Those little creatures in your gut can provide you with a number of benefits. But can probiotics actually fight depression?
The connection between the gut and the brain seems to be very important for migraine patients. The same goes for the condition that often goes along with migraine – depression. Some migraine patients do take probiotics to improve the health of the gut. And a study from the Netherlands adds more evidence that probiotics may help fight depression and improve mood (A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood.).
The patients in the study received 4 weeks of probiotic treatment, using a supplement available in the Netherlands. The probiotic was “multispecies”, meaning that there were several strains given in the supplement.
Patients were evaluated using the Leiden Index of Depression Sensitivity-Revised (LEIDS-R), both before and after treatment.
Patients who took the probiotic treatment did indeed fare better. In particular, they had lower aggression, and lower “rumination” (which refers a thought or problem repeating over and over in your mind without resolution – including thoughts such as “why am I so sad?”).
This isn’t the first time probiotics have been studied and found as a depression-fighter. Interestingly, no one in this group had serious depression. In the past, probiotics have been most useful for those already depressed.
Good bacteria in the gut can fight bad bacteria, bad bacteria which may cause problems leading to depression and headache conditions. But some good bacteria may also lead to the production of serotonin, which may help fight both depression and migraine.
The study included 80% female participants, which may make a difference because the flora in the gut of a female is different than the flora in the gut of a male. It was also a small study, but significant enough to make further study worthwhile.
For more detail on the study, see I get by with a little help from my friends: probiotics and depression. For recommended probiotics, see More Research on Probiotics – Which Should I Use? The probiotics from Garden of Life mentioned in the article are similar but not exactly the same to the supplements in the study above.