"Good" gut bacteria may ease anxiety
Daily consumption of probiotics may help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to a new study.
Scientists from the University of Oxford in England recruited 45 healthy adults between ages 18 and 45. The participants were split into two groups, who either took what are known as prebiotics--supplements that boost good bacteria in the gut--or a placebo every day for three weeks. The participants were then asked to take a series of computer tests that analyzed their processing of emotions.
The researchers found that the participants who took the prebiotic had reduced levels of cortisol in their saliva than did those who took the placebo. That's noteworthy because research has shown high cortisol levels to be linked with stress, anxiety and depression. The researchers also found that in one computer test, the prebiotic group paid more attention to positive emotions and seemed less anxious about negative emotions, when compared with the placebo group.
Researchers were unable to conclude whether taking prebiotics directly reduces anxiety and depression. However, they said that the study's findings, published in the journal Psychoparmacology, do suggest that gut bacteria appears to play a role in easing certain psychiatric disorders.