Role of probiotics in treating bipolar disorder, according to research

A recent study has revealed that probiotics may serve as a possible therapeutic approach to psychiatric conditions particularly bipolar disorder.

Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria which are called “the good” microorganisms. They benefit the body, especially the digestive system. Probiotics are also present in foods and dietary supplements, are similar to probiotics that occur in your gut naturally.

List of probiotic foods which are super healthy;

• Yogurt
• Kefir
• Raw cheese
• Apple cider vinegar
• Cultured vegetables
• Olives
• Tempeh
• Kimchi
• Pickled cucumber
• Miso

Main author Faith Dickerson and team observed the patients hospitalized for mania. They found that those who received a probiotic saw more useful effects than those who received a placebo.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness. It is a brain disorder which is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks which change from depression to mania. Every year in the U.S, nearly 3 million people are identified with bipolar disorder.

The method employed in usual treatment is a combination of psychotherapy and antipsychotics. Now, probiotics have been discovered as a possible new way for treating bipolar disorder. These non-pathogenic or “good” bacteria are recognized to develop the host health when they are present in the gut flora.

Recently, researchers have shown that supplementation with probiotics may decrease gut inflammation. Inflammation in the gut is a major factor known to worsen bipolar disorder.

Research has exposed a strong link between the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract, called the “gut-brain axis” (GBA). This GBA allows the communication between the endocrine, immune, and autonomic nervous systems.

The intestine is another home of the gut microbiome. That is made up of about 100 trillion microorganisms which interact with the mucosal lining of the gut. Researches have shown that the association between the gut microbiome and the gastrointestinal tract tissue has a significant influence on the GBA.

Moreover, a growing evidence has proposed that microbial imbalances are linked to health problems, comprising psychiatric mood disorders. Preceding researches have also revealed that inflammation is a causative factor in bipolar disorder.

Taking this into concern, Dickerson and team developed a probiotic. That was aimed to reduce the inflammation which arises due to an imbalance of microbial species in the intestine.

Research update

After six months, patients that had been hospitalized for mania were casually assigned to get either the placebo or probiotic along with their usual medications.

The research revealed that those who took the probiotic normally did not return to the hospital as rapidly as those who took the placebo. They also required less in-patient treatment time.

The influence was strongest among those who had unusually high intestinal inflammation levels at baseline. Overall, the results propose that the progression of psychiatric mood disorders can be influenced by alterations in gut inflammation. And that changing the gut microbiota could offer a new therapeutic methodology in managing patients suffering from such disorders.

Other possible mechanisms for probiotics comprise effects on neuroplasticity (through brain-derived neurotrophic factor), neurotransmitters (increases in GABA, N-acetyl aspartate, serotonin, and glutamate), and regulation of stress hormones along the HPA Axis.


Probiotics are well accepted and generally helpfully for physical fitness. Bloating and gas are probable side effects. And they should be avoided in immuno-compromised individuals or in those who are at high risk for infection.

The research was well aimed and succeeded to maintain most of the subjects. Drop-outs (21%) were evenly scattered across both groups, as were other related variables. Though the probiotics had no effects on secondary events of mood signs, the differences on the primary measure of rehospitalization were vigorous.

The main drawback of the research is also what makes it significant: it’s the first of its kind and requires replication. That part is proceeding.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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