Posted on Dec 03, 2013, 6 a.m.
Probiotics – live bacteria that help to maintain a healthy digestive system, hold promise for the treatment of depression.
The human gastrointestinal (GI) is home to millions of bacteria, and previous studies have suggested that supplementation of "good" bacteria in the form of probiotics – can help to support key functions of the body including immune and nervous systems. Timothy Dinan, from the University College Cork (Ireland), and colleagues have further developed the possible impact of probiotics on behavior. The team advances the notion of a "psychobiotic" – a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness. The researchers review the evidence that these bacteria, when ingested in adequate amounts, offer enormous potential for the treatment of depression and other stress-related disorders. Some psychobiotics have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. This is important because depression and stress are both associated with inflammation in the body. Infectious diseases, such as syphilis and lyme disease, can also produce depressive states. Evidence suggests that immune activations, perhaps via psychobiotic action, could alleviate such states. According to the study authors: "the intestinal microbial balance may alter the regulation of inflammatory responses and in so doing, may be involved in the modulation of mood and behavior."
Dinan TG, Stanton C, Cryan JF. “Psychobiotics: a novel class of psychotropic.” Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Nov 15;74(10):720-6.