Effects of Probiotics on Anxiety and Depression
Dr. Potter has recently begun exploring the impact that probiotics (beneficial bacteria found in some food sources such as probiotic yogurt and kefir) have on anxiety and depression. Other researchers have shown that probiotic bacteria exert a significant effect on anxiety and depression-like behaviours in animals. A few studies have extended these findings to humans. Lallemand Health Solutions is an innovative company that produces probiotics for human consumption, and has recently developed a technique to microencapsulate or coat the probiotic bacteria to help them survive stomach acids. Dr. Potter and Acadia graduate student, Amber McConnell, plan to study the effectiveness of these probiotics for alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and depression in humans. While it is known that probiotics are helpful for persons who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, less is known about their other beneficial effects. Given that a sizable proportion of the population suffers from anxiety and depression at some point in their life, research demonstrating that probiotics are an effective treatment for alleviating these problems has the potential to help numerous people who either do not wish to take pharmaceutical medications or cannot due to adverse side-effects.