Gut Microbes Could Fight PTSD: Study
Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, have found that imbalances in the gut bacteria of mice can have serious effects on the creatures' mood and demeanor, suggesting that gut microbes might hold a key to preventing or perhaps even curing post-traumatic stress disorder and mood disorders like depression and anxiety in humans.
The Canadian team, working on research sponsored by the Warfighter Performance Department in the Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Virginia, examined the relationship between gut microbe levels and stress in lab mice, and found that not only did smaller mice exposed to larger, more aggressive mice develop signs of increased stress and anxiety — loss of appetite, trembling — but stressed mice grew calmer when fed bacteria from fecal material collected from calm mice.
"This is extremely important work for United States warfighters," noted ONR Program Officer Dr. Linda Chrisey, "because it suggests that gut microbes play a strong role in the body's response to stressful situations, as well as in who might be susceptible to conditions like PTSD."
The "gut microbiome" in the human digestive tract, comprised of trillions of microbes, helps us digest food while also playing a part in defending against disease and transmitting mood and behavior signals to the brain.