Probiotics are anything but new. In fact, it was in 1908 that Russian scientist Élie Metchnikoff first noted that rural Europeans who consistently drank fermented milk lived longer.
Most people have now seen the word so many times in ads for yogurt, dietary aides, various supplements and organic meals. Even cosmetic lines showcase products that contain probiotics.
Now, probiotics are being investigated as a possible natural treatment for depression and mood disorders. Welcome to psycho-biotics!
Probiotics are living bacteria that benefit a normal digestive process. The friendly bacteria in probiotics have a plethora of digestive benefits, especially when used to counteract the effects of antibiotics that eliminate both beneficial and harmful types of bacteria.
Can Psycho-biotics Positively Influence Behavior and Mood?
Over the past couple years, studies have been done to look at the possible healing effects of probiotics on our emotions. This is how probiotics came to be called psycho-biotics.
In a recent review article in Biological Psychiatry, Timothy Dinan and colleagues from the University College Cork in Ireland, define a psycho-biotic as “a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness.”
Stress early in life, such as separation from parents, has long been known to induce long-term changes in gut bacteria. Dinan reviewed one study suggesting that rats have healed from the stress-induced reactions to separation anxiety with the administration of psycho-biotics.
The psycho-biotic treatment normalized both their behavior and their compromised immune system. This study and others suggest that psycho-biotics have the capacity to bring about behavioral and immunological healing.
Some psycho-biotics have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits. This is noteworthy, as stress-related mood disorders are correlated with inflammation.
According to Dinan, “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.”
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