Psychobiotics for Mood & Stress Support
It is accepted science that the digestive system is linked to the immune system. Probiotic bacteria, in addition to supporting digestive health, also are critical to a healthily functioning immune system. Studies have found that certain probiotic strains actually boost immune response. (See other articles on probiotics.) In the last several years, research has focused on a different gut-body connection, which we are just beginning to understand: the gut-brain axis.
Like the immune system, the brain and central nervous system are linked to the the gut. Biochemical signalling occurs between the enteric nervous system in the digestive tract and the central nervous system in the brain. The longest nerve in the body, the vagus nerve, is the main information channel between the gut and the brain. Interestingly, the gut produces many of the same neurotransmitters that the brain does. Serotonin and dopamine, for example, involved in mood, are produced in the gut. Gut flora imbalances have been linked to such conditions as anxiety, autism, depression and dementia. How digestive health and the balance of gut bacteria may affect brain health has led to research on specific bacteria strains. The term "psychobiotics" was coined for prebiotics and supplemental probiotic bacteria thought to have a positive effect on both digestive health and brain function.
These psychobiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function and lower stress and anxiety. One study found that Alzheimer's patients who took milk made with four probiotic bacteria species for 12 weeks scored better on a test to measure cognitive impairment compared with those who drank regular milk. Another clinical trial randomly assigned patients with major depressive disorder to receive either probiotic supplements or placebo for eight weeks. The probiotics consisted of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium bifidum (2 billion CFUs each). After eight weeks, patients who received the probiotic had significantly decreased total scores on the Beck Depression Inventory, a widely used test to measure the severity of depression, compared with placebo. In addition, they had significant decreases in systemic inflammation as measured by hs-CRP, significantly lower insulin levels, reduced insulin resistance, and a significant rise in glutathione, the bodyís master antioxidant. The strain Lactobacillus helvetica combined with Lactobacillus rhamnosus normalized anxiety-like behavior and learning and memory impairments in immune-deficient rats with HPA-axis dysfunction.
Probiotics For Mood
Evergreen carries probiotic mood formulas from several companies. Genuine Health offers their women's advanced gut health probiotic Mood, featuring 10.5 billion CFU Lactobacillus rhamnosus combined with Extramel, a patented SOD (superoxide dismutase, a powerful, natural antioxidant enzyme) from melon which itself has been clinically shown to reduce stress and fatigue. The very popular Dr. Formulated line of probiotics from Garden of Life has their Mood+ formula, with 16 probiotic strains including helvetica and rhamnosus with the addition of stress-busting superstar ashwagandha. It is available in both refrigerated and shelf-stable forms. Both New Chapter and Megafood have new additions to their probiotic lines. From New Chapter comes Mood Support Probiotic which contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus along with a mood-enhancing herbal blend featuring passionflower and lavender. And Megafood's Probiotic Mood offers 15 acid-resistant strains plus the Extramel mentioned above. All of these products are shelf-stable making them easily portable and ideal for travel. As well, all of these contain a prebiotic fiber of some sort to enhance the efficacy and activity of the bacteria. Feel better, mind and body, with these psychobiotics.
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