Prebiotic and probiotic supplements may improve depression symptoms; a June 2020 review study shows. Scientists analyzed 7 of the highest quality studies conducted in the last 15 years assessing the effectiveness of single and multi-strain pre- and probiotics in improving depressive symptoms in patients with a clinical diagnosis of depression. Researchers included only those studies that used quantitative measurements to categorize symptoms. BMJ
Takeaway: Results of all 7 studies (using a combination of prebiotics alone, probiotics alone, and prebiotics and probiotics together) showed statistically significant improvements in depression symptoms and/or clinically significant improvements in biochemical measurements for depression. While this study sheds light on depressive disorders, it doesn’t tell us whether anxiety disorders would respond similarly. The verdict is still out and more studies are needed.
The other important point to keep in mind is that just like with digestive disorders, simply popping a prebiotic/probiotic pill won’t improve your symptoms. But if the supplement is combined with other proven, effective treatments – like cognitive behavioral therapy – the supplements may have an adjuvant helpful benefit. It’s also important to point out that food is still the best source of prebiotics (indigestible plant fiber that acts as food for beneficial gut bacteria). Without whole food prebiotics for the bacteria to feed on, your expensive probiotic bacteria will find themselves in one end and out the other in a matter of hours!