How Probiotics May Help Depression

Source: Time

Jun 02, 2017
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

It’s common for people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to also struggle with depression. Now, a small study published in the journal Gastroenterology suggests that taking a probiotic supplement may provide relief from both conditions.

The randomized, placebo-controlled trial shows a connection between probiotics and mood improvement in people with IBS and depression or anxiety, as well as changes in brain regions related to emotional processing. Most previous research on this topic has been on healthy people without mood disorders.

For the new research, scientists from McMaster University in Canada recruited 44 adults with IBS as well as mild to moderate anxiety or depression. They were followed for 10 weeks; half took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacteriumlongum, and half took a placebo. The probiotics were manufactured and provided by Nestle, which also funded the study. (Nestle was not involved in collection, analysis or interpretation of study data.)

After six weeks, twice as many people who took the probiotic had decreased depression scores compared to those who took the placebo: 64% versus 32%. Results were similar after 10 weeks, as well. When people in the study were given functional MRI scans, the researchers found that improved depression scores were associated with changes in activity of several brain areas involved in mood regulation.

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