Q. My acupuncturist recommended the probiotic Lactobacillus GG for my recurrent depression. After a week, it seems to be making a difference. It has also helped with my intermittent nighttime reflux. Have you ever heard of probiotics for depression?
A. A new study in the journal Gastroenterology (June, 2013) suggests that your experience could be based on science. Researchers randomized healthy women to take yogurt-containing probiotics, a nonfermented milk product control or nothing at all. The women ate the yogurt or placebo twice daily. Brains were scanned with a functional MRI imaging machine before and after the intervention.
The authors concluded that four weeks’ intake of yogurt-containing probiotics by healthy women “affected activity of brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation.” There is growing recognition that the bacteria in our digestive tracts may play a key role in our emotional wellbeing and affect both anxiety and depression (Current Opinion in Pharmacology, Dec, 2012).
To learn more about a variety of other non-drug strategies for coping with the blues, we are sending you our Guide to Dealing with Depression. There is also more information about probiotics in our hour-long radio show on Probiotics for Health.