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Probiotics: A Natural Solution to Anxiety and Depression?


Many people who suffer from anxiety and depression, which often overlap, are looking to more natural alternatives to alleviate symptoms and to boost their moods.  This is especially true when their prescription medications from their primary care physician or psychiatrist are falling short of their expectations for symptom relief.

About 16.1 million adult Americans suffer from major depression and approximately 40 million struggle with features of anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder.

Many people who suffer from anxiety and depression are unfortunately resistant to conventional treatments commonly prescribed for their cluster of symptoms.  Some studies reveal as much as 50% of patients may not see improvement or may have significant side effects.  Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for a three year period showed antidepressant drug use has increased by 65% since 1999.  Individual responses to treatment vary greatly from one person to the next for a variety of reasons.  For example, those taking antidepressant medications find that 50% of the time their initial treatment does not work, and another 66% experience at least one side effect- including nausea, weight gain, fatigue, lack of energy, sexual dysfunction and in some cases even suicidal thoughts or ideation.

Enter probiotics to the scene! Scientists have found a new way to relieve mood disorders with two strains of beneficial bacteria to significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.  One study showed a 50% improvement in depression scores with high-quality pharmaceutical-grade probiotics which contain proper amounts of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.  The same was discovered for anxiety, showing nearly 55% improvement in anxiety scores- all without side effects.

Probiotics provide a safe, powerful way to help alleviate some of the symptoms regarding anxiety and depression when taken daily.  They have also been shown to boost overall mood and outlook.

Probiotics, microorganisms, and mood are interconnected via the intestinal neural system and the interaction between the gut-brain axis.  Probiotics support psychological well-being and gut microorganisms and can secrete many kinds of neurotransmitters.  These are chemical messengers that send signals from one neuron or nerve cell to another.  This includes GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and serotonin, which both can relieve anxiety and depression in some people.  Most people do not realize we have more serotonin receptors in the gut than in the brain which further speaks to the importance of maintaining a healthy “internal garden” or digestive tract function.  Probiotics can improve and redistribute species in microbes which can lessen symptoms related to anxiety and depression.

Further studies have demonstrated that the two key strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium work synergistically through the gut-brain axis to support healthy cortisol levels, which we know reduces stress, and many times may lessen mild to moderate anxiety and depression.  A particular clinical trial assessed the impact of using probiotics containing the afore mentioned probiotic strains at therapeutic levels for stress-induced digestive symptoms.  About 60% of patients with some type of depression or anxiety have intestinal disturbances of some form including leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, bloating, or GERD.  This double blind controlled randomized study enrolled participants aged 18-60 who self-reported at least two symptoms of stress.  They were given either a placebo or the probiotic supplement at the same dosage as other studies.  After three weeks, probiotic-treated subjects, compared to the placebo group, had 7.6 times the reduction in stress-induced abdominal pain, 2.1 times the reduction in anxiety induced nausea and vomiting, and 3 times the reduction in bloating, gas, constipation, and GERD symptoms including a noted improvement in moods.

If you are a person who experiences symptoms of anxiety or depression, or have been diagnosed with one or both disorders, consider this all-natural solution of pharmaceutical grade probiotics.  Adding probiotics to your daily regimen is highly recommended for general wellness as 70% of all inflammation in the body is generated in the gut.

While further studies are needed, the early clinical findings using these two specific strains of probiotic in mood disorders is very exciting.  Again, knowing that probiotics have the therapeutic potential to modulate neurotransmitters that are directly connected to anxiety and depression gives providers and patients alike more “tools in their bag” to combat these common maladies.  A review of the key neurotransmitters includes: Serotonin which is thought of as the body’s natural “feel good” chemical and found in highest concentrations in the gut, Dopamine which contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, and Norepinephrine that increases alertness, arousal, and attention.

So, if you are a person who has been diagnosed with one or both anxiety and depression, consider this all-natural solution of pharmaceutical grade probiotics as a simple way to feel better both emotionally and physically.

If you have questions do not hesitate to call and speak with one of our health care professionals at Cypress Pharmacy at (239)-481-7322 or go to http://www.cypresspharmacy.com.

About Dr. Stan Headley

Stan Headley graduated with a Doctor of Medicine in 1991 from Spartan Health Sciences University. Dr. Stan continues to update his knowledge by attending continuing education conferences as a member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, and the Age Management Medicine Group. As a Natural Health Consultant, his entire focus is on getting to the underlying root cause of your symptoms and helping you to determine why you are not well or at risk of chronic disease. He does not diagnose or treat but educates patients on how to make the necessary lifestyle and behavioral changes that will lead to the long-term goal of preventing illness and promoting optimal health.

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