Research reveals zero proof probiotics can ease your anxiety

June 20, 2018

LAWRENCE -- If you're expecting probiotics to reduce your anxiety, it might be time to put down that yogurt spoon - or supplement bottle - and call a professional instead.

A new study from the University of Kansas appearing Wednesday in PLOS ONE reviewed available research conducted on animals and people, finding evidence that probiotics can reduce anxiety in rodents, but not in humans.

"I think people should wait -- that's the best takeaway here," said lead author Daniel J. Reis, a doctoral student of clinical psychology at KU. "We're in the early days of this research into probiotics. I've seen a lot of stories hyping probiotics as helpful for anxiety. We're not saying they do nothing, but we have a lot to figure out before we know if they can be used therapeutically. I wouldn't recommend using probiotics to treat anxiety at this stage."

Reis and his KU colleagues Stephen S. Ilardi and Stephanie E.W. Punt reviewed data from 22 preclinical studies involving 743 animals and 14 clinical studies of 1,527 individuals, finding "Probiotics did not significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety in humans and did not differentially affect clinical and healthy human samples."

However, the researchers said their findings shouldn't close the door on probiotics -- the microorganisms in yogurts and other products that take up residence in our guts -- as a potentially useful therapy for anxiety and other cognitive issues in the future.

"We see a lot of pathways between our digestive systems and our brains," Reis said. "We see nervous system connections, the inflammation response -- these microorganisms seem to be able to influence the human brain through this gut-brain axis. We wanted to know if changes to the microbiota could improve mental health. But in terms of research, it's all at a very preliminary stage."

For example, Reis said rodents showing reduced anxiety after ingesting probiotics took a lot more probiotics than people in clinical studies, which could explain the difference in results.

"If you control for the weights of animals versus humans, animals are getting much larger doses of probiotics in these experiments by one or two orders of magnitude. Sometimes the doses were hundreds of times higher than we see in human studies," he said. "That's something else we think is worth looking at."

Co-author Ilardi also noted "there are thousands of different microbial species residing in the body, and they undoubtedly exert different effects on the brain. We even saw tantalizing hints in the rodent studies that some microbes may be particularly helpful in lowering anxiety, and we suggested that these probiotic strains might be particularly promising to study in future human trials."

Also, the KU researchers pointed out that humans in the existing studies weren't suffering from especially high levels of anxiety.

"We looked at clinical studies with people, and, in terms of the current literature, we didn't find evidence that probiotics were reducing self-reported anxiety," Reis said. "But we noticed that none of the studies looked at individuals with clinically elevated anxiety. They weren't looking specifically at anxious individuals. In terms of mental health applications for probiotics, those clinical populations haven't been targeted yet."

For people experiencing anxiety, Reis suggested reaching out for expert help.

"For anxiety, the number one thing is to seek professional treatment," he said. "That should be the first action -- there are some good therapies out there that can help with various anxiety disorders. There are also helpful medications. These are the sort of things the people should do at this point to get help."
-end-


University of Kansas

Related Probiotics Articles from Brightsurf:

Probiotics may help manage childhood obesity
Probiotics may help children and adolescents with obesity lose weight when taken alongside a calorie-controlled diet, according to a study being presented at e-ECE 2020.

Which bacteria truly qualify as probiotics?
Today, the word probiotic is used to describe all kinds of 'good' microorganisms in foods and supplements.

AGA does not recommend the use of probiotics for most digestive conditions
After a detailed review of available literature, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has released new clinical guidelines finding that for most digestive conditions there is not enough evidence to support the use of probiotics.

Probiotics may help treat acne
Acne is caused by chronic inflammation and is often treated with antibiotics.

Beware probiotics in ICU patients
A collaborative study published in Nature Medicine sounds a note of caution in using probiotics in the ICU.

Using probiotics to protect honey bees against fatal disease
A group of researchers at Western and Lawson combined their expertise in probiotics and bee biology to supplement honey bee food with probiotics, in the form a BioPatty, in their experimental apiaries.

Scientists revealed how probiotics influence human gut bacteria
A group of researchers from ITMO University and Knomics company studied how gut microbiota of 150 volunteers changed after a month of regular consumption of yogurt fortified with probiotics.

Breastmilk sugars differ in pregnant women on probiotics
The complex sugars found in human breastmilk, long believed to be fixed in their composition, may change in women who are taking probiotics, according to new research from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).

Probiotics could help millions of patients suffering from bipolar disorder
About 3 million people in the US are diagnosed every year with bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition characterized by dramatic shifts in mood from depression to mania.

Probiotics no help to young kids with stomach virus
A major US study led by Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Read More: Probiotics News and Probiotics Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.