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Probiotic May Alleviate Depression And Anxiety

    Apr-17-2009

Before we initiate discussion on the benefits of ingesting probiotic supplements, it is essential to have a brief idea regarding probiotic enhancements. While probiotic is defined as a beneficial bacterium usually found in the alimentary canals of all healthy mammals, probiotic food is one that encloses live bacteria and is useful to the human body. If not completely, most probiotic foods or dietary supplements are somewhat fermented. In fact, introduction of acidophilus to milk is considered to be the first instance of probiotic food and helped people who had problems  in absorbing milk in their digestive tract to stomach milk better.

Hence, ingestion of probiotic dietary enhancements regularly or every day is believed to alleviate nervousness in patients enduring chronic fatigue syndrome or unceasing exhaustion condition. The above statement is a part of the findings of a research undertaken by a team of Canadian scientists and it is hoped that the findings will have a bearing on how despair as well as other mental syndromes would be treated in the future. During the course of the research, the team of scientists headed by A. Venket Rao of the University of Toronto discovered that administering probiotic food to patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as CFS, for a period of two months helped to increase the supposedly 'beneficial' bacteria in their tummy. At the same time, ingestion of probiotic dietary enhancements also lessened the patients' nervousness signs remarkably.

As mentioned earlier, probiotic is basically a dietary enhancement that is very frequently available in tablet or powder variety and encloses subsisting bacteria like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria. These bacteria are very useful as they aid in preserving gut flora - a type of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract of mammals and carry out various useful utilities for their host. The different beneficial activities carried out by these bacteria, include facilitating digestion, invigorating the immune system as well as defend against bacteria that are detrimental to our wellbeing.

According to the research team head A. Venket Rao, the scientists of his team were enthused by the findings of the study as the results of the tests proved to be positive. He further said that they were of the opinion that probiotics really have a vital function in the treatment of neuropsychological conditions like nervousness, depression and further symptoms related to the disorder. Substantiating his views, Rao said that since probiotics were found to be safe for use as well as easy to manage the problems arising out of neuropsychological conditions, they are definitely a better alternative to drugs that have adverse aftereffects. It may be mentioned here that the findings of the research undertaken by Rao and his team have been published in journal called 'BioMed Central Gut Pathogens'.

It has been found that people who are identified as suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) endure an assortment of symptoms and the most important of these being a feeling of unremitting exhaustion. In addition, all patients diagnosed with CFS also go through several neuropsychological problems like cognitive dysfunction (a condition that occurs from anomalous functioning of the brain and leading to specific behavioral changes), nervousness, worries, despair and even sleeping disorders. It is interesting to note that the researchers have verified that almost half of the patients diagnosed with CFS have also been found to be enduring anxiety and depression. In addition, patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome also experience gastrointestinal troubles, while several of them have been found to be suffering from digestive ailments like irritable bowel syndrome (persistent abdominal pain and diarrhea). Clinical examinations have demonstrated that all patients diagnosed with CFS and also enduring gastrointestinal problems have a very poor presence of the supposedly 'beneficial' microorganisms in their alimentary tract and boosting their presence enables to normalize the digestive functions in such patients.

The findings of the research conducted by Rao and his team has now enthused other scientists to initiate probe into the relation between gut bacteria and psychological syndromes. And it is interesting to note that the initial findings of some of the new researches have hinted that the intensity of these supposedly 'good' bacteria in the digestive system is likely to effect the activities associated with nervousness, worries and the feeling of dejection. The scientists are of the view that probiotics overwhelm the other noxious microorganisms present in the stomach. These toxic stomach bacteria have been found to be associated with despair and other mood problems. This was revealed by Dr. Alison C. Bested, the co-author of the study conducted by the scientists of the University of Toronto.

During the research conducted by the scientists from the University of Toronto, Rao and Bested and members of their team divided 39 patients diagnoses with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) into two groups and administered three dosages of Lactobacillus casei to one group and a placebo (an harmless or inert medication) to the other every day for two consecutive months. The researchers were excited to find that around 73 per cent of the patients who were given probiotic felt a boost in the degree of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria in the gut or the intestinal canal. At the same time, these patients were also found to experience a remarkable alleviation in their anxiety symptoms.

On the other hand, only 37.5 per cent of the CFS patients who were given placebo instead of probiotic demonstrated a rise in Bifidobacteria, while just 43.8 per cent of these patients experienced a boost in Lactobacillus bacteria. Despite this, the researchers did not find any remarkable figurative transformation in the anxiety symptoms among the group of CFS patients who were given placebo.

Citing from the findings of their research, Bested said that it appeared that Bifidobacteria enhanced the intensity of tryptophan, a compound that helps to make people feel well again, in the brain. In addition to the enhancement of the supposedly 'good' microorganisms in the gut and significant decrease in the anxiety symptoms, ingestion of probiotic also demonstrated a remarkable recuperation in the digestive ability of the patients diagnosed with CFS. Stating that the findings of the research were 'huge', Bested further said that the CFS patients who took probiotic also experienced fewer instances of bloating or stomach inflation and gas along with a significant decline in inflammation.

According to Bested, the subjects who volunteered in the research and took probiotic were found to experience not as much of anxiety, be more peaceful, capable of dealing with their ill health in a better manner and sleep better. She further said that these subjects also experienced fewer instances of heart palpitation and other symptoms of anxiety. She added that all members of the research team were delighted to find that all CFS patients who had volunteered for the study and were taking probiotic regularly were remarkably successful in reducing their anxiety symptoms.

Elaborating on the findings of their research, Rao clarified that the so-called 'beneficial' microorganisms like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria manufacture elements that enter the brain and help it to deal with problems related to behavior and mood setbacks like nervousness and despair. According to Rao, the findings of their research have made it possible to access a complete new arena and that includes the association between the gut micro flora or the microorganisms in the intestinal canal and several ailments. He asserted that the findings of their research will eventually lead to several studies and treatments in this field in the future.

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