Probiotics for Anxiety and Depression
The specific combination of Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 has dramatically reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression for human patients in two well-designed clinical trials.
You can buy this probiotic power couple in products from several reputable supplement companies today. I've listed a few below.
Product labels with the word “probiotic” are fairly common today. Most of us know that there are “good bugs”, or beneficial microorganisms, that naturally live in our intestinal tract.
Anyone who has experienced diarrhea while traveling abroad or while taking antibiotics knows what having their gut microbiome thrown out of balance feels like.
My first introduction to probiotics was in 1973, when my family was planning a trip to Greece.
My mother read that eating yogurt every day for a month before the trip would help avoid traveler’s diarrhea, so she and I ate yogurt.
My father didn't like yogurt so he didn't eat it with us.
We were all pretty careful on our trip, but we did brush our teeth with tap water a few times. Only my father got sick.
Fewer people know how deeply our microbiome affects all areas of our health and normal functioning.
This healthy partnership has been the subject of a huge amount or research.
We’ve known for a long time that healthy digestion and nutrient absorption depends on a balanced gut microbiome.
We’ve also known that a large part of our immune system is in our gut and interacts with the microbiota there.
What we’ve learned more recently is that our psychological well-being, or mental wellness, is also closely connected to our gut health.
We have an intestinal neural system, often called the second brain, that has 200-600 million neurons. Information flows both ways between our brain (and central nervous system) and this second brain.
In addition, the majority of the neurotransmitters in our body, such as serotonin, are produced by our gut microbiome. Some are directly produced by the beneficial bacteria living there.
The “bugs” in our gut are literally talking to our brain.
The cutting edge of probiotic science today is targeted products using specific strains that have shown a specific result.
That's where the two strains I mentioned earlier come in.
When the probiotics are targeted at mental wellness, they are called psychobiotics.
Antidepressant Use Is Rising
It probably won't surprise you to hear that antidepressant use rose 65% from 1999 to 2014, or that 25% of people who use them had been using them for 10 years or more. (Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db283.htm)
Many people have to try several antidepressants to find one that gets a helpful result and the majority experience at least one unpleasant side-effect.
The helpful result for many is only feeling different, such as numb, not better.
Probiotic Benefits Without Side Effects
How great would it be to get a 50% improvement in depression and anxiety with zero side-effects?
That's what happened in two human clinical trials using the combination of Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175.
In a separate study, using mice, researchers found this probiotic combination as effective as Valium®.
If you want a more detailed account of these studies, please leave a comment below and I'll send it to you.
Retail Products With These Two Strains and More
I've found several products that include these psychobiotics. Each has additional ingredients to supplement their effect, so you'll need to choose the best fit for you.
I've only tried one of them, so these are not recommendations or reviews.
Every person has a unique set of conditions in their body, so it isn't possible to predict whether you will benefit, but the research indicates it.
1. Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood+ from Garden of Life: This one contains 16 strains and one serving has a whopping 50 Billion CFU. The amount of the two specific strains from the research is not shown.
It was formulated by Dr. David Perlmutter, whom I respect. I have used Garden of Life products for years and I trust this brand.
Additional ingredients are two kinds of prebiotic fiber and an herb and berry blend for stress support.
If you're looking for a broad spectrum probiotic that also provides mood support, this might be for you.
One of the strains, B. longum BB536, has shown a number of benefits in clinical trials, but is not specifically targeted to mood support.
I use several Jarrow products personally and I consider Jarrow to be an established and trustworthy company. I have not used this specific product.
3. FLORASSIST® Mood Improve from Life Extension: This product contains just the two probiotic strains that were studied together in a 3 billion CFU strength, plus a proprietary saffron extract.
Saffron extract has been shown, in human clinical trials, to be as effective as three different common antidepressant drugs, with little or no side effects.
Life Extension is a very well established company and I have used a number of their products. (But not this one.)
4. MentaBiotics® from Amare Global: This is the product that we use, recommend, and represent. (If you use the link above to order, we will be compensated.)
It contains three strains, Lactobacillus helveticus R0052, Bifidobacterium longum R0175, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus R0011 in a 3 billion CFU strength.
It also has a proprietary blend of three prebiotic fibers selected to work well with the psychobiotic bacterial strains, a phytobiotic blend with anti-inflammatory properties, and a digestive performance blend.
This is a powdered product, so it is suitable for people who have trouble swallowing capsules. It dissolves easily in water or juice and comes with two choices of sweetener.
This company also offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for a full 12 months!
Let Us Know What You Choose
If you decide to use any of the products mentioned, or another one that you find on your own, please come back and let us know about your experience in a comment after 30-60 days of use.