Can probiotics really improve emotional health?

Most of the publicity about the benefits of probiotics focuses on how they improve gut health. Without a doubt, probiotics can improve the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, but the role of probiotics is not just to improve digestion. Probiotics can have a positive impact on physical and mental health in surprising ways.

Research shows that certain strains of probiotics have neuroactivity. They play a role in communication between the brain and the enteric nervous system within the gut. By taking enough of certain neuroactive probiotics, you can alleviate symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Gut-Brain Axis

The gut and the brain have a special relationship. They are connected by a system called the "gut-brain axis", which is a direct communication line between these two systems through the longest nerve in the human body: the vagus nerve. The brain and gut not only communicate, but the gut also nourishes the brain. The gut also produces important hormones called neurotransmitters that affect mood and mental health. To fulfill this important responsibility, the gut needs to function normally.

The human gut is filled with billions of microbes that make up the microbiota. The microbiota includes a combination of bacteria and yeast, many of which are beneficial to human health. Maintaining a proper balance of good and bad microbes is important for health. Research over the past few years has found that taking probiotics has surprising effects on other aspects of health. One of the most striking findings is that certain probiotics have a positive effect on neurotransmitter production and mental health.

Gut Health and Mental Health: The Science

At first glance, the connection between your gut and mental health seems to make no sense. But the gut plays a crucial role in producing serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. GABA and tyrosine (which forms dopamine) are also produced in the gut. If the gut can not provide enough neurotransmitters, it will have a noticeable effect on mood.
Microbiota imbalance that affects neurotransmitter production can also affect digestion. In fact, doctors have noticed overlap between mental health conditions and digestive system conditions for many years. It's not uncommon to hear people mention stomach discomfort as well as feelings of anxiety or unease. People talk about feeling uncomfortable when they hear bad news, or worrying that they might vomit in a tense situation. Doctors have also noticed a correlation between people with clinical mental health symptoms and people with clinical digestive system health symptoms.
There is definitely a connection between the sensations produced by the brain and those produced by the gut. It is not yet entirely clear whether depression and anxiety cause gastrointestinal problems, or whether gastrointestinal problems cause mood disorders, but the connection between the two is undeniable.
Researchers have begun to explore whether treating the gut can change mental health. A 2016 study showed that changing the gut microbiota in mice could produce depressive behavior. Researchers took gut flora from people with severe depression and transferred it to mice. Mice with the "depressive microbiota" began to show more anxiety and depressive behavior. The conclusion drawn by the researchers was that the balance of the gut microbiota could affect mental health.
Other research has addressed the issue in the opposite way: researchers have not tried to induce depression by changing gut bacteria, but have tried to improve mental health by improving the balance of gut flora with probiotics. A recent scientific literature review pointed out the benefits of probiotics for patients with depression, anxiety, Alzheimer's disease, and autism.
The potential for probiotic supplements to affect mood and behavior may mean that people with depression, anxiety, or neurological disorders can use probiotics to improve their mental health.

How Do Probiotics Help People with Autism?

People with autism often experience symptoms of anxiety, stress, and emotional outbursts that make daily life challenging. People may find that managing their emotions requires too much energy, leaving them feeling tired and stressed. Continuous mental unrest may lead to an increase in certain behaviors, such as stimulation, breakdowns, or distancing from others.

Some people with autism also have digestive and gut health problems, experiencing uncomfortable constipation or diarrhea as well as stomach cramps and pain. Chronic discomfort and worry about needing to use the bathroom can further exacerbate anxiety and stress.

Probiotics can improve mental and physical discomfort associated with gut problems. Just relieving digestive discomfort can improve mood and stress levels. Everyone feels better when they're not struggling with stomach discomfort! Adding probiotics to the diet can also reduce the occurrence of constipation or diarrhea.

Research also shows that certain strains of probiotics can alleviate some of the challenging emotional effects of autism. Researchers gave boys with autism LR-99 daily. The boys' parents noticed a decrease in anxiety, repetitive behaviors, and oppositional behaviors.

Another study investigating the effects of LR-99 showed that compared to other strains of probiotics, children and adolescents with autism who took probiotics showed more attention, more communication, and more independence.


Additional Benefits of Probiotics

In addition to having a direct impact on mental health, probiotics can also improve overall health. Researchers have found the benefits of probiotics include:

Improved Sleep: Research shows that certain strains of probiotics can increase tryptophan. Tryptophan is most famous for being a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is important for healthy sleep. By increasing tryptophan and serotonin, your sleep quality may improve. Adequate rest can improve mood.

Enhanced Immune Function: Experts have found that probiotics can help prevent diseases and infections. On one hand, probiotics may be able to increase the production of antibodies. This can improve the immune response to disease. Research shows that taking lactobacillus supplements can reduce the incidence and intensity of respiratory infections in children. Getting sick can exacerbate depressive moods. If you can avoid illness or recover quickly, it can help you avoid feeling down.

Improved Gut Health: Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder or mood disorders also have digestive problems. Their symptoms can cause ongoing discomfort and anxiety about when symptoms might suddenly flare up. Many studies confirm that probiotics can improve overall gut health, and some can even alleviate symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The absence of stomach discomfort will almost certainly make people feel better overall.

Is the Type of Probiotic Important?

There are countless microbes living inside and on the surface of the human body, and scientists are just beginning to understand them. They do understand that each type of bacteria has its own role in microbiota. Research has begun to reveal which specific bacteria have beneficial effects, including:

-All strains of Bifidobacterium can produce acetic acid, thereby reducing intestinal inflammation

-Other strains of Bifidobacterium may play a role in managing immunity and regulating digestion
-Some lactobacilli produce lactic acid in the small intestine. This may reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the gut, thereby enhancing the gut barrier and improving overall health
-Certain strains of lactobacilli may support healthy lactose digestion and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels
-These benefits of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus make them common ingredients in probiotic supplements.


Certain probiotics (called psychobiotics) are considered to have neuroactivity. These strains of probiotics seem to affect the production of neurotransmitters and may affect thinking, mood, and movement. One of these strains, Lactobacillus rhamnosus LR99, has been shown to have a positive impact on the mental health of people with depression.

Are Probiotics Safe?

Probiotics are suitable for people of all ages. As with any supplement, be sure to consult your doctor before adding it to your daily care. If you are currently taking medication for mental health problems (or any prescription medication), healthcare professionals can alert you to any possible drug interactions or issues to be aware of.

When taking probiotics, the effects may not be immediate. Most likely, you will notice changes over time. Gastrointestinal discomfort may lessen, alleviating stomach discomfort and related issues. If you are a parent or caregiver of someone taking probiotics to support mental health, you may also see positive changes, such as better sleep, improved mood, greater independence, and communication skills.

Remember, certain medications (such as antibiotics or antifungal drugs) may reduce the effectiveness of probiotics. In addition, people with certain immune diseases should consult a doctor before taking any probiotics.

Some people may notice temporary side effects when they first start taking probiotics. You may experience bloating or changes in bowel movements. This usually indicates that your body is adjusting to changes in the microbiota. Symptoms should lessen within a few weeks. If they don't, it may indicate that the particular probiotic you are taking is not suitable for you. In this case, you should stop using it. Of course, do not stop taking any prescription medication without first consulting a healthcare professional.

If you are unsure whether you or a family member should add probiotics to your daily routine, consult your doctor.

Adding Probiotics to Support Mental Health

When you are ready to start taking probiotics to support your mental health, it is very important to choose a supplement that contains strains specifically able to address mental health issues. Probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus LR99 has shown effectiveness in addressing mental, emotional, and motor issues. Other strains may help alleviate other symptoms such as digestive discomfort, but may not be effective for mental health issues.

If you want to try probiotics for mental health support, consider LR-99, the first psychobiotic targeting core symptoms - Beneficial Heart Bacteria. Order your first bottle here.



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