Probiotics Can Help In Battling Depression, New Study Suggests

First Posted: May 29, 2017 04:20 AM EDT

The regular intake of probiotics is known to be good for the digestive system. Now, a new study has found that the intake of live bacteria and yeast may also help in relieving the symptoms of depression.

According to Business Standard, the study found that twice as many people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who took a specific probiotic also reported an improvement from co-existing depression as compared to those who took a placebo for IBS. Incidentally, people suffering from IBS, which affects the large intestine, have abdominal pain and altered bowel movements like constipation and diarrhea.

"This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS,” Associate Professor Premysl Bercik at Canada’s McMaster University said, as reported by “This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases."

The researchers also found that the intestinal microbiota environment directly communicates with the brain, which provides evidence that bacteria impact behavior. The research team observed 44 adults with IBS, who also had mild to moderate depression or anxiety. Half of the volunteers took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 for 10 weeks, and the other half was put on a course of a placebo.

At the sixth week of the observations, it was found that 64 percent of the patients who were on probiotic had decreased depression scores in comparison to the 22 percent on a placebo. Moreover, a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) conducted for the volunteers showed that decreased depression scores were related to changes in multiple areas of the brain involved in controlling the mood. Interestingly, past studies have found that probiotics are also helpful in boosting immune health to improving intestinal health, to making the heart function better to cutting the risk of cancer.

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