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Category: Science


These Bugs May Improve Your Mood

You’ve heard of the term probiotics, and likely prebiotics as well, but now we are hearing about “psychobiotics.” These have been defined as:

living organisms that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness.

That’s a pretty impressive new term, and claim for that matter. But the reason that scientists have developed this terminology is because new research clearly demonstrates that certain probiotic organisms have a dramatic effect on regulating mood.

In recent double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trials, it has been demonstrated that people taking a combination of two fairly common probiotic bacteria, including lactobacillus helveticus and bifidobacterium longum, had a dramatic reduction in their level of psychological stress as compared to people given a placebo. In addition, researchers demonstrated that the level of cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone”, was much lower in those receiving these probiotics as opposed to those who received placebo.

We know that certain probiotic bacteria have an effect on the level of various neurotransmitters that can affect mood, like serotonin and dopamine. In addition, inflammation is a cornerstone of depression and current research clearly identifies the stability of the bowel lining as a regulator of inflammation, throughout the body. This stability is regulated to a significant degree by the level of good bacteria living within the intestines.

These are just two proposed mechanisms whereby specific probiotic bacteria can affect mood.

That said, well beyond just the idea of intervening with probiotic supplements as an attempt to help with mood, an important take-home message from this research should be that we should do everything we can to preserve and protect our gut a bacteria today by reassessing our food and medication choices, as well as various other lifestyle factors like sleep, stress, and exercise. It makes sense that if we compromise the levels of these and other probiotic bacterial species within us, it may well pave the way for debilitating mood disorders.

  • TechnoTriticale

    Paper is mice, and pay-walled, sigh. So, not possible to extrapolate to humans, much less answer questions like dose (CFUs) and supporting substrate (routine daily prebiotic fiber).

    In any event, quality brands of probiotics typically include both lactobacillus helveticus and bifidobacterium longum. Be sure to buy a consistently refrigerated product, or one with a credible claim of room-temperature potency until expiration date.

    • Lynn Dell

      I don’t understand what you just said. The abstract said there were positive clinical effects on psych patients, which are human. It did mention rodent studies as a precedent for the current study.

      • TechnoTriticale

        re: I just rechecked.

        So did I, and that’s a pretty ambiguous Abstract. Dr. Perlmutter normally manages to locally host fulltext. I’m guessing he couldn’t get permission on this one. I’ve read enough papers to be deeply suspicious of headlines, press reports, press releases, abstracts, and in some cases paper main bodies not supported by data in the supplementary material.

        Pay-walled science is anything but. It’s at some risk of being propaganda or advertising (check sponsorship, also hidden when pay-walled). Presumably Dr.P has read the whole paper, so I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt in this case.

        • Lynn Dell
        • Lynn Dell
        • Lynn Dell
        • Lynn Dell

          OK, I know this one cites rat and mouse studies, but the information given is pretty detailed, and about many kinds of probiotic bacteria. In addition, at the end, they suggest how to go about trying probiotics if you want to help your mood. I think this is a good article. There is so much research that suggests probiotics do help mood, decrease anxiety, are relatively safe for most people to ingest, so why not do your own n=1 experiment on which probiotic formulations help you, or not. Keeping a mood journal is key here. Until more is known, this article gives good advice to find out what helps YOU as an individual: http://mentalhealthdaily.com/2016/03/01/10-best-probiotics-for-depression-anxiety-gut-brain-axis-modification/

          • Lynn Dell

            I re-read this article. Times being what they are (ie – we don’t know very much at all yet), the advice the author gives is very well-considered. Including suggesting which strains might be good for depression, and which for anxiety.

          • TechnoTriticale

            Times being what they are (ie – we don’t know very much at all yet)

            You don’t need to convince me. The 2nd thing I did after reading this blog article (1st was to try to read the paper), was to check that the probiotics we use contain l. helveticus and b. longum (they do).

            re: Times being what they are (ie – we don’t know very much at all yet)

            No kidding, and one of the implications of that is that the GRAS classification is really zero assurance that something is actually safe to consume. We have no idea of what an ideal human microbiome profile is, and consequently no way at present to fully safety test specific food ingredients (not to mention contaminants).

  • Lynn Dell

    I’ve also read some study results on lactobccillus rhamnosus decreasing anxiety in mice, due to some effect mediated via the vagus nerve. I HATE the fact animals are being tortured just so we can learn something, though. At any rate, the tortured mice who had l. rhamnosus weren’t as stressed as mice who didn’t have this probiotic, and the mice who had the probiotic, but had their respective vagus nerves severed, were just as stressed as if they had not had the probiotic, when tortured. Makes me sick just thinking about it.

  • Bob Powell

    We have been taking probiotics for the last three months. What I haven’t seen are recommendations for the bacteria amount (millions/billions?), how often to take them and when can you expect to see or feel good results? I thought I once read that you should take them for three months daily and then can back off by taking a couple of times a week.

    • James Stamulis

      I have taken them for years now for i used to have an awful gut that made my life miserable until i read Dr. Mercola’s articles on Probiotics he sells that are very strong(70 billion) which you need so the good bacteria survives your stomach acid. I still take them daily and my gut is restored. I also drink organic Psylium for the fiber and as a prebiotic and these 2 have literally saved my gut.

      • Sumatra

        There’s the problem that most fail to notice. It’s easy to obtain good bacteria, but very hard to get some beyond all that acid which usually kills it before it arrives in the the colon where most of the good bacteria live.

        • Rayna Prettyman

          I use DoTerra’s probiotic (it’s an essential oil company) because it’s double encapsulated. I really like it, however, I’m sure there are more strains that are needed and I would like to find other company’s that use this technique in order to get the product past the stomach where it’s needed. It’s a good place to start and has really helped several people in my family, I’d just like to see it go farther.

  • Mary Collins

    It is valid to be concerned that a probiotic supplement will actually get to where it needs to be, past acid, etc. and survive. Daily I hear or read at least one pharmaceutical advertisement with all the serious side effects and warnings, but most people consider it worth the risk because it is being marketed to help with a condition that is chronic and bothers them. When an MD. like Dr. Perlmutter or Dr. Mercola, and other noted guests on programs like The People’s Pharmacy on public radio speak about the Biome as foundational to health and how to have a healthy gut there are always skeptics or critics who rush to point out that it might not work, or who knows what is being put into those probiotics. 21 years ago I was diagnosed with MS, earlier in life I had debilitating asthma, skin conditions, and there is a history of mental illness in my family. I was able to change my diet and exercise my way to health at 11 and again at 35, yes I fell out of some of the practices and had to learn new and more for the MS. My point is that profits don’t come in billions from good food practices because for the most part you cannot patent and market them as pharmaceuticals do. Of course Monsanto and Bayer are doing their best to control seeds and who can grow them, again the story is to feed the world, but it is about the bottom line of profits. My degrees are in business administration, marketing, and economics, and I grew up in a family retailing business. I believe I learned all those things just so I could be a voice of skepticism about those who stand to gain financially by selling something. I trust the integrity of Dr. Perlmutter and a number of supplement and food producers over corporations that make drugs that have had litigated side effects. We need to look at real healing and disease reversal and not merely symptom relief.

    • Well said! I couldn’t agree more. There is truly a dark side to capitalism. Corporations, that is, those who lead corporations, will do anything to increase their profits, even if it means killing people. And it’s all legal because our lawmakers wouldn’t dare go against the very corporations that donate tons of money to election campaigns. Our lawmakers have become the pawns of Big Business. Thank heavens for the internet so people can learn on their own.

  • Alleged Comment

    WAP Society reported people in the wild eating their natural food and great physical hardship were always happy with good teeth and strength.

    Could it have been natural probiotics of their fermented and properly prepared foods and lots of Vitamin D?

  • Dottie Nash

    I wanted to read Dr. Wahl’s interview and missed it. Is there a way I can access it?

  • Annie R

    I’m not happy with animal experiments. We did not ask their permission to capture and use for them for torture. You are doing good work, can you do it without hurting animals?

  • Ronna Berezin

    How to know which probiotics are the best to take in supplement form and in food sources like saurcraut? Ronna Berezin

  • Ruud

    I have a question can someone help me for a list of foods and the neurotransmitters dopamine serotonine gaba and acetylcholine?
    ( i kow there are about 50 neurotransmitters)
    Or even better neuroscience about this subject
    It would help me a lot
    To understand neuroreferences

  • Also, I’d like to add that there is absolutely no federal law requiring the American Psychiatric Association to have their psychiatrists treat their patients ethically. Instead, all patients are given patented, synthetic drugs to mask their symptoms until they die. Why? Because this is where the most profits are found. No one makes a dime if you’re cured of a mental illness – and mental illnesses have been curable for well over half a century with the orthomolecular approach. See the Secrets to Real Mental Health. It contains a layperson’s guide to orthomolecular treatment.

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