Could Probiotics Improve Your Mood? Interview with:
Laura Steenbergen
Leiden University, Institute for Psychological Research, Cognitive Psychology
Leiden, The Netherlands

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Food supplements, among which probiotics, are becoming more and more popular. A lot is known about the effect of probiotics on the physical functioning, but even though there are some rat studies on the effects of probiotics on mental well-being, not much is known about the effect in humans. The few studies on humans that are available show beneficial effects on mood when people experience a bad mood, or psychological distress. Worldwide, millions of people are suffering from mood disorders like for instance depression, but not everyone receives treatment for this. Research on probiotics has shown that they are safe and easily available, and we therefore wanted to investigate if probiotics could perhaps be promising in serving as a preventive or adjuvant therapy for mood disorders of anxiety or depression. We therefore focused on cognitive reactivity to sad mood, which measures the degree to which people activate dysfunctional thought patterns when experiencing a sad mood. This measure is known to be predictive of the onset and development of depression. Compared to subjects who received a 4-week placebo intervention, participants who received a 4-week multispecies probiotics intervention showed significantly reduced aggressive and ruminative thoughts. Even if preliminary, these results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood. As such, our findings shed an interesting new light on the potential of probiotics to serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression. So if you are interested in taking probiotics then you could check out something like these probiotics in india.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: First of all, we are the first to show a beneficial effect on cognitive reactivity in healthy participants. More research is definitely needed to this regard, for instance to see if the beneficial effect can also be obtained in high-risk or patient populations. However, what can be taken from this study, is that even mood disorders should probably not be treated as something that only exists in the mind or brain. Given that the gut and the brain are intimately connected (via what is called the gut-brain axis), and given that probiotics serve optimal gastrointestinal functioning, a healthy and balanced diet, possibly including probiotics, might actually help to lower someone’s vulnerability to develop a mood disorder.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Whereas the current study investigated the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood in healthy, young volunteers, we think it will be interesting and informative to study the same possible effect in high-risks population such as elderly people. We also want to research some of the Reasons Men Over Should Take Probiotics, in the future. Our study was not designed to test specific biological mechanisms that could underlie possible beneficial cognitive effects, however, it has for example been proposed by previous studies that intestinal microbiota increase plasma tryptophan levels, and hereby potentially facilitate serotonin turnover in the brain. As cognitive reactivity to sad mood has been associated with serotonin concentrations, with higher scores correlating with lower serotonin levels, it may be that it is this mechanism that is at play. However, other pathways are plausible as well. For instance, probiotics have been found to improve the epithelial barrier function and hereby decrease permeability, this mechanism might also account for the beneficial effects of probiotics on cognitive reactivity. Follow-up probiotics studies could explore this possibility, for example by using the lactulose/mannitol ratio in urine to evaluate intestinal permeability, but other possibilities should be investigated as well.


A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity

doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2015.04.003 Available online 7 April 2015

Laura Steenbergen, Roberta Sellaro, Saskia van Hemert, Jos A. Bosch, Lorenza S. Colzato

[wysija_form id=”1″] Interview with: Laura Steenbergen (2015). Could Probiotics Improve Your Mood?

Last Updated on April 14, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD