Probiotics relieve the symptoms of depression, as well as helping with digestion problems, a new study finds.
The research was carried out on people with irritable bowel syndrome who were also depressed.
Twice as many reported improvements in depression symptoms if they took a specific probiotic.
Dr Premysl Bercik, senior study author, 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 probiotic is called Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001.
Half of the 44 adults with IBS and mild to moderate anxiety or depression took a daily dose.
Over 10 weeks those taking the probiotic showed improvements in their IBS and depression and anxiety.
64% of those taking the probiotics showed psychological improvements compared with just 32% in the placebo group.
Brain scans revealed changes in multiple brain areas related to mood control.
Dr 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.”
The study’s first author, Dr. Maria Pinto Sanchez, added:
“The results of this pilot study are very promising but they have to be confirmed in a future, larger scale trial.”
Other studies have also shown that probiotics have promise in treating depression.
One mouse study in which they were fed Lactobacillus, found that the probiotic reversed their depression.
Another study found that a multispecies probiotic helped stop sadness from turning into depression.
Recent studies have repeatedly underlined the importance of diet for how we feel.
The new study was published in the journal Gastroenterology (Pinto-Sanchez et al., 2017).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Image credit: Elaine Hsiao