Psychobiotics- The New Kid on the Gut Microbiome Block
hat are Psychobiotics?
Psychobiotics are considered to be one of the most exciting emerging fields of neuroscience. Psychobiotics involves the researching of live bacteria and determining how different probiotic supplements can result in changes to your gut microbiome when assimilated into a person's digestive system (1). This field of research demonstrates that changes to our gut microbiome can lead to corresponding changes to our neurochemistry and improve our mental health and wellbeing. Psychobiotic researchers believe that Psychobiotics can be potentially used as a probiotic supplement to help provide an alternative to antidepressants and other antipsychotic medications in the future (2). Psychobiotics is a fairly new neurological field that emerged in the year 2000, where Canadian scientists transplanted fecal matter of people with IBS into germ free mice, which led to mice developing anxiety based symptoms (3). This led to one of the earliest indicators that mood can be influenced by your gut microbiome. Since then numerous research articles have been released supporting these claims.
Benefits of Psychobiotics
The main benefit connected to the field of Psychobiotics is that Psychobiotics can help to improve and regulate the user's mood, helping to decrease depression-type symptoms (4). Early research supports this by noting that Psychobiotics have the ability to produce neurotransmitters. These substances "transmit" signals to the cells lined in your gut to release certain molecules, which then send a signal from your gut microbiome to your brain to control certain positive behaviours and encourage a more stable and healthy mood (4). A study on the effect of Psychobiotics on a person's mood, published by Cambridge University, noted that of the 55 male and female volunteers, only the Psychobiotics-treated participants showed significant declines in self-reported negative mood and distress (5).
Decreasing Stress and Anxiety Levels
By affecting a person's neurochemistry Psychobiotics have also demonstrated to have the ability to decrease stress and manage symptoms of anxiety. The research behind this suggests that Psychobiotics can affect your adrenal glands, which help increase the amount of hormones produced (such as cortisol) to control how your body responds to stress (6). This effect is confirmed in the previously discussed Cambridge University study, where it was highlighted that Psychobiotics-treated participants saw a decrease in urinary free cortisol, which are indicators of stress, where participants saw a decrease in their stress levels (5).
Helping with Sleep Quality and Insomnia
Due to the calming nature of Psychobiotics, experts have linked Psychobiotics to improve a person's sleep quality and in some cases help reduce symptoms of insomnia. The reasoning behind these indicators is that, a byproduct of reducing stress and anxiety is a naturally improved quality of sleep, as people with high levels of stress have a higher state of alertness, which can delay the onset of sleep and cause an increase in the amount of anxious thoughts leading to sleep insomnia (7). This is supported by a recent study done in 2019 that found that participants who took Psychobiotics exerted an improvement on a depressive mood state which had a positive correlation to improved sleep quality (8).
Psychobiotics- A Relative Infant
As the field of Psychobiotics is relatively new, the main areas of concerns by experts is that there will be more research that needs to be conducted within the Psychobiotics field to fully understand and comprehend the lasting long term effects that Psychobiotics can have on a person's gut and corresponding brain health. Questions are being asked about how long the beneficial effects of Psychobiotics last and what is the correct dosage for different age groups.
Kathrin Cohen Kadosh, PhD of the School of Psychology at the University of Surrey, is quoted in saying, "as a still relatively unexplored area, any real progress will require a systematic multidisciplinary research approach…providing causal understanding and addressing realistic outcomes, this is particularly critical in light of strong public and commercial interests that are presently outpacing research efforts" (9).
The Current State of the Psychobiotics Market
Overall the field of Psychobiotics holds a lot of potential, with its ability to improve the users mood and alleviate their stress and anxiety levels. The Psychobiotics supplement market is expected to grow with market experts believing that the rising global awareness of gut health and wellness will become a key driver for the market (10).
North America currently holds the greatest market share of the Psychobiotics supplement market, but the Asia pacific region is considered to be the highest growth region with experts believing that the awareness of healthy lifestyle and nutritious food is rising throughout the region, hence making those consumers more open to the introduction of Psychobiotics into their lifestyle.
Psychobiotics could prove to be one of the most revolutionary neurological fields in modern science, due to the fact that it provides a solution to a growing mental health problem faced not only in Australia but across the globe. Any reprieve from stress and anxiety is definitely welcomed.
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1. Atlay, Kemal. Psychobiotics: Harnessing Gut Bacteria to Improve Your Brain, SBS, 26 Oct. 2016, www.sbs.com.au/topics/voices/health/article/2016/10/26/psychobiotics-harnessing-gut-bacteria-improve-your-brain.
2. Sarkar, A., Lehto, S., Harty, S., Dinan, T., Cryan, J. and Burnet, P., 2016. Psychobiotics and the Manipulation of Bacteria–Gut–Brain Signals. Trends in Neurosciences, [online] 39(11), pp.763-781. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5102282/> [Accessed 5 August 2021].
3. Elena, 2021. The History Of Psychobiotics | Mood Probiotics | Nutriotix®. [online] Nutriotix - Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Gut Health. Available at: <https://nutriotix.com/the-history-of-psychobiotics/>[Accessed 4 August 2021].
4. Van Hemert, S., Marlicz, W., Szachta, P., Pekelharing, E., Ormel, G., Łoniewski, I., Ostrowska, L. and Samochowiec, J., 2016. The role of the gut microbiota in mood and behaviour. Whether psychobiotics can become an alternative in therapy in psychiatry?. European Psychiatry, [online] 33(S1), pp.S26-S26. Available at: <https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/european-psychiatry/article/abs/role-of-the-gut-microbiota-in-mood-and-behaviour-whether-psychobiotics-can-become-an-alternative-in-therapy-in-psychiatry/CEAE281DAC7E398F9C655766195DF759> [Accessed 5 August 2021].
5. Messaoudi, M., Lalonde, R., Violle, N., Javelot, H., Desor, D., Nejdi, A., Bisson, J., Rougeot, C., Pichelin, M., Cazaubiel, M. and Cazaubiel, J., 2010. Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticusR0052 andBifidobacterium longumR0175) in rats and human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition, [online] 105(5), pp.755-764. Available at: <https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/assessment-of-psychotropiclike-properties-of-a-probiotic-formulation-lactobacillus-helveticus-r0052-and-bifidobacterium-longum-r0175-in-rats-and-human-subjects/2BD9977C6DB7EA40FC9FFA1933C024EA> [Accessed 4 September 2021].
6. Hopkins-Medicine, J., 2021. Adrenal Glands. [online] Adrenal Glands. Available at: <https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/adrenal-glands#:~:text=Adrenal%20glands%2C%20also%20known%20as,stress%20and%20other%20essential%20functions.> [Accessed 4 August 2021].
7. Johnson, J., 2021. Stress and sleep: What's the link?. [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322994#stress-and-sleep>[Accessed 4 August 2021].
8. Marotta, A., Sarno, E., Del Casale, A., Pane, M., Mogna, L., Amoruso, A., Felis, G. and Fiorio, M., 2019. Effects of Probiotics on Cognitive Reactivity, Mood, and Sleep Quality. Frontiers in Psychiatry, [online] 10(PMC6445894). Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6445894/> [Accessed 4 August 2021].
9. Gramigna, J., 2021. Researchers find limited evidence for psychobiotics as youth anxiety treatment. [online] Healio.com. Available at: <https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20210625/researchers-find-limited-evidence-for-psychobiotics-as-youth-anxiety-treatment> [Accessed 4 August 2021].
10. Insights, F., 2021. Psychobiotic Supplements Market | Industry Analysis & Forecast | Future Market Insight (FMI). [online] Futuremarketinsights.com. Available at: <https://www.futuremarketinsights.com/reports/psychobiotic-supplements-market>[Accessed 4 August 2021].