A recent study performed at McMaster University may lead to large scale trials aimed at confirming the connection between gut health and mental wellbeing.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most prevalent gastrointestinal disorder in the world. Those affected suffer from chronic diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain. Not surprisingly, individuals with IBS often experience anxiety and depression as well.
In the study, IBS patients were given daily doses of probiotics for 10 weeks, with half of the study being given a placebo. At the end of the trial, nearly one-third (64%) of the probiotic patients reported decreased depression scores. The scores were backed up by functional MRI scans showing significant changes in the regions of the brain associated with mood control.
According to Dr. Premysl Bercik: “The study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS. This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of psychiatric patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases.”