Probiotic Bacteria Found In Yogurt Could Treat Depression, New Study Reveals

First Posted: Mar 10, 2017 03:13 AM EST

A new study indicates that the probiotic bacteria known as Lactobacillus found in live-cultured yogurt could treat depression. This was tested in mice, and researchers believe that it could do the same for humans.

The study was printed in the journal Scientific Reports. It was led by researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, according to Medical News Today.

Alban Gaultier, PhD, of the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia at Virginia, said that the big hope for this finding is that they would not need to bother with complex drugs and side effects but instead they can just play with the microbiome. "It would be magical just to change your diet, to change the bacteria you take and fix your health and your mood."

In the study, the researchers examined the composition of the gut microbiome before and after mice were stressed due to loss of Lactobacillus. This leads to symptoms of depression. The team fed the mice with Lactobacillus, and the mice regained their normal state. Dr. Gaultier said that a single strain of Lactobacillus can influence mood.

The team also discovered that the amount of Lactobacillus in the gut affects the level of a metabolite in the blood known as kynurenine that drives depression. The loss of Lactobacillus in the gut could increase the symptoms of depression, according to Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

Iona Marin, co-author of the study from the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, said this is the most consistent change they have seen across different experiments and different settings they call microbiome profiles. She further said that they see Lactobacillus levels correlate directly with the behavior of these mice.

The researchers will still conduct studies to confirm this finding. On the other hand, they said that there is no harm if the patients could include yogurt, which is a food produced through bacterial fermentation of milk, in their diet. They also noted that patients must not discontinue their medications. 

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