Probiotics lower stress and anxiety levels


2016-11-24 07:14

Researchers have found that common probiotics decrease stress and anxiety levels.

There as been a growing awareness of the value of probiotics to enhance health and well being. Recently scientists have determined that probiotics lower stress and anxiety.

There is a direct link between the microbes in the gut and the central nervous system

The University of Missouri reports that probiotics are live bacteria which have positive effects when they are introduced into the body. In studies it has been shown there is a direct link between the microbes in the gut and the central nervous system.

Researchers at the University of Missouri have determined with the use of a zebrafish model that a common probiotic which is sold in yogurt and supplements can lower stress associated behavior and anxiety. Investigations of how bacteria in the gut affect the behavior of zebrafish has the potential to lead to more insights of how probiotics may have an affect on the central nervous system of people.

Probiotics which we generally use to keep our digestive tract stable may also help in lowering our stress and anxiety levels

Aaron Ericsson, who is director of the MU Metagenomics Center and a assistant professor of research in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, says zebrafish have been emerging as a model species for neurobehavioral studies. Ericsson says this study demonstrates that simple probiotics which we generally use to keep our digestive tract stable may also help in lowering our stress and anxiety levels.

The researchers tested the behavior of the zebrafish after they were given doses of Lactobacillus plantarum, which is a common bacteria in yogurt and probiotic supplements. Different stressors were added to the tanks of the zebrafish on different days. Common environmental stress patterns such as change in temperature and isolation made these tests relevant to people.

The researchers noted that zebrafish which were given the supplements displayed a decrease in the metabolic pathways linked to stress. Genes which are associated with stress and anxiety were measured. It was found that bacteria in the gut changed the gene expression linked to stress and anxiety associated pathways in the fish. This enabled enhanced signaling of specific neurotransmitters.

The zebrafish which were given the probiotics were not as stressed and not as anxious

In order to further test their theory the researchers studied the movements of the zebrafish with the use of computers. It has been observed in past studies that fish that are stressed generally spend more time at the bottom of the tanks. When the zebrafish were given probiotics they were observed to spend more of their time near the top of the tanks. This change in their behavior indicated the zebrafish which were given the probiotics were not as stressed and not as anxious.

This study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports. Stress and anxiety disorders are very common conditions in adults and children across the world. The common psychiatric approach of using drugs to treat these conditions generally causes more harm than good due to the myriad of dangerous side effects associated with the psychiatric drugs. The potential to use probiotics to treat these conditions is therefore welcomed.