Can Probiotics Help With Anxiety And Depression?

August 17, 2017

“Every Time You Eat Or Drink You Are Either Feeding Disease Or Fighting It.”

Lots of research is currently going on about the different kinds of bacteria that reside in varied regions of the body, such as the skin, bowels, and lungs, etc. It is now known that the count of bacterial cells in the body is nearly 10 times as compared to human cells.

A large percentage of these bacterias are present in the bowels, and they are useful for carrying out many different functions such as food digestion, immune system regulation, production of some vitamins, etc. Studies are currently being done to find any linkages between the risk of prolonged diseases (like IBD or obesity) and alterations in intestinal bacteria.

The connection between the stomach and the brain

Scientists are also conducting different studies on finding the direct relationship between the stomach and the brain. Theory suggests that changes in the bacteria present in the gut may be instrumental in changing different aspects of depression and anxiety, as well as other neuropsychiatric disorders. A distinct ‘nervous system’ is present in the intestines and it produces neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and acetylcholine, which are similar to those generated by the brain.

The intestinal neurotransmitters help enhance gut motility, and excess amounts can lead to diarrhea or constipation. Similarly, it has been theorized that there may be a direct communication line between the gut and the brain. Hence, it is postulated that anxiety and depression can result in gastrointestinal symptoms like pain in the stomach, constipation, or prolonged abdominal pain resulting in depression and anxiety.

Can probiotics help treat mental and physical conditions?

Since theory suggests the role of bacteria in occurrence of chronic physical or mental ailments, it can be postulated that changing the gut bacteria levels via addition of good bacteria or probiotics may help treat different chronic mental and physical conditions.

Probiotics have been widely used for several decades in countries like Japan, India, and China, mainly in fermented milk form. It is also important to note that varied animal studies show that probiotics are useful in alleviation of illnesses like colitis and diarrhea. But the unfortunate fact is that there is still no concrete proof of a positive effect of probiotics in curing diseases in humans.

An analysis about a few different studies done on the effects of probiotics in curing anxiety and depression offered mixed results. Some studies indicated that the use of probiotics offered no benefits, while other studies indicated anxiety and depression sufferers experienced mild easement of symptoms after intake of probiotics. It can thus be concluded that more comprehensive studies need to still be carried out to better understand the clinical effects of good bacteria or probiotics on human mental health.

Probiotics are generally safe to consume and hence it can be categorized as something “that can be used as it does not cause harm.” It is however important to remember that probiotics cannot be substituted, as a form of treatment.

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