About 18% of American population suffers from anxiety and depression that leads to sleep difficulties, fatigue, mood changes, G.I. difficulties. Patients can be treated with antidepressants and antianxiety medications. As with any medications, there can be side effects and some are addictive.
For mild to moderate depression and anxiety, probiotics have a place, affecting the gut-brain axis. Probiotics work by reducing information such as cytokines, reduce ACTH and cortisol production. Also, probiotics repair leaky gut by increasing protein called occluding, in intestinal tight junctions. There is also a reduction in neurotransmitters, epinephrine and norepinephrine and increase in brain derived neurotrophic factor(BDNF)
Studies show that mice with sterile G.I. tract have exaggerated response to stress with greater elevation in cortisol and ACTH. When these germ free mice were inoculated with beneficial intestinal organisms, the stress response was normalized. But when inoculated with disease causing E. coli, the response to stress worsened. Also, inoculating high anxiety animals from normal mice reduced the anxiety response.
The gut is considered second brain and its contents do affect brain function. Probiotics cause a reduction in cytokines, which balance the hormones response and reduce anxiety and depression. A study was conducted using probiotic combination of Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175 containing 3 billion colony forming units on 55 participants ages 30 to 60 on its affect regarding anxiety and depression as compared to placebo for 30 days. In participants taking probiotics there was 49%reduction in global severity index (a measure of overall psychological distress), 50% reduction in depression score, 60% reduction in anger- hostility score and 13% reduction in the urinary free cortisol that was not seen in placebo controlled patients.
Allopathic physicians (traditional physicians), treat anxiety and depression with medication which are expensive and have side effects. We need to embrace a more holistic approach and consider other alternatives for the above maladies using supplementation with probiotic combinations of Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterrium R0175.
One may also consider adding acupuncture treatment to normalize information flow in the body, deep breathing practice and meditation.
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Article written by Dr. Indajit Singh, MD
Dr. Singh's focus is healthy living and acupuncture helps with managing chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia and depression. He has been board certified in Family Medicine and received extensive training in acupuncture at UCLA and at the Academy of Pain Management for Acupuncture. He incorporates auricular acupuncture, body acupuncture and scalp acupuncture and the results are complementary to western medical practice. A well and balanced person is in a dynamic state of physical, emotional, and spiritual harmony.