Research News

Can probiotics help with depression?

June, 2017    |

Probiotics could be the answer to depression, says research from McMaster University.

The study, published in the medical journal Gastroenterology, found that twice as many adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) found that their co-existing depression improved when they took a specific probiotic. This provides further evidence for the link between the brain and the gut.

“This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS,” says Dr. Premysl Bercik, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster and a gastroenterologist for Hamilton Health Sciences. “This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases.”

The study looked at 44 adults both with IBS and mild to moderate anxiety or depression. They were followed for 10 weeks, as half took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001, while the rest were administered a placebo.

At six weeks 64 per cent of the patients taking the probiotic had decreased depression scores. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) showed that the improvement in depression scores was associated with changes in multiple brain areas involved in mood control.