The Best Probiotics for Anxiety: How Do Psychobiotics Measure Up?
Recently, probiotics have been the talk of the town as the importance of live bacteria and yeasts for gut health is increasingly revealed.
Probiotics can be found naturally in foods or taken as an added supplement, with various types of probiotics offering different benefits.
Aside from managing symptoms related to digestion and gut health, research indicates that probiotics have an effect on depressive symptoms and related conditions including anxiety.
When probiotics and prebiotics are consumed for the purpose of mental health improvement they are now often referred to as psychobiotics.
It’s often said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and this saying has taken on a whole new meaning with the advent of probiotic popularity – the way to a man’s happiness might just lie in the gut.
Advances in the field of medical research have shown that psychiatric disorders can be linked to changes in the gut’s microbiome, indicating that gut health could be a potential channel for treatment of cognitive and anxiety symptoms stemming from the brain.
There are many types of anxiety that root in the form of separation anxiety, phobias, social anxiety, panic, substance- or medication-induced anxiety, and stressor- and trauma-related disorders – to name just a few.
Anxiety disorders can stem from various causes and lead to symptoms including sleep disturbance, the deterioration of one’s physical health, and if left untreated, even serious medical conditions.
Although therapies for anxiety and anxiety-related symptoms exist in the form of counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, medication, and even emerging therapies such as neurostimulation.
Many therapies require large monetary investment or contain adverse side effects. The intake of probiotics and probiotic supplements offers great potential as a low-risk alternative therapy treatment for anxiety and stress.
Our Favorite Probiotics Supplements for Anxiety:
Garden of Life: Dr Formulated Probiotics Mood+
Our overall favorite
Very well reviewed
Lifted Mood Boosting Probiotic
dubbed the 'chill pill'
Are Probiotics Effective for Treating Anxiety?
The first, which is the most common and aids with digesting lactose, is mostly found in yogurt and fermented foods.
There are different species of lactobacillus that act in different ways to help break down food and fight against ‘bad’ bacteria that causes digestive problems such as diarrhoea, especially in children suffering from rotavirus.
The other type, namely bifidobacteria, is found in dairy products and also helps to alleviate symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome and similar digestive conditions. Bifidobacteriaumis also believed to aid in reducing constipation.
The species of lactobacillus is responsible for producing the enzyme lactase that is required to break down lactose. There are various lactobacillus strains, each supporting different functions such as digestion, immune health, urinary health, and even oral health.
Similarly, the bifidobacterium species has several strains with different functions. It is important to distinguish between the various strains and the specific functions of each. Generally, probiotic supplements should include the strains lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium longum and bifidobacterium bifidum.
This article provides in-depth guidelines for selecting the best probiotic supplement according to strain, packaging and expiration date.
While probiotics are commonly associated with maintaining a healthy gut for better digestion, they have also been deemed an effective supplement for treating anxiety.
As indicated by the research discussed below, the positive effect of probiotics on the gut can be linked to better mental health conditions with significant reductions in stress- and anxiety-related symptoms such as sleeplessness, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue and mood swings.
What does the Research say about Probiotics for Anxiety?
Research indicates that probiotics may be helpful in treating conditions such as skin outbreaks and eczema, preventing allergies, and assisting with urinary health.
Other associated uses include lowering cholesterol, easing the effects of lactose intolerance and boosting the immune system. As a treatment for anxiety, several important studies show that probiotics do play an important role in negating the effects of anxiety, depression and cognitive symptoms.
This study on mice indicates that there exists a channel of communication between the brain and the gut, often referred to as the ‘gut-brain axis’.
During the study, mice were given strains of probiotics and studied under various stressful conditions, with outcomes indicating that the probiotics had compelling results in reducing stress-induced and anxious behaviour.
In short, this research shows that probiotic organisms hold great potential as therapeutic treatments to regulate emotions in stress-related orders that affect the brain.
Seven in ten clinical trials of this study assessing the effect of probiotics on anxiety and stress showed reported improvements of mood and stress reduction following continuous treatment with probiotics.
This research indicates that the daily consumption of probiotic strains show significant improvement of anxiety-related symptoms without serious side effects.
Further research shows that probiotics intervene with cognitive processing of sad and stressful thoughts by reducing aggressive thoughts in as little as 4 weeks when compared with participants who received placebos.
Trials with probiotic multivitamins over a 6-month period showed that probiotics are suitable for reducing stress, in addition to strengthening the immune system and specifically improving gastrointestinal health which is a common indicator of stress.
How to Choose the Right Probiotics for You
There is a wealth of information and credible research supporting the notion that probiotic strains are beneficial for alleviating anxiety and related symptoms. The only remaining question is how best to consume probiotics.
Firstly, probiotic strains can be found in fermented foods. A research study showed that frequent consumption of fermented food is associated with reduced symptoms of anxiety and specifically social anxiety.
Fermented foods offering probiotics are a low-risk treatment for anxiety resulting from genetic risk.
However, it is important to note that not all fermented foods are created equally – your much-loved glass of wine, despite having undergone a process of fermentation, does not contain the probiotic activity required for a healthy gut.
Fermented foods that contain live organisms include yogurt and fermented dairy foods, most types of cheese, and non-heated sauerkraut. Other healthy foods that contain live probiotics can be found here and here.
Oftentimes, it is easier to take supplements instead of – or even in addition to – consuming foods that contain probiotic strains. There are a wide variety of probiotics available on the market.
We have done the research for you and found the three best probiotic supplements that can be taken to maintain a healthy gut and accordingly, alleviate symptoms of anxiety.
The Best Probiotics for Anxiety Product Reviews:
Hyperbiotics PRO-15 Probiotics
This probiotic supplement from Hyperbiotics contains 15 probiotic strains including lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, which are the foundation for any probiotic supplement.
The supplement has a patented time release to ensure that the full benefits of the probiotics can be delivered effectively throughout the day. This time-release technology allows the probiotics to survive stomach acids and reach the small and large intestines for better results.
The pearls are small and easy to swallow with good outcomes of reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress.
These probiotic supplements offer the following:
● Special ‘BIO-tract’ technology for slower release
● Reducing fatigue, irritability and stress-related symptoms
● Suitable for all ages including children who are old enough to swallow pills
An overwhelming amount of users reported positive results after regular use of Hyperbiotics Pro-15.
LIFTED - Mood Boosting Probiotic - Anxiety Formula
This probiotic supplement is specifically formulated to help provide relief from anxiety and stress. This probiotic supplement doesn’t require refrigeration, making it an easy companion for travel while offering support for the digestive and immune systems, in addition to mental support.
LIFTED offers 9 probiotic strains from both the lactobacillus and bifidobacterium probiotic species that are purported to have mood boosting effects.
Probiotics from LIFTED hold the following benefits:
● Not enteric coated, meaning the good bacteria is protected from the potentially harmful heating process required of enteric coatings
● Balanced calming effect that alleviates the symptoms of stress while aiding better digestion
● The product contains no fillers or unnecessary additives
One user has dubbed this product the “official chill pill” due to its success in reducing anxiety and insomnia.
Garden of Life - Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood+
Dr. Formulated probiotics are tailored to provide support for emotional wellbeing and relaxation. The product is gluten free and vegetarian, making it an ideal supplement for people with special dietary requirements.
Unlike the other products, these probiotics need to be refrigerated. The supplement helps to maintain stable moods and eases anxiety with added organic blueberries and ashwagandha for stress reduction.
This product provides several significant benefits:
● 50 billion CFU lactobacillus and bifidobacterium cultures
● Significant mood improvements with added immune support
● Helps regulate the digestive system by promoting good bacteria
According to user reviews, this product has positive results in mood enhancement as a probiotic supplement for anxiety.
Are Probiotics Worth it for Anxiety?
Due to the focus on the relationship between probiotics and gut health for digestion, further conclusive research on the connection between probiotics and gut health for improved mental conditions is necessary.
However, the studies discussed above indicate that probiotics offer a promising treatment for anxiety-related symptoms. Probiotics as an alternative treatment for the relief of anxiety- and stress-induced symptoms offer beneficial effects with minimal and harmless side effects to most users.
As with any supplement or dietary changes, it is important to keep the following in mind. If you experience bloating or diarrhoea following the intake of probiotic supplements, cut back to smaller dosages until your body becomes accustomed to the new balance of probiotics in the gut.
Over-consumption of probiotics is likely to cause discomfort in the form of a runny stomach, bloating and intestinal gas. There are no standard guidelines for probiotic supplementation as each person has their own individual gut balance requiring different probiotic organisms.
Ask your healthcare provider for assistance in finding the correct dosage for your specific needs.
Similarly, be sure to check with your healthcare provider about the use of probiotic supplements if you are suffering from intestinal disease or damage, have a weakened immune system or use medicines such as antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs.
Probiotics should always be accompanied by a healthy diet as the effect of “good bacteria” in the gut is easily impacted by sugary and high-fat diets.
Remember to read carefully the labels of supplements and foods such as yogurt claiming to be high in probiotics – sweetened yogurt products and products with limited varieties of probiotic strains are unlikely to encourage a healthier gut.
Healthy children and adults should have no complications when taking probiotic supplements and those suffering from anxiety and related mental health conditions can rest assured that trying probiotic supplements as a form of treatment carries no harmful side effects.
Consider trying various brands of probiotic supplements as the strains of one may be more beneficial for your specific mental health needs.