It’s not official yet, but a new study suggests taking probiotics could relieve symptoms of depression.
Remember several months ago, when I wrote about the relationship between your gut and your mental health? I recommended changing what you eat to develop a healthier gut. Well, this new study is along those same lines: Taking a probiotic to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS–a gut affliction) can also treat depression and anxiety.
It was just a small study with 44 participants. Each had both IBS and mild to moderate anxiety or depression. Half the participants took a probiotic (Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001, to be specific), while half took a placebo.
In the end, 14 of the 22 probiotic takers reported improvement in their depression symptoms, compared to half that number in the placebo group.
The researchers took it further and scanned the participants’ brains: Those whose depression symptoms had improved also showed changes in areas of the brain associated with mood control.
We need to see a larger version of this study before we start jumping on board, but given the established connection between the gut and the brain, I think it’s a promising area of research.
Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.