Mood and the Microbiome

Probiotics reduced depression

The gut-brain connection

Many recent studies have found beneficial flora in the gut help enhance physical and mental health, in a link doctors call the “microbiota-gutbrain” (MGB) axis. In this study, 47 participants hospitalized for depression took a placebo or 900 billion colony-forming-units of a probiotic combination per day, along with standard antidepressant medication. The probiotic contained eight strains including bifidobacterium, lactobacillus, and streptococcus.


After 31 days, all participants had improved, with those taking probiotics improving more than placebo on a standard scale of depressive symptoms. Doctors also showed participants neutral or fearful faces and used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess changes in areas of the brain that react differently in healthy and depressed people. Brain activity normalized for those in the probiotics group, but did not change for placebo. Doctors said they hope future studies will identify the specific probiotics to optimize support treatment for depression.


Reference: Translational Psychiatry; June, 2022, Article No. 227

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