The importance of gut health has been researched in the wellness community for years. And if you’ve heard about probiotics, then you’re most likely aware of their impact on digestive health. Probiotics are live bacteria that offer health benefits to the body and the microbiome when used with proper dosage.
However, there is evidence linking gut dysbiosis (organism imbalance in gut microflora) to some mental disorders. These mental conditions include anxiety and depression, and the connection suggests that probiotics and another term called “psychobiotics” may go beyond the physical health benefits.
Learn more about psychobiotics vs probiotics their benefits for mental health conditions, side effects, and more.
Live organisms, known as “psychobiotics” can improve the health of people with psychiatric disorders when consumed in sufficient quantities .
But the most recent research indicates that psychobiotics can have a promising impact on your brain regardless of whether you have clinical depression, an anxiety condition, or another psychiatric disorder . Therefore, the coined term “psychobiotics” in 2013 is overly restrictive based on this recent study.
Psychobiotics can create or promote the creation of neurotransmitters, short-chain fatty acids, enteroendocrine hormones, and anti-inflammatory cytokines, making them different from typical probiotics.
The therapeutic benefits of psychobiotics offer a variety of functions. The following benefits that psychobiotics have to offer are stress reducer, mood booster, and a treatment enhancer for many neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases. Probiotics such as Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria, Escherichia, Streptococci, and Enterococci are some of the most common psychobiotics used in recent studies .
Psychobiotics vs. Probiotics Benefits
Psychobiotics appear to be beneficial for mental health, especially when consumed in the form of probiotic foods rather than supplements. In addition to helping with digestion and mood, psychobiotics may provide a solution for both physical and mental wellness. Essentially, the benefits of psychobiotics leans more toward mental wellness, while probiotics are more commonly used for physical wellness.
Furthermore, aside from enhancing mental health, ingesting or taking psychobiotics as a supplement or food may also have additional benefits, such as:
- Better digestion
- Reduces the likelihood of cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Lowers heart disease risk
- Enhances immune function
Psychobiotics for Depression and Anxiety
In a clinical experiment, major depressive disorder patients were randomized to receive probiotic supplements or a placebo for eight weeks . The probiotic supplements used are Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus casei, with 2 billion CFUs (colony forming units) each.
In comparison to placebo after eight weeks, patients who got the probiotic had considerably lower overall scores on the Beck Depression Inventory, a test needed to gauge the severity of depression. Additionally, they experienced much lower insulin levels, lessened insulin resistance, and significantly higher levels of glutathione, the body’s most potent antioxidant. These changes were detected by the hs-CRP, which is a marker of systemic inflammation.
Psychobiotics can also help persons with various chronic conditions feel happier and less anxious. Another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with individuals who have chronic fatigue syndrome used the probiotic Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota .
For two months, patients were randomly assigned to receive either 24 billion CFU of the Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota or a placebo. Anxiety symptoms significantly decreased in those taking the probiotic.
Psychobiotics for Stress
Psychobiotics showed beneficial results for both humans and animals going through stressful situations, according to the study. Stressed medical students who consumed kefir, a fermented milk beverage containing the Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota, had lower cortisol levels and higher serotonin levels . Additionally, the probiotic beverage lessened stress-related physiologic symptoms like stomachache and cold symptoms.
This proves that when healthy volunteers experience stressful settings, consuming Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota “may have positive effects preventing the emergence of physical symptoms,” according to the study’s authors.
Psychobiotics vs. Probiotics Side Effects
Psychobiotics have a wide range of possible benefits with few side effects. Probiotic foods, like all other foods, may put some people at risk for allergies. Furthermore, dangerous pathogens like E. coli could enter the fermentation process if not done properly. Salmonella and C. coli are two bacteria that can harm your health by producing foodborne sickness.
Psychobiotics vs. Probiotics Supplements
Research is essential regarding supplements because the FDA does not govern them. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health lists diarrhea and atopic eczema as possible dangers and side effects of taking a probiotic supplement.
Additionally, some drugs, such as prednisone, may interact with probiotics, so if you take any medications, consult your doctor before including probiotics in your daily regimen.
Bottomline: Psychobiotics vs. Probiotics
The latest study on psychobiotics is positive, but more reliable human studies are required so that specialists and the public may fully understand how they affect the gut-brain link, including mental health.
Psychobiotics may have health benefits that go beyond mental health to include the entire body, and there is little danger involved. Psychobiotics are generally proving to be a crucial aid in the mental health care field, even if they are only one part of thorough treatment planning.
Before changing your health routine, such as adding probiotic supplements to your daily plan, be sure to do proper research and seek medical advice first.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Dinan TG, Stanton C, Cryan JF. Psychobiotics: a novel class of psychotropic. Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Nov 15;74(10):720-6. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.05.001. Epub 2013 Jun 10. PMID: 23759244.
- Tillisch K, Labus J, Kilpatrick L, Jiang Z, Stains J, Ebrat B, Guyonnet D, Legrain-Raspaud S, Trotin B, Naliboff B, Mayer EA. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. 2013 Jun;144(7):1394-401, 1401.e1-4. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043. Epub 2013 Mar 6. PMID: 23474283; PMCID: PMC3839572.
- Sharma, R. (2021, January 4). Psychobiotics: The Next-Generation Probiotics for the Brain. SpringerLink. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00284-020-02289-5?error=cookies_not_supported&code=67c1cc30-bd37-4092-b339-9cbc01f24ea6
- Akkasheh, G., Kashani-Poor, Z., Tajabadi-Ebrahimi, M., Jafari, P., Akbari, H., Taghizadeh, M., Memarzadeh, M. R., Asemi, Z., & Esmaillzadeh, A. (2016). Clinical and metabolic response to probiotic administration in patients with major depressive disorder: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition, 32(3), 315–320. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2015.09.003
- Rao, A. V., Bested, A. C., Beaulne, T. M., Katzman, M. A., Iorio, C., Berardi, J. M., & Logan, A. C. (2009). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Gut Pathogens, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1757-4749-1-6
- Kato-Kataoka A, Nishida K, Takada M, Suda K, Kawai M, Shimizu K, Kushiro A, Hoshi R, Watanabe O, Igarashi T, Miyazaki K, Kuwano Y, Rokutan K. Fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota prevents the onset of physical symptoms in medical students under academic examination stress. Benef Microbes. 2016;7(2):153-6. doi: 10.3920/BM2015.0100. Epub 2015 Dec 21. PMID: 26689231.