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Probiotics May Help Ease Depression in IBS Sufferers

You probably know that probiotics are good for your gut, but did you know they might be good for your mood, too? A recent study suggests that taking a probiotic supplement may help relieve symptoms of depression in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Participants in the study included 44 people with (IBS) and mild to moderate anxiety or depression. Half of the group took a daily dose of the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001, while the other half took a placebo for 10 weeks. At weeks 0, 6 and 10, researchers used validated questionnaires to assess participants’ levels of depression, anxiety, IBS symptoms and quality of life. Stool, urine and blood samples were taken at weeks 0 and 6 and assessed for brain activation patterns, fecal microbiota, urine metabolome profiles, serum markers of inflammation, neurotransmitters and neurotrophin levels.


At the six-week mark, 64% of the probiotic group had decreased depression scores, compared with 32% of the placebo group. The probiotic group also had a mean increase in quality of life score compared with the placebo group. In addition, the researchers noted an association between improvements in depression scores and changes in brain areas involved in mood control when they were examined with an fMRI.


There were no noted changes in anxiety scores.


Researchers from McMaster University led the study. It was published online ahead of print on May 5, 2017, in Gastroenterology.


Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 is a probiotic strain that previous studies suggest helps with constipation, IBS-related inflammation, fight high cholesterol, and reduce the development of some allergies. It can be found in fermented foods, fortified dairy products, or can be taken as a supplement.

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