Tag Archives: Psychobiotics

Psychobiotics for Anxiety and Depression

 

 

Source: Gut Health Project

 

It may strain the imagination to hear that several pounds of organisms live inside your gastrointestinal tract and that they are in constant communication with your brain, but it’s true. Actually, the communication is two way – gut to brain and brain to gut – and operates via biochemical signaling. This process is called the gut-brain axis. The gut microbiome is so so important to the body’s functioning it’s often now referred to as our second brain.
Recent research has also demonstrated that our mood is greatly affected by certain bacteria living in our gut microbiome. These bacteria profoundly influence how anxious or depressed we are. Having lots of friendly probiotic bacteria in there exerts anxiety-reducing and antidepressant effects on our emotions and physical bodies.
Fortunately for us, there is an emerging field of neuroscience called psychobiotics that is studying how changing the bacterial composition in the gut affects the brain. (Atlay, 2016)
Psychobiotics researchers are beginning to identify which probiotics have psychotropic (mind-altering) effects – boosting mood and cognitive function; decreasing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Functional Medicine doc Kelly Brogan, along with numerous others, is convinced that mood disorders and many other psychiatric problems are the result of imbalances and chronic inflammation in the gut microbiome and that psychobiotics will become the treatment of choice for mood disorders and will also be used to prevent them. She wrote:
“For two decades now, pioneering researchers have been substantiating inflammatory models of mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.  Research has focused on markers that indicate immune distress in an important subset of patients, many of whom are labeled “treatment resistant.” Through this body of literature, we have identified that depression can be induced, in animals and in humans through inflammatory agents, that it is correlated with blood levels of inflammatory markers, in a linear way (more markers = worse depression), and that symptoms can be reversed through pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories.” (Brogan, 2014)

 

 

Source: Mercola

 

The well respected scientists who authored an article called Psychobiotics and the Manipulation of Bacteria–Gut–Brain Signals published a few months ago in Trends in Neurosciences believe that prebiotics (nondigestible plant fibers that nourish our probiotics) should also be included as actors in the gut-brain communication process and propose the diagram below to show how it all works (Sarkar, 2016):

 

Systems-Level Overview of Psychobiotic Action

Trends in Neuroscience

 

If you’re interested in a deeper understanding of how the process works, take a look at this explanation of the diagram provided by the authors:

“Probiotics directly introduce beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria into the gut. Prebiotics (e.g., galacto-oligosaccharides) support the growth of such bacteria. SCFAs and gut hormones: Both probiotics and prebiotics increase production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which interact with gut mucosal enteroendocrine cells and catalyse the release of gut hormones such as cholecystokinin (CCK), peptide tyrosine tyrosine (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide- 1 (GLP-1). Prebiotics may have stronger effects in this regard in comparison to probiotics. SCFAs and gut hormones enter circulation and can migrate into the central nervous system. Gut hormones are also secreted by tissues other than enteroendocrine cells. Neurotransmitters: psychobiotics enhance neurotransmitter production in the gut, including dopamine (DA), serotonin (5-HT), noradrenaline (NA), and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which likely modulate neurotransmission in the proximal synapses of the enteric nervous system. Vagal connections: the vagus nerve synapses on enteric neurons and enables gut–brain communication. Stress, barrier function, and cytokines: barrier dysfunction is exacerbated through stress-induced glucocorticoid exposure. This enables migration of bacteria with pro-inflammatory components, increasing inflammation directly and also triggering a rise in pro-inflammatory cytokines via the immunogenic response. These cytokines impair the integrity of the blood–brain barrier and permit access to potentially pathogenic or inflammatory elements. Pro-inflammatory cytokines (red circles) also reduce the integrity of the gut barrier. Psychobiotic action restores gut barrier function and decreases circulating concentrations of glucocorticoids and pro-inflammatory cytokines. They also increase concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines (blue circles), which enhance integrity of the blood–brain barrier, the gut barrier, and reduce overall inflammation. Cytokines clustering at the brain represent cytokine interaction with the blood–brain barrier. Central lymphatic vessels: cytokines may interact more directly with the brain than previously appreciated through the recently discovered central lymphatic vessels.” (Sarkar, 2016)

 

 

 

THE GUT-BRAIN AXIS AND MOOD

The gut microbiome and the brain, working together via the gut-brain axis, are jointly responsible for maintaining health in the body – including mental health. If a body has an unbalanced gut microbiome containing too few or unbalanced probiotics and prebiotics (dysbiosis) – because its owner consumes a nutritionally impoverished diet, has taken antibiotics that have killed off many probiotics in the gut, has been exposed to toxins, and/or isn’t doing a good job managing stress, the body’s intestinal lining may become too porous (a condition called leaky gut), creating chronic inflammation in the body and eventually a series of autoimmune diseases – and apparently mood disorders too.
In the diagram above from the Sarkar article, blue arrows indicate psychobiotic processes and effects, while red arrows indicate processes associated with leaky gut and chronic inflammation.

 

 

 

RESEARCH FINDINGS ON PSYCHOBIOTICS FOR ANXIETY & DEPRESSION

 

Source: Organic Sunshine
Here are some intriguing results from research studies on probiotics’ and prebiotics’ effects on anxiety and depression:
A 30-day human study found these two probiotics helpful for reducing anxiety as compared to a placebo (Sarkar, 2016)
  • Lactobacillus helveticus R0052
  • Bifidobacterium longum
A mixture of these probiotics compared to a placebo, taken for four weeks, substantially reduced depression in human subjects (Sarkar, 2016)
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum W23
  • Bifidobacterium lactis W52
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus W37
  • Lactobacillus brevis W63
  • Lactobacillus casei W56
  • Lactobacillus salivarius W24
  • Lactococcus lactis W19 and W58
In a study of academic stress, healthy medical students took either this probiotic or a placebo for eight weeks before an exam. The day before the exam, plasma cortisol was substantially lower in the probiotic group  compared to the placebo group. (Sarkar, 2016):
  • Lactobacillus casei Shirota
In another study, student athletes who were given this probiotic had elevated mood and reduced natural killer cell activity after strenuous exercise, relative to placebo:
  • Lactobacillus gasseri OLL2809 LG2809
When the probiotic was taken along with this protein in milk,
  • Alpha-lactalbumin
the students also experienced less fatigue. (Sarkar, 2016)
Irritable bowel syndrome is known to be associated with disturbances in the gut-brain axis and composition of the gut microbiome. IBS is a chronic inflammatory condition and is  often accompanied by anxiety and depression. After human study participants with IBS consumed this probiotic,  their level of inflammation was reduced (as measured by the ratio of interleukin-10 to interleukin-12), compared to those who took a placebo  (Sarkar, 2016):
  • Bifidobacterium infantis 35624
In a clinical trial of people with major depressive disorder, patients were given these probiotics:
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (2 billion CFUs)
  • Lactobacillus casei (2 billion CFUs)
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum (2 billion CFUs)
Compared with placebo, the people who took the probiotics were less depressed at the end of the eight week study  and also had significant decreases in systemic inflammation, reduced insulin resistance, and a significant rise in glutathione (the body’s master anti-oxidant). (University Health News, 2016)
A study looking at the effects of these probiotics (given as Probio’Stick®) on anxiety, depression, stress, and coping strategies in healthy human volunteers found a reduction of psychological distress (particularly depression, anger/hostility, and anxiety) and improved problem solving ability at the end of the 30 day study (University Health News, 2016):
  • Lactobacillus helveticus R0052
  • Bifidobacterium longum R0175
Harrington states, “For anyone experiencing anxiety and/or depression, regular supplementation with this probiotic combination seems a natural and worthwhile practice. It is conceivable that such supplementation could reduce reliance on prescription medications and deliver freedom from the burdens of these common mental illnesses.” (Harrington, 2016)
Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome were given either this probiotic or a placebo daily for two months. The people who took the probiotic experienced a significant decrease in anxiety (University Health News, 2016):
  • Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (24 billion colony forming units)
Animal studies have shown that this probiotic reduces depression by increasing dopamine and serotonin. This same probiotic decreased cortisol and increased dopamine and serotonin, normalizing the stress response system in depressed mice subjected to early-life stress  (University Health News, 2016):
  • Lactobacillus plantarum strain PS128
These two probiotics have been shown to reduce anxiety-like behavior and improve performance on cognitive tests in anxious mice (University Health News, 2016):
  • Bifidobacterium longum 1714
  • Bifidobacterium breve 1205
The same probiotic shown to help people with chronic fatigue syndrome has also been shown to help humans and lab animals undergoing other kinds of stress. This probiotic (consumed as kefir, a fermented milk drink that’s loaded with a variety of probiotics) prevented stress-related cortisol increases and raised serotonin levels in stressed medical students. The kefir also decreased stress-related physical symptoms such as abdominal pain and colds (University Health News, 2016):
  • Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota
Animal studies have also identified other probiotics that reduce stress-related depression and anxiety by affecting serotonin, cortisol, and other neuroactive compounds. These two, in combination, normalized anxious behaviors along with learning and memory impairments in immune-deficient rats (University Health News, 2016):
  • Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 combined with Lactobacillus rhamnosus R0011
This probiotic was more effective than the SSRI citalopram (Celexa) in reducing stress-induced anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction in rats. It lowered their cortisol and restored their serotonin and other brain neurochemical levels back to normal (University Health News, 2016):
  • Lactobacillus helveticus NS8
Prebiotics, like probiotics, have also been identified as regulators of mood and brain function. A recent study found that this prebiotic decreased the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol and improved emotional processing and lowered anxiety in healthy human volunteers (University Health News, 2016):
  • Bimuno-galactooligosaccharides, B-GOS
A study of people with IBS, who typically have decreased microbial diversity in their gut microbiomes and often suffer from anxiety, found that daily consumption of this prebiotic mixture for four weeks reduced their anxiety (University Health News, 2016):
  • a galactooligosaccharide-containing prebiotic mixture in powder form
An informative article called 10 Best Probiotics For Depression & Anxiety: Gut-Brain Axis Modification names the following as the most helpful probiotics for mood regulation, describes their functions in the body, presents relevant research results from studies in which they were used as psychobiotics, and recommends some specific probiotic products. The first nine in the list are probiotics; the 10th is a prebiotic:
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus helveticus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Bifidobacterium animalis
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Transgalactooligosaccharides
The article also discusses pathogenic bacteria that may CAUSE anxiety and depression:
  • Citrobacter rodentium
  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Clostridium
  • Enterococcus faecalis
Interestingly, these pathogenic bacteria have also been found to be associated with other serious physical problems, including GI disease, stress-induced memory dysfunction, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and heart valve damage.

 

 

COMMERCIAL PSYCHOBIOTIC  SUPPLEMENTS

If your interest in the relationship between the probiotics in your gut microbiome and your mood has been piqued, perhaps you want to pick out one or more of the probiotics mentioned above to experiment with. Start with the one that interests you most and take it for a month so it has a chance to  colonize in your gut.
If deliberately encouraging a strain of bacteria to colonize your gut sounds too much like a scary science fiction movie, please remember that we’re talking about GOOD (probiotic) bacteria, ones that create health in the body, not HARMFUL (pathologic)  bacteria that create illness.

 

Source: Happy Oligo
Here are a few commercially available probiotic supplements that provide  psychobiotic and other benefits:

 

Life Extension Florassist Mood Capsules

This supplement contains 3 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of a blend of two probiotic strains demonstrated to improve mood, reduce perceived stress, and promote relaxation in humans.
  • Lactobacillus Helveticas strain R0052
  • Bifid bacterium longum strain R0175
“Research suggests specific probiotics positively influence biochemical signaling between the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system- resulting in positive effects on mood.” (Amazon.com, 2017)

Contains milk and soybeans. The ingredients may be from GMO sources.
Life Extension  says this about the GMO issue:
“Q. Should I be concerned with the usage of genetically modified plants (GMOs)?
“A. Soybeans are an example of a crop that has used extensive genetic engineering to increase crop yield. The reality is that soybean oil and soy lecithin are highly processed derivatives of soy … far removed from their soy origin. Genetic modification doesn’t alter the entire plant… only a specific gene. Thus, specific molecules like soy lecithin are the same whether they come from a GMO or non-GMO soy source. However, due to our sensitivity to customer concerns, products with corn and soy-based active ingredients are in process of having the labels updated to list when soy and corn-derived active ingredients have been certified to be from non-GM food crops. As the labels are updated the information will be transferred to the product descriptions on our website and directory. Currently Life Extension already offers several premium quality non-GMO soy isoflavone extract products.” (Life Extension, 2017)

 

 

Hyperbiotics PRO-15 Probiotics Time-Release Micro-Pearls

 

At time of manufacture, contains 5 billion Colony Forming Units per BIO-tract pearl,  equivalent to 75 billion CFU. Contains a minimum of 1.5 CFU at time of expiration date.
The 15 Group, B. (2015). biotic strains in this  supplement are:
  • Lactobacillus plantarum – Secretes the oxidant hydrogen peroxide which acts as a weapon to protect your body and must be present for your immune system to function correctly. Creates a healthy barrier in your colon and helps lower luminal pH, creating an unfavorable environment for the growth of pathogens including molds, yeasts and bacteria.
  • Lactobacillus fermentum –  highly antimicrobial and antioxidative. Helps inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, yeast and other pathogens and has demonstrated clinical efficacy within immune health.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – Creates a fortress of good colonies that helps keep unwanted organisms out of your gut. Studies show that L. acidophilus helps to reduce occasional diarrhea and enhances your immune system and may help to reduce cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that those taking L. acidophilus experienced significantly more relief from their gastrointestinal discomfort than did those taking a placebo.
  • Bifidobacterium Infantis – Has been shown to reduce the major symptoms of GI disorders, including diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, cramping and constipation. It is particularly popular as a means of combating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and has been shown to improve digestion and the body’s ability to absorb and process nutrients.
  • Lactobacillus casei – Along with L. Acidolphilus, converts lactose into lactic acid, helping those who are lactose intolerant. Helps to encourage the growth of other beneficial bacteria.
  • Bifidobacterium longum – Assists in breaking down carbohydrates and fighting free radicals. Provides potent antioxidant support and helps reduce the effects of seasonal allergens.
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus – Helps reduce occurrences of traveler’s diarrhea and food poisoning.
  • Bifidobacterium lactis – Helps decrease H. pylori (a bacterium associated with the majority of stomach ulcers) and helps the production of the front line cells in your immune system.
  • Lactobacillus reuteri – Improves cholesterol levels, reduces H. plyori, protects female urinary tract and vaginal health and aids infants’ GI health.
  • Lactobacillus salivarius – Helps with GI problems (especially diarrhea caused by antibiotics), helps lactose-intolerant people digest dairy. It may lower cholesterol and blood pressure, maintain dental health, help with IBS, and boost the immune system.
  • Lactobacillus paracasei – Is key for digestive function, boosts the immune system, and energy levels, resolves infant diarrhea. It may help fight infections and relieve symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Lactobacillus gasseri – May speed up metabolism and encourage weight loss, protect against harmful organisms, lower cholesterol, reduce allergic response, ease symptoms of asthma in children, and lessen menstrual pain in women with endometriosis.
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum – Protects the intestinal lining from damage from toxins and pathological germs. Produces important vitamins like B12, biotin, and K2. Helps digest sugar and reduces incidence of colds and flu.
  • Bifidobacterium breve – Protects colon function, alleviates constipation, reduces gas and diarrhea. Stimulates the immune system, inhibits E. coli and suppresses the fungus Candida. Ferments sugars and produces acetic and lactic acids. Helps digest plant  fibers typically thought of as undigestible. May reduce intestinal irritation and allergic responses.
  • Streptococcus thermopholus – Breaks down lactose into lactic acid and helps boost the immune system. May lower the risk of colon cancer. May protect intestinal tissues from irritation during chemotherapy . Correlates with better growth in children.
plus 25 mg of prebiotic:
  • Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
This supplement is vegetarian; non-GMO; and free of yeast, lactose, soy, iron, gluten, wheat, nuts, preservatives, sugar, and artificial colors or flavors.
 – Information provided by Hyperbiotics on Amazon.com (2017), Dr Edward Group at Global Healing Center (2015A-F), and Examine.com (2011-2017).

 

 

Jarrow Formulas Ideal Bowel Support 299v Capsules

 

This supplement contains a single probiotic strain:
  • Lactobacillus plantarum 299v
Each veggie cap contains 10 billion viable cells of L. plantarum 299v, a clinically-documented, human-origin probiotic strain that resists stomach acid and bile salts and has been found to successfully colonize the human intestinal mucosa.
This strain reduces bloating, gas and Intestinal discomfort, and supports regularity.  The product is vegetarian/vegan and gluten free but contains trace amounts of soy.
– Amazon.com (2017)

 

 

align Probiotic Supplement Capsules

 

This supplement also contains a single probiotic strain:
  • Bifidobacterium infantis 35624
align was developed by gastroenterologists to promote and support a healthy digestive system. It’s especially useful for people with irritable bowel  syndrome (IBS) – sometimes called spastic colon. IBS is characterized by abdominal cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. (Amazon.com, 2017)
In the intestines of infants, B. infantis helps break down lactic acid in human breast milk.

“Adults who keep their B. infantis levels in balance enjoy better overall health, an active metabolism, and less discomfort after eating. British researchers reported it only took four weeks for women who took B. infantis to enjoy a significant improvement in their IBS symptoms. Another study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found B. infantis supports stomach health and digestion. But it does more than aid digestion. It also supports your immune system against unwanted bacterial growth in the intestines. And some strains even produce B vitamins.” (Group, 2015B)

 

 

Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain Formula Capsules

The beneficial bacteria in BioKult are freeze dried, a process which protects them from the harsh acidic environment of the stomach so they survive to colonize the intestinal tract. Each capsule contains a minimum of 2 billion probiotic microorganisms. BioKult is gluten free, uses no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.  It may contain traces of soy and milk from the growth medium of the strains. Lactose intolerant people shouldn’t have a problem with these traces of milk. BioKult is non-GMO. (Amazon.com, 2017)
Bio-Kult contains 14 probiotic strains:
  • Bacillus subtilis PXN 21
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum PXN 23
  • Bifidobacterium breve PXN 25
  • Bifidobacterium infantis PXN 27
  • Bifidobacterium longum PXN 30
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus PXN 35
  • Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus PXN 39
  • Lactobacillus casei PXN 37
  • Lactobacillus plantarum PXN 47
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus PXN 54
  • Lactobacillus helveticus PXN 45
  • Lactobacillus salivarius PXN 57
  • Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis PXN 63
  • Streptococcus thermophilus PXN 66
Here’s information on the probiotic strains in Bio-Kult that haven’t already been discussed:
* Bacillus subtilis is ubiquitous in soil, produces an endospore that allows it to survive the stomach’s acidity. It is beneficial to the digestive system in general and is known to improve symptoms of IBS. It suppresses the growth of harmful pathogens, strengthens the gut’s mucosal lining, and enhances the growth of other good probiotic strains. (Jockers, 2014)
B. subtilis‘s other benefits include decreasing triglycerides, LDL levels and total cholesterol; increasing immunity; fighting viruses; improving leaky gut; decreasing inflammation;  decreasing diarrhea and nausea; improving dairy digestion; decreasing tooth decay; managing HIV symptoms; and fighting dyspepsia. (Jerkunica, 2009-2015)
* Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus is one of the bacterial strains used to turn milk into yogurt  and is also found in other naturally fermented foods.
* Lactobacillus helveticus provides many health benefits – including inhibition of pathogenic bacteria, anti-mutagenic and anti-tumorigenic activity, anti-hypertensive activity, immunomodulatory activity, control of diarrhea, reduction of lactose intolerance, and enhancing recovery from gut atrophy induced by malnutrition. It has also been found to improve bone mineral density and bone mineral content, calcium and bone metabolism, arterial stiffness, and blood pressure. (Swartzburg, 2009)

 

* Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis, a strain of L. lactis,  is used widely in cheese making as a starter culture. It’s added to milk to make a variety of cultured dairy products: sour cream, buttermilk, blue cheese, Colby, Cheddar, and cottage cheese.
L. lactic ssp. lactis protects against strep throat, respiratory and non-respiratory diseases, L. lactis also delivers antigens that stimulate mucosal immunity to non-respiratory pathogens, including HIV, HPV, and the malarial parasite. It’s related to other lactic acid bacteria, such as L. acidophilus in the intestines and S. salivarius in the mouth. (Todar, 2008-2011)
I love this: In 2010, L. lactis was named Wisconsin’s Official State Microbe!
Source: Slideplayer

 

 

Earth’s Pearl Probiotic & Prebiotic

This is another probiotic supplement in pearl form, containing 4 billion cultures. The pearls contain no gluten, lactose, wheat, soy, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, chemicals, or artificial ingredients.

About the Product
  • Increases the probiotic bacterial profile in the gut microbiome.
  • Pearls versus capsules: The Time Release Patented Technology, BioTract, allows pearls to be smaller than capsules and easier to swallow. The manufacturer says this product is 15X more effective than capsules and delivers 15X more live bacteria into the intestinal tract.
  • Provides relief from gas, bloating, IBS, diarrhea, constipation and other bowel discomforts.
  • Boosts immunity, energy and mood.
  • Improves vitamin absorption, which gives a big boost to your immune system.
  • Protects the body from yeast overgrowth and improves digestion,  contributing to overall well-being and more energy.
  • Earth’s Pearl Probiotics support and improve healthy digestion, improving the bio-availability of nutrients from the healthy foods and supplements you are taking.
This supplement is good for yeast infections, diarrhea, gas, bloating, diverticulitis, colon issues, leaky gut, digestion issues, poor immune system, constipation, IBS, lactose intolerance, allergies, antibiotics.
Probiotic ingredients:
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
Prebiotic ingredient:
  • Fructooligosaccharides
 (Amazon, 2017)

 

 

Probiotic Sticks

This probiotic supplement is for those who can’t or don’t like swallowing capsules. Each stick contains 3 billion active cells (guaranteed to expiration date). You tear the stick open and pour its contents onto your tongue, allow the powder to dissolve, and swallow. You could also mix the powder into water or juice, even stir it into a smoothie.
Each stick contains:
  • Bifidobacterium longum (R0175) 3.18 x 108 CFU
  • Lactobacillus helveticus (R0052) 2.682 x 109 CFU
Probiotic Sticks balance the intestinal microflora and help decrease stress-related GI symptoms – such as bloating, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. They are micro-encapsulated and gastro-protected. The powder is a red plum flavor. (Amazon.com, 2017)
An Amazon customer reported, “It is the best probiotic I have ever used. It really helps with anxiety.”

 

These are only a few of the probiotic supplements on the market. Some research should help you find one that’s high quality and addresses your health issues.

 

TIPS FOR CHOOSING A PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT

When selecting probiotic supplements, you want to make sure you’re getting something that your body can use. Many probiotic supplements on the market may start with billions of CFUs of various bacteria but they’ve died by the time you get them or they perish in the acidic environment of your stomach as they pass through on their way to your intestines (where you need them) and won’t do you any good. Do some research before purchasing. In general, try to get the highest quality supplements you can afford.
Dr David Williams proposes these four criteria for evaluating a probiotic supplement (Williams, 2017):
  • The specific probiotic strains included
  • The product’s packaging and delivery system
  • Product expiration dates
  • Money-back guarantee

I would add to his list:
  • Non-GMO
  • Gluten free
  • Free of other common allergens
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Is able to survive stomach acid to reach the intestines

 

 

KEFIR

Kefir is a fermented drink that’s loaded with probiotic bacteria, including many of the ones discussed above that have been found effective for anxiety and depression. It can be made from any type of milk – usually cow, goat or sheep, and also from coconut water, juices, rice, soy – even plain water. It has impressive medicinal benefits for healing leaky gut and can be given to newborns to improve their gut microbiomes. It also contains high levels of Vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium and other essential minerals, Vitamin K2, biotin, folate, and digestive enzymes. The fermentation process breaks down the lactose in milk, rendering kefirs 99% lactose-free, so they’re tolerated well even by those who are lactose intolerant.
Kefir has been consumed for thousands of years for its numerous health benefits.

Lifeway organic plain kefir is an example of a tasty commercial kefir that’s widely available. Its culture contains 15-20 billion Colony Forming Units (CFUs) of live and active kefir cultures per cup. Kefir cultures include these probiotics:
  • Lactobacillus Lactis
  • Lactobacillus  Rhamnosus
  • Streptococcus Diacetylactis
  • Lactobacillus Plantarum
  • Lactobacillus Casei
  • Saccharomyces Florentinus
  • Leuconostoc Cremoris
  • Bifidobacterium Longum
  • Bifidobacterium Breve
  • Lactobacillus Acidophilus
  • Bifidobacterium Lactis
  • Lactobacillus Reuteri
See these resources for more information on the probiotic superfood kefir:

 

 

 

OTHER FERMENTED FOODS

Adding lacto-fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles  to your daily diet will provide a good dose of probiotics. If you’re buying commercial versions of these foods, be aware that ‘pickled’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘fermented. Most pickles and pickled foods are made with vinegar and provide NO probiotic benefits. They’re also usually made with lots of processed salt, which isn’t good for us. Real, lacto-fermented pickles, sauerkraut, etc contain no vinegar. Instead, they are brined with water and salt, and are sold refrigerated because the culture in the jar is alive with probiotics that would be killed if exposed to heat .

 

EXAMPLE OF PICKLES MADE WITH VINEGAR

Ingredients: Pickles (Cucumbers, Salt, Calcium Chloride), Original Curing Brine, Water, Salt, Distilled White Vinegar, Lactic Acid, Potassium Sorbate as a Preservative, Natural Flavoring, Polysorbate 80

 

EXAMPLES OF LACTO-FERMENTED PICKLES AND SAUERKRAUT

Pickles Ingredients: Cucumbers. Artesian Well Water, Garlic, Salt, Dill, Spices

Sauerkraut Ingredients: Cabbage, Artesian Well Water, Salt

You’ll notice that the Heinz Premium Genuine Dills are made with vinegar and require a preservative. They don’t contain probiotics and are sold at room temperature.
Bubbies’ Pure Kosher Dills and Sauerkraut are full of healthy probiotics created by lacto-fermentation, contain no vinegar or chemical preservatives and are sold refrigerated. My only objections to them are that the company apparently uses processed salt in its culture and the ingredients are probably genetically modified.
Source: Pinterest

 

A note on yogurt: The probiotics in most commercial yogurts get killed off by heat during processing. Look for yogurts that are still tangy tasting. You can also make your own.

 

 

Source: preventdisease.com
Functional Medicine doc Kelly Brogan says in “Psychobiotics: Bacteria For Your Brain?” regarding getting your probiotics from food:
“Given how little is known about therapeutic applications of different strains, it may make sense to defer to ancestral practices that confirm the importance of probiotic exposures. In these foods such as lactofermented kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, and other traditional vegetables, microbes are acting on the food, and the food is then acting on our microbes.” (Brogan, 2014)

 

Source: Collective Evolution

 

“In the centuries before we had refrigeration or freezing, foods were often preserved by fermentation.  In eating and drinking those fermented foods, we regularly ingested prebiotics and probiotics that kept our gut flora balanced and happy.
“Live, lactic acid fermentation is the simplest and usually the safest way of preserving food. Before we had refrigeration, canning and chemical preservatives, humans in every culture preserved foods by fermenting them – sauerkraut, tempeh (fermented soybeans), miso (fermented soybean paste), kimchi, dry sausages, pickles, cheeses, yogurt, kefir, sourdough bread starters, beers and wines, among others.
“We pretty much stopped eating those digestion-enhancing foods when we started relying on foods kept ”fresh” by refrigeration and other artificial means – and even worse, started eating heavily processed, essentially fake and genetically altered foods. What we gave up in turning away from fermented foods was ingesting enough of the friendly bacteria our bodies need to maintain good health, the prebiotics and probiotics created by natural fermentation. (Hardin, 2011)
“Natural fermentation develops vast amounts of lactic acid bacteria, friendly bacteria our guts need to maintain good health. Take sauerkraut for example: The numbers of different lactic acid bacteria in live sauerkraut can reach concentrations of 10 (to the 8th) to 10 (to the 9th) per gram. ( Zdenka Samish,  1963)”
 – From my 2013-2014 post Prebiotics and Probiotics

 

 

 

 

TIPS FOR CHOOSING A PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT

When selecting probiotic supplements, you want to make sure you’re getting something that your body can use. Many probiotic supplements on the market may start with billions of CFUs of various bacteria but they’ve died by the time you get them or they perish in the acidic environment of your stomach as they pass through on their way to your intestines (where you need them) and won’t do you any good. Do some research before purchasing. In general, try to find the best supplements you can afford.
Dr David Williams proposes these four criteria for evaluating a probiotic supplement (Williams, 2017):
  • The specific probiotic strains included
  • The product’s packaging and delivery system
  • Product expiration dates
  • Money-back guarantee

I would add to his list:
  • Non-GMO
  • Gluten free
  • Free of other common allergens
  • No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
  • Is able to survive stomach acid to reach the intestines

 

 

 

RESOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PSYCHOBIOTICS

The 2016 University Health News article, The Best Probiotics for Mood: Enhancing the Gut-Brain Connection with Psychobiotics: What are pychobiotics? They’re mind-altering probiotics that researchers say can boost mood, decrease anxiety, and ease depression, among other benefits, in case you want to track back to any of the human or animal studies described above.
10 Best Probiotics for Depression & Anxiety: Gut-Brain Axis Modification is chock full of helpful, detailed information.
Safely Reduce Anxiety and Mood Disorders is an informative article by Stephen Harrington published by  Life Extension Magazine.
Nutrition therapist Jo A. Panyko’s 2016  book  Probiotics: How to use them to your advantage – why you probably don’t have enough probiotics and what you can do about it  is an informative source of information about probiotics in general and what they do for our bodies. She also has a useful website called Powerofprobiotics.
Dr Kelly Brogan and Kristin Loberg’s best selling book A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives makes the case that depression is not a genetic disease caused by chemical imbalances but rather a result of chronic inflammation in the gut microbiome.  Dr Brogan has a website called Kelly Brogan. Own Your Body. Free Your Mind. 
My 2015 post Psychobiotics: Your Gut Bacteria – Your Mood

 

 

DOSAGES

The field of psychopbiotics is fairly new so dosages aren’t entirely clear yet. As the authors of The Best Probiotics for Mood: Enhancing the Gut-Brain Connection with Psychobiotics put it:
“The best psychobiotics and the best dosages for those psychobiotics have yet to be determined, but a number of them used in the studies described above are commercially available in probiotic supplements. Generally, at least 10 billion CFU’s per day are recommended for most probiotics, including psychobiotics, but higher or lower amounts may also be beneficial. Just make sure to give your psychobiotic a try for at least a month before deciding whether it’s working or not.” (University Health News, 2016)
A tip from my own experience: If the dosage instructions on your new probiotic supplement recommend taking more than one/day, it would probably be wise to start with one to see how your body reacts to it, stay on that dose for a while (at least a few days, maybe even a week), then work up to the recommended dose slowly.

 

Souce: Pinterest

 

 

PSYCHOBIOTICS VS PHARMACEUTICALS

While researchers currently can’t recommend doses for these probiotics and haven’t yet tested their long-term effects,  if you’re suffering from chronic anxiety and/or depression and are the sort of person who’s willing to be a pioneer, you might want to try adding them to your daily diet as an experiment and see if they help you.
I’ll point out here that the taking of prescription pharmaceuticals isn’t as scientific and safe as we’ve been led to believe.

 

Source: Quotes

 

 

 

RESOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION ON PROBIOTICS IN GENERAL

Michelle Schoffro Cook’s book The Probiotic Promise: Simple steps to heal your body from the inside out is a bible of information on how probiotics influence our health. She also has a blog, drmichellecook.com.
Nutrition therapist Jo A. Panyko’s 2016  book  Probiotics: How to use them to your advantage – why you probably don’t have enough probiotics and what you can do about it  is an informative source of information about probiotics in general and what they do for our bodies. She also has a useful website called Powerofprobiotics.
Ed Yong’s 2016 book I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life. It’s a #1 Amazon Best Seller in Microbiology – but don’t let that put you off. It’s a primer for anyone interested in learning more about how we interact with the huge variety of probiotic bacteria and other microbes living in and on us.
My 2013-2014 post Prebiotics and Probiotics.

 

 

A REQUEST

If you’re willing, it would be helpful if you’d share information about your experiences with any of these or other psychobiotic supplements or foods. The field is still in its infancy and we can learn from each other’s experiences – what worked for you and what didn’t.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Amazon.com. (2017). Hyperbiotics PRO-15 Probiotics.  See: https://www.amazon.com/Hyperbiotics-PRO-15-Probiotics-Technology-Supplement/dp/B00JEKYNZA/ref=sr_1_1?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1483825983&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=hyperbiotics+pro-15&psc=1 and  https://www.amazon.com/forum/-/Tx1GH3C15RF68NV/ref=ask_dp_dpmw_al_hza?asin=B00JEKYNZA

Atlay, K. (2016). Psychobiotics: Harnessing gut bacteria to improve your brain. See: http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/health/article/2016/10/26/psychobiotics-harnessing-gut-bacteria-improve-your-brain

Axe, J. (2015).  7 Kefir Benefits and Nutrition Facts. See:  https://draxe.com/kefir-benefits/

Brogan, K. (2014). Psychobiotics: Bacteria For Your Brain?. GreenMed Info. See: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/psychobiotics-bacteria-your-brain

Brogan, K. & Loberg, K. (2016). A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives. See: https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Your-Own-Depression-Reclaim/dp/0062405578

Brogan, K. (2017). Kelly Brogan. Own Your Body. Free Your Mind. See: http://kellybroganmd.com

Examine.com. (2011-2017). Lactobacillus reuteri. See: https://examine.com/supplements/lactobacillus-reuteri/

Group, E. (2015A). Bifidobacterium bifidum: A Healthy Probiotic Strain. Global Healing Center. See: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/bifidobacterium-bifidum-the-health-benefits-of-probiotics/

Group, E. (2015B). Bifidobacterium infantis: A Healthy Probiotic Strain. Global Healing Center. See: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/bifidobacterium-infantis-the-health-benefits-of-probiotics/

Group, E. (2015C). Bifidobacterium breve: A Healthy Probiotic Strain. Global Healing Center. See: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/bifidobacterium-breve-the-health-benefits-of-probiotics/

Group, E. (2015D). Lactobacillus gasseri: A Healthy Probiotic Strain. Global Healing Center. See: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/lactobacillus-gasseri-the-health-benefits-of-probiotics/

Group, E. (2015E). Lactobacillus paracasei: A Healthy Probiotic Strain. Global Healing Center. See: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/lactobacillus-paracasei-the-health-benefits-of-probiotics/

Group, E. (2015F). Lactobacillus salivarius: A Healthy Probiotic Strain. Global Healing Center. See: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/lactobacillus-salivarius-the-health-benefits-of-probiotics/

Hardin, J.R. (2013). Kefir. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/superimmunity/kefir/

Hardin, J.R. (2013-2014). Prebiotics and Probiotics. AllergiesandYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/superimmunity/prebiotics-and-probiotics/

Hardin, J.R. (2015). Psychobiotics: Your Gut Bacteria – Your Mood. AllergiesAndYourGut.com. See: http://allergiesandyourgut.com/2015/07/04/psychobiotics-your-gut-bacteria-your-mood/

Harrington, S. (2016). Safely reduce anxiety and mood disorders. Life Extension Magazine. See: http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2016/3/safely-reduce-anxiety-and-mood-disorders/page-01

Jockers, D. (2014). Bacillus subtilis and the nutritional benefits of dirt. Natural News. See: http://www.naturalnews.com/046826_bacillus_subtilis_good_bacteria_dirt.html

Jerkunica, E. (2009-2015). Lactobacillus Bulgaricus Probiotic Information. Probiotics.org. See: http://probiotics.org/lactobacillus-bulgaricus/

Life Extension. (2017). You should know how far we carry our commitment to Quality, Purity & Efficacy. See: http://www.lifeextension.com/Vitamins-Supplements/Health-Nutrition-Awards/Good-Manufacturing-Practice

Mental Health Daily. (2016). 10 Best Probiotics for Depression & Anxiety: Gut-Brain Axis Modification. See: http://mentalhealthdaily.com/2016/03/01/10-best-probiotics-for-depression-anxiety-gut-brain-axis-modification/

Panyko, J.A. (2016). Probiotics: How to use them to your advantage – why you probably don’t have enough probiotics and what you can do about it. See: https://smile.amazon.com/Probiotics-Advantage-Probably-Enough-about/dp/1478767928/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483397650&sr=8-1&keywords=probiotics+panyko

Panyko, J.A. (2016). PowerOfProbiotics.com: How to Be Healthy With Probiotics, From a Nutritionist. See: http://www.powerofprobiotics.com

Sarkar, A. et al. (2016). Psychobiotics and the Manipulation of Bacteria–Gut–Brain Signals. Trends in Neurosciences, 39:11, 763-781. See: http://www.cell.com/trends/neurosciences/fulltext/S0166-2236(16)30113-8

Schoffro Cook, M. (2015). The Probiotic Promise: Simple steps to heal your body from the inside out. See: https://www.amazon.com/Probiotic-Promise-Simple-Steps-Inside/dp/0738217956/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1483402934&sr=8-2&keywords=schoffro+cook

Schoffro Cook, M. (2016). drmichellecook.com. See:  http://www.drmichellecook.com

Swartzburg, R. (2009). Lactobacillus Helveticus. Probiotics.org. See: http://www.probiotic.org/lactobacillus-helveticus.htm

Schwenk, D. (2015). Cultured Food for Health: A Guide to Healing Yourself with Probiotic Foods Kefir * Kombucha * Cultured Vegetables. See: https://www.amazon.com/Cultured-Food-Health-Probiotic-Vegetables/dp/1401947832/ref=pd_sbs_14_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=AX2C1JTDA62EGTMQT2QJ

Schwenk, D. (2017). CulturedFoodLife.com. See: https://www.culturedfoodlife.com

Todar, K.  (2008-2011). Lactococcus lactis nominated as the Wisconsin State Microbe. Todar’s Online Textbook of Bacteriology. See: http://textbookofbacteriology.net/featured_microbe.html

University Health News. (2016). The Best Probiotics for Mood: Enhancing the Gut-Brain Connection with Psychobiotics: What are pychobiotics? They’re mind-altering probiotics that researchers say can boost mood, decrease anxiety, and ease depression, among other benefits. See: http://universityhealthnews.com/daily/depression/the-best-probiotics-for-mood-enhancing-the-gut-brain-connection-with-psychobiotics/

Williams, D. (2017). How to Choose the Best Probiotic Supplement. See: http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/how-to-choose-the-best-probiotic-supplement/

Yong, E. (2016). I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life. See: https://www.amazon.com/Contain-Multitudes-Microbes-Within-Grander/dp/0062368591/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483909736&sr=8-1&keywords=i+contain+multitudes

 

 

© Copyright 2017. Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Psychobiotics: Your Gut Bacteria – Your Mood

Updated 7/5/2015 & 7/9/2015.

 

(Source: jama.jamanetwork.com)
(Source: jama.jamanetwork.com)

 

Very good news! An exciting new field of medicine is on the horizon: PSYCHOBIOTICS.
PROBIOTICS are micro-organisms that have beneficial effects on the body when consumed.
Ted Dinan, Catherine Stanton, and John Cryan, pioneering researchers in the field, define a PSYCHOBIOTIC as “a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness”. (Dinan, Stanton & Cryan, 2013)

 

(Source: www.youtube.com)
(Source: www.youtube.com)
Scientists are discovering that some probiotic micro-organisms living in our guts are also psychoactive. That is, they deliver neuroactive substances such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin that influence the brain via the gut-brain axis.
I’d say that the field of psychobiotics in the not so distant future will be understood more broadly to include all of us, not just those with diagnosable mental illnesses. For example, we’ll be able to fine tune our anxiety levels day to day – by taking particular probiotics before events we know make us anxious (public speaking, flying, big dates, exams). And, even better, we’ll be able to AVOID depression’s deep troughs of despair and the exhausting paralysis of anxiety by nourishing healthy populations of the appropriate probiotics in our guts.
(Source: http://www.maryvancenc.com/
(Source: http://www.maryvancenc.com/

 

As we understand the gut-brain axis at this point, communications between the gut and the brain (and vice versa) travel via the long vagus nerve, spinal cord, and/or neuroendocrine systems to mediate various physical and mental states – including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Here’s a diagram of the vagus nerve’s path, showing the organs it connects between the brain at its top end and the intestines at its bottom end. You can see what an important communication highway it provides for the body, allowing the brain, lungs, heart, spleen, liver, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, and intestines to ‘talk’ to one another.

 

THE VAGUS NERVE

It runs from the brain stem down each side of the neck, across the chest, down through the abdomen allowing the brain, lungs, heart, spleen, liver, pancreas, kidneys, stomach and intestines to communicate bi-directionally along its network.

(Source: emedicine.medscape.com)
(Source: emedicine.medscape.com)
“So far, psychobiotics have been most extensively studied in … patients with irritable bowel syndrome, where positive benefits have been reported for a number of organisms including Bifidobacterium infantis. Evidence is emerging of benefits in alleviating symptoms of depression and in chronic fatigue syndrome. Such benefits may be related to the anti-inflammatory actions of certain psychobiotics and a capacity to reduce hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. ” (Dinan, Stanton & Cryan, 2013)
Did you notice the mention of the anti-inflammatory actions of probiotics in the quote above?
Most physical and mental diseases have inflammation as their root cause. The vast majority of our immune system, about 70% of it, is located in the gut microbiome. Unbalance in the composition of microbes there creates inflammation inside the intestinal linings, increasing gut permeability, leading to chronic inflammation elsewhere in the body – and disease.
This is my short hand explanation for how the connection works:
Chronic imbalance of microbes in the gut –> chronic inflammation in the gut –> increased gut permeability –> chronic inflammation elsewhere in the body –>  diseases in the gut and/or elsewhere in the body

 

(Source: www.nature.com)
(Source: www.nature.com)

 

These signaling irregularities affect our emotions, mental abilities, behaviors, and perception of and reactions to pain (nociception). The whole system is something like an enormous, highly complex switchboard. If something interferes with signaling somewhere in the system, a circuit can malfunction and perhaps cause the entire switchboard to break down.

 

(Source: en.wikipedia.org)
(Source: en.wikipedia.org)

 

Chronic imbalances in our gut bacteria that lead to gut-brain axis signaling irregularities can also lead to a wide variety of other health problems – including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, migraines, thyroid problems, dental issues, cancers, degenerative neurological diseases, obesity, ADD/ADHD, allergies, asthma, autism, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic Lyme disease … and many, many more. And they all begin with the health of the several pounds of miniscule critters living in our gut microbiomes.

 

 

gut-microbiome

 

Our gut microbiome, the 100 trillion micro-organisms (500-1,000 species of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other tiny life forms) living in our intestinal linings, is so important to the proper functioning of the entire body that many scientists now regard it as an organ in and of itself. The theory is that these micro-organisms  communicate with the nervous system using some of the same neurochemicals the body uses to relay messages in the brain. (Smith, 2015)
These several pounds of micro-organisms in our guts secrete a large number of neurochemicals, including dopamine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the very same chemicals our neurons use to communicate and regulate mood – and chemicals that also play a role in GI disorders, which, not strangely, are associated with high levels of depression and anxiety.  (Smith, 2015)

 

(Source: www.itsokaytobesmart.com)
(Source: www.itsokaytobesmart.com)

 

 

 

 

ANXIETY, OBSESSIVE BEHAVIOR, LEAKY GUT AND BACTEROIDES FRAGILIS

 

(Source: www.find-happiness.com)
(Source: www.find-happiness.com)

 

In 2013, microbiology researchers Mazmanian and Hsiao published research results that linked a specific variety of probiotic bacteria with anxious behaviors in mice. The mice were known to have alterations in their gut microbiota and GI barrier defects  (increased gut permeability, AKA leaky gut) and also exhibited anxious, obsessive behaviors (such as obsessively burying marbles). When they were given oral doses of  one of two strains of the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis (probiotic bacteria found in normal gut flora), both their GI problems and maladaptive behaviors improved. (Hsiao et al, 2013) (Smith, 2015)

 

 

 

 

STRESS, DEPRESSION AND THE PROBIOTICS LACTOBACILLUS AND BIFIDOBACTERIUM

 

 

(Source: www.menshealth.co.uk)
(Source: www.menshealth.co.uk)

 

A recent study found that a combination of the probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum (probiotic bacteria found in healthy human gut microbiomes) reduced anxiety, depression, and stress levels and improved coping strategies. (Messaoudi, 2011)
Our psychological and physiological reactions to fear and stress play a large role in depression. People suffering from major depression also have elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone our adrenals release to get us ready to fight for our lives or flee from the danger. Back when we frequently encountered predatory animals and were often in a fight or flight situation, this elevated release of cortisol was a very useful thing.
What often happens now is that we live in a state of chronic cortisol overproduction, over stimulated, afraid, unable to calm down, wearing out our adrenals. Chronically elevated cortisol production interferes with learning and memory, lowers immune functioning, decreases bone density, increases weight gain,  raises blood pressure and cholesterol levels, leads to heart disease, increases risk for depression and anxiety, decreases resilience – and is generally exhausting. A combination of the probiotics, Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum, was found to reduce cortisol levels. (Berglund, 2013) (Davidson, 2014)
GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is our central nervous system’s chief inhibitory neurotransmitter, playing a central role in reducing neuronal excitability throughout the body and regulating muscle tone. (Wikipedia, 2015)
Many physiological and psychological processes associated with depression, including negative ruminations, can be traced to a deficiency in the neurotransmitter GABA. Microbes that actively secrete GABA in the gut have been identified by researchers. Chief among them are strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Bifidobacterium longum has anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and antimutagenic properties and may protect you from developing colon cancer.  It’s present in breast milk and is one of the first probiotics to colonize a newborn’s gut.

 

Emmenthaler Cheese
(Source: cheesecrafters.ca)
(Source: cheesecrafters.ca)

 

Swiss and Emmenthaler cheeses contain Lactobacillus helveticus. (We’re talking about real cheeses, not the tasteless, processed kinds often found prepackaged in the US.)

 

(Source: draxe.com)
(Source: draxe.com)

 

Bifodobacterium longum is found in unprocessed yogurts, various types of fermented dairy foods (kefir’s a good choice), and fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut.
(Source: www.rsc.org)
(Source: www.rsc.org)
Good news for those of us who love dark chocolate: The plentiful polyphenols in dark chocolate serve as PREbiotics, nourishing the beneficial Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium  in our guts.  (Davidson, 2014) The higher the cacao and lower the sugar content the better. Organic and fair trade also if possible.
Both L. helveticus and B. longum can also be taken as supplements.

 

 

 

 

MOOD, OXYTOCIN AND LACTOBACILLUS REUTERI

 

(Source: www.bbc.co.uk)
(Source: www.bbc.co.uk)
A team of biologists at MIT found that another probiotic strain, Lactobacillus reuteri, improved mood, restored a youthful appearance to the skin, and promoted general health by increasing levels of oxytocin, the love hormone. (Davidson, 2015)
L. reuteri is one of the fastest colonizing probiotic bacteria available. This is a good thing – colonizing probiotic strains of bacteria in your gut can restore your health.

 

 

 

 

ANXIETY, DEPRESSION AND LACTOBACILLUS RHAMNOSUS (Davidson, 2014) (Mercola, 2011) (Saey, 2011)

 

(Source: www.drperlmutter.com)
(Source: www.drperlmutter.com)
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a bacterial strain that has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in anxious mice.
GABA, the central nervous system’s principal inhibitory neurotransmitter, regulates many physiological and psychological processes in the body. Alterations in GABA receptor expression are linked to the the development of anxiety and depression.
Study results published in 2011 shed light on exactly how L. rhamnosus in the gut impacts the brain’s chemistry.
The researchers found that the probiotic L. rhamnosus markedly affected GABA levels in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior.
When the vagus nerve was severed, GABA receptor levels and the animals’ behavior remained unchanged after treatment with L. rhamnosus, confirming that the vagus nerve is most likely the primary pathway of communication between the bacteria in the gut and the brain.
The researchers allow that the vagus nerve is the obvious communication route but perhaps not the only one, that messaging may also occur via other nerves or chemicals in the blood.
If you doubt there’s a direct connection between the health of the gut microbiome and mental health, keep in mind that functional bowel disorders and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are generally comorbid (they generally occur together).

Strains of L. rhamnosus  are found in some dairy products such as live culture yogurts, cheeses (eg, real Parmigiano Reggiano), and kefir. They’re also found in fermented dry sausages and some fermented soy cheeses. (Panyko, 2015)

 

 

 

PAIN, CHRONIC FATIGUE, DEPRESSION, ANXIETY AND LACTOBACILLUS ACIDOPHILUS

 

(Source: www.slideshare.net)
(Source: www.slideshare.net)

 

Lactobacillus acidophilus improves the functioning of canabinoid receptors in the spinal cord that are important for regulating pain perception. (Davidson, 2014)
A 2009 study to see if treatment with live L. acidophilus was helpful for chronic fatigue syndrome and the depression that’s part of it showed promising results. When the researchers supplemented chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers with a live casie strain of L. acidophilus for two months, they saw a significant decrease in the subjects’ depression, anxiety, and general emotional distress. (Rao et al, 2009)
Food sources of L. acidophilus include live culture yogurt and other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, sauerkraut juice, kimchi, miso, chutneys, and kefir.

 

 

SEROTININ, CHRONIC INFLAMMATION AND BIFIDOBACTERIUM INFANTIS

 

(Source: www.amazon.com)
(Source: www.amazon.com)
A number of microbes can produce other neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. For example, Bifidobacterium infantis, taken as an probotic, alters serotonin levels – just like Prozac but without the undesirable side effects. (Davidson, 2014)
Bifidobacterium infantis has been clinically demonstrated to be very good at reducing the symptoms caused by chronic immune activation in the gut, autoimmune diseases, and excessive cortisol release. So it, along with some other probiotic bacteria, is a good choice for people with leaky gut, IBS, IBD, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease. (Nootriment, 2015)
Infantis in this bacteria’s name indicates that it’s a strain vitally important for infant health.  B. infantis is usually one of the first probiotics mothers pass on to their babies during vaginal births. Many scientists and doctors therefore recommend that pregnant women take it as a supplement.
The main benefit from B. infantis is to improve digestion and protect us against infection and sickness. It has also been shown to fight allergies and prevent kidney stones. It accomplishes all this by producing large amounts of acid to make our digestive tracts and vaginas inhospitable to pathogenic bacteria and parasites. (Jerkunica, 2015)

 

 

 

(Source: www.starrybrook.com)
(Source: www.starrybrook.com)

 

 

 

 

 

FERMENTED FOODS

(Source: http://www.sacfoodcoop.com)
(Source: http://www.sacfoodcoop.com)

 

NOTE:
If you’ve decided to add ready-made fermented foods like sauerkraut or pickles to your diet for their probiotic benefits, remember it’s only the truly fermented versions that are helpful. The ones made with vinegar, although they may say ‘pickled’ on their labels, aren’t actually fermented and don’t offer any probiotic or enzymatic benefits. Look for the fermented versions in the refrigerated areas in stores.
Fermented foods contain living cultures. Refrigeration slows down the fermentation process. The brine may be cloudy – full of lactic acid bacterial growth (the desirable probiotics) created during fermentation. The jar lids may be slightly swollen from the  ongoing fermentation process. Fermented pickles have a complex taste – they’re alive on your tongue. Pickles made with vinegar taste like vinegar.

 

904e4a80c69ade6cdc800d4c0bbf9e3d
Years ago, when I was living in Cambridge, MA, my neighborhood grocery store was Savenor’s. Mrs Savenor kept a huge, wooden pickle barrel next to the checkout counter.  The top of the barrel was open. The brine was cloudy, sometimes scummy looking, and every once in a while the barrel emitted a big belch of gas. I thought the whole thing was unsanitary and never bought her pickles. Now I wish I’d known then what I’ve since learned about the benefits of that living culture.
Savenor’s was also where Julia Child shopped for her meats. The Childs lived in the neighborhood of beautiful big houses on the north side of Kirkland Street. I was in the neighborhood of old apartment buildings on the south side of Kirkland, where students and other people with little money lived.
Here’s a fond memoir about Mrs Savenor by one of her grandsons, Alan Savenor: How a Matriarch Ran Savenor’s. She was a character. Reputedly, she’d smuggled her young boys out of Lithuania by walking across the border with them under her voluminous, floor length skirt when the Nazis set about exterminating all the Jews there.

 

1165_Savenor_1

 

 

 

For those of you interested in improving your gut microbiomes and overall health by eating probiotic-rich foods, here’s a good article on Probiotics & Fermented Foods written by the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop.

 

 

(Source: fundrazr.com)
(Source: fundrazr.com)

 

 

 

YOUR BRAIN ON BUGS

This is what pioneering Integrative Health doc J. E. Williams, OMD, has to say about psychobiotics and how best to get them into your body:
“Microbiota, those microscopic bugs that live in your body—mainly in the gut—can influence brain chemistry and consequently behavior. We know that Clostridium difficile, the nasty gut hospital-based gut infection that kills 14,000 people each year in the U.S., is associated with depression and dementia. Two antidepressants, mirtazapine (Remeron) and fluoxetine (Prozac), are linked to a nearly 50 percent increased risk for Clostridium difficile infection.
“Doctors have long known that foods and changes in the gastrointestinal system are associated with mood changes. Does the pathway to happiness actually exist in your gut?

Sources of Psychobiotics

“Probiotics come in a variety of forms, from powders and capsules to foods such as yogurt, dairy drinks, infant formulas, cheese, and even some energy snack bars. Any of these forms may be effective for digestive problems as long as they contain the right kind of beneficial organisms in adequate numbers.
“In my clinical experience, I’ve found that supplements with live friendly bacteria in high dosages are more effective for treatment of depression, immune deficiency, and gastrointestinal problems then consuming yogurt or fermented vegetables alone.

Friendly Psychobiotics

  • Bacteriodies fragilis
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus helveticus
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus brevis

Brain-Immune-Gut Axis

“We’re finding that most diseases, including psychiatric illnesses, have inflammation as their root cause. Inflammation is associated with immune system imbalance and disruption of hormone activity. Probiotics may also influence how your genes work. Psychobiotics could target genes responsible influencing neurotransmitters like GABA that have a strong connection to mood and behavior.
“We know that “gluten brain” is a type of mental fog common in people with gluten sensitivity. People with gluten sensitivity feel better when eliminating wheat, but the benefit is limited. If you have tried the gluten-free diet and wonder what’s next, consider psychobiotics
“The autonomic nervous system links the brain and gut largely through the vagus nerve. More than 90 percent of the body’s serotonin, a feel good neurotransmitter, lies within the gut. In fact, your gut has a mind of its own and it’s called the enteric nervous system.
“Changes in diet have immediate effects on the bacterial composition in your gut. Antibiotics have disastrous effects on gut bacteria. Now we have good research and more than enough clinical evidence that specialized probiotic bacteria are essential for health, and also profoundly influence mood.
“So, it’s not surprising that when your gut is healthier, so is your brain and mood. Your immune system works better too, so you have fewer episodes of the cold and/or flu.”
– Williams, 2014

 

 

 

 

IS YOUR FATE IN YOUR GENES?: GENETICS VS EPIGENETICS

 

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If there’s been mental illness – say depression, anxiety or panic disorder, OCD, autism, schizophrenia – in your family as far back as anyone can remember, you needn’t feel that you or your children are doomed. Genetics is the study of genes, heredity, and genetic variation in living organisms. Epigenetics is the study of factors that turn genes on and off and affect how cells read genes.
Your genetics account for only 25% of the chance you’ll develop a disease. The other 75% is environmental (both internal and external) and therefore largely up to you. So take very good care of your gut microbiome. Provide it with lots of good microbes (probiotics and psychobiotics) to keep a good balance in there and avoid the bad ones (bacterial pathogens and other toxins) as much as possible.
This is also true of genetic predispositions for heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer,  and pretty much every other illness. You are not a prisoner of your genes. Probiotics influence activity in our genes, allowing them to express their contents in a positive, disease-fighting manner.
Research has shown that probiotic bacteria produce positive changes in the mucosal lining of the small intestines which affect gene activity and cellular reactions.

“Consumption of a dairy drink containing three strains of probiotic bacteria was associated with changes in the activity of hundreds of genes, with the changes resembling the effects of certain medicines in the human body, including medicines that positively influence the immune system and those for lowering blood pressure.”

– Mercola, 2010

 

 

 

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STAY TUNED! There’s lots of good research being done now on the relationship between probiotics in the gut,  mood – and pretty much every other working of the body.

 

 

 

(Source: www.medscape.com)
(Source: www.medscape.com)

 

 

Many thanks to both Liz Poirier and Alex Tatusian for pointing me to the New York Times Magazine article by Peter Andrey Smith, which prompted this post: Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?  It’s very good and I recommend reading it.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Berglund, C. (2013).  Cortisol: Why “The Stress Hormone” Is Public Enemy No. 1: 5 simple ways to lower your cortisol levels without drugs. See: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

Davidson, J. (2014). Nature’s Bounty: The Psychobiotic Revolution. Psychology Today. See: https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201404/natures-bounty-the-psychobiotic-revolution

Dinan, T.G., Stanton, C., Cryan, J.F. (2013). Psychobiotics: A Novel Class of Psychotropic. Biological Psychiatry: A Journal of Psychiatric Neuroscience and Therapeutics. See: http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(13)00408-3/abstract

Hsiao, E.Y. et al. (2013). Microbiota modulate behavioral and physiological abnormalities associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Cell, 155:7, 1451-63. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24315484

Jerkunica, E. (2015). Facts About B. Infantis Probiotic Strain. See: http://probiotics.org/9-health-benefits-of-bifidobacterium-infantis/

Mercola, R. (2010). The Healing Power of Probiotics Impresses Researchers. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/11/probiotics-healing-power-impresses-researchers.aspx

Mercola, R. (2011). Hike Up Your Happy Hormones With Probiotic Supplements. See: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/22/this-supplement-can-actually-make-you-happy.aspx

Messaoudi, M. et al. (2011). Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition, 105:5, 755-64. See

Nootriment. (2015). Bifidobacterium Infantis Probiotic Supplements Review. See: http://nootriment.com/bifidobacterium-infantis/

Panyko, J. (2015). Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Probiotic Bacteria with Impressive Health Benefits. See: http://www.powerofprobiotics.com/Lactobacillus-rhamnosus.html

Rao, A.V. et al. (2009). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Gut Pathogens, 1:6. See: http://www.gutpathogens.com/content/1/1/6

Sacramento Natural Foods Coop. (undated). Probiotics & Fermented Foods. See: http://www.sacfoodcoop.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=438%3Aprobiotics-a-fermented-foods&catid=59%3Aconsumer-guides&lang=us&Itemid=65

Saey, T. H. (2011). Belly bacteria boss the brain: Gut microbes can change neurochemistry and influence behavior. Science. News. See: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/belly-bacteria-boss-brain

Savenor, A. (2013). How a Matriarch Ran Savenor’s. See: http://www.theeditorial.com/think/2013/12/10/how-a-matriarch-ran-savenors

Smith, P.A. (6/28/2015). Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood? New York Times Magazine. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html?_r=1

Wikipedia. (6/23/2015). gamma-Aminobutyric acid. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-Aminobutyric_acid

Williams, J.E. (2014). YOUR BRAIN ON BUGS—WILL BACTERIA BE THE NEXT TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION? See: http://renegadehealth.com/blog/2014/02/28/your-brain-on-bugs-will-bacteria-be-the-next-treatment-for-anxiety-and-depression

 

 

 

© Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.