression, as well as help gastrointestinal upset including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a study conducted by researchers at McMaster University.

The study revealed that twice as many adults with IBS reported improvements from co-existing depression when they took a specific probiotic than adults with IBS who took a placebo.

This new discovery was confirmed by Dr. Premysl Bercik, the senior author of the study and associate professor of medicine at McMaster and a gastroenterologist for Hamilton Health Sciences.

Bercik said, “This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS. This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases.”

The study was published in the medical journal Gastroenterology (May 2).

The Study and Key Results

Through the collaboration with scientists from Nestle, the researchers invited 44 adults as respondents of the study. All respondents have IBS and mild to moderate anxiety or depression.

The study took 10 weeks where 22 of the respondents took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 the other 22 had a placebo.

Through the use of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), the researchers were able to monitor the improvement in depression scores.

Here are the reported results:

After six weeks, 14 of 22, or 64%, of the patients taking the probiotic had decreased depression scores. In contrast, seven of 22 (or 32%) of patients who were given a placebo.

Bercik said, “This is the result of a decade long journey – from identifying the probiotic, testing it in preclinical models and investigating the pathways through which the signals from the gut reach the brain.”

Amid the result pointing to the benefits of probiotic to curb symptoms of depression, the same study must be made in the future in a larger scale trial.

yogurt and berries - Feeling Depressed? Probiotics Can Ease the 'Blues'
A bowl of yogurt with berries.

Probiotics Can Curb Stress Too

Previous study revealed that probiotics, or live bacteria that are found in yogurt, can cut stress-related behavior and anxiety.

The new finding is confirmed by Aaron Ericsson, one of the authors of the study and director of the MU Metagenomics Center, who said, “Our study has shown that simple probiotics that we normally use to keep our digestive tract in sync, could be beneficial to reducing our stress levels as well.”

Probiotics are bacteria that help keep the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines. The most popular probiotic food is live cultured yogurt or greek yogurt made from the milk of cows, goats or sheep.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.